Not one assumed a simple blue sauce packet in their HelloFresh subscription box could have so much flavor. That’s right, this is about the HelloFresh Tex Mex paste that is included with their Tex Mex entrees. The spicy, smokey, sweetness of the sauce is such a hit that people are looking everywhere for a HelloFresh Tex Mex paste copycat recipe. While the company has yet to release the information on their special sauce, you will find that homemade versions can get very, very close to the real thing.
Since you’re hungry and craving some spicy food, let’s not keep you waiting. Here is everything you need to make a mouthwatering Tex Mex paste copycat.
What is Tex Mex Paste?
Tex Mex paste is made with tomato puree or paste and a mixture of spices and seasonings often used in Mexican cooking. Although HelloFresh put Tex Mex paste on the map as a pivotal ingredient in many Tex Mex recipes, this paste has been around for much longer. If you are fan of Tex Mex cuisine, for example, you have probably had all of the ingredients in HelloFresh’s signature Tex Mex paste several times in your life (and maybe never realized it).
Tracing The History of Tex Mex
As with any good recipe blog, before getting into how to make a HelloFresh Tex Mex paste copycat, it is important to discuss the history of Tex Mex (also written as Tex-Mex or TexMex) cooking.
Tex Mex has long been a staple in America. There is even the Chili’s restaurant chain to prove it. Throughout the nation, Americans regularly dine on tacos, queso, enchiladas, and fajitas so regularly that it is sometimes forgotten where these foods come from and whether they are 100% authentic.
The truth is that there is a lot of history to Tex Mex, including recipes that were born thousands of years ago in both Spain and Mexico.
But the name “TexMex” was not always associated with food. TexMex was the original abbreviation of the Texas and Mexican railroad of 1875. Around the 1920s, people started writing the abbreviation with a hyphen to label Tejanos—a group of people of Mexican descent residing in Texas—as well as the Mexican food cooked by Tejanos.
However, it was not until the 1960s that someone used “Tex Mex” to describe Texas-style Mexican food. The general public, however, did not take to the phrase right away. A British writer named Diana Kennedy was the one who popularized the idea. In 1972, Kennedy used “Tex-Mex” to describe what she thought was the cheap version of authentic Mexican food. You might think this would have caused some objection, but Diana Kennedy was one of the most prolific food writers and did extensive work documenting Mexican food. She was even recognized by the Mexican government and received the prestigious Order of the Aztec Eagle award.
So originally, the term Tex Mex was rather offensive to Mexican restaurants. Over time, however, people’s view of Tex Mex softened until it became a ubiquitous term. Furthermore, Tex-Mex cooking has become recognized as its own style of cooking with loads of history, not just Americanized Mexican.
Other Interesting Facts About Tex Mex Food
Whether you are whipping up a HelloFresh Tex Mex Paste copycat for Cinco de Mayo or want to try making some enchiladas for dinner, there is always time to learn Tex Mex trivia. After all, the history of food is fascinating.
Here are some fun facts about Tex Mex food to share with your friends and family:
- Chile con carne (chili, for short) is often called the origin of Tex Mex cooking, as it was one of the first dishes enjoyed among Mexicans and Texans. The Chili Queens—women who sold tamales and chili in San Antonio—in the 1880s are accredited with spreading the dish to the masses.
- Cumin, though commonly used in Tex-Mex cooking for seasoning meats and vegetables, comes from Morocco and is thought to have arrived with the Spanish during the 1700s.
- Otis Farnsworth opened Farnsworth’s Original Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio in the 1900s. He served up rice, beans, enchiladas, and tamales to his customers, which became the traditional Tex Mex menu. The kicker? He was from Chicago!
- Did you know that chili powder was invented by a German? The original Tex-Mex seasoning was called Gebhart’s Eagle Brand Chili Powder, which used the Hungarian method for grounding down dried paprika. But it was Dewitt Clinton Pendery who popularized chili powder when he started selling it in 1870.
