Taco sauce is a great thing to add to your prepper pantry. You have to have something to spice up all those beans, right? In this article I will show you how to both make and dehydrate taco sauce! The recipe is super easy, and dehydrating it is easy as well.
One thing I love about dehydrating taco sauce is that I can make exactly how much I need, so there is no waste. As an example, if I’m the only one that wants to eat taco sauce, I can easily mix up just a tablespoon or two of the sauce. It only takes a couple of minutes to rehydrate the sauce. The only thing I love more than homemade taco sauce is having dehydrated taco sauce in my pantry.
How to Make and Dehydrate Taco Sauce
Pro Tip: In this article, I am using the Nesco Dehydrator. It’s my personal favorite, and if you’re looking for a new dehydrator be sure to check it out!
As is the case with any recipe, when making taco sauce, the first thing you need to do is gather your ingredients. The good news is you most likely already have the ingredients in your pantry. Also, the recipe is very forgiving.
As an example, when I went to make this, I couldn’t find the cayenne pepper. My mom had rearranged the spices, and I have no idea where she put the cayenne pepper! Thankfully, while I was looking for the cayenne pepper, I saw some chipotle pepper powder. From experience I’ve learned that this is a spicy powder, and I like the flavor of it.
So, this time when making the taco sauce, I substituted chipotle pepper powder for the cayenne pepper. I must admit that the cayenne pepper results in a more authentic taco sauce flavor, but the chipotle pepper powder worked in a pinch.
The bottom line is have fun with this recipe, and don’t stress over it!
Homemade Taco Sauce Ingredients
Here’s the recipe I used:
- 1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon white sugar
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper – or chipotle pepper powder. Cayenne pepper gives a more authentic taco sauce taste, but chipotle pepper powder also has a nice flavor.
Note that you can decrease or eliminate the cayenne pepper if you don’t like spice. Of course, you can also increase it, but do so sparingly, because it has a pretty good kick to it!
Making Homemade Taco Sauce
I added all of the ingredients to a saucepan, stirred, and then simmered the sauce for 15 minutes.
Dehydrate the Taco Sauce
Now it’s time to dehydrate the taco sauce! Dehydrating the taco sauce is the longest part of the whole process, but it’s mostly hands off.
Step 1: Spread Taco Sauce on Dehydrator Trays
The first step in dehydrating taco sauce is to spread the taco sauce on the dehydrator trays. While every dehydrator varies a bit, about one cup per tray is a great amount on my Nesco Dehydrator. The recipe I made makes about two cups of taco sauce, so I needed to use two trays.
Note that the manual for my dehydrator recommends that I use at least three trays when dehydrating. Since I only had two trays of sauce, I added an additional empty tray at the bottom.
Step 2: Dehydrate at 125 Degrees Fahrenheit
Pro Tip: If you buy only one dehydrator cookbook, I recommend The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook.
There’s not a specific “recommended time” for dehydrating taco sauce. When that’s the case, I typically set my dehydrator at 125 degrees Fahrenheit unless I’m trying to preserve nutrients. Since taco sauce starts with canned tomato sauce and is simmered, any nutrient loss has already happened.
You could potentially set the temperature on your dehydrator a bit higher if you want your taco sauce to dehydrate faster. However, I personally wouldn’t go above 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The only time that I dehydrate food at a higher temperature is when I dehydrate meat, such as chicken. If you’re interested in dehydrating meat, check out my article on how to dehydrate chicken.
Step 3: Check the Taco Sauce Every Couple of Hours
I generally check whatever I’m dehydrating every couple of hours. However, this isn’t 100% necessary, so if you won’t be home, are going to bed, or are busy, it’s fine to wait several hours.
One benefit of checking the taco sauce every few hours is that you can rotate trays. Since my dehydrator has the fan at the top, the top tray tends to dehydrate a bit faster than the other trays. In spite of that, rotating isn’t essential, but may help to speed things up a bit.
The Taco Sauce After 2 Hours and 15 Minutes in the Dehydrator
In the photo above, you can see what the taco sauce looked like after two hours and fifteen minutes in the dehydrator. The sauce is starting to dry, but still very soft and sticky, especially where thicker.
There was very little difference between the first and second tray, but I went ahead and rotated the trays.
I set the timer for an additional one and a half hours.
The Taco Sauce after 3.75 Hours in the Dehydrator
After almost four hours in the dehydrator, the taco sauce was quite dry in parts, and yet still very moist and sticky in the thicker parts. From the image above, you can see that the dehydrating taco sauce started to darken in color. This is normal, and nothing to be concerned about.
