Homemade {Green} Taco Seasoning

Homemade {Green} Taco Seasoning

I must confess, I’ve never really been a fan of traditional {red} taco spice mixes. I have yet to find a packet at the store that wows me, so I usually end up just winging it when I make tacos, adding a bit of this and a pinch of that. Our spice drawers are stocked pretty well (mostly with the awesomeness of Penzeys Spices), so I’m never feeling left out when I’m craving a particular flavor, and feel confident in my ability to come up with a tasty combo whenever I need to.

But there is one little pre-mixed packet that I’ve held very dear to my heart for many years, that I just can’t seem to shake. It’s not your typical taco seasoning. The packaging has changed over the years, but it used to advertise “no red stuff!”

Homemade {Green} Taco SeasoningDo you know this little packet of yum?! Chi-Chi’s Restaurante Seasoning Mix

If you’re not familiar with Chi-Chi’s, it was a Mexican restaurant chain founded here in Minnesota back in the 70’s. Growing up on the farm in South Dakota, the closest Chi-Chi’s was located in Fargo, about 75 miles away. When we drove to Fargo for shopping (the closest mall!), appointments, or concerts, you can bet that Chi-Chi’s was always a contender for our lunch money. I was kind of addicted to their wonderfully thick and almost crispy chimichangas. And their chips and salsa. And their seafood enchiladas, all creamy and worthy of plate licking.

Now there’s not a Chi-Chi’s restaurant to be found.

Man, I miss those guys.

Homemade {Green} Taco Seasoning

I think that a part of my attitude toward that little seasoning packet is tied to nostalgia and all the great meals I had there with family and friends for so many years. But I also just plain love its flavor. The mix is not hot and spicy, just really flavorful. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the packet’s ingredients list and grunted in frustration. It lists a few common obvious ingredients such as dehydrated onions, salt, and garlic powder, and then ends with “spices”. Are you kidding? That’s no ingredients list!

So I turned my grunting around, into something much more positive. I took out my “spices” and made my own Chi-Chi’s seasoning mix.

Our girls have never been fans of traditional red taco seasoning or pretty much anything using red chiles, so this Homemade {Green} Taco Seasoning has been a big hit with our family. Now we can all enjoy the Mexican dishes that we love…tacos, Macho Nachoz, and quesadillas…using our own flavorful homemade mix. Blake and the girls live for turkey taco night around here!

Homemade {Green} Taco Seasoning

The store bought Chi-Chi’s mix has dehydrated onions and green chiles, left in larger flakes. I have experimented with leaving our homemade mix with the flakes intact, and also with running the mix through a spice grinder, which quickly whirrs all the ingredients to a uniform size. I think it’s a matter of personal choice…flakes or no flakes…in the end, the flavor is the same either way. (Delicious!)

Homemade {Green} Taco Seasoning

Yield: about 3 tablespoons seasoning, good for 1 pound of ground or shredded meat


  • 1 T. green bell pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. minced white onion
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried crushed jalapeño
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • large pinch cayenne pepper
  • large pinch crushed red pepper flakes


Note: All of the listed ingredients can be found at your local Penzeys Spices store or at www.penzeys.com

Stir together all ingredients. If desired, use a spice grinder to incorporate more evenly and achieve a uniform size for all ingredients. If you want to make a larger quantity of seasoning, to keep on hand for future use, I would recommend grinding the mixture. Otherwise, the smaller granules settle to the bottom, while the larger flakes sit on top. If you don't grind a large quantity of this mixture, just be sure to stir it very well before using it.

A single recipe of this mix works great for 1 pound of ground or shredded turkey, beef, pork, or chicken. Once the meat has been browned in a skillet, simply add this seasoning mixture along with 1/3 cup of water. Stir well and turn heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed. Taste and add additional salt, if desired.

Meat seasoned with this mixture is awesome in tacos, nachos, quesadillas, breakfast burritos, and so much more!

Inspired by my favorite Mexican seasoning mix, Chi-Chi's Restaurante Seasoning.