- Enchiladas were once consumed by Aztec royalty, but in the 19th century, an English-speaking food critic called them “greasy tortilla sandwiches” that contained “chilies and a number of other uninviting looking compounds and other nasty messes.” They were terribly wrong. Enchiladas rock.
Want to know how Tex Mex food has influenced American culture and cooking? Check out this interesting video:
What is HelloFresh (and Why is the Tex Mex Paste So Good)?
Perhaps you are here not because you tried one of HelloFresh’s meal kits but because a friend of yours is raving about the Tex Mex paste. Here is what you need to know: HelloFresh is a meal kit service that delivers boxes of prepped ingredients to make cooking a breeze. Each box has pre-portioned food to prepare delicious meals. You also get packets of sauce, pastes, seasonings, spices, and garnishes.
There is no denying that HelloFresh meals are insanely good and easy to make, so long as you follow the ingredients. The HelloFresh Tex Mex paste happens to be one of those things that hit all the right notes on your tongue. Unfortunately, HelloFresh has been very tight-lipped about what goes into their signature Tex Mex sauce. You won’t find much information from the company about their sauces and seasonings. That makes creating dupes a little challenging.
What is HelloFresh Tex Mex Paste Made From?
The good news is that, while HelloFresh does not want anyone to know exactly how they make their scrumptious Tex Mex paste, you can still make it at home. How? Because there are ingredients in the Tex Mex paste that are recognizable. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the flavors of Tex Mex cooking have been a long-standing tradition.
You can pick out the cumin, pepper, achiote (annatto), garlic, and tomato paste easily. So while you may not be able to recreate the HelloFresh Tex Mex paste completely, the DNA of the paste can be cloned.
Hello Fresh Tex Mex Paste Copycat Recipe
Sweet, savory, smoky, and spicy—the HelloFresh Tex Mex paste is everything you have dreamed of and more. The trip it sends your taste buds on never disappoints, especially when added to the slew of meals you can make with a HelloFresh meal kit. But if you are not using HelloFresh’s subscription service, you don’t have to worry about missing out. This HelloFresh Tex Mex paste copycat recipe may not be a perfect twin, but every ingredient is a delicious marriage that you have to try to believe.
Copycat HelloFresh Tex Mex Paste Ingredients
- 6 tsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
- 4 tsp brown sugar
- 3 tsp chili powder
- 1.5 tsp coriander powder
- 4 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1.5 tsp oregano
- 5 tsp tomato paste
- 21 oz fire-roasted tomatoes, canned
- 1.5 cloves of garlic
- 4.5 tsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 3 pureed yellow onions
- 4 oz chipotle chilis
How to Make Hello Fresh Tex Mex Paste
- Roast The Garlic
Roast the garlic first. Cut off the ends of cloves and put the garlic on a baking sheet and wrapped in aluminum foil or inside a small Dutch oven. Sprinkle the garlic with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake the garlic for about 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees °F (204 degrees °C).
- Simmer The Chillies
Meanwhile, pour your chipotle chilies into a small pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil then let the chilies simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until softened. Remove the chilies from the stovetop and let them cool.
- Make The Puree
Slice your onion and put in the food processor to puree it. Add in the roasted garlic, softened chilies (drained of water and with stems and seeds removed), and tomatoes. Process until smooth.
- Mix The Wet Ingredients
Return the pot you used for the chilies to the stovetop. Add in the puree. Mix in the vinegar and tomato paste.
- Combine The Wet & Dry Ingredients
Combine the wet ingredients with all dry ingredients.
- Boil & Stir
Bring the paste to boil and stir intermittently for 15 minutes or until the fragrance permeates your home. Congratulations, you have made Tex Mex paste!
- Use Immediately Or Store
Store as desired or use immediately.
An Authentic Tex Mex Paste Substitute: Achiote Paste
Having seen the copycat recipe for HelloFresh’s Tex Mex paste, you may be wondering if you can substitute it for something else. You absolutely can. In the ingredient list of the HelloFresh dupe, there was achiote, a staple in many Hispanic dishes. Achiote paste is the most authentic substitute for Tex Mex paste that you will find, and you can use it a number of ways. For instance, achiote is used in the Dominican Republic as a medicine for anemia.
