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Can you use taco mix for chili?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can use taco seasoning mix to make chili. Taco seasoning contains spices like chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes which are classic chili spices. You may need to adjust the ratios of the spices, add additional chili powder and cumin if you want more of those flavors. Remove any salt packets before using taco seasoning for chili.

Ingredients in Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoning is a pre-made blend of spices that usually contains:

– Chili powder – This provides a rich chili flavor and heat.

– Cumin – Earthy, warm cumin is essential in chili.

– Oregano – Dried oregano adds an herbal note.

– Onion powder – Onion flavor without the hassle of chopping.

– Garlic powder – Garlic powder gives seasoning without chunks of garlic.

– Crushed red pepper flakes – These add a touch of heat and zing.

– Salt – For seasoning tacos. Omit when making chili.

– Flour or cornstarch – Thickens the seasoning blend.

The exact ingredients and ratios vary between brands, but taco seasoning always contains the core chili spices of chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, and onion. This makes it an easy shortcut seasoning blend for chili.

Benefits of Using Taco Seasoning for Chili

There are a few advantages to using pre-made taco seasoning rather than putting together your own blend from scratch:

– **Convenience** – No need to buy and measure out 5-10 different dry spices. Taco seasoning has them pre-mixed and measured.

– **Flavor balance** – The spices in taco mixes are designed to complement each other and give the right chili flavor profile.

– **Consistency** – Taking the guesswork out of your own seasoning blend means your chili will turn out the same each time.

– **Time saver** – Opening a packet is much faster than gathering and measuring spices. Great for busy weeknights!

As long as you adjust salt and tweak the flavors to your taste, taco seasoning makes a quick and easy shortcut to flavorful chili.

Possible Drawbacks and Adjustments

Taco seasoning is designed to complement the fresh flavors of tacos rather than the long simmering process of chili. Here are some potential issues and easy fixes:

– **Not enough chili flavor** – Taco seasoning can be pretty mild. For bolder chili flavor, add extra chili powder or hot sauce.

– **Too much cumin or other spices** – The flavor balance may be off from ideal chili seasoning. Adjust to taste by adding more chili powder or tomatoes to balance it out.

– **Salt level** – Most taco seasoning has a high salt content to season taco meat. For chili, omit any salt packets and adjust salt at the end. Start with half the amount you normally add.

– **Thickeners** – Many taco spice blends contain flour or cornstarch to thicken taco meat. Omit this or strain it out for chili. Use tomato paste or chili powder to thicken instead.

– **Onion and garlic powder** – For fresher flavor, saute minced onions and garlic at the start before adding taco seasoning.

With a little tweaking to suit your specific tastes, taco seasoning can absolutely substitute for making homemade chili powder spice blends!

How to Use Taco Seasoning for Chili

Making chili with taco seasoning is simple. Here are step-by-step instructions:


– 1 pound ground beef or turkey
– 1 packet taco seasoning (about 1-2 tablespoons)
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (if needed)
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
– 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
– 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 cup water or broth


1. Brown the ground meat in a large pot over medium heat. Pour out excess grease if needed.

2. Add the oil, onion and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes until softened.

3. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the meat. Stir to coat evenly.

4. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, pinto beans, and water/broth.

5. Bring the chili to a low simmer. Let cook for 15-20 minutes for flavors to blend.

6. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Add more chili powder for a bolder flavor or cumin if you want more of the warming cumin taste.

7. Optional extras: Stir in corn, olives, jalapenos, 1 tbsp brown sugar, or other favorite chili toppings.

8. Serve topped with cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, etc. Enjoy your easy taco seasoned chili!

Taco Seasoned Chili Recipe Variations

Once you get the basic method down, there are endless ways to customize chili made with taco seasoning:

– **Turkey or Chicken Chili** – Use ground turkey or shredded chicken instead of beef.

– **Vegetarian Chili** – Skip the meat or use vegetarian meat crumbles. Load up on beans, corn, etc.

– **Spicy Chili** – Add diced jalapenos, serrano peppers or hot sauce for heat.

– **Green Chili** – Use tomatillos and green chiles for a verde chili.

– **Pumpkin Chili** – Add canned pumpkin for a mildly sweet flavor.

– **White Chili** – Omit tomatoes and kidney beans. Use white beans and chicken broth.

– **Cincinnati Chili** – Make it a thicker meat sauce. Serve over spaghetti and top with cheese.

Whatever meat, beans or veggies you use, taco seasoning can add just the right chili spice blend with some simple tweaks. It’s a handy shortcut for both classic and creative chili ideas!

Substituting Chili Powder for Taco Seasoning

If you don’t have any taco seasoning on hand, you can mimic the flavors by making your own seasoning blend:

– 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon oregano
– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
– Dash of cayenne pepper

Start with 2 tablespoons of chili powder and add more to taste if you want a richer, deeper chili flavor. The rest of the measurements can be adjusted based on your preferences as well.

This homemade blend simulates the flavor profile of taco seasoning with ingredients commonly found in most kitchens. While it requires a few more spices to measure out, you can customize it to your exact tastes. With the right blend of chili powder as the base and supporting spices like cumin and oregano, you can craft amazing chili without the convenience of a taco seasoning packet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does taco seasoning go bad?

An unopened packet of taco seasoning has a shelf life of around 2 years. Once opened, taco seasoning will stay fresh for 1-2 years when stored in a cool, dry place. If the spices start to lose their color and aroma, it is time to replace them.

What’s the difference between taco seasoning and chili seasoning?

Taco seasoning contains more cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes while chili seasoning is heavier on the chili powder. Chili seasoning also lacks the thickeners like cornstarch that taco seasoning uses. Both contain the core chili spices like cumin and oregano.

Can I use a taco seasoning packet for 1 pound of ground beef?

Yes, most taco seasoning packets are designed to season 1 pound of meat. Use the entire packet for 1 pound of beef or turkey to make chili. Omit any salt packets and adjust spices to taste.

Should I brown the meat before adding taco seasoning?

Browning the ground meat before seasoning creates nice browned bits in the bottom of the pan that add flavor. Cook the meat until browned and cooked through, then drain excess grease and stir in the taco seasoning.


Taco seasoning packs contain common chili spices like chili powder, cumin, oregano, onion, and garlic. By leaving out any salt packets and tweaking the amounts, taco seasoning can add quick and convenient flavor to chili.

Be sure to adjust the level of spices to suit your taste, adding more chili powder if needed. Sauteing onions and garlic and using tomato products can provide a well-balanced flavor profile. Overall, keep an open mind and have fun experimenting with taco seasoning as a shortcut to delicious homemade chili.