Sazon seasoning adds beautiful color and warm flavor to foods, without spicy heat. Make this recipe to avoid MSG and food dyes found in some store brands.
You may be used to shopping at your local ethnic market for spices you need for Latin recipes, but what do you do when the market is closed and you don’t want to wait to make those dishes?
That’s what happened to me when I needed sazon seasoning for making yellow rice and ropa vieja. Rather than waiting until the next day, I decided to make a homemade seasoning blend instead.
Once you start making spice blends at home, you’ll realize how convenient it is, and how much money you can save. Not only that, but the flavor is always better when you make seasoning blends at home.
After all, without asking, there’s no way to know how long spices have been sitting on the shelves of the market.
There’s another reason you may want to start making blends at home, and this is an important reason. Some of the big brands add extra sodium, food dyes, preservatives and artificial colors to their spice mixes. Making them at home puts YOU in control of what goes into the blend.
Goya is a well known and popular brand of foods and spices used for Latin and Mexican cooking. I did my best to make what I think is a great substitute for Goya sazon, without MSG, food dyes, or additional salt.
BIG BONUS: You never have to worry about what’s hiding in that bottle. There is no MSG, artificial flavors or food dyes when you make your own sazon seasoning blend!
If you make a lot of Latin and Mexican recipes, many of the ingredients for sazon seasoning may already be in your pantry.
Spices like ground coriander, cumin, garlic and onion powders are pretty common. The key ingredient to give that rich, red color to sazon is achiote powder.
If annatto seeds or achiote powder aren’t available, you can substitute with a good pinch of saffron threads or an equal amount of turmeric.
If saffron is unavailable or not to your liking, another substitute for achiote powder is to combine 1 part turmeric to 2 parts paprika. Add them to the bowl with the other spices and you’re good to go!
Uses for Sazon
Use the Latin seasoning blend to add flavor and a gorgeous red color to just about any kind of dish in Mexican or Latin American cuisine. Soups, stews, chicken, fish, beef or pork, and even breakfast items! Here are a few ideas
- Steak seasoning– Use it to season steaks for the grill, especially a Latin or Mexican seasoned bavette steak, or even Southwest flap steak.
- Rice dishes – I use Sazon seasoning blend in my recipes for arroz amarillo and Puerto Rican chicken and rice.
- Beans– Although the red color won’t be as vibrant, the flavor of sazon is amazing in borracho beans!
- Eggs – Don’t hesitate adding a sprinkle onto ranchero Mexican eggs
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This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking on March 4, 2019, was last updated August 21, 2021.
Sazon Seasoning (No MSG or Food Dye)
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp achiote powder (See Note 1)
- 1 tbsp oregano (See Note 2)
- 1 tbsp dried cilantro
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- In a spice grinder or food processor add the ground coriander, cumin, achiote, oregano, cilantro, garlic and onion powders, kosher salt and pepper and pulse until a fine grind. Store in an airtight container.
- If Annatto seeds or achiote powder is not available, you can substitute with a good pinch of saffron threads or same amount of turmeric. If saffron is unavailable or not to your liking, another substitute is to combine 1 part turmeric to 2 parts paprika.
- For Latin cooking, I prefer to use Mexican oregano, but feel free to use regular oregano.
- This makes about 1/2 cup total or 24 teaspoon servings.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
What is a serving of the Sazon spice blend? Just trying to watch sodium levels. Thanks.
This makes about 1/2 cup total or 24 teaspoon servings Vicky, hope this helps!
Hello 🙂 I was wondering if there a substitute I could use for the dried cilantro
For dried I would use a pinch of ground cumin, but it already is in the recipe so I would simply omit.
Thank you for this delicious homemade seasoning recipe! I find ground Annatto (Achiote molido) in the ethnic section of my regular grocery store.
So glad I could help Sil!
Hi Kevin,just wondering if you have ever came across a seasoning for homemade chorizo sausages?
I’ll be making your chipotle in adobo sauce on the weekend! can’t wait to try it!
In my Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits with Chorizo Gravy recipe I have a homemade version for making homemade chorizo (spices etc). Hope this helps Chris.
Where do you buy the achiote powder from?
Check out this post Sila! https://keviniscooking.com/achiote-paste-and-the-annatto-seed/ Also, in my recipe card if you check out Note 1 I give you alternatives to it if you are unable to find. Thank you!
Have you tried reducing the salt? I am on a sodium restricted diet. Sometimes the salt can be cut back without major changes.
This definitely has considerably less salt than store bought versions Peter, but you could cut it down more to suit your health concerns.
Considerably less than the 1 tbsp most recipes call for, too. You could do no salt and season the pot to taste.
This is true! Glad you like it!
looking at the goya brand, there is 140mg in 1/4 tsp. This has 292mg in 1 tsp which would equal 73mg in 1/4 tsp…so half the amount of store brand…but you could also cut down the total salt in the recipe from 2 tsp to 1 tsp or even less…I don’t like to use a lot of salt myself so I would plan to cut down when making this
Thank you so much for this recipe! When I saw MSG was the first ingredient at the store I didn’t purchase it. I was thrilled to find this. Thanks again for this flavorful, better for you solution.
So glad you found this one Hope!