Smart Supplies and Condiments Choices for the Low-Carb Pantry

Stocked shelves in grocery store aisle
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When following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, you may find yourself focusing on the foods you need to avoid. But there are also plenty of foods you can eat. Shifting your focus to lower carbohydrate foods will be an adjustment, however, focusing on produce such as vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein will ensure you're getting adequate energy and nutrition.

Eliminating foods rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar can reduce cravings for those types of foods. One way to keep your new eating plan interesting and delicious is by equipping yourself with flavorful condiments and cooking supplies.

Prep Your Pantry

Preparation, including seasoning of low-carb diet staples (such as fresh veggies), is a great way to add a variety of tastes and textures to your diet. A "secret ingredient" to staying motivated and satisfied on a low-carb diet is a fully, and thoughtfully, stocked pantry.

Condiments like vinegar, mustard, hot sauce, chicken broth, and mayonnaise made with olive oil as well as fresh and dried herbs and spices have few, if any, carbohydrates. As long as you know what to look for (and what to avoid) you'll be surprised by how much you can do with a few simple ingredients. Many of the most versatile spices you can have in your kitchen are widely available, affordable, and don't require any special storage or preparation.

Check Food Labels

When experimenting with a new diet, get into the habit of reading food labels. If you're adjusting to a low-carb diet, this practice is especially important as you fill your pantry. Many sauces, for example, are high in sugar (which would count toward your carb intake for the day). However, these added sugars can be tricky to spot on food labels because they often go by different names.

If you look at the back of a food package and don't see the word "sugar" but you do see "evaporated cane juice," "mannose", or "dextrin", you might not realize these ingredients are sugar. Once you become familiar with the many aliases of sugar, you’ll be able to make more informed choices about what you eat.

Keep in mind that even if a product doesn't have many carbs or added sugars, other nutritional info, such as sodium content, is also important to note. For example, while Tamari Soy Sauce has no carbs or sugar, it does have 980mg of sodium per serving—meaning that even though it's a low-carb option, it might not be the best choice for someone watching their salt intake. Even if you're not adhering to a low-sodium diet, condiments high in sodium should be used in moderation.

Cooking and Baking

Olive oil
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Another key to success with low-carb diets is making sure you’re getting enough healthy fat. Some fats have higher nutritional value than others. Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fat which can negatively affect your cholesterol by raising bad LDL cholesterol.

Here are a few fats you can add to your repertoire of low-carb recipes:

  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Ghee (clarified butter with no milk solids)
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Walnut oil


Coconut milk
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

If you're committed to a low-carb diet you might be resigned to giving up sweets —especially baked goods. Depending on the ingredients you use, as well as keeping an eye on portion size, there are several ways to satisfy a sweet tooth that are low-carb.

  • Low-carb jams and preserves (check labels)
  • Nut and coconut flours (baking, breadmaking)
  • Lemon or lime juice (1g of carb per tablespoon)
  • Extracts (vanilla, lemon, almond, etc.)
  • Unsweetened milk alternatives (such as almond milk)
  • Coconut milk


When you’re watching your carbs, knowing what foods to avoid is just as important as knowing which ones to eat. This is especially true if you’d like to add condiments to the mix.

Sauces and Dips

Hot sauce
 Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Raw veggie sticks can be a great snack or lunchbox item on their own , but you can take them to the next level by adding a dollop of dip or drizzle of sauce. Pesto and tamari also work well in hot meals like stir-fries or veggie-noodle pasta dishes.


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

No matter what you're cooking, even something as simple as a little salt and pepper can make even any meal much more interesting to your taste buds. Herbs, whether fresh or dry, are also versatile additions to many dishes.

  • Dried herbs and spices: check for added sugars
  • Fresh herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Seasoning salts and peppers
  • Capers: Goya Capers have less than 1g of carbs per serving
  • Broth or stock: bone broth and low-sodium or no-sodium stocks and broth


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

While lettuce is often characterized as stereotypical "diet food," salads can be a filling, balanced, and nutrient-rich meal choice. Greens are also a quick and easy vehicle for healthy fats, like olive oil. There are, however, many salad dressings that add less healthy fats and may have a lot of sodium and sugar. If you check labels and ingredient lists before you buy, you'll find there are many suitable low-carb, low-sugar options.

If you want something even simpler, vinegar (another common pantry staple) can be paired with oils for easy make-your-own dressing. The mix is also great to have on hand for cooking (try drizzling on steamed veggies).

Carefully check labels before you buy. Look for sugar-free salad dressings high in monounsaturated fat (like those with olive oil).

Hidden Sugars

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Some condiments may have more carbohydrates than you think and if used in large amounts can contribute a decent amount of carbohydrates to a low carbohydrate eating plan. For example, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar contains 2.7 grams of carbohydrates, while 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce contains 3 grams of carbohydrate. These carbohydrates can add up if you are using multiple servings.

Educate yourself on which types of condiments have more carbohydrates so that you can factor them into your meal plan or decide not to use them if you'd prefer to do that instead.

Availability and Cost

For non-perishable products, you may be able to find additional options to order online. If you find a product you really like and want to fill your pantry, you may also be able to buy it in bulk to save money. In addition to being affordable, these options are also more likely to be in stock at your local grocery store, meaning you won't have to make a trip to a specialty store, coop, or farmer's market to find them. You can also find organic versions of condiments on-line and in the grocery store. If you prefer to eat organic, this is a good option, as well.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. USDA Food Composition Databases. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  2. How to read food labels. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

  3. Brouillard AM, Kraja A, Rich M. Trends in dietary sodium consumption in the United States from 1999-2016: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2019;73(9).  doi:10.1016/S0735-1097(19)32302-2

  4. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School.

  5. Trans Fats. American Heart Association.

  6. Low-carb diet: can it help you lose weight? Mayo Clinic.

  7. Good carb, bad carb: 4 myths debunked. Cleveland Clinic.

  8. Tips: vary your veggies. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  9. Taste and Flavor Roles of Sodium in Foods: A Unique Challenge to Reducing Sodium Intake in JE, Taylor CL, Boon CS, editors. Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. National Academies Press. 2010.

  10. Is your salad dressing hurting your healthy diet? Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School.

  11. One simple salad dressing may benefit you in more than one way. Cleveland Clinic.

  12. U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends 2018: how technology is changing grocery shopping, from the consumer perspective. Food Marketing Institute.

Additional Reading

By Laura Dolson
Laura Dolson is a health and food writer who develops low-carb and gluten-free recipes for home cooks.