This Homemade Sazon Seasoning is versatile and flavorful, all without any MSG, artificial colors, and anti-caking agents that you often find in storebought versions. I use this 6-ingredient rub once a week for pulled pork, fish, chicken, beef, beans and rice, and more!
At first I had no idea what to do with it, but I decided to rub it onto some pork shoulder, popped into the slow cooker, and became hooked forever.
Since then I’ve sure been making up for lost time.
No joke, this seasoning is always in my pantry now, and I make pulled pork with it at least once a week.
I literally have some sazon seasoned pork in the slow cooker cooking right now, and I also enjoy it with other meats, potatoes, rice, and more. The flavor is incredible!
Tips for Best Results
Use fresh spices – Spices, especially ground spices, tend to lose their flavor rapidly as they sit in the pantry. The general rule of thumb is that they will stay potently fresh for 3 to 6 months after opening. They won’t necessarily be “bad” at that point, but less flavorful. So try to use freshly purchased spices here for optimal flavor.
Store in an airtight container – A glass jar or container is my favorite for keeping air and moisture out of the sazon seasoning. I don’t recommend a ziptop plastic bag, because they tend to puncture easily and can be too breathable.
If you’re not familiar with this magical spice mix, it’s a staple of Latin cooking. The iconic packet of Sazon Goya is beloved my many, though personally I am uncomfortable with ingredients like monosodium glutamate, artificial colors, and anti-caking agents. They really are not necessary here anyway.
North Market Spices’ ingredients list for it is: Annatto, Garlic, Salt, Cumin, Black Pepper, Coriander, and Oregano.
For my final version after many rounds of tweaking and testing, I mostly stuck with this blend of spices, with a few minor changes.
I found I like adding a little bit of onion powder to the mix, and I also like making the actual sazon seasoning without salt or black pepper.
This comes from a personal preference of seasoning the meat separately since it’s hard to tell how much salt is going on when there’s salt already mixed in.
I’ve developed a knack for knowing how much salt and pepper to add to meat just by eyeing it, but a good rule of thumb to start with is 3/4 tsp of salt per pound of meat.
That number will vary based on the salt you’re using, and personal taste. But it’s easiest to calculate when you know you don’t have to factor in extra salt in the seasoning.
The six Sazon seasoning ingredients you’ll need are ground coriander, ground cumin, ground annatto seed, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano.
If you’re not familiar with it, annatto seeds come from the fruit of the achiote tree, that’s ground and often used as a dye. I first discovered it a few years ago when I noticed it as a common ingredient in cheddar cheese. But annatto isn’t just for vibrant color. It has a distinct flavor too that makes it a key ingredient here, that has a warm and earthy taste.
Some people say that sweet paprika with cayenne pepper is a good substitute for the annatto, but I disagree. Because there are only six ingredients here, you really need the annatto. See the FAQ below on where to find it.
As far as using the sazón seasoning for pulled pork, I simply rub a few tablespoons of the spice blend all over a boneless, tied pork shoulder, season with salt and pepper, then throw it into the slow cooker on low for about 8 hours, per my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork method (or I add it to this Smoked Pork Butt).
Then you can shred the meat and toss it back into the juices.
Ways to Use It
Sazon Seasoning is incredibly versatile. Here are some of the ways I use it in my own kitchen.
Meats: It’s great not just for pork of any kind (try it on Carnitas), but also pretty much all other meats, but especially steaks like Grilled Ribeye. Also try rubbing it on Santa Maria Tri Tip or a Reverse Sear Prime Rib. Sazon spice also works well for poultry like Spatchcock Chicken and Crockpot Chicken Breast.
FYI you do not have to put olive oil on the meat first, but you can if you wish to turn it into more of a paste.
I hope you give this magical dry rub a try. I really love keeping it on hand!
For those who would rather buy it than make it, I saw that North Market Spices has an online shop to buy it. I don’t recommend the typical grocery store brands, which have MSG and artificial colors and ingredients in them. It’s so easy to mix some up yourself.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months. It won’t necessarily be “bad” after this, but the flavors will not be as potent. I recommend a glass jar or container.
Annatto powder isn’t always available in grocery stores, though groceries with Latin foods and hispanic markets tend to have it. I order mine online. Amazon has plenty of choices for only a few dollars (like this one – affiliate), and I usually get Badia brand. Ground annatto sometimes goes by the name “achiote.”
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground annatto seeds*
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until the spices are evenly distributed.
- Or, place all ingredients in a resealable plastic bag or jar, and shake.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.