When you are on the keto diet, you have to give up some pretty tasty foods to maintain your nutrition plan . Of course, you know that, in the long run, your body will thank you, but sometimes you miss that pasta and bread and sugar, all the same. That’s why it’s great to have some condiments in your pantry with which you can spice up those foods that are keto friendly.
Of course, you can only do that if those condiments are, themselves, keto approved. A lot of condiments actually have hidden sugars that could potentially throw you out of ketosis. Today we zero in on one of the world’s most beloved condiments to find if it makes it onto the keto friendly list.
We’re talking hot sauce!
So, let’s discover if hot sauces are keto sauce approved.
Ketogenic Diet Hot Sauce 101
Hot sauce is hot stuff right now. Every year about $200 million worth of the hot sauce is sold in the US alone, with it being just as popular around the world. Hot sauce is based on the chili pepper, or capsicum. Chili peppers originated in the Amazon jungles of South America, where they were grown and cultivated by native people for thousands of years before being “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
The chili pepper is the fruit of any capsicum plant. Capsicum is a genus of plants in the Nightshade family called Solanaceae. The chili pepper is related to the tomato, potato, eggplant, tomatillo and huckleberry. In the United States and Britain, chilies are referred to as peppers, but in other countries around the world such as Australia and India, they are called by their more official and scientific name: capsicums.
The heat in chilies comes from a chemical compound known as capsaicin. This is an alkaloid without any distinct flavor that is so potent that it can withstand long periods of drying, freezing, and heating without losing any strength. In fact, it is so strong that it can be detected by the human tongue even when it is diluted in a solution of one million units of liquid to one unit capsaicin. There are also other chemical compounds, collectively called capsaicins.
Capsaicin is produced in the capsaicin glands in the placenta of each chili pepper. It triggers pain receptors in the mouth and nose. This is what causes the burning feeling on the tongue and mouth. When the brain receives the ‘Hot!’ message, it releases a chemical called Substance P in order to counteract the pain. Constant exposure to capsaicin allows people to develop higher threshold for pain and lower sensitivity to spice.
The main health benefits of hot sauce derive from the capsicum. The capsicum is very high in vitamins A and C. Chilies also contain healthy doses of vitamin E and potassium. Measured by weight, fresh peppers actually have close to three times as much vitamin C as lemons, limes, and oranges.
Chilies are high in antioxidant content. This makes it great for the fight against free radicals. Capsaicin is also used in skin liniments to remove the sting of skin irritations and the pain of nerve conditions like shingles. On the skin, capsaicin destroys Substance P, the pain reducing substance produced by the body, as it is drawn to the site of irritation. The body sends more Substance P, and capsaicin destroys it all until the supply is depleted and the burning sensation is gone.
Studies reveal that chilies can have a positive health effect on our mood. The endorphins released create an overall feeling of well being, helping to overcome depression. Capsaicin is also a potential treatment for diabetic neuropathy (the pin-pricking, burning sensation on the bottoms of the feet that many diabetics suffer from) as well as rheumatoid arthritis.
Of course, there are a whole lot of varieties of hot sauces out there. But for our purposes, we will base our nutritional profile on a hot sauce chili product. Chilis have a very impressive level of vitamin and minerals:
- 240% of vitamin-C (Ascorbic acid)
- 39% of vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)
- 32% of vitamin A
- 13% of iron
- 14% of copper
- 7% of potassium
Here is the complete nutritional profile for 1 tablespoon serving (15 grams) of raw, fresh, red chili pepper:
- Calories: 6
- Water: 88%
- Protein: 0.3 g
- Carbs: 1.3 g
- Sugar: 0.8 g
- Fiber: 0.2 g
- Fat: 0.1 g
With just 1.3 g of carbs (1.1 of bet carbs) the chili is a very keto compatible ingredient. So long as the hot chili sauce that you are using has no added sugar then you are going to be fine using it to spice up your keto diet plan. Be sure to stay away from ‘sweet chili’ sauces, which are high in sugar, when on the ketogenic diet. Other good keto diet approved peppers to base your hot sauce upon are jalapenos, which contain 0.5 net grams of carbs per pepper, or, for a sweeter variety, red bell peppers, with 3.6 g of net carbs per pepper serving.