The Taco Sauce after 5.75 Hours in the Dehydrator
This is how the taco sauce looked after 5.75 hours in the dehydrator. At first glance, it looks very similar to how the taco sauce looked two hours earlier. But there was quite a bit of progress in the dehydration process. More cracks appeared in the taco sauce leather, and it was dry to the touch.
I tried peeling some of the taco sauce leather away from the tray. At this point it still contained enough moisture that it was stuck on the fruit leather tray. In most cases, food becomes less sticky when it’s completely dry. If you can’t yet peel off the taco sauce leather, that’s an indicator that it’s not yet completely dehydrated.
Taco Sauce After 8 Hours in the Dehydrator
After eight hours in the dehydrator, the taco sauce leather was dry enough that I could peel it off and flip it over. Since air doesn’t circulate well when dehydrating with fruit leather trays, it may not dry evenly.
So, flipping it over and letting the bottom side be hit with the heat can help complete the dehydrating process.
The taco sauce leather didn’t come off 100% clean. Some stuck to the tray. This can happen for one of two reasons. The first reason is if parts aren’t dry enough. The other reason is if the taco sauce, or whatever you’re dehydrating, was spread too thin.
You can see how thin the parts are that stuck on the tray, so that’s what caused it in my case. This is good reason for spreading the taco sauce a bit thicker. While it will take longer to dehydrate completely, if it’s thicker, it will be easier to peel off the fruit leather tray, so I think the tradeoff is worth it.
If you use the same dehydrator that I did, 1.25 or 1.5 cups of the sauce per tray will likely work well. Here is the dehydrator I used in this article.
I dehydrated the taco sauce for an additional hour after flipping over the taco sauce leather.
Step 4: Let the Dehydrated Taco Sauce Cool
Once the taco sauce is completely dehydrated, let it cool for about five or ten minutes. You want the dehydrated taco sauce to come to room temperature before you put it into jars. If you put the dehydrated taco sauce into the jars when it’s still warm, the heat can cause moisture. Moisture is the last thing you want when storing dehydrated food!
Step 5: Break Up the Dried Taco Sauce
After the dehydrated taco sauce has come to room temperature, you need to either break it up or powder it before storing or using it. First, let’s talk about the pros and cons of breaking up taco sauce leather, rather than powdering it.
Above is an example of what dehydrated taco sauce looks like when it’s broken into smaller pieces.
When it comes to the advantages of breaking up the dehydrated taco sauce vs, powdering it, the biggest advantage to breaking it up is that it is quick and easy to break the taco sauce leather into bits. It only takes a couple of minutes to do so.
Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages. The first disadvantage is that when you break it into pieces, you may not realize that some parts of the dehydrated taco sauce still have some moisture.
The next disadvantage is that the pieces of dehydrated taco sauce take up more room than taco sauce powder. This doesn’t really matter much if you dehydrate just a small amount of taco sauce. It also doesn’t matter as much if you have a large prepper pantry and have plenty of room to store food.
The final disadvantage is that the crumbled taco sauce leather may take a bit more time and effort to rehydrate.
Step 7: Powder the Taco Sauce
If you want to take things a step further, after breaking the taco sauce into pieces, you can powder it. To make powder from my dehydrated goods, I use a coffee grinder. Here is the coffee grinder I use.
After running the dehydrated taco sauce through the grinder, I use a sieve to make sure all of the bits are powdered.
Some of the taco sauce leather didn’t powder, in spite of running it through the coffee grinder more than once. This indicates that there is still moisture in the parts that won’t powder. One of the benefits of taking the time to grind the taco sauce leather into powder is that it helps you discover any bits that have remaining moisture. This is a very good thing, since you want to make sure there is no moisture in your dehydrated food befor putting it into food storage.
I put the unpowdered bits of dehydrated taco sauce back on the fruit leather tray to dehydrate for an additional two hours.
Since I was going to run the dehydrator anyway, I went ahead and put the taco sauce powder on the second tray, and put it in to dehydrate at the same time. I do this as a precaution every time I make some type of dehydrated powder. Especially once dehydrated food is in powdered form, any remaining moisture is quickly removed.
Step 8: Store the Dehydrated Taco Sauce
You’ll want to store the dehydrated taco sauce in an airtight container. I always use mason jars, but you can use any type of jar you have. I prefer glass to plastic, as plastic tends to be less airtight.
In this case, since I had just a small amount of taco sauce, I knew I would use it up quickly enough so I just put a plastic lid on the jar.
When dehydrating a larger amount, or if you plan to have the dried taco sauce in your pantry for a long time, I recommend using a vacuum sealer. Just be sure to put some type of barrier such as a coffee filter on the top of the powder before vacuum sealing. This keeps the powder from going into your vacuum sealer.
