Is Tomato Sauce Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Rahul Malpe, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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We’ve all been there. You’re cruising along on your keto diet, sticking to your plan and avoiding processed carbs like the plague. But then that inevitable moment comes when you get a craving for something sinful – something with lots of sauce on top. Is it possible to have a dish with some saucy components and eat it too? 

The sauce we're talking about is tomato sauce. Let's see whether it's keto-friendly.

Spoiler alert: the answer is yes, but with a few caveats. 

Tomatoes are actually low in carbs, making them perfect for those on a low-carb diet. So you can enjoy that bowl of low-carb “spaghetti” bolognese — just be sure to make sure the sauce is homemade or store-bought without added sugar.  We'll explore this in more detail below.

In addition to discussing whether or not it is keto-friendly, we will take a look at the different types available, and which are lowest and highest in carbohydrates.


What is it?

It is a smooth, red condiment made from tomatoes. It is used as a base in many dishes, such as pasta, pizza, and soup. It is also a popular condiment for sandwiches and grilled meats. There are many different recipes for making this condiment, but the most common ingredients include tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper

The sauce can be either cooked or uncooked, and it can be made from fresh or canned tomatoes. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. 

It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as lycopene and potassium.

Though it is now a staple in kitchens around the world, this condiment was actually first developed in South America. The earliest known recipe was created by Inca chef Tupac Yupanqui in the 15th century. This was made by crushing and cooking tomatoes with other ingredients, such as chiles, onions, and spices.

However, it wasn't until the 18th century that sauces containing tomatoes began to gain popularity in Europe. This was due in part to the arrival of tomatoes from the New World, as well as the development of new methods for canning and preserving food.

Today, there are many different types available, from traditional Italian-style to more modern takes on the classic recipe. No matter what style you prefer, there's no doubt that it's an essential ingredient in countless dishes.


Nutrition facts

One quarter cup of this food contains the following nutrients:

Serving size: 1/4 cup (63 g)  
Calories: 15 kcal
Fat: 0 g
Net carbs: 2 g
Total carbs: 3 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 0 g

Nutrition data may vary widely for both homemade and store-bought versions, depending on the ingredients used.

This condiment is not only a delicious addition to many meals, but it also provides a number of essential nutrients. 

A single serving contains significant amounts of Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium and fiber.

Vitamin A is important for vision and immune function, while Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help to protect cells from damage. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, and potassium helps to regulate blood pressure. The fiber in it can also help to promote digestive health. 

In addition to these essential nutrients, tomato is also a good source of lycopene, a phytochemical that has been linked to reducing the risk of some types of cancer. 




Can you have tomato sauce on a keto diet?

Yes, you can. However, it depends on the type you buy.

Many sauces sold in cans or jars contain added sugar, which can quickly knock you out of ketosis.

So as long as you check the label to ensure you buy a low-carb version, or make your own recipe at home,  you will be able to include it in your favorite low-carb recipes.


How much of this sauce can you have on the keto diet? 

Since 1/4 cup of this food contains 2 g of net carbs, it is generally recommended that you limit your intake to around 1 cup per day. This will amount to 8 g of net carbs.

This may not seem like a lot, but when you consider the other ingredients you’re eating with the sauce, it's easy to see how it can add up quickly. 

When following the keto diet, it's important to be mindful of your carb intake, and sauces are one area where it's easy to go overboard.


What kind of tomato sauce can you have on keto?

This condiment comes in different variations, although its sugar content can vary depending on where you purchase them. However, as long as you buy low-carb versions of it, you can have the following types on keto:

  • Vodka sauce: It is a type of pasta topping made with tomato puree, heavy cream, and vodka. It can be used on a variety of pasta dishes, and it pairs well with both chicken and seafood.
  • Sunday sauce: It is a tomato-based pasta filling that is slow-cooked with meat (usually pork or beef) and vegetables. It is typically made in large batches so that it can be enjoyed throughout the week. This hearty recipe is perfect for cold weather days.
  • Puttanesca sauce: This recipe is made with tomatoes, olives, capers, and anchovies. This bold sauce has a salty, briny flavor that pairs well with zucchini noodles. Puttanesca can also be used as a cauliflower pizza topping or as a dip for cheese sticks.
  • Garlicky tomato sauce: It is typically made with garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, and sometimes herbs. The garlic is usually cooked in olive oil before the tomatoes are added. This results in a flavorful condiment that can be used on low-carb pasta or as a dip.
  • Tomato ginger sauce: It is made with ginger, tomatoes, and other spices. The ginger gives the sauce a unique flavor that is perfect for chicken or fish dishes.
  • All'Amatriciana sauce: It consists of a mixture of pancetta, onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers. This recipe is traditionally served with pasta dishes. The pancetta adds richness and protein, while the chili peppers give it a bit of heat.



What can you have with tomato sauce on keto?

