This homemade tajín seasoning is going to be one of your favourite spice mixes ever, with its tart and mildly spicy flavour. There are so many ways to use it at home, I even add it to smoothies and dals!
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
What is Tajín?
Tajín is practically a national institution in Mexico! It’s a Mexican spice blend of dried red chillies, dehydrated lime juice, citric acid and sea salt. And silicon dioxide to prevent caking.
How do you pronounce it? Ta-HEEN (hence the accented i).
What is interesting is that Tajín is actually a brand founded in 1985 by the enterprising Horacio Fernandez. His original mix is based on the flavours of his favourite chilli sauce made by grandma that he’d slather all over corn.
Horacio named the mix Tajín, after his visit to an old archaeological site in Mexico, El Tajín, inspired by the place and the fact that chillies (chili peppers), as you may know, are called ají in Spanish.
So the company name is also the name of this tart Mexican spice blend. The original is called Tajín Clásico, and is still my favourite. It’s salty, so, so tangy, a touch sweet and just with a hint of spicy.
Sprinkle some in your palm, lick it, and I dare you not to shiver at its intensity! It’s amazing!
Homemade Tajín Recipe
Homemade tajín is very, very easy to put together, as long as you can get your hands on the ingredients needed.
Before we go any further though, if you prefer buying the original tajín seasoning, here is my affiliate link for it on Amazon.
For the rest of you who can’t get it anywhere, it’s a simple case of mixing the handful of ingredients together.
The process is made even quicker if you start off with chilli powder (ground chili peppers), instead of whole dried chillies as I do here.
Once made, it’ll last indefinitely in your spice cupboard. But naturally, as with all spice mixes, its potency will decrease over time.
This is what we’ll be doing with whole dried chillies:
- Dry roast the chillies in a frying pan (skillet) to release their aroma.
- Grind them to a semi fine powder in a spice mill (coffee mill works great).
- Mix everything up in a bowl, taste and adjust the salt, citric acid and lime juice powder.
- Store in a spice jar.
We want mild dried red chillies. Tajín Clásico is a mild blend and that’s what I’m basing our homemade tajín recipe on.
Having said that, if you like your spicy food and want a spicier mix, then by all means go for spicier chillies, whether that’s a dried habanero or something hotter.
I’m using a combination of guajillo, mulato, pasilla and for a just a hint of heat, 2 de arbol. But you can use whatever you like. If you use chipotles, bear in mind your final chilli mix will be smoky too.
To get them via Amazon, here are my international affiliate links:
I’ve given the whole dried chillies as a weight, in the recipe. But to some extent, this is relative. Mulatos, for example are denser in feel, and therefore, slightly heavier on the scale. But it’s not an exact science, so don’t worry too much about it.
Dehydrated Lime Juice Powder
It’s amazing what you can buy online! I didn’t even know such a thing existed until I was making tajín for the first time a few years ago.
At that point in time, we could only get this Mexican seasoning with a local online grocer and they were out of stock. I desperately needed tajín for a Mexican cook-up I was doing. So the next best thing? Make it yourself.
I found dehydrated lime juice from an Ebay store and did a happy dance! In fact, I still get it on Ebay, as it’s yet to make an appearance on Amazon.
Dehydrated lime juice powder is a white powdery substance, looks like powdered milk and is exactly what it says. It’s very tart but also with bitter notes. So you don’t want to use too much of it as your homemade tajín will be bitter. In fact, the original tajin brand contains very little crystallised lime juice, as it’s also called.
Can’t get dehydrated lime juice? Make a wet tajín mix with fresh lime juice! Then store it in the fridge.
Citric Acid Powder
Many people assume that the tartness of tajín is as a result of the lime juice powder. But the citric acid is just as important, if not more so, for this sour slant. You get that necessary tartness without the bitter.
What is Citric Acid?
Citric acid is a mild acid that is found naturally in citrus juice, hence the name. However, obtaining citric acid from fruit is a fairly expensive exercise.
These days, the citric acid we buy is made with a culture of Aspergillus niger, sugar and calcium hydroxide (lime).
