Condiments for the low-carb pantry: Spice your diet!

For people on a low-carb diet, the list of foods and condiments you can’t eat can seem endless. However, by focusing on fresh products and lean protein your cravings for starches and grains may diminish. In addition, people on a low-carb diet will want to incorporate a variety of flavors to keep food interesting and tasty. This is where pantry items come in.

Healthy fats for cooking

People on a low-carb diet should incorporate healthy fats into their cooking and recipes.

Some have higher nutritional value than others. These include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Ghee (clarified butter, which does not include the milk solids)

Adding flavor

Many condiments are riddled with all forms of sugar. Before you start reading labels, get familiar with sugar’s many disguises. Keep the following condiments on hand to bring flavor to your food:

  • mustard (except sweetened mustards, especially honey mustard)
  • cider and wine vinegar
  • dried herbs and spices
  • coconut milk
  • nut and coconut flours for baking and breading
  • most bottled hot sauces (such as Tabasco)
  • most salsas
  • soy sauce or tamari
  • mayonnaise – look especially for brands high in monounsaturated fat, rather than polyunsaturated fat e.g. avoid soy oil if possible
  • sugar-free salad dressings, preferably brands high in monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil (check labels carefully)
  • capers
  • horseradish
  • Pesto
  • herbs and spices (but watch for mixtures with added sugars)
  • lemon or lime juice (1 gram of carb per tablespoon)
  • extracts (vanilla, lemon, almond, etc.)
  • chicken, beef, or vegetable broth or bouillon
  • low-carb ketchup
  • dill pickle relish
  • Olive sugar-free sweet pickle relish
  • sugar-free salad dressings
  • low-carb jams and preserves (check labels)


Eating a low-carb diet doesn’t have to mean constant food preparation and cooking from scratch.

There are many commercially available snacks you should keep on hand, in addition to fresh produce, to satisfy hunger in a pinch. For all of the following, read food labels carefully to spot added sugar and starch:

  • Some nutrition bars
  • Some jerkies, such as beef, turkey, or salmon
  • Dried fruit, nuts, and nut butter

What condiments to toss?

Knowing what not to eat is as important as knowing what you can eat. Some unlikely suspects of hidden sugars include balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. In addition, you’ll want to keep things simple for yourself by ridding your pantry of the following:

  • regular ketchup
  • tomato-based chili sauce and cocktail sauce (unless sugar-free)
  • salad dressings with sugar
  • Tartar sauce
  • plum sauce, sweet and sour sauce, oyster sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Steak sauce (most)
  • most sauces, including barbecue, have a lot of sugar
  • jams, jellies, preserves.


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