This condiment is a versatile one that can be used in a variety of low-carb dishes. Here are some ideas:

  • Chicken parmesan: This is a classic Italian dish that is typically made with breaded and fried chicken. To make it keto-friendly, simply omit the breading and sauté the chicken in a pan with olive oil instead. Top with the red sauce and cheese, then cover the pan with a lid until the cheese is melted. Or, you can use keto breading such as pork rinds or almond flour, then bake the chicken in the oven, and finally top with the condiment and cheese and pop back in the oven for the cheese to melt.
  • Zucchini noodles: Also known as "zoodles," they are a great low-carb alternative to traditional pasta noodles. They can be spiralized using a spiralizer, peeled with a vegetable peeler, or cut into thin strips. Toss them with this condiment and your favorite keto-friendly vegetables for a filling and satisfying meal.
  • Cauliflower rice: This is another great low-carb alternative to traditional rice. It can be made by pulsing cauliflower florets in a food processor until they're broken down into small rice-sized pieces. Combine it with the sauce and your favorite protein for a quick and easy meal.

These are just a few ideas for keto-friendly foods that go well with it. With a little creativity, you can enjoy all of your favorite foods on a keto diet.

You can also incorporate this food into your favorite recipes. For instance, you can use it as a base for a delicious keto chili or as a flavorful topping for grilled chicken or fish

You can also use this condiment to make a quick and easy keto pizza. Simply top a premade keto pizza crust with the sauce, mozzarella cheese, and your favorite pizza toppings. 

If you're looking for a more creative way to use it, try making a batch of low-carb enchiladas. Simply fill low-carb tortillas with shredded chicken or beef, cheese, and tomato sauce. Then, bake in the oven until the tortillas are crispy and the cheese is melted. Whether you're using it as a base, topping, or condiment, it is an ideal ingredient for those on a keto diet.


Keto-friendly tomato sauce alternatives

If you are someone who doesn't like the taste of this condiment, we have got you covered. Here are some of the alternatives that you can have. 

  • Avocado oil mayonnaise: It is a type of mayonnaise that uses avocado oil as its main ingredient. The avocado oil gives it a slightly different flavor than traditional mayo.
  • Hot sauce: There are all sorts of spicy condiments with a fiery taste that can add a touch of heat to any dish. They are usually made from some combination of chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and salt. Watch out for added sugars and check the carb count before you indulge.
  • Salsa: A popular condiment that is made from a variety of chopped vegetables, including tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro. It is typically seasoned with salt, chili powder, and lime juice. Salsa can be used as a dip or as a topping on tacos or burritos.


FAQ about tomato sauce on a keto diet

Interested in learning more about this food? You may find some of your questions answered here.

Yes, it is. Each ¼ cup serving has only 2 g of net carbs, and it's also relatively low in calories. However, it's important to remember that it does contain sodium, so you should use it in moderation.

While tomato paste does contain healthy nutrients, such as lycopene and vitamin C, it is also very concentrated, so more carbs are packed into a smaller amount. 1 tablespoon of tomato paste has 2.4 g net carbs, so it should only be used in small amounts for keto. 

Yes, it is good for keto because it only contains 2.8 g of net carbs per 100 g. In addition, tomatoes have a low glycemic index, meaning that they won't cause spikes in blood sugar levels. For these reasons, tomatoes can be a great addition to a ketogenic diet. 

Stewed tomatoes from a can often have sugar added, so it depends on the brand. Check the back of the can to see what the ingredients and nutrition facts are. 

Your best bet is to take raw tomatoes and cook them yourself. That way you can control what goes into them. 

The cooking process concentrates the lycopene in tomatoes, making them an excellent source of this potent antioxidant. So, stewed tomatoes can be a part of a healthy keto diet. Just be sure to limit your portion size.

  • Yo Mama's Original Marinara: This product is typically made with onions, garlic, and herbs. Yo Mama's is a smooth, medium-bodied marinara with a slight sweetness from slow-simmered onions. 
  • Lucini Rustic Tomato Basil: It's a traditional Italian recipe made with vine-ripened tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh basil. The end product has a chunky texture and a robust flavor. 
  • Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce: A thick, rich pasta filling made with Italian tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and onions. Rao's marinara is slowly simmered to bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients.

Making your own recipe is easy, and it's a great way to use up an abundance of ripe tomatoes. The key is to cook the tomatoes long enough to bring out their natural sweetness. This recipe includes a variety of flavorful herbs, but feel free to experiment with different seasonings to find the perfect balance for your taste.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Start by selecting ripe tomatoes. They should be soft to the touch and slightly misshapen. 
  2. Next, wash them and remove the stems. Then cut them in half and scoop out the seeds. 
  3. Once the tomatoes are prepared, cook them in a pot over low heat until they break down and release their juices. 
  4. Then add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover and let simmer.
  5. Finally, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce until it is smooth. 

Homemade versions can be used in a variety of dishes or canned for future use. Give it a try next time you're in the kitchen!