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Is Tartar Sauce Keto-Friendly?

Tartar Sauce on a kitchen counter

When embarking on a ketogenic, or keto, diet, navigating the world of food and condiments can be a bit of a minefield.

One such condiment that often raises questions is tartar sauce.

Despite its popularity as a companion to various dishes, especially seafood, the question remains: Is Tartar Sauce Keto-Friendly? The short answer is no, primarily due to its high net carbohydrate content.

This article delves into the carb content of tartar sauce, the challenges it presents for maintaining ketosis, practical ways to avoid it in your meal plan, and explores keto-compatible alternatives.As with any diet, balance, moderation, and consideration of individual dietary needs are of utmost importance.


  • Tartar sauce is not keto-friendly due to its high net carbohydrate content.
  • Consuming tartar sauce can disrupt the delicate balance of ketosis, making it challenging to maintain a keto diet.
  • Despite Tartar Sauce's nutritional benefits, such as healthy fats and antioxidants, the high carb content overshadows these positives on a keto diet.

Is Tartar Sauce Keto-Friendly?

Let's get straight to the point: Is tartar sauce keto-friendly? The short answer is no. Now, let's delve into why.

The primary reason tartar sauce doesn't fit comfortably into a keto diet lies in its carbohydrate content. For a diet that limits your daily net carb intake to around 20-50g, any food item needs to have a significantly low carb count to earn the 'keto-friendly' tag. Unfortunately, tartar sauce doesn't make this cut.

Tartar sauce contains 12.8g net carbs per 100g. To put this into perspective, if you were following a strict keto diet with a limit of 20g net carbs per day, just a little over a tablespoon of tartar sauce could potentially use up more than half of your daily allowance. That's quite hefty, considering tartar sauce is typically used as a condiment and not a main dish.

It's important to remember that the keto diet is not just about restricting carbohydrates but also about encouraging high fat and moderate protein intake. Tartar sauce, while containing a fair amount of fats due to its mayonnaise base, does not offer a significant amount of protein.

Can Tartar Sauce be Incorporated into a Strict Keto Diet?

Considering its high carbohydrate content, incorporating tartar sauce into a strict keto diet is a bit like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. As we've already discussed, tartar sauce contains 12.8g net carbs per 100g, which can consume a notable chunk of your daily carb allowance on a keto diet.

So, can you magically make tartar sauce work within a strict keto diet? Sadly, the answer leans towards no.

One of the keys to being successful on a keto diet is careful monitoring of your daily intake of carbs, and ensuring you don't exceed your personalized limit, which is typically 20-50g of net carbs per day for most individuals. To effectively track your carb intake, consider using apps or digital platforms designed for this purpose, many of which allow you to log in food items and track their nutritional value against your daily allowance.

When using these tools, you’ll quickly realize that tartar sauce, when consumed even in modest amounts, can use up a significant portion of your carb allowance. This becomes problematic as it leaves little room for other nutritious, low-carb foods that you need to consume to meet your daily nutritional requirements and maintain ketosis.

Moreover, tartar sauce isn’t typically the star of the meal - it’s a condiment. And, if a mere condiment consumes a large share of your daily carb limit, it can become a hindrance to maintaining your keto lifestyle.

Delving into the Carbohydrate Content of Tartar Sauce

Understanding the carbohydrate content of food items is crucial when you're on a keto diet. This understanding becomes even more essential when dealing with items like tartar sauce, which, despite being a mere condiment, carries a significant carb load.

Tartar sauce contains 12.8g net carbs per 100g. But what exactly does this mean? Well, in the realm of keto, we focus on 'net carbs', which is the total carbs minus dietary fiber and sugar alcohols (if any). Dietary fibers and sugar alcohols are subtracted because they don't raise blood glucose levels like other carbs, and thus, are not counted towards the daily carb limit on a keto diet.

Now, let's put this into a real-world context. A typical serving size for tartar sauce is around one tablespoon, which weighs approximately 15g. This serving size of tartar sauce would contain about 1.92g of net carbs (12.8g per 100g multiplied by 15g). This might not seem like much at first glance, but remember, on a strict keto diet, your total daily net carb intake should ideally be no more than 20g. So, a single tablespoon of tartar sauce can take up almost 10% of this allowance!

Even if you were to limit yourself to a teaspoon (about 5g) of tartar sauce, you'd still be consuming around 0.64g of net carbs. Given the restrictive nature of a keto diet, even these small amounts can add up quickly and consume a significant portion of your daily carb allowance.

Nutritional Snapshot of Tartar Sauce

Tartar sauce, a creamy condiment often associated with seafood, offers a rich and diverse nutritional profile. It's interesting to note that a 100g serving of Tartar Sauce contains 211.0 kcal, which provides sufficient energy for your daily activities.

