Do You Like Ortega Taco Sauce? Try Making Your Own!


When it’s taco night at our house, I have to be sure I have some taco sauce in the house too. Hubby gets all sad if I set out a nice spread of taco meat and toppings but no sauce. “What, no taco sauce?” he’ll say and look mournfully around hoping it will appear by magic. Who would serve tacos without first making sure there was some taco sauce in the house? Shame on me.

So this easy homemade taco sauce recipe has been a nice way for me to be able to keep taco sauce on hand and not spend as much money as I would if I was always grabbing the bottle of Ortega Taco Sauce at the store and throwing it in my grocery cart.

This recipe uses tomato sauce as the base, thinned a little bit with water, with vinegar for some tartness and just a little bit of sugar to offset it. Then you mix in a nice assortment of spices and your homemade taco sauce is ready to go. Pretty simple!Make your own taco sauce by adding spices to tomato sauce

This recipe is my own adaptation of various homemade taco sauce recipes I came across. Hungry Son commented that it needed a little lemon or something (which was pretty perceptive of him as the Ortega ingredient label says Citric Acid which can give a product a lemon citrus taste). So with the addition of lemon pepper to the ingredient list, I think we’ve come pretty close to a good clone for our favorite taco sauce.homemade taco sauce


Here’s how to do it:



  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

Combine all ingredients and put in jar or other storage container. Keep in the refrigerator. Best if able to set for a few hours before using to let the flavors mingle.


You might also like these recipes:

 Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning for One Pound of Ground Beef

Simple Salsa Using Canned Tomatoes




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    Feel free to comment or share your bright idea!

  1. says

    Interesting. I make my own taco flavoring for meat (i bought one of the packets, used it, and kept it for the ingredient list). That works well. I do my own seasoning salt, too. But i'd never thought of making the sauce from a bottle. My hubby prefers the chipotle sauce of some brand, that specific one, nothing else will substitute. But it might be interesting to try! Thank you. :)

  2. says

    This is great. I already use Amy Daczyn's recipe for the taco seasoning this is awesome….

    I also make my own salsa, which you probably already do also, tomatoes (canned or fresh), garlic, cumin, salt, cilantro and a little olive oil if you have some.

  3. says

    This is so close to ortega sauce that I can't really tell the difference. Big thanks. Stores around here stopped selling ortega, and I've tried every other taco sauce maker on the shelf, and none of them came close to replacing the ortega. So in short you helped out huge.

  4. Erika says

    So glad my Google search for homemade Ortega taco sauce led me here :) I’m trying to eat more organic, less GMO foods, and that’s hard to do unless you make things like this yourself.
    Can’t wait to try this!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      That’s definitely on of the advantages of homemade items. You have so much more control and knowledge about what’s in it. I hope you enjoy the taco sauce!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      I have kept this for several months in the refrigerator with no problem. I have never tried keeping it longer than that as by then it is used up. Based on that, my experience is that it will keep for at least 3 to 4 months.

  5. Marti says

    Until I found this recipe post, I would make tacos and then remember that we were out of sauce. Which is no surprise here, the way they pour it on their tacos. My family loves this, and I’m not even worried about how long it will last as it may never even make it to the fridge. Thank you!

  6. Brenda Vandiver says

    Thank you so much for the recipe on tacos. I almost had my supper ready & NO TACO SAUCE ! I am gonna try to fix yours except I don’t have any tomato sauce. I have stewed – whole & diced – I wish I knew what you would do . Thank You anyway.

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      I would probably have put my stewed tomatoes in the food processor to see if I could turn them into sauce :)

  7. Shellbear22 says

    I am so excited I found this. I feel the same way as your husband about taco sauce (and sour cream). I was just about to go make a trip to the grocery store to pick some up when I found this (which means now I can eat before 9 o’clock)!!! Thanks so much. I don’t have any lemon pepper, but since you added that after the fact it should be fine. I do have limes, but I’m not sure that would be the same. Maybe I’ll put a splash of lemon juice from a bottle. THANKS!!!


  8. Rosa says

    I am so trying this today, I can not eat anything with seeds in it and have been buying the jar sauce then having to strain it. This is cheaper and no seeds. Thanks.

  9. kris larsen says

    If theres one thing i love its ortega taco sauce. sometimes i even add tacos to make it taste better. either way, im going to try this to save myself a lot of money. thanks

  10. Todd says

    I am going to try this with my homemade tomato sauce instead of from a can. Have you ever tried canning this sauce as well?

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      It’s been many years since I have done any canning, but I think you could can this taco sauce with success.

