Condiments You Didn't Know Are Packed With Sugar

Many of us are trying to avoid that latest of dietary villains — the dreaded "added sugar." 

According to the American Heart Association, we all need to cut way down on this insidious ingredient that is making us all fat and sick. The average man is recommended to get no more than about nine teaspoons (36 grams) per day. The average woman needs to keep it down to six teaspoons (25 grams) per day. 

Just trying to avoid this culprit has taught us how masterful it is at hiding... finding ways to lurk in the most inconspicuous of places. You may have tossed out the cookies and sugary cereals that were once filling your kitchen cupboards, but when's the last time you checked out the condiments you've been enjoying on your seemingly low-sugar meals? Check out this list of the condiments you might not have realized are jam-packed with sugar.


A condiment that most of us probably have in our fridge right now, ketchup is the universally adored, tomatoey sauce that perks up burgers, fries, meatloaf, eggs, and more. And what's so terrible about that? Even President Ronald Reagan thought ketchup wasn't so bad, in fact, he thought ketchup should be considered a vegetable (apparently ignoring the fact that tomatoes are technically fruit.)

Sadly, ketchup doesn't have much going for it to elevate it to vegetable status. What it does have, however, is about four grams of sugar per tablespoon. Calculate the amount of tablespoons you'd actually need to get through that basket of onion rings, and you're looking at a surprising amount of sugar heaped on top of your fried food treat.

Honey mustard

Ok, I guess it's no big surprise that an item with "honey" in the title is meant to be sweet. But how sweet do you think it is? Go ahead, take a guess at how many grams of sugar might be in 1.5 ounces of your typical honey mustard sauce, which is about the size of a standard fast-food sized cup of the popular condiment.

What did you guess? Four or five grams? Try closer to ten. That's the sugar content of McDonald's little cup of honey mustard sauce. And let's be real, you know that plenty of you out there tear open a second cup when you're getting your McNugget on.

Sriracha sauce

Sugar in sriracha sauce! Say it isn't so!

How can a hot sauce have sugar in it, you ask? Unlike other traditional hot sauces, sriracha is thick and unctuous and much more like a ketchup. And it has the sugar content to match — about one gram per teaspoon. It's also filled with a host of other things you may not expect in a hot sauce, including loads of sodium, as well as artificial and natural preservatives like sodium bisulfite and potassium sorbate.

Chili sauce

Ketchup's snazzier, spicier older sibling, chili sauce, seems like a condiment you can feel a bit more adult about adding to your meal. With that hint of heat, and a more complex flavor than plain old ketchup, chili sauce makes the perfect complement to an adult burger, and the ideal ingredient to pour into BBQ sauce, chili, and stew.

Unfortunately, if you thought chili sauce was a lot lower in sugar than ketchup, your taste buds have been lying to you. While different brands have their own unique recipes, the Heinz variety clocks in at a whopping 3 grams per tablespoon, which is just one gram shy of ketchup.

Lite salad dressing

As most of us have now learned, the big scam of the low-fat diet craze was that food manufacturers needed to do something to make up for the lost flavor of removing all that delicious fat, and what they did was increase the sugar content. While we may not see many Snack-Wells fat-free cookies lining our supermarket shelves these days, there are a couple of low-fat products that have overstayed their welcome. One of those products is "lite" salad dressing.

Let's take Kraft's Raspberry Light Vinaigrette, for example. Two tablespoons of the dressing is only 30 calories, which sounds pretty good, right? But what about the sugar? At five grams per serving, you're basically pouring liquid sugar on top of your healthy salad. And are you really going to limit yourself to two tablespoons? When's the last time you measured your salad dressing?

Balsamic vinegar

Vinegar is the flavorsome and healthful friend of anyone trying to cut down on carbs or sugar. But vinegar has a gussied up prom date that is sweeter than you might think.

Enter balsamic vinegar, of the vinaigrette fame. You may think it's just like any other vinegar that you've been adding to your veggies, but you'd be wrong. Unlike naturally sugar-free vinegars, balsamic vinegar clocks in at a full gram of sugar per tablespoon, which could derail your low-carb or low-sugar intentions, especially if you're using it throughout the day.

Teriyaki sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a handy dandy condiment to keep in the fridge for quick weeknight meals. Sautee up some veggies and chicken breast, shake in the savory sauce, and bam, you've got yourself a healthy dinner.

But how healthy is it? The devil, as they say, is in the dose, so you may want to keep an eye on how much of that teriyaki you're pouring into the pan. A typical teriyaki sauce weighs in a about 38 grams of sugar per cup, meaning the quarter or even third of a cup you're pouring into that pan can equal almost ten grams of sugar or more. If you're piling that healthy meal on top of white rice, and pouring some more sauce on top for good measure, you're practically eating dessert for dinner.

Hoisin sauce

Perhaps not so popular for keeping in the fridge as teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce is another favorite of mine from the Asian foods aisle. It's best described as an Asian BBQ sauce, and it's fantastic on ribs, chicken, or as a dunker for dumplings and pot stickers. It's spicy and sticky and sweet... which should make it no surprise that a standard brand is going to cost you five big grams of sugar per tablespoon... definitely not a large enough amount for what you're going to want to do with this tasty sauce.


Are you a fan of pickle relish? This love it or hate it condiment is a chopped concoction of pickled cucumbers, dill, vinegar, and... sugar. Lots of sugar.

It might have been a dead giveaway that it's often labeled as "sweet pickle relish." But it's a fair bet that many folks will assume a few spoonfuls of chopped up veggies on their sandwich or hot dog are giving their treat a healthy boost. What they don't realize is that pickle relish has four grams of sugar per tablespoon, making relish just as high in sugar as ketchup.

Tartar sauce

Tartar sauce, that creamy and pickley concoction that's so at home with a plate of fried fish and chips can be equally delicious when served with healthier, baked or grilled fish and meats. In fact, you may even be tempted to reach for a bottle to slather on your next protein-rich meal if you're watching your sugar or carb intake. But you may want to take a glance at the nutrition label before you do. Though it doesn't taste very sweet, tartar sauce contains a surprising one gram of sugar per tablespoon. It may not sound like a lot, but it's enough to sabotage your low-carb intentions.

Just gotta have it? Try making your own with plain mayo, chopped dill, chopped pickles, and a touch of lemon juice for a sugar-free, tartar sauce fix.

BBQ sauce

Let's be honest about how most of us go about BBQ grilling during the warmer months. We baste our favorite meats with copious amounts of BBQ sauce, cook it up on the grill, and then proceed to add even more sauce. Once on our plates, some of us will even pour some more on the plate for good measure.

So what do you think all that sauce is adding up to in sugar grams? If you're enjoying a popular American favorite, KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce, you'll be consuming an All-American serving of 12 grams of sugar per portion. And what's a portion? According to Eat This Much, a portion is a paltry 2.5 tablespoons of sauce. Does that sound like a true American portion to you?