Watch out for hot sauces which also contain honey as this could easily boost the carb content. Remember that if you are following a strict keto plan you will only be able to consume 20 grams of carbs per day. Any hidden carbs in your sauce, like sugar, could easily put you over the top and throw you out of ketosis. Imagine how frustrating that would be!
So, is soy sauce keto?
Yes, it is. With just 1 net g of carbs, and 0 g of fats per serving, soy sauce is great in terms of health, diet, and nutrition.
Commercial Keto Sauces
There are many zero sugar keto approved hot sauces on the market. That is great for low carb lovers like you and me, allowing us to add some much-needed flavor to otherwise bland food. Just be sure to check and read the labels carefully. Here are our favorite ketogenic diet hot sauces:
- Onnit Keto Hot Sauce – made from jalapenos
- Frank’s RedHot – made from cayenne pepper, with zero carbs and zero fat!
- Frank’s RedHot Xtra Hot – four times as hot as the original!
- Tabasco Original Red Sauce – Zero carbs, Zero fat, gluten-free and non-GMO.
Home Made Hot Sauce Recipes
Sakay is one of the everyday spicy sauces of choice in the African island nation of Madagascar. The flavors represent the country’s long history of African, Arab, and Indonesian settlers. Try this sauce on grilled meats.
INGREDIENTS | YIELDS A 1 CUP SERVING
- ¾ cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup peanut or vegetable oil
- 1.In a sauté pan over medium heat, toast the chili powder, ginger, cayenne, cumin, and garlic until they are nice and fragrant, about 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Put the spice mix in a food processor, add the salt, and blend well. While the blender is still running, slowly pour the oil in a steady stream until a paste is formed.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Red Curry Paste
INGREDIENTS | YIELDS A ½ CUP SERVING
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
- 6–8 red serrano chilies, seeded and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and discarded, inner core finely chopped
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons hot paprika
- 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons coconut milk, or enough to make a paste
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.
- Purée into a smooth paste, adding a little more coconut milk if necessary.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. If it’s too salty, add more lime juice. Add extra chili for more spice.
- Place in an airtight container. In the refrigerator, it will keep for about 1 week
Homemade ketchup is much better tasting and far less sweet than the bottled stuff. (It’s also better for you because it’s not loaded with high fructose corn syrup.)
INGREDIENTS | YIELDS A 2 CUP SERVING
- 1 (28-ounce) can of whole tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Purée the canned whole tomatoes (along with their juices) in a blender until smooth.
- In a heavy saucepan heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onion until softened about 5 minutes.
- Add the puréed tomatoes and rest of the ingredients and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mixture is quite thick, about an hour.
- Purée the ketchup in batches in a blender until smooth. Cover the top of the blender with a towel and be careful when blending hot liquids, as they will expand.
- Transfer the ketchup to a clean, airtight container. Let chill for at least 2 hours before using. Store in the refrigerator.
INGREDIENTS | YIELDS ABOUT 1 CUP
- 1 bunch of cilantro, stems included
- 3–6 serrano peppers, depending on your preference, seeded (if you like it very spicy, feel free to leave the ribs and seeds in)
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt, to taste
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice, to taste
- Wash the cilantro well and pat dry. Coarsely chop leaves and stems. Place in a food processor.
- Add the chopped serranos, garlic, cumin, and salt to the food processor.
- Blend. Add enough olive oil to make a rough paste.
- Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add lemon juice if you like.
- Place in a clean jar. Refrigerated, this will keep for a few weeks.
Hot sauce can be keto-friendly, so long as it has no added sugars and keeps the carb count down to around 3 or under per serve. Most hot sauce bases are low carb so you just have to watch out for the additives.
However, with so many hot sauce manufacturers entering the keto market, you should have no problem finding hot sauce to meet your macro nutrition plan.
To say on the safe side, and not blow your low carb food nutrition plan, we suggest you stick with the four brands we recommend in this article! Be sure, also to check your serving sizes to make sure that you don’t blow your low carb keto nutrition plan!