In terms of macronutrients, Tartar Sauce is notable for its fat content, which stands at 16.7g. Among these, the polyunsaturated fats take the lead with 9.04g, followed by monounsaturated fats at 3.6g and saturated fats at 3.33g. Polyunsaturated fats are known to be beneficial for heart health as they can help reduce cholesterol levels. The sauce also has a moderate amount of carbohydrates at 13.3g, and a lower amount of protein at 1.0g.

On the micronutrient front, it's compelling to see the broad spectrum that Tartar Sauce covers. It contains essential minerals such as Sodium (667.0mg), Potassium (68.0mg), Magnesium (6.0mg), and Calcium (26.0mg). These minerals contribute to various bodily functions like maintaining fluid balance, muscle contractions, and bone health.

Interestingly, Tartar Sauce also showcases a range of essential vitamins. It provides Vitamin A (11.0ug), which is essential for eye health, and Vitamin C (2.3mg) known for its role in boosting immunity. Furthermore, it also includes Vitamin E (1.68mg), beneficial for skin health, and an unexpected amount of Vitamin K1 (50.4ug), which plays a crucial role in blood clotting.

Moreover, Tartar Sauce includes traces of B Vitamins like B-6, B-12, Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Niacin. These vitamins are known for their role in energy production and maintaining the function of the nervous system. The presence of Folate and Choline, even in small amounts, also contributes to brain health.

Concentration of trace minerals like Iron, Zinc, Copper, and Selenium, although in smaller amounts, add to the nutritional offering of Tartar Sauce. These trace elements are crucial in the body for functions like oxygen transport, enzymatic reactions, and immune health.

The carotenoid content in Tartar Sauce is noteworthy with Beta-carotene, Cryptoxanthin beta, and Lutein + zeaxanthin present. These compounds have antioxidant properties and play a role in maintaining eye health.

While Tartar Sauce is not a major source of dietary fiber, with only 0.5g per 100g, its water content is quite high at 67.0g, which could contribute to your daily hydration needs.

Nutrient NameAmount and Unit per 100g
Net Carbs 12.8g
Carbohydrate, by difference 13.3g
Fiber, total dietary 0.5g
Total fats 16.7g
Protein 1.0g
Sodium, Na 667.0mg
Potassium, K 68.0mg
Magnesium, Mg 6.0mg
Calcium, Ca 26.0mg
Vitamin A 11.0ug
Vitamin B-6 0.04mg
Vitamin B-12 0.02ug
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 2.3mg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 1.68mg
Vitamin K1 50.4ug
Copper, Cu 0.02mg
Iron, Fe 0.25mg
Phosphorus, P 17.0mg
Selenium, Se 0.9ug
Zinc, Zn 0.12mg
Cholesterol 7.0mg
Beta-carotene 67.0ug
Cryptoxanthin, beta 35.0ug
Lutein + zeaxanthin 55.0ug
Thiamin 0.02mg
Riboflavin 0.03mg
Niacin 0.09mg
Folate, total 5.0ug
Choline, total 8.0mg
Retinol 3.0ug
Calories 211.0kcal
Water 67.0g
Fatty acids, total saturated 3.33g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 3.6g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 9.04g
This data was provided by the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system.
'Tartar Sauce' was not found in FoodData Central, so nutritional data for 'Tartar sauce ' was used instead under Cast Iron Keto's editorial and research standards.

Health Implications of Tartar Sauce on a Keto Diet

Taking a detour from the carb-centric discussion, it's worth acknowledging that there are some nutritional benefits to tartar sauce. It's made from mayonnaise, which contains healthy fats, particularly unsaturated fats that can contribute positively to heart health. Moreover, the pickles, onions, and lemon juice included in many tartar sauce recipes add some vitamins and antioxidants to the mix.

However, the benefits of these ingredients might be overshadowed by the high carbohydrate content when considering a keto diet. The goal of a keto diet is to achieve and maintain a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. Consuming tartar sauce, with its high net carb content, can pose a challenge to staying in ketosis.

A single serving of tartar sauce can consume a hefty portion of your daily carb allowance. This can disrupt the delicate balance of ketosis and may result in your body switching back to burning carbohydrates for fuel. As we've noted, achieving and maintaining ketosis is an essential part of the ketogenic diet, and anything that disrupts this process can potentially hinder your progress on the diet.

Moreover, because tartar sauce takes up so much of your carb allowance, it leaves less room for more nutrient-rich, low-carb foods that are integral to a well-rounded keto diet. These foods not only help you stay within your carb limit but also provide necessary nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Avoiding Tartar Sauce in Your Keto Meal Plan

Sticking to a strict keto diet and maintaining ketosis can be a challenge, especially when faced with potentially disruptive condiments like tartar sauce. So, how can you navigate around this tartar trap?

Firstly, it's crucial to be mindful of the dishes that typically contain tartar sauce. Fish and chips, crab cakes, and certain types of sandwiches are a few examples where tartar sauce often makes an appearance. When ordering at restaurants or when cooking at home, consider asking for the sauce on the side or skipping it altogether.

