When it comes to buying pre mixed spice blends there is an ease and convenience that is hard to replace. So bear in mind that some of these aren’t as quick and easy as using fajita seasoning ready mixed.
Fajita seasoning can vary but follows the basic recipe of hot chili powder, paprika, ground cumin, garlic, ground coriander and oregano. Bought more for convenience than authenticity it can be quick and easy. Replacing with some or all of these ingredients can be great.
Let’s look more closely at the flavor profile of each ingredient as well as seeing if there are any other suitable ready made mixes to replace it with!
What Is Fajita Seasoning?
Fajita’s were originally from Mexico with serious Texan influences. The word itself refers to the beef skirt that is often cooked in strips alongside peppers and onions and then stuffed into flour or corn tortilla. The ultimate in convenience food for your every day worker, cooked over hot coals or a BBQ.
A good fajita seasoning will allow the smokiness of that history to come through alongside a fiery heat, smoked paprika and chili work best. It is important to let the fresh ingredients of the fajita come through as well, so a few background spices like cumin, garlic and coriander allow that.
I add the oregano to give a lighter note that compliments the other fresh ingredients in your fajita, like peppers.
Fajita Seasoning Mix Recipe
Here is my basic recipe and you can mix it up a little if you need to. It is a great substitute for buying a ready made mix and you may well never go back! All the ingredients are spice rack staples as well!
Fajita seasoning can be made from;
4 tbsp smoked paprika, 2 tbsp ground cumin, 2 tbsp ground coriander, 2 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp hot chili flakes. Mix the spices and oregano together and sprinkle over your other fresh fajita ingredients, or make up with 4 tbsp olive oil for a drizzle or marinade.
Take your time to perfect your favorite fajita blend as replacing oregano with thyme can be nice or even lavender. Increasing or decreasing the amount of hot chili also works well and we have a spicier mix than the kids.
Substitutes & Alternatives To Fajita Seasoning
So now we have the basic recipe we can look to replacements and substitutes for fajita seasoning. The great thing about fajita seasoning is that it is very much down to the individual and your tastes will win.
Best Substitutes For Fajita Seasoning
No doubt these are our top replacements and alternatives to try at home, fajita seasoning is not a recipe set in stone. So try any or all of these mixes and alternatives.
Taco Spice Mix
This would be my first choice as a replacement for fajita seasoning and I would use it in a like for like ratio.
Taco seasoning includes; chili flakes, paprika, ground garlic, onion powder, ground cumin, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Often you will find pre-made mixes also contain an element of sugar as well. This makes it ideal to replace fajita seasoning with.
For an easy life on a weeknight meal, I’m suggesting that nobody will even notice the replacement of taco seasoning for fajita seasoning. This is because you are making fajitas with fresh onions and peppers so the inclusion of these ingredients in your taco mix will be complimented.
This may be surprising but chili powder is not just dried chilis. It also includes ground cumin, onion powder, ground garlic and even a little salt. The chili used tends towards ‘hot’ and you will find it works as a replacement for fajita seasoning quite well.
Do not go for a like for like replacement though as chili powder is quite significantly hotter than fajita mix. 1 tsp chili powder = 1 tbsp fajita mix. Use it then in the same way as you would do fajita mix though.
Smoked paprika is one of the ingredients in fajita seasoning and we have an article, here, on how to make your own. I would include other ingredients like the chili flakes, garlic and cumin and coriander. Perhaps think about some fresh herbs like marjoram and rosemary to add a bit of depth to the flavor as well.
Cajun Spice Mix
Cajun spice mix contains a lot of the same ingredients as fajita seasoning; paprika, garlic and oregano are all used in both mixes. There is also black and white pepper added with cayenne pepper rather than a chili pepper. Red pepper tends to be an ingredient in Cajun spices and this wont be lost in your fajita if you are using fresh pepper slices as well.
The deep red color remains and you will have a similar smokiness that is key to a good fajita blend too. Especially if you use a smoked paprika.
Garam Masala + Chili Flakes
Garam masala is a bit of a generic term for a spice mix and it is open to variation. The key ingredients that seem to be universal are coriander and cumin though. Meaning that when combined with chili flakes it works quite well to replace fajita seasoning.
Garam masala without the chili in it does have a warmth and almost musky flavor that works very well with peppers and onions alongside the usual fajita ingredients like chicken, beef or other vegetables. An alternative that doesn’t seek to exactly replicate the original though.
Tomato powder is a great ingredient for adding sweetness with a slight acidic tone alongside the vibrancy of color. Tomato powder works well with fresh chilis and some oregano leaves as a replacement for fajita seasoning.
Cumin & Coriander
Ground cumin and coriander will form a nice backbone of flavor for your fajita seasoning. When added to fresh garlic, chili and some oregano leaves it works very well as an authentic Mexican dish. Make sure to work the ratio that is best for your family out.
Fresh Chilis & Garlic
If in a really tight spot you can add fresh chili and garlic to your fajita when cooking the meat and veg. This will give you a sort of depth of flavor that is familiar, but not a perfect match. To give it a little extra oomph try smoked garlic.
In Conclusion & Further Reading
I hope that we have shared some of our favorite replacements and alternatives to ready mixed fajita seasoning. There is a lot to be said for mixing your own herbs and spices for family favorite recipes. So if you have any replacements that your house loves, do let us all know below and we can share even more ideas and inspiration! Many thanks, Alex.