8 Best & Worst Steak Sauces, According to Dietitians
Whether you have the perfect cut of steak cooked exactly how you like it or an overcooked budget cut, the right steak sauce can add a burst of flavor that takes any steak to the next level. Unfortunately, with that flavor can come an incredibly high amount of sodium, added sugars, and ingredients you may not be quite as excited about.
While most steak sauces aren't inherently bad, the serving size is so small that just one or two times over the recommended portion can add a significant amount of nutrients we want to limit in our diet. And with typical serving sizes of just one tablespoon, going over the recommended portion is easy to do. Even with the healthiest options, dietitians recommend limiting the portions to avoid overdoing it on nutrients like sodium and sugar.
How to choose the best steak sauce
While not every sauce on our list meets every requirement, these are the things you'll want to look for when choosing a healthy steak sauce, according to dietitians.
- Less than 10% of the daily value (DV) for sodium. The serving size for steak sauce is generally one tablespoon or less. Some steak sauces can have 15% or more of the recommended 2,300 milligrams of salt daily in just one tablespoon. If you're using more than a tablespoon, you can multiply this number by the amount you use, and it can start to add up quickly.
- Less than 2 grams of added sugars. "Steak sauce is one of those condiments, like salad dressings and ketchup, that have added sugar where you might not expect it," says Michelle Rauch, MS, RDN. Whether it's high fructose corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, or cane sugar, steak sauce can have up to 7 grams or more of added sugars in just one serving.
A diet high in added sugars, no matter what the source, can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Aiming for an average of 50 grams or less per day can help you enjoy sweet treats without increasing the risk of these chronic diseases. Save your added sugars for things that are supposed to be sweet, and try to avoid or limit them in your steak sauce.
- Limited artificial colors and ingredients. For some, choosing a steak sauce that uses whole food ingredients and limits the use of things like caramel coloring, preservatives, or high fructose corn syrup is important, especially if there are any allergies to the ingredients used.
The Best Steak Sauces
Try these better-for-you steak sauces for a healthier addition to your main course.
Primal Kitchen Organic Steak Sauce
"Primal Kitchen Organic Steak Sauce has no artificial sweeteners, is Whole30 Approved®, Certified Paleo, and Keto Certified, as well as plant-based and vegan," says Lara Clevenger, MSH, RDN, CPT. While it does have a higher amount of sodium than we'd like to see in a steak sauce, with 300 milligrams or 13% of the DV, it has no added sugars or artificial sweeteners and no gluten or soy, making it an allergy-friendly choice as well.
G Hughes Sugar-Free Steak Sauce
For a low-sodium and sugar-free steak sauce that's still loaded with flavor, G Hughes Sugar-Free Steak Sauce is a perfect match. Each tablespoon has just 7% of the DV for sodium, and it's sweetened with plum puree and a small amount of sucralose (aka aspartame). Spices like cracked black pepper, garlic powder, hickory smoke flavor, and onion help flavor it without adding too much salt.
365 Organic Steak Sauce
Whole Foods Market 365 Organic Steak Sauce may be our favorite steak sauce when it comes to nutrition and flavor. All of the ingredients are organic, and the sauce is also vegan-friendly if you're looking to use it for something other than steak. It uses molasses and cane sugar for sweetener, but each tablespoon serving has less than 1 gram of added sugar, making it a great low-sugar option. You'll also only add 7% of your DV for sodium per tablespoon of this sauce.
Dave's Original Steak Sauce
While Dave's Original Steak Sauce does have 2 grams of added sugar per tablespoon, we love the simple ingredients and low sodium content, with just 7% of your DV. A blend of orange juice, tamarind, and spices gives this sauce amazing flavor without the need for extra sodium or too much added sugar.
Melinda's Ghost Pepper Steak Sauce
If you want to bring the heat to your steak, Melinda's Ghost Pepper Steak Sauce is the perfect choice. The serving size for this sauce is just one teaspoon, but that's because the flavor and heat are so intense you only need a small amount. With just 65 milligrams of sodium or 3% of your DV, you could use two teaspoons (if you can stand the heat!) and still be well under the recommended sodium amount for steak sauce. Sugar, orange juice, and mango help sweeten this sauce, but add less than 1 gram of sugar.
The Worst Steak Sauces
These store-bought steak sauces are the ones dietitians recommend leaving on store shelves.
A.1. Steak Sauce
"A.1. Original Steak Sauce is not inherently unhealthy when eaten in moderation," explains Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness, "However, it contains a high amount of sodium, which can lead to health concerns such as hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, dehydration, and water retention."
At 13% of your DV of sodium and 2 grams of added sugar from corn syrup, A1 may not be the healthiest choice for steak sauce.
Peter Luger Steak House Old Fashioned Sauce
Added sugars in Peter Luger Steak House Old Fashion Sauce come from four different sources including sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and molasses, says Rauch. They add up to a total of 7 grams of added sugars, which is more than double most other traditional steak sauces (in just one tablespoon).
St. Elmo Izzy's Sauce
St. Elmo Izzy's Sauce has a unique flavor from the added brandy, triple sec, and orange juice, but it has 3 grams of added sugars and 13% of your DV of sodium in just one tablespoon. You'll also find milk, wheat, and soy inside, making it an option that's off the table for several common allergies.