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
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.