What's a life without ketchup, really? That sweet, tomato-y goodness added to your burger or sausage is the taste of a summer grill party encapsulated — nostalgia at its very best. But truth be told, ketchup is among the most sugary of standard condiments. When compared to mayonnaise or mustard, ketchup is kind of the dessert of condiments. Most store bought ketchup is full of sugar, and not the ideal choice if you're working on cutting carbohydrates or sticking to the keto diet.
But there's a bright side. If you thought that going keto would mean giving up ketchup forever, we have good news for you. Sure, the standard stuff you'll find on most supermarket shelves like the Big H don't qualify as keto ketchup due to the loads of added or total sugars, but it is possible to get a keto ketchup that totally hits the spot without all the added sugar. We’ll show you where to find it and even how to make your own at home.
Standard Ketchup vs. Keto Ketchup
Your standard ketchup is a combination of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar (sometimes brown sugar), spices (like garlic powder, onion powder or ground clove) and salt. Some brands use tomato paste, and the type of vinegar might shift from brand to brand, but in general, those ingredients make up your average ketchup recipe here in the UK. You may also see some 'healthier' refined sugar-free options but they contain artificial sweeteners or added dates (which have high total sugars and are not suitable for keto).
The main ingredient in standard ketchup that doesn't qualify for the keto diet is the sugar. While tomatoes do contain naturally occurring sugars (and are technically a fruit), the sugar content of a tomato isn't enough to ban them from your trolley. Eating tomatoes in moderation is ketosis-friendly. Plus, they do contain some fibre as well. A 100-gram serving size of fresh tomatoes contains 85 kcal, 3.1 total carbs and 1.2 grams of fibre .
Of course, the tomatoes that are making their way into your ketchup bottle are more concentrated and free of seeds and the extra liquid of a fresh tomato. A more accurate measure would be to look at the nutritional value of tomato paste or canned tomatoes.
So how do you make a low-carb ketchup or keto-friendly ketchup just as good without all the sugar or added dates?
One solution is to find a sugar-free sweetener that you know you like and that is not artificial. Various recipes for sugar-free ketchup you'll find online will suggest liquid stevia, erythritol, Swerve, Brown Swerve, Sukrin Gold, monkfruit, inulin sweetener or some of the super processed, artificial options (that we don't recommend) like aspartame or NutraSweet. Once you identify the one (or combination) you want to use, you're off to the races.
Otherwise, you could ditch the sweetener completely and opt for a 100% unsweetened ketchup.
Paleo, Keto, Sugar-Free Ketchup Recipe
If you're choosing to experiment with making your own homemade sugar-free ketchup, you definitely have some options. These days, there's an artisan version of everything, and that includes ketchup. So you can either go with standard ingredients (only swapping out the sugar for a keto option), or you can spice it up with extra flavours to suit your fancy.
Here's a simple recipe to start playing with.
Paleo, Keto, Sugar-Free Ketchup
- 170-gram can of strained tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 70-gram can of tomato paste
- 56 grams of inulin powder
- 32 grams of apple cider vinegar
- 5 grams Pink Himalayan salt
- 2-4 grams each of your choice of the following:
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Ground allspice
- Ground clove
- Mustard powder
- Black pepper
- White pepper
- Crushed coriander
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk together until well incorporated.
- Simmer on low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the flavours are married together. Your mixture should thicken during your cook time.
- Transfer your ketchup mixture to your blender and blend until completely smooth. (An immersion blender would also work for a thicker puree, but you won't get it as smooth as you will with a high-speed blender.)
- Allow to cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Other Keto Ketchup Recipe Ideas
If your goal is to replace your regular ketchup with as close a flavour match as possible, then you'll want to stick to the basics. You'll swap out your sugar proportionally with the recommended ratios of your preferred sweetener, or go totally unsweetened. Everything else will be pretty much kept the same.
Depending on how you plan to use your homemade ketchup, you might consider cutting back on the sweetness and trying a more savoury sugar-free ketchup. To spice it up, try adding a touch of dijon mustard, ground allspice and cinnamon.
For fancy ketchups, you can add your own zing to any recipe you choose, or simply grab the Hunter & Gather Unsweetened Classic Tomato Ketchup and stir in some extras:
- For a smokier blend that you could use to make your own keto BBQ sauce, try adding smoked paprika or liquid smoke.
- For a ketchup with an Indian kick, stir in garam masala, ground ginger, a touch of curry paste and paprika.
- For a super savoury umami option, stir in some seaweed salt and coconut aminos.
Your prep time shouldn't exceed 30 minutes for any of these options if you're starting with a homemade ketchup recipe. You'll be making enough to store extras in the fridge in an airtight container. If you're using Hunter & Gather all-natural ketchup, that cuts the prep time down even more. We also make a chipotle version of our keto ketchup if you want the variety without having to doctor it up yourself.
Ways to Enjoy Your Keto Ketchup
Ketchup isn't just for grass-fed burgers and hot dogs. You can use your favourite recipe or one of our unsweetened ketchup options as an ingredient in quite a few creative keto recipes.
Try our keto pizza recipe where unsweetened ketchup replaces the sauce or our spicy pizza option with a gluten-free crust.
Or try topping our spicy keto and paleo chicken liver meatballs with our tomato-based barbecue sauce.
Keto ketchup also works perfectly as a meatloaf topper or a general condiment for any keto meal plan.
Your Keto Lifestyle
Making your own keto ketchup or trying one of ours is one step toward spicing up your keto meal plan. For other keto condiment ideas, check out our Keto Starter Bundle full of sauces and oils that are free from gluten, refined sugar, grains and seed or vegetable oils.
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.