Chilli sauce adds spice and flavour with few extra kilojoules. What should we be looking out for in our chilli sauce?
There is a vast array of chilli sauces, with new artisan-type products available in supermarkets. A chilli sauce will be made from chillies, tomatoes, vinegar, salt and sugar. Some may also have onion, lemon, garlic and fruit added. A chipotle sauce has jalapeno pepper with either yoghurt, crème fraiche or mayonnaise. Salt and sugar tend to be included in all sauce recipes, and these are what we need to look out for.
The sodium content of the chilli sauces we found ranged from 218mg per 100ml in Rocket Fuel Sauce, to 3480mg per 100ml in Franks Red Hot Extra Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce. This equates to 33mg to 522mg per 15ml serve. The latter is nearly one quarter of the upper recommended limit of 2300mg in one tablespoon. Keeping our sodium intake down is beneficial for heart health, as high sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease. We recommend choosing chilli sauce with 100mg of sodium or less per 15ml serve.
Sugar has been added to all the chilli sauces we looked at. In fact, in Rocket Fuel Sauce it is the first ingredient listed, meaning there is more sugar in it than any other ingredient. We need to watch our free sugar intake for both body weight and dental health. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 26g of free sugars each day, which is about 5 teaspoons of table sugar. Rocket Fuel Sauce has 10g of free sugars per 15ml serve. This is 2 teaspoons of sugar in 1 tablespoon of sauce. We recommend choosing chilli sauce with 5g of sugars or less per 15ml serve. Less is better.
What counts as one serve?
We have used a 15ml (one tablespoon) serve, although that may be too much heat for some.
How to choose
Use these criteria to compare chilli sauces:
Some healthier choices we found
Culley’s No 1 No 7 Medium/Hot
Per 15ml: 24kJ, 1g sugar, 39mg sodium; $0.65
Hot! Sweet and fruity with a nice aftertaste.
Wild Appetite Mexican Chilli Sauce
Per 15ml: 37kJ, 1g sugar, 41mg sodium; $0.72
Good flavour. Would work well as a relish. Not too strong.
Beerenberg Hot Tomato Sauce
Per 15ml: 69kJ, 3g sugar, 50mg sodium; $0.30
Delicious with strong tomato flavour. Medium heat.
Tio Pablo Tropical Salsa Picante de Mango
Per 15ml: 25kJ, 1g sugar, 86mg sodium; $0.44
Creamy with the mango flavour coming through. Medium heat.
Huffman’s Original Chilli Pepper Not-Too-Hot Sauce
Per 15ml: 17kJ, 0g sugar, 98mg sodium; $0.70
Hot! Similar to Tabasco.
Barker’s Really Useful Chipotle Sauce
Per 15g: 53kJ, 1g sugar, 105mg sodium; $0.20
Good smoky flavour.
Kaitaia Fire Chilli Pepper Sauce
Per 15ml: 15kJ, 0g sugar, 165mg sodium; $0.70
A tabasco flavour. Strong and spicy. Good heat.
F. Whitlock & Sons Mild Mexican Chilli Sauce
Per 15ml: 53kJ, 2g sugar, 177mg sodium; $0.22
A strong tomato flavour, more like a relish. Medium heat.