This homemade Southwest spice blend packs loads of bold, smoky flavor! It’s the perfect seasoning recipe for chicken, beef, pork, and Tex-Mex dishes like tacos, chili, and more.
Why you’ll love it: Bring smoky, spicy Southwestern flair to all your favorite dishes with homemade Southwest seasoning.
How long it takes: 5 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: a measuring spoon and a small jar for storage
Servings: about ¼ cup
Easy Homemade Southwest Seasoning
Giddy up, ’cause we’re going South! Southwest, that is. I love making my own seasoning mixes, and this sizzle-y, smoky Southwest spice blend is my latest summer obsession. Homemade seasonings are such an easy way to eliminate all the artificial “fluff’ from your favorite spice blends. No unpronounceable ingredients, no additives. Just pure, delicious flavor that you can sprinkle over everything. Use this Southwestern spice on meats, veggies, and all of your favorite south-of-the-border-inspired dishes. It’s the BEST!
Why You’ll Love This Southwest Spice Blend
- Easy ingredients. There’s no right or wrong way when it comes to choosing spices for your homemade spice blends. Buy the best that you can get in terms of texture, flavor, color, and quality that’s affordable to you. Then, just mix them up!
- Healthier. Making your own spice blends means that you’re in control over what goes into them. No weird mystery ingredients or anti-caking agents. Plus, you can keep the sodium levels to a minimum.
- Customize to your tastes. The flavor of homemade seasoning is just so much better than store-bought. The best part? You can make your Southwest seasoning exactly the way you like it by tweaking the ingredients and amounts to suit.
What Makes a Dish “Southwest”?
Southwestern is a style of cuisine inspired by foods eaten by Spanish and American settlers, Native Americans, and Mexicans. Corn, beans, and squash are popular ingredients, but Southwestern food is super diverse, known for its bold, smoky flavors thanks to chili peppers and spices. Tex-Mex is a popular variation of Southwest cooking (think: nachos and enchiladas, and chicken fajitas).
Ingredients You’ll Need
So, what’s in Southwest seasoning? Below, I’ve included some notes on the herbs and spices that give this homemade blend its signature kick. Scroll to the recipe card with the full ingredients list, amounts, and recipe details.
- Chili Powder – Depending on the blend of chili powder you use, it may come with salt added. Keep this in mind, or (ideally) look for a blend with no added salt.
- Paprika – I love the flavor of smoked paprika, but regular sweet paprika works great, too.
- Cumin – It wouldn’t be a Mexican spice blend without ground cumin. This savory, pungent spice is key to this blend’s south-of-the-border flavor.
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder – Make sure you’re buying 100% dehydrated and ground garlic powder and onion powder and not garlic salt or onion salt. They’re not the same!
- Oregano – You’ll sometimes find Mexican oregano in the spice aisle, and if you do, grab it! Mexican oregano is a more pungent variety that pairs perfectly with Mexican and Southwest cooking. Otherwise, opt for regular Greek oregano.
- Salt and Pepper – Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, to balance the flavors.
- Cayenne – For a spicy kick. You can include as much or as little as you prefer.
How to Make a Southwest Spice Blend
Are you ready for the easiest recipe of your life? To make this Southwest spice blend, combine all the spices, and give them a mix. Voilà! Store your homemade spice blend in an airtight container, like a jar, and get seasoning. Keep reading for easy ways to use your seasoning blend and detailed storage instructions.
Tips for Success
Making spice blends from scratch is pretty failproof, but here are some final tips for the best homemade spices, every time:
- Use fresh spices. While you don’t have to go on a shopping spree for new spices, whichever spices you use to make your blend, make sure they’re fresh! If your herbs and spices have been in the pantry for decades, consider starting fresh.
- Store spice blends in an airtight container. Store your Southwest spice blend in jars or recycled spice containers, away from direct sunlight.
- Double or triple the recipe. Love Southwest seasoning? Simply double or triple the ingredients to make a BIG batch to have on hand for all your favorite recipes.
No, they’re similar, but not the same. Taco seasoning involves more spices, often with additions like chili flakes and coriander. Meanwhile, Southwest seasoning is heavier on garlic, with simple ingredients.
In a pinch, you can substitute fajita seasoning for Southwest spice. The two spices share many similar ingredients.
Make This Spice Blend Your Own
Feel free to adjust the amount of one spice or another to suit your tastes. There’s no limit when creating your custom Southwestern seasoning. Here are some simple tweaks that you can try:
- Use less salt. If you’re watching your sodium levels, feel free to adapt the salt to taste or omit it altogether.
- Add more or less cayenne pepper to adjust the heat level to your preference.
- If you’re not fond of a particular ingredient, simply leave it out. This Southwestern spice blend will still turn out tasty.
Make a Southwestern Marinade
You can use your freshly minted spice blend to make a delicious Southwest-style marinade. We’ve been making this marinade nonstop this summer. It’s sweet, smoky, savory… so good! I’ve included the full details in the recipe card. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Olive Oil
- Lime Juice
- Southwest Spice Blend
To make the marinade, simply whisk together the above ingredients, then add it to a zip-top bag with chicken, pork, or beef. Marinate the meat for 20 minutes or up to 1 day ahead before grilling or roasting. Serve Southwestern chicken with your favorite Mexican sides.
More Ways to Use Southwest Seasoning
Sprinkle this Southwest spice blend over your favorite meats, vegetables, or grains. It’s great for adding a bold, smoky flavor to grilled or roasted meats, as well as chili, tacos, and other Mexican-inspired dishes.
We use Southwest spice for everything from marinating the chicken in this Southwestern BBQ chicken salad (see above) to seasoning the vegetarian filling in our Southwestern stuffed peppers and loads more.
How to Store
Storage is key to prolonging the shelf life of your homemade seasonings. Store this Southwest spice blend in an airtight jar or container in a cool, dry place, like a pantry. Properly stored, it will keep for up to 6 months.
- Combine all the spices in a small bowl or container and mix well.
- Store the spice blend in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
- Use this blend to season grilled or roasted meats, vegetables, chili, tacos, and more Mexican-inspired recipes.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Southwest spice blend
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.