It is what gives many drinks and sweets (candy) their sour flavour. And that’s exactly the case with tajín. So if you can get citric acid, your tajín will thank you for it.
Be sure to get food grade citric acid, as it’s also sold as a limescale remover! Click here to get it on Amazon using my affiliate link.
Fine Sea Salt
Salt makes up a very important part of a good tajín seasoning mix, because its main flavours are salty and tart. The classic mix is not spicy, if you recall.
I’m giving a recipe that you can start off with, then adjust to your liking. So you can always make a low-sodium version, if you like.
How to use Tajín Clásico Seasoning?
So what is Tajin seasoning used for?
Oh boy, there really is no limit to this. Naturally, think Mexican cuisine, but when you allow yourself to think outside the box, you could go on and on!
Let’s take a look at the traditional ways to use this Tajín Clásico Seasoning and some rather unconventional ones!
- on grilled or boiled corn on the cob
- sprinkled over fresh fruit salads and cups – much like chaat masala in South Asia. So you could chop up some mango, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries and sprinkle tajín all over for an amazing fruit salad!
- as a sprinkle on cocktails and for the glass rims. Think margarita, Michelada, Bloody Mary, Bloody Maria, or really, any fruity type cocktail.
- jazz up guacamole. In the same vein, spike your mayo with it.
- this seasoning blend is also amazing in hot sauce, of whatever variety that you’re making.
- in salad dressing, its tangy nature is perfect here.
- or you could just sprinkle it on raw vegetables like cucumber, celery sticks, carrot, and a popular choice, jicama slices.
- if you like your popcorn, try it with some tajín next time!
- tajin seasoning is amazing in marinades for all sorts of meat, be it chicken, meat or seafood.
Ready to think outside the Box?
- I love adding tajín to my fruit smoothies, whatever fruit I happen to have on the day. The tartness and hint of spice takes care of any savoury cravings I have.
- I also add it to dals, curries and stews. Dals always want a tart ingredient, and that’s sometimes tamarind, sometimes tomatoes (or both). So tajín is a perfect addition for a flavour boost.
- It’s great stirred through couscous, rice and other grains too.
- and you know what else it’s good with? Mashed potatoes. Or mashed anything, really!
It is also added to Chamoy, the seet, sour and saly Mexican sauce. Click here for our Chamoy recipe.
And there you have it. If you’ve never tried tajín, you absolutely must, whether it’s this homemade version or the shop bought variety!
And now, shall we get our aprons on?
If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating!
If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor and hashtag it #linsfood.
Homemade Tajín (Mexican Chilli-Lime Seasoning)
- 1 frying pan (skillet) for dry roasting chillies
- 1 spice or coffee mill if grinding chillies
- 1 medium bowl
- measuring spoons
- 1 teaspoon
- 1 small jar
- 100 g dried red chillies OR 2 Tbsp mild chilli powder minimum 2 kinds would be great
- 1 Tbsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp dehydrated lime juice powder
- 2 tsp citric acid
With Whole Dried Chillies
- Deseed the chillies. Using gloves if you want (especially if your chillies are not super mild), cut off the stalks and cut your chillies in half and split them open. Get rid of the seeds and membranes.
- Dry roast the chillies. Heat a large frying pan on medium-low heat and dry roast both types of chillies for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them. When you start getting a fruity aroma off the chillies, take them off the heat and tip out onto a plate to cool.
- Grind the chillies. When the chillies are cool enough to handle, break them up and drop into a spice mill. Depending on the size of your spice mill, you'll have to do this in batches. You can see that mine is pretty small.Grind to a semi fine state. Tip out into a bowl.
With Chilli Powder of your Choice
- Tip the chilli powder into a bowl. Once again, 2 different chilli powders will give you a wonderful mix of flavours and aroma.
Mixing the Tajín
- Add the salt, lime juice powder and citric acid and mix thoroughly. Run your lime juice powder through a fine sieve as it tends to have tiny clumps. Mix thoroughly and taste. Add more lime juice powder or citric acid if you want.Transfer to a jar and store with the rest of the spices. It'll last indefinitely, although its potency will decrease over the months.