Achiote is made from annatto. The seeds come from places like Central and South America and the Caribbean. In Mexico, achiote is used a lot in Oaxaca and the Yucatan region.
You can find achiote paste in the grocery store, particularly if it has a fleshed out ethnic section. Look for the brand El Yucateco. The paste is dark orange or red in color and may also be labeled as recado rojo. Other ingredients are present in the paste, too, such as: salt, black peppercorn, oregano, garlic, and cumin.
If you can’t find achiote paste in the store, you can make it easily at home.
Ingredients for Homemade Achiote Paste
Here is what you will need to make recado rojo at home:
- ¼ cup achiote (annatto) seeds
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 5 cloves of peeled and chopped garlic
- You can also add serrano peppers, jalapenos, habanero, and bitter orange juice as optional ingredients
Making Achiote Paste
Once you have gathered your ingredients for achiote paste, do the following:
- Either grab your mortar and pestle or your food processor. Put the annatto seeds, coriander, cumin, oregano, peppercorns, and salt into the bowl or food processor. Process everything until coarsely broken apart.
- Add in the garlic and vinegar. You can also add in any juices and fresh peppers during this time. Once again, process the ingredients until a thick paste forms. Your achiote paste may be a bit chunky—that’s fine.
- If you desire a thinner paste, add a little bit of water and continue processing until your reach the right consistency.
- Use as a marinade or rub or in the slow cooker. Get creative!
Other Tex Mex Paste Substitutes
Turns out, there is more than one way to make Tex Mex paste. While achiote paste is bound to give you loads of flavor, there are other options and possibilities to try.
1. Adobo Sauce
What is adobo? Some people may know adobo as a seasoning while others immediately think of a sauce. You could even say that adobo is in the very soul of global cooking. Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, and Filipino recipes all include this ingredient. Coming from the Spanish word adobar, or to marinade, adobo refers to a kind of sauce—one that works very well in Tex Mex cuisine.
Next to achiote paste, adobo sauce is possibly one of the closest and most authentic alternatives for HelloFresh Tex Mex paste. Adobo sauce looks very similar to achiote paste—it’s burnt orange or brown—and is textured like barbecue sauce. Dried herbs, vinegar, and garlic are also found in adobo sauce, but it also includes chili powder.
You can purchase adobo sauce at the store or make it yourself.
Adobo Sauce Ingredients
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped and with juices
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or Mexican piloncillo
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups dried chipotle peppers
- ½ cup chili powder
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cumin, ground
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp black pepper
Adobo Sauce Directions
- Slightly crack and bend the dried chipotle peppers. Put the peppers in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce to low heat for about 30 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the water level and add more if any of the peppers are exposed to air.
- After 30 minutes, set the chipotle peppers aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, mix in your chili powder and ½ cups of boiling water. Let this steep while gathering everything else.
- Mix together chopped tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and oregano in the food processor and blend. The consistency should be similar to BBQ sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more water.
- Start heating a skillet and olive oil over medium high heat. Carefully pour in the sauce mix from the food processor, bringing it to a boil. After reaching boiling temperature, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add in the cooled chipotle peppers after the sauce has been simmering for 10 minutes. You can remove these peppers after they have soaked in the sauce, or you can chop or process them to add to the sauce, depending on the level of heat you want.
2. Chipotle Sauce
Did you know that chipotle is smoked jalapeno peppers? Now you do!
The natural spice and smoke from chipotle is ideal for Tex Mex meals. You can use canned chipotle sauce, which contains a highly concentrated amount of chili peppers. This is a great choice if you are making fajitas or want to season ground beef for Taco Tuesday.
One thing to keep in mind about chipotle sauce is the consistency. Canned chipotle sauce is thin and watery. You can thicken it up by adding some tomato paste, mayonnaise, and spices. To make chipotle sauce taste closer to HelloFresh Tex Mex paste, blend in ground cumin, a dash of oregano, and a little bit of sugar.
