This homemade taco sauce is an easy way to add flavor to your favorite dishes, from tacos to quesadillas! It’s made with a few basic pantry staples and it will take your taco night to the next level.

homemade taco sauce

I love having a jar of taco sauce in my pantry because it’s a quick and easy way to add flavor to taco fillings, quesadillas, soups, and wraps. But I don’t always have it available, so I decided to try making my own. It turned out to be easier than I expected, and I like being able to control the flavors! This sauce is tangy, slightly spicy, and perfect for your favorite tacos!

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Tomato sauce: Tomato sauce is the base ingredient in taco sauce, providing a rich and tangy flavor. Be sure you’re using plain tomato sauce. Do not use tomato paste or marinara sauce.
  • Lime juice: Lime juice adds a bright and citrusy flavor to the taco sauce. It can be substituted with lemon juice for a similar tangy taste.
  • White vinegar: A splash of vinegar adds acidity and tanginess to the sauce. It can be substituted with apple cider vinegar.
  • Cumin: Cumin adds an earthy and smoky flavor to the taco sauce.
  • Chili powder: Chili powder adds heat and depth of flavor to the sauce. It can be substituted with cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to achieve a similar spiciness.
  • Paprika: Paprika adds a mild, sweet flavor to the sauce. It can be substituted with smoked paprika or a combination of sweet paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Garlic powder: Garlic powder provides a classic, savory flavor. It can be substituted with freshly minced garlic for a stronger garlic flavor.
  • Onion powder: Onion powder adds a subtle savory flavor to the sauce. If you don’t have onion powder, add an extra pinch of garlic powder.

How to Make Taco Sauce


  • To make a spicy taco sauce, add a teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce and a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  • Add one teaspoon of brine from jarred jalapeños for a different spicy flavor. It’s a unique way to add a layer of heat to the sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is taco sauce made of? Taco sauce typically combines tomato sauce, vinegar, and spices.
  • What can you use in place of taco sauce? If you’re looking for other ways to add flavor, try my burrito sauce, quesadilla sauce, or cilantro sauce.
  • What’s the difference between taco and salsa sauce? Salsa is typically made with fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime juice. It tends to have a chunkier texture and a more vibrant, refreshing flavor.

How to Store Taco Sauce

Keep leftover taco sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also store homemade taco sauce in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it cool completely, then divide it into an ice cube tray and freeze. That way, when you need a little taco sauce, you can thaw as much as you need.

TVP tacos

Ways to Use Taco Sauce

Try this sauce on your favorite tacos or add a drizzle on cooked rice or beans. You can also use this on eggs, as a dip for chips, or as a dipping sauce for your favorite quesadilla. This homemade taco sauce is an easy way to add amazing flavor to your next taco night!

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Homemade Taco Sauce

Homemade Taco Sauce

  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


Units Scale
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan or pot, add the tomato sauce, water, lime juice, white vinegar, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Adjust seasonings to taste. You may want to add a little more salt, a dash of hot sauce, or an additional squeeze of lime juice.
  4. Allow to cool, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Keywords: homemade taco sauce