Weeknight Cooking

Ditch the Taco Seasoning Packet and Use Mexican-Style Chorizo Instead

With its myriad seasonings and rich pork, Mexican-style chorizo is essentially several ingredients in one.

Published Oct. 20, 2021.

Boxed taco kits—the kind you might have grown up with, complete with crispy shells, premade sauce, and seasoning packet—are an undeniably convenient formula to get tacos on the table quickly. But all the nostalgia in the world can’t make up for the prefab spice mix’s lackluster, dusty flavor.

Our recommendation? Ditch the spice packet in favor of a nearly-as-convenient substitute: fresh Mexican-style chorizo. We first made the swap in Cook’s Country’s Ground Beef and Chorizo Tacos recipe and never looked back.

Unlike its Spanish counterpart, which is already cured, Mexican-style chorizo is essentially raw ground pork seasoned with spices such as coriander, paprika, chile powder, dried herbs, and garlic. It can be found at many supermarket butcher counters, but you can also make your own, like we call for in our Chorizo and Potato Tacos recipe.

By adding Mexican-style chorizo to the requisite ground beef, you gain the complex flavor of a bunch of different spices all in one ingredient. We recommend using 90% lean ground beef, which is a little lower in fat than we usually call for, because the chorizo will contribute extra richness too. You can learn how to make these weeknight-friendly tacos step-by-step with Ashley Moore in the newest episode of our YouTube series Today's Special.

When purchased from the butcher, Mexican-style chorizo often comes in links, so Ashley demonstrates how to make a shallow cut down the middle to remove the meat from its casing. Doing this means that the chorizo will mix seamlessly with the ground beef, so you’ll barely notice it’s there (but the extra smoky-savory taste will be pleasantly pronounced).

After browning the meat, all that’s left to add is chopped onion, poblano pepper, garlic, plum tomatoes, canned chipotles in adobo, ground cumin, and a finishing handful of fresh cilantro.

Ground Beef and Chorizo Tacos

Thanks to some seasonings and vegetables, ground beef and chorizo transform into a ruby-red, tangy, and well-balanced taco filling—all in about half an hour.  
Get the Recipe

“This is what you want the boxed taco kit to taste like, and it never does,” Ashley says. “Smoky, a little spicy, the texture of the meat and chorizo is perfect. Nice and tender, not too pebbly.”

There’s no need to do away with all the nostalgic ingredients, however. A sprinkle of shredded iceberg lettuce and cheese are must-have toppings here to complete your new go-to weeknight tacos recipe.

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