Be prepared for more heat than the HelloFresh version though! For those who aren’t a fan of the heat, chipotle sauce is sometimes blended with plain Greek yogurt or Mexican cream. The end result is mild and flavorful.
Check out this video that shows you how to make a traditional chipotle sauce:
3. Sriracha Paste
Yes, sriracha is not a common ingredient found in Tex Mex cooking, but that doesn’t mean it is off-limits. Sriracha sauce or paste is an effortless addition to many dishes. Plus, since it is easily located in the store, you don’t have to worry about making your own. Just open up the cupboard and pull out the bottle.
There are a couple of reasons why sriracha is an excellent Tex Mex paste substitute. First off, it is not your traditional hot sauce. Sriracha is thick, even as a sauce. In paste form, you can use it as a rub or marinade for a number of meats, vegetables, and even tofu. Aside from the delicious garlic and chili flavor, you also get a touch of sweetness that plays well with other traditional Tex Mex flavors.
You can also blend sriracha with other kinds of sauces. Add a dash of sriracha to your guacamole or mole or mayonnaise. Sriracha mayo on tacos, fajitas, or enchiladas may be your next favorite flavor combination.
4. Mexican Keto Chili Paste
Whenever you are trying to shed some pounds, be it on a keto regimen or another diet, adding peppers to your diet is always a wonderful idea. The heat found in peppers can raise your core temperature, thereby increasing your metabolism. But you don’t have to be on a diet to enjoy the sizzle on your tongue from this impressive chili paste, adapted from Martina Slajerova of KetoDiet.
For a spicy chili paste that you can use as a HelloFresh Tex Mex paste substitute, gather the following ingredients:
- 3 oz of dried Mexican chilies – use a mixture of Chipotle, Arbol, Ancho, and Guajillo
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- A tablespoon of ground paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- Single teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp balsamic or white vinegar
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Directions for Mexican Chili Paste
- Prepare a pot of boiling water.
- Meanwhile, dry roast the dried peppers on a hot skillet until you can smell the spice. This should only take a few minutes.
- Add the chilies to boiling water and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and let the chilies sit for about 30 minutes.
- Drain the chilies and remove their stems and seeds. You can keep some of the water to add to the mixture.
- Add the soaked chilies, paprika, cumin, onion, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and optional pepper water to your food processor or blender. You can also use a mortar and pestle, if desired. Process the mixture until it is smooth.
- You can put the paste in a mason jar and store it in the refrigerator for a week. Freeze the chili paste for up to 3 months. Portion out the sauce with an ice cube tray.
5. Mesquite BBQ and Taco Seasoning
Turns out, you don’t need to gather a bunch of fresh ingredients or have to raid your spice cabinet to make a decent Tex Mex paste. Head to the condiment aisle of your favorite grocery store and pick up a bottle of mesquite BBQ sauce. It contains some of the base ingredients and flavors found in Tex Mex paste, such as vinegar and tomato paste or puree. Mesquite also has some honey to add a bit of sweetness. You add in a dash of taco seasoning to bring on the heat of cumin, chili powder, and paprika.
As long as you blend the two ingredients together and find a decent ratio, this will indeed make a great HelloFresh Tex Mex paste dupe.
6. Chili, Smoked Paprika, and Tomato Paste
Here is another easy alternative to whipping up homemade Tex Mex paste. You probably have chili, smoked paprika, and tomato paste in the cupboard already, so why not blend them together? The best part is that the consistency is very similar to the HelloFresh Tex Mex paste.
The key ingredient here is the smoked paprika. If it is not smoked, you won’t get the same smokiness that is hinted at in the HelloFresh version.
To make this substitute for Tex Mex paste, simply stir the smoked paprika and chili powder into the tomato paste. You can also add roasted jalapenos or other peppers to bring more heat to the mixture. This version takes less than 5 minutes to make, and it tastes great. Give it a shot.
