Taco Sauce

8 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Easy Taco Sauce recipe with tomato sauce and the perfect seasoning mix full of Mexican flavors. Quick homemade sauce with simple ingredients.

This amazing Taco Sauce is a quick, easy and delicious Sauce Recipe that goes with all your favorite Mexican Food Recipes. It’s the perfect sauce for Burritos and Tacos, or any dish you want to add a little heat and a lot of amazing flavor. The best part is that it’s made with canned tomato sauce and basic ingredients in less than 30 minutes.

About our Taco Sauce Recipe

Homemade Mexican Food Recipes are some of the best dinners, especially on busy nights! A delicious taco night is just so easy to throw together with whatever meat you have, for an easy meal in minutes. Plus since it’s an “assemble yourself” kind of dinner, you can easily turn those tacos into Taco Salads or Beef Burritos with the swap of a tortilla. But the real key to a delicious taco night is all the many toppings you can pile on your tacos!

One of the great things about this recipe is how easy it is. There’s really only a couple of steps and the whole thing will be done in less than 23 minutes. It’s easy to put on the stove while you get the rest of your dinner ready and just come back occasionally to stir it. It should be ready to go along with your tacos for the perfect at-home Mexican dinner!

Just like copycat Taco Bell Red Sauce, this homemade sauce is full of great flavor and is more budget friendly than a store-bought version. Plus since you are making it at home, you can play with the ingredients to make the sauce uniquely yours. The tangy tomato flavor, slight heat, and blend of delicious Mexican seasonings make it easy to pair with your other favorite flavorings as well as your favorite dishes.

Taco Sauce Ingredients

  • Tomato Sauce: A can of tomato sauce is the base of this tasty taco topping! It makes it thicker than regular hot sauce and also helps add a tangy, savory and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Water: The water thins out the tomato sauce for a Taco Sauce that is easy to pour. It also helps the spices dissolve so they blend into the other ingredients for a smooth, fully flavored topping.
  • Vinegar: White vinegar adds extra tangy flavor to the sauce while helping bind everything together and bringing out the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Spices: A delicious mix of basic spices turns plain tomato sauce into an amazing taco sauce full of flavor and depth. There are smoky peppery flavors from paprika and chili powder, earthy pungent garlic and onion and lots of unique, woody cumin. 
  • Sugar: A little sugar helps round out the seasonings and balance all the flavors. It helps tame the heat so you get the hot pepper flavors without it being too spicy.
  • Cayenne: Adding cayenne pepper gives your Taco Sauce some heat. You can always adjust it to make the sauce spicier or try adding other hot peppers like chipotle pepper powder for a little hot and smoky flavor.

Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Saucepan: You will need a large enough pan that will fit all the sauce ingredients without it splashing out of the pan while it simmers. It’s also best to use a pan that is stainless steel that has a heavy bottom to make sure the heat stays evenly distributed. This will keep your sauce from scorching. If you don’t have a heavy bottomed pan, make sure to stir often to keep your sauce from burning.
  • Glass Jars: It’s best to store your sauces and dressing in a glass air-tight container. The glass is going to block any odors and keep it fresh longer. Plus you won’t have to worry about the tomato-based sauce staining the container. 

How to Make Taco Sauce

Time needed: 20 minutes.

  1. Combine the Ingredients

    In a saucepan, add the tomato sauce, water, vinegar, spices, sugar, and cayenne pepper and stir well to combine. 

  2. Cook the Sauce

    Over medium heat, bring the sauce ingredients to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.Taco Sauce mixing sauce ingredients in pot with whisk

  3. Cool and Serve

    After the sauce has thickened slightly and cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Let the sauce cool completely before serving and storing. 

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Taco Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 23 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 595mg26%
Potassium 215mg6%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 443IU9%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 16mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Making Taco Sauce Tips & Tricks

Whether you want more heat or less, make the sauce that’s right for you with these tips!

  1. Don’t Make your Sauce Too Hot!
    • Even if you really like spicy food, you don’t want fiery hot sauce that makes your dish too spicy to eat. So to keep your sauce from being too hot, just increase a little bit of heat at a time. Remember, you can always make it hotter but it’s hard to make it milder.
  2. Turn Down the Heat
    • If you do make your sauce too hot, add a tablespoon of tomato paste or two to tone it down. You want to use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce because it has lots more tangy tomato flavor plus natural sweetness the sauce doesn’t have that will balance the heat.

What to Pair With Taco Sauce

Fish Tacos: While of course this taco sauce is the perfect topping for any taco night, it especially makes a delicious sauce for Fish Tacos. Make it a creamy taco sauce by adding some sour cream or crema to the sauce then drizzle it on the tacos.

Queso Dip: Taco Sauce is a great way to give your Queso Dip some extra zing! Stir in ½ cup of taco sauce with the cheese dip, then serve with an extra swirl on top. Turn leftovers of the spicy creamy queso sauce into nachos the next day. 

How to Store Taco Sauce

  • Serve: You can keep Homemade Taco Sauce at room temperature for up to 1 week. Just let it cool then seal it in an airtight container.
  • Store: For a longer shelf life, pour the sauce into a glass jar or another airtight container to store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
  • Freeze: You can even freeze Taco Sauce for up to 6 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before you serve it over your dinner.

FAQ for Taco Sauce

What is the difference between taco sauce and hot sauce?

Typically taco sauce is made with tomatoes or tomato sauce and has a blend of Mexican spices along with hot peppers added for heat. Hot Sauce on the other hand is usually just hot peppers, water and vinegar for a thinner and much spicier sauce.

What is the difference between taco sauce and salsa?

Taco Sauce and Salsa differ in texture and ingredients a lot. Salsa is usually made with fresh tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers, where Taco Sauce is going to be a blend of dried spices with tomato sauce or paste, water, etc. Salsa is also mostly chunky where Taco Sauce is mostly smooth.

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Taco Sauce

Easy Taco Sauce recipe with tomato sauce and a perfect seasoning mix full of Mexican flavors. Quick homemade sauce with simple ingredients.
Yield 8 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Mexican
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Add all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan on medium heat and stir well.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Let cool before serving.


Calories: 23kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 595mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 443IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

Taco Sauce Variations

  • Mild Sauce: This taco sauce has some spice in it. If you prefer a more mild flavor, just take out the hot ingredients like cayenne pepper and chili powder.
  • Spicy Sauce: If you have the opposite preference and wish this sauce had more heat, you can also make those adjustments. Try mixing some habanero peppers, chili pepper, or jalapeño in with the Taco Sauce.
  • Flavor additions: You can experiment with the flavors by adding fresh ingredients. Try mixing in some taco seasoning, red pepper flakes, oregano, or coriander seeds. You can also squeeze in a little lime juice for some tang and garnish the sauce with cilantro leaves.
  • Tomato: For more tomato flavor in your Homemade Taco Sauce mix in some tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, or diced tomatoes to go with the tomato sauce. The crushed or diced tomatoes will add some nice texture and make the sauce more similar to salsa.
  • Add-ins: To make the sauce more even more like salsa or dip to serve with chips, you can mix in different vegetables. Diced and caramelized onions would taste great. You can also mix in corn, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, and diced zucchini.

Related Topping

Homemade Spicy Sauce Recipes

Taco Sauce finished in pot with whisk

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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