Control the Flavor: Make Your Own Spice & Herb Blends

I've always been a sucker for taco seasoning packets. While I usually like to make things from scratch, the store-bought packets remind me of the better days when I played manhunt outside before my mom called us in dinner. (Remember manhunt? How cool was that shit?)

I had big plans for an old-school taco night the other weekend, complete with all the fixin's and some homemade margaritas. But just as we started to cook, it hit me: I forgot the seasoning! Such a rookie move. Already a few margs in, I wasn't driving to the store for a packet, so I sucked it up and made my own.

And it was delicious - even better than the store-bought kind, because I was able to season it to fit my tastes. Now, with control of the salt content, the flavor, and the world, there's no way I'm going back to the pre-made blends. I suggest giving it a try. If you're like me, your pantry is stocked with herbs and spices anyway.

Here are some starters, but be sure to taste and adjust as you like:

Taco seasoning: 1 tbsp chili powder + 1½ tsp paprika + 1 tsp salt + ½ tsp garlic powder + ½ tsp onion powder + ¼ tsp cayenne pepper.

For more spice, add in a bit more cayenne. Other options: 1 ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp oregano. *2 tbsp of the blend are equivalent to 1 packet.

Fajita seasoning: 2 tsp chili powder + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp paprika + 1 tsp sugar + 1 tsp chicken bouillon (crushed) + ½ tsp onion powder + ¼ tsp garlic powder + ¼ tsp cayenne pepper + ¼ tsp cumin + ¼ tsp black pepper

If storing, add 1 tbsp cornstarch. *2 tbsp of the blend are equivalent to 1 packet.

Steak seasoning: 2 tbsp kosher salt + 2 tsp garlic powder + 4 tsp coarsely ground coriander + 4 tsp dill + 4 tsp paprika + 4 tsp crushed red pepper + 4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper.

Other options: Add 2 tsp cayenne pepper. Store in airtight container.

Poultry Seasoning: 3 tbsp ground sage + 2 tbsp thyme + 4 tsp marjoram + 2 tsp black pepper + 1 tsp rosemary + 1 tsp nutmeg + 1 tsp onion powder

Other options: Add 1 tsp salt to blend now or season with salt when cooking.

Store in airtight container.

Italian Blend: 2 tbsp basil + 2 tbsp marjoram + 2 tbsp oregano + 2 tbsp rosemary + 2 tbsp thyme.

Other options: Add 2 tbsp parsley flakes or 2 tbsp crushed red pepper and/or garlic powder for kick.

Store in airtight container.

Herb Blend for Seafood: 1 tbsp fennel + 1 tbsp parsley + 3/4 tsp sage + 3/4 tsp rosemary + 3/4 tsp thyme + 3/4 tsp marjoram

Store in airtight container. When using, add in lemon zest for freshness.

Jamaican Jerk Rub: 1 tbsp garlic powder + 1 tbsp cayenne pepper + 1 tbsp sugar + 1½ tsp salt + 1½ tsp black pepper + ¾ tsp allspice + ¾ tsp cumin + ¾ tsp ground coriander + ¾ tsp onion powder + ¼ tsp nutmeg + ¼ tsp ground cloves + ¼ tsp dried thyme

Store in airtight container.

Do you make your own blends at home? What are some of your favorites?

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano