Sazón seasoning is the secret ingredient to take your food from bland to “this is amazing!” Use this achiote spice mix on meat, soups, stews, grilling or wherever you want an extra boost of flavor!
What is Sazón?
Sazón is a seasoning mix used in Hispanic cooking, especially Puerto Rican cuisine.
It’s based off of achiote, which is made by cooking annatto seeds in oil to release their color.
The orange oil is then used to impart a beautiful yellow hue to dishes like arroz con gandules.
To streamline the process of infusing and straining oil, the food industry created a dried version in seasoning packs which can quickly be sprinkled in dishes.
Goya is the most popular brand of sazón.
Many of these packets contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial dyes.
They also contain spices for extra flavor such as garlic, coriander and cumin, which are not found in achiote oil.
However, the primary purposes of sazón are for color and flavor enhancement.
MSG is an unami flavor enhancer and it also tenderizes meat.
Many people avoid MSG for health reasons.
By making sazón at home you can eliminate the MSG, yet still get the flavor and color benefits.
If MSG is not a concern for you, it can make your food extra tasty.
You can buy MSG in the spice section of your grocery store or under the brand name Accent.
So, if you’d like to be in control of your sazón ingredients, or if the packets are not accessible to you, read on!
Sazón con Culantro y Achiote
The most popular Goya flavor is “Sazón with Coriander and Annatto.” The Spanish label says with culantro y achiote.
There’s some debate on the sazón ingredients since coriander and culantro (not cilantro) are two different herbs.
Coriander is the English word for cilantro (the Spanish name).
In the USA coriander specifically refers to cilantro seeds while culantro is another word for recao or sawtooth coriander.
It comes from the same family as cilantro, but has long leaves and is one of the herbs used in sofrito.
So, which is used in sazón I can’t really say, but I’m inclined to think it’s ground coriander seed. Dried cilantro and culantro are very rare.
Coriander seed is fairly easy to find, although you might have to grind it yourself.
It has a bright aromatic scent which really elevates the flavor.
How to make Sazón seasoning:
- Annatto – this is what gives it color without artificial dyes. You can buy ground annatto here. If you can’t get annatto, you can substitute saffron threads or paprika (not hot paprika).
- Salt – omit if on a low sodium diet
- Cumin – adds a little smokiness
- Coriander – has a subtle, fresh flavor that brightens things up
- Garlic – granulated or powder works
- MSG – you can definitely leave this out, but if you have nothing against MSG I highly recommend.
Mix everything and store in an airtight container.
You can recycle an old spice shaker, or use a glass jar.
I use mason jars and found some lids on Amazon with little shaker holes like a store-bought spice container.
Uses for sazón seasoning:
You can add this to any meat recipe.
Use it in soups and stews like habichuelas guisdadas or anywhere you want extra color and flavor.
½ teaspoon equals 1 packet.
One Goya packet contains about 1 ¼ teaspoons of sazón, but homemade is stronger. You can always add more if needed.
- 2 tablespoons ground annatto (achiote)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon MSG (optional but recommended)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Whisk everything together and store in an airtight container.
- Use 1/2 teaspoon or more in recipes calling for one packet of Goya Sazon.
Makes just over 1/4 cup of seasoning, about 28 servings if using 1/2 teaspoon.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 28 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 227mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
Nutritional information provided is an estimate only. Please consult the labels of ingredients you use for more accurate results.