Have you ever thought about how many hidden carbs are in the savoury sauces you eat? What about products marketed as keto or low-carb sauces? You may be surprised.

We’ve created this simple visual guide to make it easy for you to quickly see which sauces can still be enjoyed when living a low-carb lifestyle.

low carb sauces and dressings in jars

A quick note before we start. As well as sauces, we’ve included condiments and oils in this guide. We won’t be going into detail about which oils to use or should be avoided, but you can read more about good and bad oils in our guide to seed oils. For example, mayonnaise is low carb but it’s made with industrial seed oil so is extremely inflammatory on the body.

Best Low Carb Sauces and Condiments

All values are net carbs per 1 tablespoon. Net carbs are calculated by deducting fibre from the total carb number.  So, total carbs – fibre = net carbs.

If you use more than one tablespoon, adjust the numbers accordingly.

Note: these numbers are general, using conometer.com. They will vary between different brands so always check the nutrition panel on the label.

  • Olive oil – 1 tbs = 0g
  • Tabasco – 1 tbs = 0g
  • Mayonnaise – 1 tbs = 0.1g
  • Aioli – 1 tbs = 0.2g
  • Bearnaise – 1 tbs = 0.3g
  • Mustard, Dijon – 1 tbs = 0.5g
  • Pesto – 1tbs = 0.5g
  • Guacamole – 1 tbs = 0.6g
  • Horseradish – 1 tbs = 1.2g
  • Salsa – 1 tbs = 1.7g
  • Oyster sauce – 1 tbs = 1.7g
  • Hollandaise sauce – 1 tbs = 1.7g
  • Tartare Sauce – 1 tbs = 1.9g
  • Soy sauce – 1 tbs = 2g
  • Tomato paste – 1 tbs = 2.3g
range of sauces and condiments from low to high carb

What to Avoid

What surprises most people is just how much sugar is in their favourite savoury sauces. While it’s obvious a chocolate or caramel sauce would contain a lot of sugar, you wouldn’t think twice about other sauces. Did you know that barbecue sauce is more than 50% sugar?

Steer clear of sauces that have added sugar which can be listed under many different names to try and trick you.  Also avoid sauces with wheat, seed oils, and any kind of starch such as cornflour, tapioca starch, and potato starch. These ingredients are all used to thicken the sauce.

Check Food Labels

Knowing how to read the nutrition panel on food labels will empower you to make the right choices in the supermarket. 

Also, note the suggested serving size on the label. How often do you use more? This can be especially true for tomato ketchup. A serving size is 2 tablespoons, but often, much more is used. Especially by kids who love to drown their food in it!

There are 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon.

There is only ever 1 teaspoon of sugar in your blood.
When you eat, it rises to 2 teaspoons.

It’s very easy to overload your body with sugar when eating processed foods. Constantly eating food high in sugar keeps your body in a state of stress trying to process it all as quickly as possible. Eventually, you will become insulin resistant, meaning your body won’t be able to process the constant sugar load you are consuming.

Focus on eating healthy fat rather than sugar and you’ll find your food tastes better and you feel fuller for longer.

High Carb Sauces to Avoid

  • Black bean sauce – 1 tbs = 2.5g
  • Balsamic vinegar – 1 tbs = 2.7g
  • Teriyaki sauce – 1 tbs = 2.8g
  • Vinaigrette – 1 tbs = 3g
  • Worcestershire sauce – 1tbs = 3.3g
  • Sriracha sauce – 1 tbs – 3.3g
  • Apple sauce – 1 tbs = 4.3g
  • Tomato ketchup – 1 tbs = 4.5g
  • Cocktail sauce – 1 tbs = 4.5g
  • Mustard, honey – 1 tbs = 6.3g
  • Hoisin sauce – 1 tbs = 6.6g
  • Cranberry sauce – 1 tbs = 6.8g
  • Barbecue sauce – 1 tbs = 9.3g
  • Plum sauce – 1 tbs = 10.5g

Try adding olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or avocado oil to low-carb foods. They will add healthy fat to your meals. Or try making your own sauces and dressings. It’s easier than you think and it avoids all the additives and preservatives too.

Cheese, bacon pieces, and herbs are also great low-carb options to add flavour to meals.

Bottom Line: most sauces that come in a jar are full of sugar so are not suitable when eating low carb. Many also contain seed or vegetable oils which are highly inflammatory in your body. Check out our guide to seed oils for more info.

All calculations are done using cronometer.com

Another reference is Fat Secret. They have an excellent resource that shows the carb count of popular sauces

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