Ever picked teriyaki chicken over General Tso’s and prided yourself on resisting the fried option? Nixed the oil-based vinaigrette on your salad for a “lite” poppyseed dressing? Liberally spread your sandwiches with honey mustard as a smarter swap for mayo?

Before patting yourself on the back for choosing what you think is the healthier condiment, take a minute to consider the alternative may have saved you grams of fat—but it filled that void with another ingredient: sugar. So many bottled condiments are loaded with the stuff; listed under pseudonyms such as high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, or cane syrup, sugar sneaks its way into the most unexpected dipping sauces, spreads, and dressings.

Time to get savvier about the sugar we’ve unknowingly been adding to our food. We’re breaking down nine condiments that pack a surprising amount of the sweet stuff. Since we think there's a difference between the suggested serving size and how much we're really layering on, we broke it down by suggested servings versus reality. And don't miss our tips for keeping your consumption in check, so your condiments aren’t crushing your eat-less-sugar goals.

1. Ketchup

A standard ketchup bottle will tell you one serving is a tablespoon, and it packs 4 grams of sugar. But who really consumes a measly tablespoon with their basket of fries or grilled cheese? IMO, nobody. We're all easily putting away at least two servings of the stuff each time we use it, so if we’re being realistic, we're eating a minimum of two tablespoons—that's 8 grams of sugar.

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 1 tablespoon = 4 grams sugar
Reality: 2 tablespoons = 8 grams sugar

2. Sriracha

Finding out sugar is listed second on the ingredient list behind that iconic rooster logo is a heartbreaking moment. The nutrition label innocently states there’s only one gram of sugar per serving, but most Sriracha lovers use more than a teaspoon at a time, so yeah, that's not realistic.

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 1 teaspoon = 1 gram sugar
Reality: 3 teaspoons = 3 grams sugar

3. Barbecue Sauce

Sugar content in barbecue sauce changes based on the brand, but no matter what variety you’re using, it’s a pretty good bet it’ll have at least 4 to 6 grams of the sweet stuff per one-tablespoon serving in the form of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and/or molasses. But tell us the last time you used less than a quarter cup of barbecue sauce to baste a chicken breast, marinate a steak, or slow-cook pulled pork. That’s a lot of tablespoons—and a lot of sugar. But dang, it’s tasty.

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 1 tablespoon = 6 grams sugar
Reality: 2 tablespoons = 12 grams sugar

4. Mayonnaise

Most brands of mayo proudly claim they contain zero grams of sugar per serving, but the ingredients clearly show sugar is involved. What gives?! Annoyingly enough, according to food-labeling laws, a product can be advertised as having no sugar if there are less than 0.5 grams of it per serving. So while the manufacturers aren’t technically breaking the rules, they’re still being sort of sneaky, especially for anyone who’s avoiding all the sugars. So if you’re adding more than a tablespoon (chicken salad, anyone?), you’re adding at least 1 gram of sugar. No, it’s not the end of the world, but it can sneak up on you.

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 1 tablespoon = 0 grams sugar
Reality: 2 tablespoons = 1 gram sugar

5. Sweet Relish

Given its name, it’s no surprise sweet relish is a sugar-laden condiment. A tablespoon serving comes with a hefty 3 to 4 grams of it, often thanks to high-fructose corn syrup—something to consider before you start dolloping generous spoonfuls of it onto your hot dog. Then again, if you're eating a hot dog, you probably aren't tracking added sugars and processed ingredients in that moment.

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 1 tablespoon = 4 grams sugar
Reality: 2 tablespoons = 8 grams sugar

6. Honey Mustard

Many people choose honey mustard as a lower-fat alternative to mayo and think it’s perfectly healthy because, you know, there are antioxidants in honey. Honey as a source of dietary antioxidants: structures, bioavailability and evidence of protective effects against human chronic diseases. Alvarez-Suarez JM, Giampieri F, Battino M. Current medicinal chemistry, 2014, Jan.;20(5):1875-533X. So it might come as a shock that in most commercial brands, honey is listed way down on the ingredient list, well after both high-fructose corn syrup and sugar. Sugar counts can creep up to 3 grams per tablespoon, meaning this condiment easily packs at least 6 grams of sugar when you smother your meal with the sweet stuff.

Sugar per serving:

Suggested: 1 tablespoon = 3 grams sugar
Reality: 2 tablespoons = 6 grams sugar

7. Light or Fat-Free Dressing

Many light or fat-free dressings pile on the sugar (plus other hard-to-pronounce ingredients) in an effort to replace the flavor and consistency that the missing fat would offer. Light or fat-free dressings can have 3 (ranch), to 5 (raspberry vinaigrette, poppyseed), to even 6 (Thousand Island) grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving—which can easily be doubled or tripled when you’re drizzling it onto your salad or sandwich.

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 2 tablespoons = 6 grams sugar
Reality: 3 tablespoons = 9 grams sugar

8. Teriyaki Sauce

Bottled teriyaki sauces use plain sugar, cane syrup, or high-fructose corn syrup to get that sweet flavor that cuts the saltiness from the soy. Depending on which brand you use, you could be putting away 2 to 7 grams of sugar per tablespoon. If your local take-out restaurant is using bottled sauce to make your favorite teriyaki dinner, you can bet it's using more than a tablespoon at a time (that's why it tastes so good).

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 1 tablespoon = 7 grams sugar
Reality: 2 tablespoons = 14 grams sugar

9. Hoisin Sauce

A popular condiment for meat and stir-fries, hoisin sauce is also a land mine when it comes to sugar content. Sugar appears first or second on most bottled versions’ ingredient lists, which explains why a single tablespoon can easily contain 9 or 10 grams. Yikes.

Sugar per serving

Suggested: 1 tablespoon = 10 grams sugar
Reality: 2 tablespoons = 20 grams sugar

How to Keep Sugary Condiment Consumption Under Control

Now that you’re totally freaked out about how much sugar is lurking in those bottles, rest assured these condiments don’t necessarily have to be eliminated entirely (that would be so sad). Just being aware of what they contain can be enough to make you choosier about when you use them. For example, if you’re enjoying a rare afternoon at a ball game and want a hot dog with relish, go for it, guilt free. But you may want to think twice about that sizable "drizzle" of ranch on your daily salad.

Here are some more tips for keeping those sugary condiments to a reasonable minimum.

1. Control quantity.

Most condiments have a serving size of 1 or 2 tablespoons. If you don’t want to give them up, try sticking to those portions. Eyeballing serving sizes can be one way to keep yourself in check. Think of a tablespoon as roughly the size of your thumb tip and use that reference as a guide when squeezing out your condiment of choice. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s better (and more realistic) than toting around a measuring spoon for every meal.

2. Find smarter swaps.

Explore other ways to flavor your food that replace or at least cut down on the sugar-laden condiments. Regular Dijon mustard has a nice kick that you’ll never get from honey mustard. Salsa (check the ingredients for added sugar) can be a fun way to top salads. Slather your sandwich with hummus instead of mayo. Several herbs and spices can lend subtle, natural sweetness without any sugar at all.

There are plenty of no-sugar alternatives out there, and experimenting with them can make you feel more like you’re adding to your options, instead of taking away from them.

3. DIY it.

If you’re feeling crafty, make your own lower-sugar version of your favorite condiments—especially if you know you’re going to be using more than a single serving at a time. Most homemade condiment recipes are actually pretty simple, use real food ingredients, and contain little to no added sugar. Try this roasted red pepper dip that literally takes five minutes to get you started.

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