I’m linking up with:


48 Responses to “Homemade {Green} Taco Seasoning”

  1. #
    Jennifer — April 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Thanks for sharing! Great recipe! Beautiful images!

  2. #
    Maria — April 12, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I want tacos for dinner now!

  3. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — April 12, 2013 at 8:20 am

    This sounds wonderful. I am so forgetful at the grocery store and never remember to buy the packets of seasonings so I end up doing like you with a little of this and that. I haven’t ever tried a Green taco seasoning but now I must!

  4. #
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective — April 12, 2013 at 8:20 am

    ChiChis! Wow, does that bring back memories! This seasoning sounds fantastic Brenda.

  5. #
    Angie @ Big Bear's Wife — April 12, 2013 at 8:31 am

    So glad to have found this recipe! I love taco seasoning and homemade is even better!

  6. #
    Barbara @ Barbara Bakes — April 12, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Looks like a must try. I’ve never used a green taco seasoning before.

  7. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — April 12, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I do love traditional taco seasoning but I love the idea of switching it up a bit. This sounds incredible!!

  8. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — April 12, 2013 at 10:01 am

    This seasoning is such a fantastic idea… I love the green stuff over the red. Making soon!

    • Brenda replied on April 15th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks, Stephanie – hope you had a great weekend! :)

  9. #
    Paula - bell'alimento — April 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I’m totally craving tacos now and it’s all your fault ; )

  10. #
    Roberta Breuer — April 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I, too, don’t really care for packaged taco seasonings and I make my own. I’ll DEFINITELY give your “green” seasoning a try!!

    Have I asked you where in South Dakota you grew up? I’m from South Dakota!!

    • Brenda replied on April 15th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Hi Roberta – I grew up in the NE corner of the state!

  11. #
    Angie — April 12, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I love making homemade taco seasoning, it’s so convenient!

  12. #
    Bree {Skinny Mommy} — April 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I literally just got home from Penzey’s 5 minutes ago. Love that place! This spice mix looks rather fabulous! :)

    • Brenda replied on April 15th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Penzeys is one of my happy places. ;) Thanks, Bree.

  13. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — April 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    So awesome, I love this! We make tacos at home all the time and it’s about time to change up the flavorings! Thanks, Brenda!

  14. #
    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl — April 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I grew up with Chi-Chi’s so I knew I was going to love this post. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to try this. Throwing some salsa verde on top might add to the green love!

  15. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — April 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I usually make a red seasoning but I’m going to have to give this one a try!

  16. #
    Jessica@AKitchenAddiction — April 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Now I wish we were having tacos for supper tonight!

  17. #
    Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet — April 12, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I totally need to make this. Sounds fantastic!

  18. #
    Shaina — April 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I can remember the handful of times we actually were allowed to eat at a Chi Chi’s with my grandparents. Each one was a treat. Since we can’t do premade seasoning packets because of Kjell, I can’t wait to try this out. I always just turn to my red taco seasoning, but I love changing it up.

  19. #
    Aggie — April 13, 2013 at 6:14 am

    I don’t know if I’ve actually ever eaten at a chi chi’s but boy do I want to! I love this “no red stuff” seasoning!! I think my kids would too, I seriously can’t wait to try it for our next turkey taco night.
    Question – where do you find the dried green pepper and jalapeño? Do you do it yourself?? I love this addition!

  20. #
    Aggie — April 13, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Ahhh! I just looked at first picture and got my answer. And you know what? That is exactly where I was going to look! I have a shop near me that I’ve only been to once, and I can’t wait to go again!! :)

    • Brenda replied on April 15th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      I adore Penzeys, they carry it all…one of my favorite places! :)

  21. #
    Tieghan — April 13, 2013 at 7:46 am

    We love traditional taco seasoning, but this green version looks just as good! I can not wait to give it a try on our weekly tacos this week!

    • Brenda replied on April 15th, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks, Tieghan – I hope you like this {green} version, too!