Secondly, stay vigilant about reading food labels. Some pre-packaged foods or ready-made meals might contain tartar sauce or similar high-carb sauces. Carefully check the ingredients list and nutrition facts to ensure you're not unknowingly consuming extra carbs.

Now, it's natural to crave the tangy, creamy goodness of tartar sauce, especially if you're a seafood lover. One approach is to find low-carb, keto-friendly alternatives that can satisfy these cravings without knocking you out of ketosis. For instance, a mixture of mayonnaise and dill can give a similar, satisfying taste without the high carb content.

Another strategy is to train your palate to enjoy seafood without the need for a heavy sauce. Experiment with different herbs, spices, and keto-friendly marinades to enhance the flavor of your dishes. Over time, you might find that your desire for tartar sauce diminishes.

Keto-Compatible Alternatives for Tartar Sauce

Finding keto-compatible alternatives for tartar sauce can certainly help keep your meals flavorful while adhering to your diet restrictions. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Mayonnaise and Dill Sauce: Mix a spoonful of mayonnaise with a pinch of dill for a quick and easy sauce. You can also add a dash of lemon juice for some tanginess. This sauce pairs well with grilled fish or chicken. The nutritional profile is quite keto-friendly, with mayonnaise containing just 0.6g of net carbs per 100g, and dill being practically carb-free.
  2. Avocado Sauce: Blend ripe avocado with a bit of garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil for a creamy, tartar sauce substitute. Avocadoes are a keto superstar, offering healthy fats, fiber, and a moderate amount of carbs (about 1.8g net carbs per 100g).
  3. Cauliflower "Tartar" Sauce: Puree cooked cauliflower with a bit of almond milk, garlic, and salt for a keto-friendly "tartar" sauce. Cauliflower is a versatile, low-carb vegetable with around 3g of net carbs per 100g.

Each of these alternatives not only helps to fulfill your need for a creamy, tangy sauce but also keeps your meals within the boundaries of your keto diet. However, remember to keep portion sizes in mind, as even keto-friendly foods can knock you out of ketosis if consumed in large amounts.

Switching to these alternatives from tartar sauce represents a significant reduction in carbohydrate content. For instance, while 100g of tartar sauce racks up 12.8g of net carbs, 100g of mayonnaise only contains about 0.6g of net carbs, and 100g of ripe avocado contains about 1.8g of net carbs.

Concluding Thoughts on Tartar Sauce and Keto

As we've delved into the world of tartar sauce and its place in a keto diet, it's become clear that this tangy condiment is not the most keto-friendly choice. With its high net carb content, tartar sauce can consume a significant part of your daily carb allowance, making it challenging to maintain ketosis.

Despite this, it's not all gloom and doom. While tartar sauce itself might not be the best fit for a keto diet, it's important to remember that it's just one food item. The keto diet revolves around the principle of low-carb, high-fat eating, and there are plenty of other condiments and sauces that can take the place of tartar sauce on your table.

We've explored several keto-compatible alternatives like mayonnaise and dill sauce, avocado sauce, and cauliflower "tartar" sauce. Each of these options offers a way to enjoy the creaminess and tanginess of tartar sauce, without the high carb content.

In addition to these alternatives, you can also consider making your own keto-friendly tartar sauce substitute. For instance, by using unsweetened plain Greek yogurt as a base, adding some finely chopped pickles, a dash of lemon juice, and some fresh dill, you can create a low-carb sauce that has a similar flavor profile to traditional tartar sauce.

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Cast Iron Keto's Editorial and Research Standards

Certain rare or exotic food items may not have nutritional profiles in the FoodData Central database. If an exact match is not found in the FoodData Central database, then, the Cast Iron Keto team utilizes a three-prong approach to provide readers with the closest relevant nutritional data, where possible.

First, in the event that nutritional profiles for a rare or exotic food item is not available in the FoodData Central database, we investigate alternative names for that particular food item and use that data, when possible. Second, in cases where no alternate names exist, Cast Iron Keto will use nutritional data for a close relative or similar food item. Finally, if no close relatives or similar items exist, we refrain from publishing nutrient data tables.

When making dietary or health decisions based on FoodData Central's data, we suggest readers consult with a nutritionist or other health experts, particularly if the food in question has a significant role in your diet or if you are using the food item to treat any health disorder(s).

Furthermore, it is important to note that even if a close relative or similar item is used to approximate the nutritional data, different food items can have varying levels of nutrients due to factors such as soil quality, farming practices, and regional differences.


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Frequently Asked Questions

No, tartar sauce is not considered keto-friendly due to its high net carbohydrate content.

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Tartar sauce, on the other hand, has a high carbohydrate content, making it incompatible with the principles of the keto diet.