9 Of The Unhealthiest Store-Bought Steak Sauces

Steak sauce can elevate the flavor of beef and make a good meal taste even better. And while it's true that store-bought steak sauce can add some extra oomph, the nutritional information on these bottles may surprise you. Many steak sauces are shockingly high in sodium. And because a steak sauce serving size is often only a single tablespoon, it's easy to accidentally ingest much higher quantities if you aren't paying close attention.

According to the FDA, adults should limit their sodium intake to about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day, or roughly 2,300 milligrams. Yet most Americans consume around 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily. This isn't ideal, as high-sodium diets can result in serious health issues such as stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Steak sauces also tend to contain more sugar than you'd expect, which is also concerning. Overconsumption of sugar is often a precursor to cardiovascular disease. While men shouldn't consume more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day, women should only consume 6 teaspoons (25 grams) at most, per Harvard Medical School.

In addition to containing high amounts of sugar and salt, these steak sauces often have a few other potentially harmful ingredients (like artificial sweeteners or preservatives) that can lead to health problems if consumed in high doses regularly. Considering their small serving sizes, the steak sauces on this list contain steep levels of these ingredients. Here, we'll discuss some of the unhealthiest steak sauces.

1. Dale's Steak Seasoning

What began as a restaurant in the cellar of a Birmingham, Alabama, apartment building eventually blossomed into a line of popular Dale's Seasoning sauces that are available at many grocery stores. One of the brand's most famous steak sauces, known as Dale's Steak Seasoning, is made from ingredients such as soy sauce, onion, garlic, sugar, monosodium glutamate (MSG), ginger, and paprika. 

While Dale's Steak Seasoning doesn't have much sugar (only 1 gram per serving), the product contains a very high amount of sodium per serving, with a whopping 1,220 milligrams per tablespoon. That is 51% of the amount of sodium that's recommended for an entire day. Adding just 2 tablespoons to your plate would be over a day's worth of sodium. Of course, there's also probably more salt on the steak from when it's seasoned during the cooking process. And that's not to mention the salt in other side dishes paired with your meal. It's easy to imagine a full steak dinner that uses Dale's adding up to a couple of days' worth of sodium in a single sitting. 

Our bodies require much less sodium than is included in this steak sauce to function. We only need about 500 milligrams daily, according to the American Heart Association, and exceeding the daily value may have a negative impact on your health. It's best to keep sodium intake to a minimum, and maybe limit how often you consume steak sauces like Dale's as part of your diet.

2. A.1. Original Steak Sauce

A.1. is a very popular name in the steak sauce game. A.1. was originally developed in England by a private chef who cooked for King George IV around the 1820s. The sauce didn't arrive in the United States until the early 1900s when it was marketed as a sauce specifically for steak. 

This steak sauce is like a thick, sweet Worcestershire sauce. The flavor is bold, which makes it a top choice for cheaper cuts of steak that need some help. A.1.'s original sauce is made with tomato puree, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, raisin paste, crushed orange puree, spices, dried garlic, and caramel color. The inclusion of corn syrup here is especially concerning, health-wise. Corn syrup is a sweetener. The problem with it is that, like other sweeteners consumed in excess, it can cause insulin resistance, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, according to a 2022 study published in the journal Missouri Medicine.

This product contains 280 milligrams of sodium per serving, which means that each tablespoon contains 12% of the recommended daily amount of salt. But corn syrup is also the third ingredient printed on the label, which means it's a major ingredient in the recipe. Each serving of A.1 contains 2 grams of sugar. That's not bad, but due to its high salt content and inclusion of corn syrup, it's safe to say that A.1. should be used sparingly.

3. Crystal Steak Sauce

The company Crystal Hot Sauce started in 1923. While it famously produced jellies and preserves for troop rations during World War II, Crystal is now mostly known for its Louisiana-style hot sauces. However, the company also produces several other types of sauce. Some of these include wing sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and steak sauce.

The ingredients used in Crystal's Steak Sauce include tomato concentrate, vinegar, raisins, corn syrup, salt, and orange peels. The sodium content of Crystal's steak sauce is fairly high, clocking in at 230 milligrams in each serving (1 tablespoon), which is 10% of the daily recommended amount of sodium. Each serving of Crystal's Steak Sauce also contains 2 grams of sugar. Crystal's Steak Sauce has a similar taste, color, and consistency to A.1. While Crystal's contains the same amount of sugar as A.1., it does contain a smaller amount of sodium per serving, but that's not a significant improvement. 

4. Lea & Perrins Traditional Steak Sauce

Lea & Perrins is a company that's often praised for its Worcestershire sauce. But the brand also makes a steak sauce that tastes great, but is maybe not the healthiest. Lea & Perrins Traditional Steak Sauce contains 330 milligrams of sodium (14% of the recommended daily value) per 1 tablespoon serving. It also has 3 grams of total sugar per serving.

