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Adding Flavor Without Adding the Sodium of Salt

Adding Flavor Without Adding the Sodium of Salt


Food must taste good to be enjoyed. There are many interesting flavors to enjoy besides “salty,” including savory, sweet, spicy, peppery, and tangy.

This sheet offer tips for flavoring foods without salt and for cooking with low-sodium ingredients.

What to Use Instead of Salt

Here are some suggestions of herbs, spices, and flavorings to use in place of salt. Add them during cooking for a fuller flavor.


Beef: Bay leaf, garlic, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme

Lamb: Curry powder, garlic, mint, rosemary

Pork: Garlic, onion, oregano, pepper, sage

Veal: Bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram

Chicken: Ginger, lemon or lime juice, marjoram, oregano, paprika, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme

Fish: Basil, curry powder, dill, dry mustard, lemon or lime juice, marjoram, parsley, pepper


Carrots: Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage

Corn: Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley

Green beans: Curry powder, dill, lemon juice, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme

Greens: Onion, pepper, vinegar

Peas: Ginger, marjoram, onion, parsley, sage

Potatoes: Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage

Squash: Summer—Cloves, curry powder, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sageWinter—Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, onion

Tomatoes: Basil, bay leaf, dill, garlic, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper

More Seasoning Tips

  • Try new seasonings one or two at a time so you can learn which ones you like best. If you aren’t sure where to start, we suggest all-purpose favorites like salt-free garlic and onion powders, oregano, parsley, and red or black pepper.
  • In general, herbs have a more subtle flavor than salt does, so you can use more.
  • If you don’t want to fuss with a lot of different seasonings, try the different herb blends such as Mrs. Dash and Parsley Patch. Choose brands that have no sodium in them.
  • A splash of wine or flavored vinegar, added near the end of cooking, perks up the flavor of soups, stews, and sauces.
  • If you still like a salty taste once in a while, try using a salt substitute. “Light” salt has half the sodium of regular salt and is okay to use if you have high blood pressure. If you have heart failure, you should not use salt substitutes.

How to Make Recipes Lower in Sodium

There’s no need to give up your favorite recipes just because you need to eat less sodium. Instead, try trading in the high-sodium ingredients for lower-sodium ones and of course, skip the salt.

IngredientSubstitute With
Canned soups/brothHomemade or “Low-Sodium” soups and broth
BouillonUnsalted bouillon cubes
Canned vegetablesFresh or frozen vegetables
Onion salt, garlic saltOnion powder, garlic powder
Tomato juiceTomato paste* mixed with 2–3 parts water

*Canned tomato paste usually has little or no sodium. Check labels to be sure.