We ranked four of the most popular taco seasoning packets available in grocery stores. These packets included Ortega, Taco Bell, Old El Paso, and McCormick. The results of our rankings are based on a taste test of multiple people who all share a love for tacos.
Before the rankings are presented, let us tell you that there are numerous other taco seasoning products available to consumers. See our article on taco seasoning brands to find additional options that you may find comparable, if not superior, to the brands represented below. We opted to taste test the below four taco seasonings since they are readily available to most readers.
Keep in mind that none of the taco seasonings that were taste tested were terrible. Each tester believed that they each would make for a quality taco night meal that most family members would enjoy. We would suspect that it would be challenging to determine the best taco seasoning once toppings such as hot sauce and sour cream were loaded on the taco.
The tacos meat was prepared per the package directions for the taste testers. The tacos were served in corn taco shells with only lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese as the topping. The testers were given a side scoop of taco meat so that they could taste the seasoning with just the meat as well.
Here are the rankings:
Out of all the taco seasoning packets we tasted, this one lacked the most flavor. The spice was mild and allowed the meat flavor to come through. Most of the taste testers agreed that they wished this taco seasoning had more flavor. One person commented that this would be a solid choice for kids who weren’t particularly keen on a lot of spice overpowering their meal.
3. Taco Bell
The testers stated that this seasoning had a smooth taco flavor. It was said not to be spicy and certainly had a unique flavor compared to all other taco seasoning packets. Some comments were that it had a cool ranch flavor and a cheesy finishing taste. Testers stated that this was a taco seasoning you’d expect from a Taco Bell at home seasoning, however, it didn’t taste like the restaurant seasoning to most testers. The consensus was that a spicier flavoring would elevate this seasoning.
2. Old El Paso
This was undoubtedly the spiciest out of all packets featured here. One of the testers stated that it was borderline too spicy. However, most agreed that the spice was perfect for a taco seasoning. It was said to have a strong chili flavor which matches what the label states is the primary ingredient. Most testers agreed that this was a solid contender for the best taco seasoning packet of the four present here. However, it was narrowly edged out by the next taco seasoning.
This was the favorite of most taste testers. This taco seasoning was the one that the testers believed that the company took great care in putting together the right ingredients to formulate the best quality seasoning. The mix was said to be an excellent combination of flavors like chili pepper, salt, and garlic. The spice level was believed to be spot on. In other words, the spiciness did not overwhelm nor was it not enough to cause a bland product. One of the testers did state that this seasoning tasted a bit too salty. When you look at the ingredients of all four packets, McCormick has the second-highest sodium level. Ortega has the most sodium.
Before we started this taste test, we asked the participants what brand they thought would be the best taco seasoning packet. Ortega and Old El Paso were the top picks. The winner of our taste test, McCormick, isn’t primarily a Mexican cuisine brand. The seasoning packet wasn’t even next to the other packets in the Mexican food section of the grocery store. We found it in the spice aisle. We suspect that this is at least partly why McCormick did not come out as the initial favorite for the best seasoning.
If you learned anything from this taste test, it should be that you shouldn’t assume the most obvious options for taco seasonings are the best. Don’t be afraid to try new brands even beyond the ones in this article. You might find something you love even better than your go-to taco seasoning.
Poll – Favorite Taco Seasoning
Our opinion is not the only one that matters. We want to learn what you think is the best store-bought taco seasoning packet. Select between Ortega, Old El Paso, Taco Bell, McCormick, or others.