Sazon Seasoning: History, Flavor, Benefits, Uses

Sazon seasoning is a blend of spices widely used as a general seasoning in Central American and Caribbean cooking. Along with adobo, sazon seasoning has long been considered essential for creating an authentic Latin American flavor. Many consider it a comforting seasoning that brings with it memories of home. Beans are native to the Americas and were a staple food during the region’s colonization and throughout the era of slavery. Methods for cooking beans were among the earliest regional culinary developments.

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Sazon seasoning originated in Puerto Rico as a set of seasonings used to flavor stewed beans. Over time, it evolved to be used in other dishes, including meat stews and dishes with rice. The core set of spices in sazon comes from Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The achiote comes from the Americas, the garlic from Europe, and the monosodium glutamate from Asia.

Sazon seasoning blends differ depending on who is making them. The best-known sazon seasoning is made by the Goya brand; another popular version comes from Badia. Sazon seasoning is also a relatively simple and easily improvised seasoning mix, so making it at home has also become trendy in recent years.

Sazon seasoning flavor profile

Some brands, like both Goya and Badia, offer a range of sazon seasoning blends with different flavors. The main ingredient is annatto, which is also called achiote. Annatto has a mildly peppery flavor, but its primary function is to give the blend a bright orange color. Monosodium glutamate is another key ingredient and is a big part of Sazon seasoning’s appeal. The blend will also usually include garlic and salt. The result is a salty seasoning with notes of garlic and a strong dose of umami.

Health benefits

Sazon seasoning is not a good source of any essential nutrients. The dried and powdered spices it contains may have trace amounts of some nutrients but not enough for sazon seasoning to be considered a nutritious ingredient. One possible health benefit is that it flavors healthy foods without also adding calories.

Health concerns

Sazon seasoning does contain a significant amount of salt, which means that you will need to consume it in moderation. Excessive salt consumption has been associated with high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. High blood pressure is known to increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Common uses

It is possible to use commercial sazon seasoning in almost every Latin American dish. You can use it in Mexican taco meat and as a seasoning for steaks and enchiladas.

In Puerto Rico, sazon seasoning is a general-purpose spice that gets used in a range of local dishes that include classics like beans and arroz con pollo, where it contributes a bright yellow color along with its flavor. Puerto Rican cooks also use it in empanadas and a variety of other stewed and roasted dishes.

You can mix sazon seasoning with other spices to make rubs for grilled or smoked meats; alternatively, you can use it as a rub by itself without the addition of other seasonings. Paellas and yellow rice can benefit from the addition of sazon seasoning. It works well in some casseroles and potato dishes.