      • Todd says

        Cool, I’ll try it! My wife and I just started canning last summer after growing our first big garden, and I’m always on the look out for new uses of tomatoes and canning. Thanks again for the recipe!

  11. KM says

    Had no lemon pepper so subbed lemon juice for that and vinegar. Seems taste authentic enough; poured it back into the empty bottle. 😉

  12. sonya says

    just wondering could you use diced canned tomatoes or are you talking about the tomato sauce you would put on a meat pie and hot chips.

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      I use tomato sauce which is a thicker and smoother type sauce with no chunks (I don’t use the diced tomatoes).

  13. Marline says

    I am so making this tonight. I put in a search on google, and this appears. I will save a LOT of money since I have these items in my cupboard already. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe !

  14. Shannon says

    OMG SLAM DUNK!!! My son refuses to eat tacos w/o taco sauce and we were out, so I looked online for a homemade recipe and it brought me right here. I doubled the recipe and found I was short on cumin so substituted with chili powder (which I also checked online to be sure on). I will admit to over doing it on the cayenne too, thinking I was doubling, I quadrupled the cayenne (oops), but spicy goes over well in this house. I shook it up and popped it in the fridge and said it would take a few hours to blend the flavor. Well my son didn’t care and w/in 30 min of making he tried the sauce….he LOVES LOVES LOVES it. My oldest son tried it and loved it too. I will NEVER have to buy taco sauce again. It is waaay cheaper to buy tomato sauce or even make it and cumin is not a regular for me, but I’ll keep it handy from now on. Bev, (did I get that right?) You are AWESOME!!! I’m sharing this with friends on FB, this is the height of awesomeness for my week! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      Well, your comment just made my day! So glad you found the recipe helpful. This is what I love about DIY recipes. They provide a way to be resourceful when you need it, and most of the time they result in a superior product too!

  15. Valerie says

    Thank you! I actually ran out of Ortega Taco Sauce today but had everything else ready to go. This recipe was actually tastier than the jar I buy! This is my new go-to recipe! Thanks again, you saved dinner tonight!!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      When you hover with your mouse over the pictures in this blog post (or any post on my blog), a little “Pin It” button will appear at the top left corner of the picture. You can then click on that and you are able to pin the article on Pinterest using whatever picture you chose to click on.

  16. Jeannetta says

    Thank you so much! Ortega taco sauce was recalled due to some peanut allergen present. I love their sauce I tried to use taco bell instead and it wasn’t the same. I made this and it was delicious. Love it!

    • Zoe says

      Ortega sauce has been recalled? That is why I couldn’t find it for a few days now. That really sucks! Okay glad I found this. I usually get the hot ortega taco sauce. Would you just increase the spices a little more to make it hotter?

      • BeverlyBeverly says

        Yes, to make it a little hotter you could add some crushed red pepper flakes to the mixture and/or you could try increasing the amount of cayenne in the mixture too.

  17. kris says

    I am going through Ortega taco sauce withdraw since the recall. I go through a bottle each night.( yes you can ask my wife…she’ll tell you I’m weird but I don’t care). I’m going out to get ingredients now. I’ll tell ya what I think.

  18. Shey says

    I just did a huge batch and canned this. I used tomato paste instead of sauce and for every 6 oz. of paste,use 2.-2.5 cups of water. I liked this recipe for the spices where other recipes really lacked in that department.
    If you can,leave at least inch head room because this does expand while cooking. I did a 30-45 minute water bath because I used citric acid for the tart factor so it upped its acid for canning. Lemon juice would work also. This tasted awesome and is going to my daughter’s wedding in January for the mexican dishes she will have.

  19. carrie says

    I recently started making an effort to eat clean but so far every recipe I have tried for clean versions of things i use have been awful. I didn’t hold out much hope for this but figured what the heck, I had everything on hand. OH MY GOSH YUM!!! Thank you!! Gave me faith to keep trying and not give up and go back to processed stuff with things I can’t pronounce.

  20. Remi says

    I just made the taco sauce, it’s FANTASTIC!!
    I used home canned tomato puree. And I used smoked hot paprika. It has quite a kick and excellent flavor. I did not have a couple of hours for the flavors to marry, so I heated the tomato puree on the stove and added all the seasonings to the warm tomato sauce. Then I put it in the blender so the texture would be smoother. Perfect! Thanks soooo much for the recipe!!!!!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      It’s always inspiring to me to hear how others adapt the recipes I share here. Thanks for sharing and it’s nice to know the homemade puree works too!

  21. Kim says

    Loved this! I’m always looking to replace store bought items with homemade recipes and this couldn’t have been any better! I used my canned tomato sauce and it was amazing – thank you so much for the recipe!