Find Extra Flavor with Low-Sodium Sauces

By DaVita® dietitian Erin Dickerson, RD

Many people experience a time when their go-to favorite meals have become boring and overdone. But spicing up foods with sauce can instantly turn them from bland to fab! Sauce can be used to marinate meats, add some kick to vegetables and perk up plain pasta. In addition to adding flavor and color, sauces add moistness to tougher cuts of meat. If you’re struggling to eat adequate calories, some sauces contribute extra calories without filling you up too quickly.

Unfortunately, prepared sauces and mixes are usually high in salt, and some contain phosphate additives, which aren’t ideal for a kidney diet. Here are some examples of high-sodium sauces.

The amount of sodium in a half cup of spaghetti sauce is well over a quarter of your recommended daily intake. And most of us use much more gravy than quarter cup serving size in the above example. But never fear, homemade sauce blends are here—they’re easy to prepare and tasty, too. Here are a few things to consider before you start saucing things up:

  • Go for sodium-free ingredients as much as possible.
  • Stick to fresh ingredients to avoid additives and hidden sources of sodium, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Be aware that some reduced-, low- and no-sodium products (i.e. broths and bouillon) may contain potassium chloride to replace the taste of salt. Check the ingredient list and avoid these items if you see added potassium.
  • When making sauces from scratch, note that some spices and spice blends have added salt even though it’s not obvious in the product name. Examples of these include lemon pepper, Cajun seasoning, Old Bay® seasoning and garlic blends. So check the ingredient list closely.
  • Consider the health benefits and the feeling of accomplishment when you make a sauce from scratch.

Explore flavorful low-sodium sauces such as Chimichurri Sauce, Soy-Less-Sodium Sauce and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce in the Sauces & Seasonings section of