Step 7: Rehydrate the Dehydrated Taco Sauce
Now let’s talk about rehydrating the dehydrated taco sauce. The process is basically the same, whether you’re starting with crumbled or powdered dried taco sauce.
First let’s take a look at rehydrated crumbled dehydrated taco sauce.
Rehydrating Crumbled Dehydrated Taco Sauce
I started off with a little less than a tablespoon of crumbled dried taco sauce, and added a tablespoon of hot water. You can see the progression in the photos above. Within a couple of minutes, the taco sauce was completely rehydrated, but it was thicker than I wanted.
In the third photo you can see that the taco sauce is almost more of a paste than a sauce. So I dribbled in a little bit of water at a time until it was the desired consistency.
Rehydrating Powdered Taco Sauce
The process of rehydrating dehydrated taco sauce that has been powdered is exactly the same as rehydrating crumbled taco sauce . However, there are a couple of differences. The first difference is that the water to powder ratio is a bit higher than when rehydrating the taco sauce crumbles.
When rehydrating powdered taco sauce, I recommend using three to four parts water to one part taco sauce powder. As an example, use three to four tablespoons hot water to one tablespoon dehydrated taco sauce powder.
One thing to be aware of is that when you first add the taco sauce powder to the water, there will be a thinner consistency. As the powder rehydrates, it thickens up a bit. So, don’t rush to add more powder. Give it a few minutes and then check the consistency.
Since we all have different preferences when it comes to how thick we want our sauces to be, it’s best to experiment with the amount of water you want to use. But it’s always better to start with less, get the taco sauce rehydrated, and then add in small amounts of water until the taco sauce is your desired consistency.
Using Dehydrated Taco Sauce
You can use your dehydrated taco sauce in multiple ways. I love to toss some into a pot of beans as they cook. If you use the taco sauce this way, there’s no reason to rehydrate it first. Use it like you would a spice. It adds a delicious flavor to beans, soups, and chili.
You can also sprinkle it on ground beef as you fry it, when making a Mexican-inspired dish.
Of course, you can also rehydrate it, and eat it with chips.
Today I decided to use my rehydrated taco sauce on some scrambled eggs.
Believe it or not, I made these scramble eggs from eggs that I had dehydrated in my food dehydrator! If you’d like to learn how to dehydrate eggs to add to your food storage, be sure to check out this post.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these articles:
- How to Dehydrate Refried Beans
- How to Dehydrate Picante Sauce
- How to Dehydrate Tomatillos
- Nesco Dehydrator Review
- How to Dehydrate Citrus
Here are some of my favorite dehydrating tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to stock your pantry with delicious home-dehydrated food! Here are some tools that I use that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I recommend and believe in 100%!
The Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator was my first dehydrator, and still one of my favorites. I actually have two of them! If I was only going to buy one dehydrator and was on a strict budget, this would be it. I love it because it’s very reasonably priced, and is expandable up to 12 trays. I recommend starting with the basic system that comes with 5 trays. Then expand by buying additional trays, fruit leather sheets, and mesh screens.
The Cosori Premium Dehydrator is my most recent dehydrator purchase. In many respects, it’s superior to the Nesco since it is constructed with stainless steel, which is always a winner. I love the ease of use, and how precise it is when it comes to setting the temperature. It’s also versatile in that you can remove some of the racks. This makes it possible to use it for more than just dehydrating. As an example, you can use the Cosori dehydrator to make yogurt, something you definitely can’t do with any of the stackable dehydrators.
Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Pro Food Dehydrator – I’ve had my eye on this dehydrator for a LONG time. I don’t have space for another dehydrator, so I’m just waiting for one of my dehydrators to die so I can buy this one! What I really love about this dehydrator is that it expands to up to 30 (yes, 30!) trays. At 1,000 watts, it’s more powerful than the two dehydrators listed above. If you only have the means to buy one dehydrator, and have limited space to dehydrate, I recommend this one since you can dehydrate a huge amount of food at a time.
The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing Machine is a great way to preserve the food you’ve dehydrated. The machine I use is no longer available. I chose this one because it’s a great price and includes a port that makes it possible to use the accessory kit linked to below. Since I store all my dehydrated food in mason jars, the jar sealer attachments are a must. But with this device, you can also use food storage bags if you’re short on mason jars, or prefer to seal you dehydrated food in bags.
The FoodSaver Handheld Cordless Food Vacuum Sealer is a great option for those with limited space. I keep mine charged up in my kitchen, so I can easily reseal jars every time I use some of my dehydrated food. While I still love my larger FoodSaver, from a convenience perspective, this one can’t be beat.
The FoodSaver Accessory Kit is a must if, like me, you store dehydrated food in mason jars. You can use this kit with either of the vacuum sealers linked to above.