This steak sauce also contains a chemical additive called potassium sorbate. Potassium sorbate is a widely used preservative that has been generally regarded as safe but has also been known to cause low-risk skin irritations and allergic reactions in some people. When combined with the salt and sugar amounts contained in this product, this steak sauce should be used with discretion. Like many steak sauces, the serving size is only a single tablespoon, so it's very easy to consume far more salt and sugar than you realize if you aren't mindful of how much you're pouring out onto your steak plate.

5. Lawry's Steak & Chop Marinade

Lawry's started as a single restaurant in 1938, before becoming a popular seasoning and marinade brand. Lawry's Steak & Chop Marinade contains some of the highest sodium content on this list, with 340 milligrams of sodium per 1 tablespoon serving. This equates to 15% of the daily value of sodium per serving. Aside from the high sodium content, like Lea & Perrins, Lawry's also contains the preservative potassium sorbate. Let's give credit where it's due, though: Lawry's Steak and Chop sauce doesn't contain sugar. Instead, the inclusion of red bell pepper in the recipe seems to be a way of lending the sauce a hint of natural sweetness.

Another thing to consider is the addition of caramel color to this recipe. Caramel coloring is typically made by heating sugar compounds with ammonium compounds. Like potassium sorbate, this ingredient also gives us pause, as studies conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program in 2007 discovered contaminants in caramel coloring that cause cancer in mice and rats. Between the high sodium content, potassium sorbate, and caramel coloring, steering clear of eating Lawry's steak sauce regularly might be a wise decision for health-conscious consumers.

6. Great Value Classic Steak Sauce

Great Value is a Walmart brand that offers many products for a cheaper price than its competitors, and its steak sauce is no exception. Unfortunately, one serving of this steak sauce has 270 milligrams of sodium (12 % of the daily value). The recipe also contains corn syrup, caramel coloring, and potassium sorbate. This trifecta of ingredients, combined with the product's high sodium content, makes this sauce a condiment that should be used conservatively. And because this sauce is sold for such a low price, it's easy to be fast and loose with its use.

Keep in mind that the nutritional issues of Great Value's steak sauce (along with other selections in this list) have nothing to do with taste, as many customers report that this sauce has a great balance of flavors. The issue is that the sodium and other potentially unhealthy ingredients included in this sauce can be easily consumed in excess since the serving size is only 1 tablespoon.

7. Dawn Fresh Mushroom Steak Sauce

What's interesting about Dawn Fresh's steak sauce is that it's quite different from other popular store-bought steak sauces. While many other steak sauces follow a similar recipe formula consisting of ingredients like tomato paste, vinegar, salt, sugar, raisins, and citrus, this sauce is mushroom-based. On the one hand, this sauce could easily be used to amp up a homemade cheesesteak. But on the other hand, making a sauce with fresh mushrooms would taste so much better, and also give you absolute control over the salt and other ingredients which should be consumed in moderation.

This sauce contains 260 milligrams of sodium or 11 % of the daily value, as well as 1 gram of sugar. Like some other products here, Dawn Fresh also contains caramel coloring. However, it's worth noting that rather than being measured by the tablespoon, one serving of Dawn Fresh's steak sauce is listed as a quarter-cup. This amounts to about 4 tablespoons, which is more than other serving sizes in this list. This is probably a more accurate reflection of the portion that consumers eat when using this product. However, we still think there are healthier steak sauce options.

8. St. Elmo Steak House Izzy's Sauce for Steak

St. Elmo is a steakhouse in Indianapolis that's been open since 1902. After the success of the restaurant, the company decided to bottle its popular sauces, including its creamy horseradish sauce, cocktail sauce, and steak sauce. There are a few ingredients that set St. Elmo steak sauce apart from the pack. For starters, the recipe contains butter, which is seldom seen in classic store-bought steak sauces. It also features brandy, which lends a complex fruitiness. The bad news is that, with 300 milligrams of sodium per serving, it's also one of the saltier entries we're showcasing here. That amounts to 13% of the daily value of sodium per serving, which is only 1 tablespoon. There are also 3 grams of sugar per serving.

The other thing to consider here is the fact that some customers have complained that the bottled sauce doesn't taste nearly as good as what's served in the restaurant. So not only does this pack a punch of salt, but there's also not enough payoff in terms of flavor. If something is going to wallop your heart with sodium, it needs to be worth it. But that doesn't seem to be the case here.

9. TGI Fridays Signature Whiskey Sauce

One of the first things that comes to mind about TGI Fridays is the restaurant chain's signature whiskey sauce. Since being included on the menu in the '90s, the restaurant's whiskey sauce has been a long-lasting staple of the company's menu and is basted onto everything from ribs and chicken to wings and grilled steak.

While many of the steak sauces here veer towards the saltier end of the spectrum with a touch of sweetness, this steak sauce from Fridays takes the opposite approach. Instead, sugar is the first ingredient on the recipe label here, so sweetness takes center stage in the taste buds. A mere 2 teaspoons (which is one serving) of this stuff rack up an astounding 15 grams of sugar. It seems more accurate to think of this less as a steak sauce, and more like a syrup. To make matters worse, it has a lot of sodium too, with 210 milligrams per serving, which accounts for 9% of the daily value. The bottom line is that steak is already indulgent enough, without bringing sauces like this into the mix.