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Unveiling the Sweet Truth: Surprising Sugar Content in Condiments

Condiments You Didn’t Know Were Packed With Sugar

When it comes to watching our sugar intake, we often focus on obvious sources like cookies, candy, and sugary cereals. But there’s a hidden culprit lurking in our kitchens that we may not be paying enough attention to: condiments. Yes, those seemingly innocent sauces and dressings that we use to enhance our meals can actually be packed with sugar. In this article, we’ll take a look at some popular condiments that you may not have realized were packed with sugar, and shed light on the surprising amounts of sugar they contain.


Let’s start with a condiment that almost everyone has in their refrigerator: ketchup. This universally loved tomato-based sauce adds flavor to burgers, fries, meatloaf, eggs and more. But what many people don’t realize is that ketchup contains about four grams of sugar per tablespoon. When you consider how many tablespoons you might use to enjoy a basket of onion rings or a plate of French fries, that amount of sugar adds up quickly.

Honey Mustard

With its sweet and tangy flavor, honey mustard is a popular choice for dipping sauces and dressings. While it’s no surprise that an item with “honey” in its name is supposed to be sweet, the actual sugar content may shock you. A typical serving of honey mustard sauce, about 1.5 ounces, contains nearly ten grams of sugar. So the next time you’re enjoying some McNuggets, consider the sugar content in that cup of honey mustard sauce.

Sriracha Sauce

Known for its spicy kick, Sriracha sauce is a favorite among hot sauce enthusiasts. However, you may be surprised to learn that it also contains sugar. Unlike traditional hot sauces, Sriracha is thicker and more like ketchup in texture. It contains about one gram of sugar per teaspoon, along with other unexpected ingredients like sodium and preservatives.

Chili Sauce

If you’re a fan of adding a little heat to your meals, you might reach for chili sauce instead of ketchup. While chili sauce may seem like a healthier alternative, it’s important to note that it’s not significantly lower in sugar. For example, one popular brand of chili sauce contains about three grams of sugar per tablespoon, which is only one gram less than ketchup.

Light Salad Dressing

Many of us choose “lite” or low-fat salad dressings in an effort to make healthier choices. However, these dressings often compensate for the reduced fat by increasing the sugar content. Take Kraft’s Raspberry Light Vinaigrette, for example. It may only have 30 calories per two tablespoons, but it also contains five grams of sugar. It’s important to keep an eye on the sugar content of these seemingly healthier options.

Balsamic Vinegar

Vinegar is generally considered a healthy and low-calorie option, but there’s one type that may surprise you with its sugar content: balsamic vinegar. Unlike other naturally sugar-free vinegars, balsamic vinegar contains about one gram of sugar per tablespoon. If you’re on a low-carb or low-sugar diet, it’s worth considering the sugar content of this flavorful condiment.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a popular choice for adding flavor to quick and easy weeknight meals. However, it’s important to be aware of the sugar content in this savory sauce. Depending on the brand and recipe, a typical teriyaki sauce can contain up to 38 grams of sugar per cup. When you consider how much you might pour into your pan for a single meal, the sugar content adds up quickly.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce, often referred to as Asian BBQ sauce, is a delicious and sticky condiment that pairs well with ribs, chicken, and dumplings. However, its sweet and savory flavor comes at a price. A standard brand of hoisin sauce can contain about five grams of sugar per tablespoon. While it adds a burst of flavor to your dishes, it’s important to be mindful of the sugar content.


Are you a fan of pickle relish? This chopped concoction of pickled cucumbers, dill, vinegar, and sugar is often referred to as “sweet pickle relish.” Many people assume that adding a few tablespoons of relish to their sandwich or hot dog is a healthy choice. However, they may not realize that relish contains four grams of sugar per tablespoon, making it just as sugary as ketchup.

Barbecue Sauce

No summer cookout or backyard barbecue is complete without a generous drizzle of barbecue sauce. While it adds a tangy, smoky flavor to grilled meats, it’s important to be aware of its sugar content. Different brands and recipes vary, but some barbecue sauces can contain up to 12 grams of sugar per tablespoon. Next time you reach for the bottle of barbecue sauce, remember to use it in moderation.

Bottom Line

Condiments are meant to enhance the flavor of our meals, but it’s important to be aware of their sugar content. Many popular condiments, from ketchup to salad dressings, can contain surprising amounts of sugar. By reading labels and being aware of the sugar content of the condiments you use, you can make informed choices that align with your dietary goals. Remember, moderation is the key, and being aware of hidden sugars can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle.
So the next time you’re enjoying your favorite condiments, take a moment to check the label and consider the sugar content. Making small adjustments and choosing lower-sugar alternatives can go a long way toward reducing your overall sugar intake. Your taste buds and health will thank you!


Why should I be concerned about the sugar content of spices?

While condiments may seem like small additions to your meals, their sugar content can add up quickly. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can contribute to weight gain, increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and negatively affect overall health.

How can I identify spices that are high in sugar?

Reading nutrition labels is key. Look for the “Sugars” or “Carbohydrates” section and check the grams of sugar per serving. Also look for alternative names for sugar, such as corn syrup, fructose, or dextrose, which may be listed on the ingredient panel.

Are there low sugar alternatives for these seasonings?

Yes, there are often lower-sugar alternatives or homemade versions of condiments. You can explore options such as sugar-free ketchup, sugar-free mustard, or homemade salad dressings using natural sweeteners such as honey or stevia.

How can I reduce my sugar intake without sacrificing taste?

Experiment with herbs, spices, and vinegar-based dressings to add flavor to your meals instead of relying solely on sugary condiments. Plus, choosing fresh ingredients and making homemade condiments gives you more control over your sugar intake.

Can I still enjoy spices while managing my sugar intake?

Yes, moderation is the key. You don’t have to eliminate condiments from your diet completely, but watching portion sizes and choosing condiments with lower sugar content can help you balance enjoyment and health.

Are there any other health concerns associated with high-sugar spices?

High-sugar condiments often contain added preservatives, artificial flavors and high levels of sodium. These ingredients can have their own health effects, such as increased blood pressure or adverse reactions in people with certain sensitivities. It’s important to consider the overall nutritional profile of condiments, not just the sugar content.

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