How to Choose a Tex Mex Paste Substitute
How do you know which Tex Mex paste or substitute to use when there are so many options? There is no one way to select which will be best for whatever it is you are cooking. Do a little taste test with your sauces and pastes to see which one compliments the meal the best. Also, consider these questions:
- Do you want a sauce with a smoother consistency? If so, then you will love the HelloFresh Tex Mex paste copycat recipe, straight tomato sauce, chipotle sauce, or adobo.
- Does the recipe call for a rub or marinade for meat? Choose achiote or sriracha paste for this one. You can also use a thicker version of the Mexican keto chili paste.
- What are you making? Some recipes call for a smoother sauce while others use the paste for imbuing flavors into meat or stews. The other thing to keep in mind is how easy a recipe is to make. If you’re doing a lot of cooking, whipping up a mixture of mesquite BBQ and taco seasoning is the most convenient route.
- Do you prefer mild or hot spice? While any of these sauces can be customized with a variety of hot peppers and chilies, some of them are more naturally spicy than the rest. The HelloFresh Tex Mex paste copycat recipe is ideal for all kinds of recipes, as it gives just enough heat.
Popular Dinner Ideas Using Tex Mex Paste
Now that you are well equipped to make any kind of Tex Mex paste under the sun, you are probably craving some Tex Mex food yourself.
Here are some delicious ideas to inspire your dinner menu:
- Chili Con Carne: Use the Tex Mex paste of your choosing to flavor the ground beef or pork before adding it to the chili paste and simmering.
- Tex Mex Fajitas: This is another great dish to add Tex Mex paste at any time. You can use the Tex Mex sauce as a marinade for the meat, fish, shrimp, or vegetables that you add to the dish.
- Beef Barbacoa: Another way to use Tex Mex paste to imbue meat with intense and fiery flavor.
- Tex Mex Stuffed Bell Peppers: Simmer your pepper’s stuffing with Tex Mex paste to create a cheesy and warming meal that will keep you full throughout the day.
- Breakfast Tacos: While this dish can start a debate in Texas with a mere mention, there is no denying that seasoning eggs with Tex Mex paste is a winning idea.
- Beef Tamales: Tex Mex paste will give the meat in the tamales even more flavor.
- South Texas Carne Guisada: This delectable entrée is full of vegetables and chunk of hearty meat. Add the Tex Mex paste to the gravy for even more smoky goodness.
- Enchiladas: You can thin out the Tex Mex paste with a little water and drizzle it over the top the enchiladas before or after they have finished cooking. Optionally, you can use the Tex Mex sauce to give the shredded chicken a surprising kick of heat.
To get you drooling, here is a video that shows you how to make authentic restaurant-style enchiladas:
Of course, you are not limited to these quintessential Tex Mex dishes. Imagine the fun you will have experimenting with your homemade Tex Mex paste recipes and substitutes.
Tex Mex Paste Makes Everything Delicious
Can you make a HelloFresh Tex Mex paste copycat that actually tastes like the real thing? You can definitely get close. And who knows? During all this experimentation with Tex Mex paste recipes and substitutes, you might come up with a combination that beats the HelloFresh sauce every single time. Bring even more mouthwatering entrees to life and watch your family and friends coming back for seconds and thirds.
Time to get cooking!
There are many substitutes for Tex Mex paste like those from HelloFresh. You can use achiote paste, Mexican chipotle chili paste, tomato cooking base, guacamole, sriracha paste, or Siren Spice Tex Mex seasoning to do the trick. You could also make your own Tex Mex paste using adobo sauce, achinto paste, or sriracha paste.
HelloFresh uses their own brand of Tex Mex paste, though it is authentic, to say the least. HelloFresh does not list the amount of ingredients and spices used in their delicious Tex Mex sauce, but it is known that they use pepper and chilies, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and tomato paste to make it.
Tex Mex paste is a combination of spices, peppers and/or chilies, and tomato puree that is used in Tex Mex dishes, including fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more. There is no limit to how you use Tex Mex paste, as it can flavor just about anything, from cheese to rice.
Each packet of Tex Mex paste from HelloFresh includes 3 tablespoons of paste.