Tajin seasoning has been popular in Mexico since the 1980s but has now become a go-to ingredient for Mexican-style fruit dishes and cocktails in North America, as well as a popular spice blend worldwide. If you can’t find any and need some right away, here are some Tajin seasoning substitutes to try.
A delicious chili lime seasoning, Tajin is quite versatile. It's often paired with fruits like watermelon or mangoes, but don't overlook it as well as a dry rub.
Table of Contents
- Your Best Bet: Make your own Tajin Seasoning
- A decent second choice: Lemon pepper
- In a pinch: Cholula Hot Sauce
- Other alternatives
- Must-read related posts
Your Best Bet: Make your own Tajin Seasoning
It is relatively easy to make Tajin seasoning at home if you regularly cook Mexican food and have a selection of dried peppers on hand.
Commercial Tajin seasoning is made with three peppers: guajillo chilies, chile de arbol, and pasilla. If you have the three peppers from the commercial version on hand, that would be ideal, but you can make your version using other dried Mexican peppers instead. Alternatives include anchos, cascabels, and chipotles.
Grind your peppers in a spice grinder until they take on the consistency of a coarse powder. Ideally, you will want your lime flavor to come from dried lime zest, but fresh will work if you don’t have this on hand.
Alternatively, you can combine your ground chili flakes with lime juice, but you will lose the powdery characteristic and wind up with more of a paste; the paste may not be ideal for all Tajin seasoning applications.
A decent second choice: Lemon pepper
With lemon pepper, you get a dry powder just like Tajin seasoning and one that gives you the main characteristics of Tajin seasoning: a tangy citrus note and mild spice. Another upside of using lemon pepper is that commercial versions are widely available if you are in North America.
Where the commercial version is unavailable, the ingredients — lemon and black pepper — will probably be. Lemon pepper isn’t a perfect substitute for Tajin seasoning since it lacks the chili flavor; despite being a mild background note, Tajin seasoning’s chili flavor is one of its distinctive elements.
Also noteworthy is that lemon pepper doesn’t come with salt like Tajin seasoning. There is also a big difference in appearance: Tajin seasoning is bright orange-red while lemon pepper is yellow.
In a pinch: Cholula Hot Sauce
Like Tajin seasoning, Cholula hot sauce is a Mexican product that has garnered popularity worldwide. Cholula’s original flavor offers a gentle heat, vinegary acidity, and an orange-red color similar to Tajin seasoning’s. Cholula has the benefit of being both widely available in North America and many places in Europe. In some dishes, the vinegar flavor may stand in for the citrus tang from the lime in Tajin seasoning.
The drawbacks of using Cholula include the fact that it is a liquid, which means that you won’t be able to use it for dishes and cocktails where you need a dry ingredient.
The combination of the spice blends chili powder and za’atar may approximate much of Tajin seasoning’s flavor. These spice blends have some ingredients that differ from those in Tajin seasoning, so they are likely to give you a more complex taste than you would get from Tajin seasoning, but the blend should still work for the same applications.
Loomi is a seasoning consisting of powdered dried limes used in Iranian cooking. If what you want is Tajin seasoning’s tangy citrus note and you have some loomi in your spice cabinet, you can give it a try. It will provide the most noticeable element of Tajin seasoning’s flavor even though it won’t provide the color.