Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday - Homemade Taco Seasoning!

Taco Night is a favorite around here, and tonight, we're making good old-fashioned Beef Tacos. Nope, they'll be no fancy sauces or exotic toppings, just cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a dollop of sour cream. But what can you do to lend some extra special flavor to a comfortable old favorite? The answer is simple - Homemade Taco Seasoning.

Homemade Taco Seasoning - Alton Brown's Taco Potion #19, Photo: NK 

In today's Test Kitchen, we'll be trying out Alton Brown's Taco Potion #19
Potion... oooh, I like it. My dad named me after a TV witch (a cute and nice witch, mind you) so I guess it all makes sense. 

Alton's recipe is great because the spices required are pretty easy to find. In fact, I happened to have them all in my pantry. Finally, my spice hoarding pays off. 

The Results:
In just under 5 minutes, we were left with a batch of flavorful Taco Seasoning that will last a while. My Plan? Jar it up and be ready for our next lazy taco night. Idea: This mix, in a cute mini-mason jar, would make a great hostess gift or party favor. Super easy. 
Use this Taco Seasoning on any protein, even vegetarian meat substitutes. 

Flavor-wise, Taco Potion #19 is just plain good! It actually tastes like a much, much better version of the grocery store stuff in the little paper packets. As a bonus, we know exactly what's in it, as the recipe includes all ingredients that we can spell and of course, no creepy chemical additions. Also, the salinity is very balanced - it won't give you a sodium hangover. You could even use this blend as a jumping off point for your own proprietary Taco Potion. 

Upon seeing the results, my husband observed (seemingly to his dismay?) that unlike the store-bought version, this mix did not impart a bright orange coloring to our beef. "Good. Your food should not be artificially orange," I responded. "But what about about delicious Kraft Mac 'n Cheese?." My clever guy has a point! We'll look the other way on that guilty pleasure. 

Verdict: Check it out!  

Classic Beef Tacos with Taco Potion #19, Photo: NK 

Alton Brown's Taco Potion #19
Recipe Courtesy of Alton Brown

Yield: Approx 3 ounces - Makes enough for at least 8 servings of Tacos. Save the leftovers in an airtight jar for up to 1 month. 

2 Tablespoons Chili Powder 
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Hot Smoked Paprika 
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Mix to combine and store in an airtight container. 
To use your Taco Seasoning, add 1/4 cup of liquid to your pan of fully browned and cooked protein. You can opt for Water or better yet, Beer (thanks for my friend Marina for that idea). Stir in the Seasoning. Roughly 2 Tablespoons per pound of Protein will do, but you can use your judgment. Allow liquid to evaporate a bit and stir. Serve right away on your favorite taco! 


  1. I've been wanting to make my own taco seasoning! And...I also have the name of TV's good witch! So this one must be for me! I'll be trying a less spicy version of it tho.
    P.S. Do you ever get tired of people asking if you can twitch your nose like the witch on TV? I know I do. :-)

  2. Amazing! Glad we are witch buddies. Surely a sign that this is your taco seasoning! I have a spicy palate but I didn't find this terribly hot. Still, I might say to cut down on the chili :)I had the opposite problem, as a kid, I was always always frustrated that I couldn't twitch my nose properly. Enjoy and thanks for reading!