  22. #
    Erin@whathefork — April 13, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Thanks for the great new seasoning to try. The closest Chi Chi’s to us was about an hour away and I only remember eating there a handful of times.

  23. #
    Sandy@ReluctantEntertainer — April 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Love those spoons :) And this sounds delicious. So much better when it’s homemade, too.

  24. #
    Diane {Created by Diane} — April 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    oh yes Chi-Chi’s, loved that place! Can’t wait to try this.

  25. #
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — April 16, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I always make my own taco seasoning, but have never thought of doing a green one! I’m loving this idea. Sometimes the red chiles can be a little too assertive a flavor for me and I always ask for green sauce at Mexican restaurants instead of the typical red, so why not a green seasoning mix? Makes perfect sense.

  26. #
    Marly — April 16, 2013 at 7:54 am

    I love trying new seasoning mixes (especially for south of the border kinds of meals), but as a vegan I always have to look at the list of ingredients on the back. I’m picky about what I put on our family plates! So thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Can’t wait to try it out!

  27. #
    Tara @ Unsophisticook — April 16, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Chi-chi’s was a huge favorite here too. My husband and I went at least once a week before we were married. I so miss their wild berry margaritas and corn cake!

  28. #
    Deborah — April 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I have never even seen a green taco mix – definitely trying this one out!!

  29. #
    cheryl — April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Looks delicious! I need to visit Penzey’s with you when I come to visit this summer. Ordering from the catalog just isn’t the same as smelling all of those wonderful smells.

    • Brenda replied on April 18th, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      Sounds great to me! Any excuse to visit that store has me smiling! :)

  30. #
    Jennifer — April 28, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Hi…..I live in Texas….but grew up in North Dakota….Chi Chi’s was my favorite Mexican restaurant. It was an 80 mile drive, but worth it…..thanks for recipe!

  31. #
    Angeline — June 27, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I can’t THANK YOU enough! I’ve been using those EXACT taco seasoning packets and trying to figure out the spices. You’ve saved me the trouble! I miss Chi Chi’s. Their sopapillas and churros with chocolate sauce were AMAZING. It was my favorite restaurant as a child.

  32. #
    Sara Burt — June 3, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    I have been ordering Chi-Chi’s brand taco seasoning mix on Amazon in bulk because it is not available in many stores and regions. I too was never as fond of the red taco seasoning packets, but Chi-Chi’s is the best! Thanks for this recipe!

    • Brenda replied on June 11th, 2015 at 10:11 am

      You’re welcome! :)

  33. #
    sue flister — June 29, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I moved from mn to the west coast about 4 years ago and have looked in every store I go in for that chichi’s seasoning packet. Apparently, it’s not sold out here! Finally my husband suggested I look up a recipe, so glad I did! Can’t wait to make this for dinner! You’ve made my day.

  34. #
    Paula — October 31, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Just made this today and it was fantastic! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    • Brenda replied on November 1st, 2015 at 7:11 am

      I’m so glad you like it, Paula! :)

  35. #
    Angela — November 1, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I have been searching for Chi-Chi’s recipes for both of their versions of chili. One was a bowl of red chili, and it was cubed meat (steak? pork?) and a thick gravy/sauce that was served with a couple of warm flour tortillas. The other was a bowl of green chili with cubed meat (steak? pork?) and a thick gravy/sauce served with a couple of warm flour tortillas. The green chili was milder than the red. I don’t think either version had beans or vegetables in the chili. Both versions were available when Chi-Chi’s opened originally, much later they changed their menu and the chili recipes changed, not for the better. I would be so grateful if anyone would post those recipes. Thanks!

  36. #
    Kelly Smith — January 14, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    This is great! I just wanted to mention those Chi Chi’s packets can be purchased on Amazon at a very reasonable price ex. $13.00 for a box of 24 packets. Thank You!!!

    • Brenda replied on January 16th, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Thanks, Kelly!

  37. #
    Kelly Smith — January 14, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Packets are available on line Amazon


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