Low-carb fats and sauces – the best and the worst

What are the best and the worst fats and sauces on a low-carb diet? It’s an important question as many commercial fats and sauces may have hidden carbs and sugars that can make it difficult to stay on a low-carb diet.

There are tons of great options for adding more fat or sauces to your diet, but there are also some not-so-good ones. For more details, please check out this visual guide. The lower-carb options are to the left:


The numbers represent grams of net carbs per 100 gram (3½ ounces).1 The green foods contain less than 5 percent carbs – a good basic rule of thumb for a keto low-carb diet.

Note: these are general numbers so please keep in mind that they may vary between different brands. To be on the safe side, read the nutrition facts label on the back.

Carbs list

Butter: 0 grams of net carbs
Olive oil: 0 grams of net carbs
Coconut oil: 0 grams of net carbs
Mayonnaise: 1 gram of net carbs
Tabasco: 2 grams of net carbs
Aioli: 2 grams of net carbs
Bernaise: 2 grams of net carbs
Mustard: 2 grams of net carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of total carbs
Heavy cream: 3 grams of net carbs
Vinaigrette: 3 grams of net carbs
Guacamole: 3 grams of net carbs, 7 grams of fiber, 10 grams of total carbs
Cream cheese: 4 grams of net carbs
Soy sauce: 4 grams of net carbs
Salsa: 6 grams of net carbs, 1.5 grams of fiber, 7.5 grams of total carbs
Pesto: 8 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of total carbs
Tomato sauce: 15 grams of net carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 20 grams of total carbs
Ketchup: 26 grams of net carbs
BBQ sauce: 40 grams of net carbs
Maple syrup: 68 grams of net carbs
Jam: 69 grams of net carbs
Discover healthy food you'll love
Our new interactive Food Navigator will guide you.
Food navigator


LowCarb_mustard_ketchup_Mustard vs. ketchup

Should a low-carber choose mustard or ketchup?

Ketchup generally contains a lot more carbs than mustard does, but some kinds of mustard also have a lot of sugar added. So choose plain mustard, like Dijon, for example.

*For example, traditional Dijon mustard has 2 carbs, while some “honey” mustard brands may have 10 grams or more.

Check the nutrition facts label to make sure.


Ribs, BBQ sauce and carbs (sugar)BBQ issues

Please note that store-bought BBQ sauce is often loaded with sugar. Those glazed ribs may look nice, but there’s likely quite a load of sugar on them. Remove the sauce to stay low carb. Or decide to eat anyway, with full knowledge of what you’re doing.

Low-carb BBQ guide

fat-rounded800Don’t fear fat

Many of us may still fear dietary fat, and who can blame us after 40 years of being encouraged to eat low fat!

On a low-carb diet, you don’t need to fear the fat. Cook in butter, leave the skin on your chicken, and eat the entire egg — yolk and all.2 Drizzle on olive oil.

Fat taste great! So, don’t shy away from fat when eating a low-carb diet. Use fat as needed to enjoy your food.

Here are the top 10 ways to eat more fat


What about vegetable, nut, and seed oils? This is a bit more complicated. Natural oils that have been around for thousands of years are likely good choices to eat3

The vegetable oils we know today were developed at the end of the 19th century, when technological advances allowed oils to be extracted from other crops.4 Instead, we suggest using pure olive oil, ghee, avocado oil, almond oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, fish oil — anything for which it is easy to extract the oil with simple pressing, grinding, churning or low heat separating.

We recommend minimizing the use of highly-processed seed or vegetable oils created within the past 60 years, such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed oils.

These oils are created by chemical extraction and high heat industrial processes.5 They’re quite new compared to butter, olive oil, and other fats that have been used for centuries or longer, and it’s not clear what kind of effects they might have on health. Therefore, we feel that consuming mostly traditional, less processed fats is best.6

Learn more here: Vegetable oils: are they healthy?


Detailed list and recipes for low-carb fats & sauces

Below is a detailed list of carbs in fats and low-carb sauces. The number is net carbs per 100 gram (3½ ounces).

Do you want to make your own low-carb sauce, or use fat? Follow the links for awesome recipes.

Flavored butter recipes
Butter 0
Coconut oil 0
Vinaigrette 0
Mayonnaise 1
Béarnaise sauce 2
The best low carb and keto dips and dressings
Hollandaise sauce 2
Ranch dip 2
Aioli 2
Mustard 2
Guacamole 3
Thousand islands dressing 3
Heavy cream 3
Soy sauce 4
Blue-cheese dressing 4
Salsa 6
Pesto 8
Tomato paste 15




Similar low-carb guides




Healthy fats on a keto or low-carb diet
A low carb diet for beginners

Low-carb fats and sauces – the best and the worst - the evidence

This guide is written by Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, Dr. Bret Scher, MD and was last updated on December 8, 2022. It was medically reviewed by Dr. Bret Scher, MD on August 3, 2022.

The guide contains scientific references. You can find these in the notes throughout the text, and click the links to read the peer-reviewed scientific papers. When appropriate we include a grading of the strength of the evidence, with a link to our policy on this. Our evidence-based guides are updated at least once per year to reflect and reference the latest science on the topic.

All our evidence-based health guides are written or reviewed by medical doctors who are experts on the topic. To stay unbiased we show no ads, sell no physical products, and take no money from the industry. We're fully funded by the people, via an optional membership. Most information at Diet Doctor is free forever.

Read more about our policies and work with evidence-based guides, nutritional controversies, our editorial team, and our medical review board.

Should you find any inaccuracy in this guide, please email andreas@dietdoctor.com.

  1. Net carbs = digestible carbs, i.e. total carbs minus fiber.

  2. Are you concerned about saturated fat? In all likelihood, you may not need to be. Although still somewhat controversial, several recent systematic reviews of randomized trials have failed to show a connection between eating saturated fat and increased heart disease risk:

    Open Heart 2016: Evidence from randomized controlled trials does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis [strong evidence]

    Nutrition Journal 2017: The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
    [strong evidence]

    Learn more here: A user guide to saturated fat

  3. Millions of years ago, the only vegetable fats our ancestors consumed likely came from wild plants.

    World Review of Nutrition & Dietetics 1998: Dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids during the paleolithic [overview article; ungraded]

    Around 4000 BC or earlier, pressed olive oil became a staple in the diets of people living in Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries.

    American Society for Horticultural Science 2007: Olive oil: history, production, and characteristics of the world’s classic oils [overview article]

    Around 100 years ago, there was very little vegetable oil in the food supply, and it did not form a significant part of the diet.

    Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society 1974: Fat in today’s food supply – level of use and sources [overview article; ungraded]

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005: Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century [overview article; ungraded]

    The consumption of soybean oil increased more than 1,000-fold between 1909 to 1999.

    American Journal os Clinical Nutrition 2011: Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century [observational study, weak evidence]

  4. Vegetable Oils and Oilseeds 1970: A review of production, trade, utilisation and prices relating to groundnuts, cottonseed, linseed, soya beans, coconut and oil palm products, olive oil and other oilseeds and oils [text book article; ungraded]

  5. Chemical Engineering Transactions 2017: Recovery of vegetable oil from spent bleaching earth: state of-the-art and prospect for process intensification [overview article; ungraded]

  6. This is based on our consensus opinion at Diet Doctor, but it is not conclusively supported by scientific evidence as we detail in our guide on vegetable oils.