This gluten-free taco seasoning recipe mixes up in just 5 minutes. Use it to season chicken, beef, turkey or your favorite plant-based taco filling.
Are Taco Seasoning Packets Gluten-Free?
Although spices are naturally gluten free, taco seasoning packets are not always 100% gluten free. Some have gluten warnings on them and others actually contain wheat flour or other ingredients with gluten.
But my biggest problem with most taco seasoning packets are the added ingredients like whey (milk), yeast extract and “natural flavors.” Natural flavors & yeast extract may sound completely innocent but this is often a code word for a preservative such as MSG. Both of these will send my husband straight to bed with a migraine.
Mixing up your own taco seasoning is so incredibly simple that I don’t consider buying prepared taco seasoning. You will need to have several spices on hand for the recipe but they are commonly used and you may have some of them already.
Are Spices Gluten-Free?
Yes! All spices, on their own, are gluten-free. But unfortunately it’s not always so simple. Although spices are naturally gluten-free they can be contaminated with gluten in the manufacturing process. So the best option, if you have Celiac disease or are super sensitive to gluten, is to go with certified gluten-free spices.
Spicely Organics spices are certified gluten-free and my favorite option. Even better they have a line of spices packed in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bottles. This is my go-to brand. You may have seen the brand in your grocery store in little green boxes.
Ground cumin – Cumin is a common ingredient in Mexican/Latino foods and provides a wonderful earthy flavor.
Granulated Onion and Garlic (or Powder) – Granulated onion and garlic are a more coarse grind than a powder. I have noticed that different brands of spices use powder & granulated interchangeably. If you notice that your onion powder is more like the consistency of cinnamon than like salt, use half the amount called for.
Chili powder is a combination of a mild dried pepper along with other spices that make an excellent base for taco seasoning.
Cayenne Pepper – The recipe calls for an eighth teaspoon of cayenne pepper. This gives it what I consider a medium spicy kick. Feel free to use less (a pinch) if you like your taco seasoning mild or more if you want it super spicy.
Salt brings all the other flavors together and makes them taste better and stronger.
Potato starch along with some water added to the taco meat will create a slightly thickened sauce that will coat the meat better. If you avoid potatoes, corn starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot starch can be used instead.
How to Make Taco Filling
This seasoning will work for any protein or plant-based option you prefer for your tacos. The method of mixing it up is a little different depending what you use. Use 3 tablespoons of seasoning per pound of meat or plant based filling.
Ground Meat – Whether you use ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey, start by browning the meat in a large pan. If your meat is low in fat (like chicken breast or turkey breast), add 2 tablespoons of oil while the pan is heating, then add the meat. Break it up as it cooks.
Once the meat is cooked, add 1/4 c water and sprinkle the seasoning over the meat. Stir constantly over high heat for 1-2 minutes until the meat is coated and the coating has thickened.
Shredded chicken or steak – Spices are best when heated. Since the seasoning will not cook with the meat, to bring out the flavors of the spices, I recommend heating it in a skillet.
Place the seasoning mix in a small skillet over low-medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan constantly for about 1 minute or until the aroma of the spices fills the kitchen.
Cook the meat in whole cuts. Once cooked, while it’s still hot, place the meat on a cutting board and use 2 forks to break the meat into bite sized shreds. Transfer it to a bowl.
If you are using chicken breast, stir in 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/4 cup of water. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the meat and stir until it’s evenly coated.
5-Minute Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Recipe
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp potato starch or non-gmo corn starch
- 1½ tsp granulated onion/powder1
- 1 tsp granulated garlic/powder1
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, for medium spicy use a pinch for mild spicy
- Place all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
- Stir with a whisk or fork until completely combined and the clumps of potato starch are broken up.
- This recipe is enough to season one pound of meat/filling.
- Store any unused portion in a tightly sealed container.
How to Use Taco Seasoning
- Sauté or brown 1 lb. ground meat in a large skillet. If there is more than about 2 tablespoons of liquid/fat, drain some of it out so that you are left with a tablespoon or two of liquid in the pan
- Once the meat is fully cooked, add 1/4 c water.
- Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat and stir over medium heat until the meat is fully coated and a slightly thickened sauce is created.
- I highly recommend serving with lime wedges to make this seasoning blend sing. A pop of acid will balance the salt, spicy, savory flavors in the seasoning.