Salt Reduction

Crunch time for sodium reduction in batters, breadings and coatings

Consumers love the crunchy, crispy texture that these coatings add to their food. Most people who purchase breaded and battered processed foods have no idea of the complex technical undertaking that’s involved in bringing them their favourite calamari or chicken fried steak. 

Food manufacturers manage several challenging functional variables to produce these foods. Just the right combination of adhesion, moisture and oil transfer, and viscosity are necessary to deliver the desired crunchy result.

The batter and breaded premixes market is growing, driven by increasing demand for convenience and ready-to-cook meals. Adding to the technical challenges faced by manufacturers of battered foods, consumer expectations have shifted. Increasingly, consumers expect that the bake-at-home frozen versions of their favourite battered and breaded foods will be just as crunchy as the restaurant versions.

Just like the bread-making process, salt is an essential ingredient in coating mixes. While food manufacturers juggle a number of technical variables to perfect the crispy texture of their products, improving the nutrition of batters is often overlooked. The balance of salt and starch control the viscosity of the batter, which effects the final texture of the coating. 

Although a certain amount of functional salt is necessary, many breaded and battered foods contain far more salt and sodium that needed. In fact, many of these coated foods have sodium levels that exceed guidance set by both the WHO and the FDA.

However, reducing salt and sodium in coatings and batters, without compromising on flavour or function, can actually be the most straightforward thing about producing such items. Unlike the complex technical challenges of formulating the perfect batter, achieving 35% less sodium is a simple 1:1 swap. Just replace standard salt with SALTWELL®. 

Chicken & Meat

Chicken nuggets were one of the first bake-at-home breaded foods to dominate the frozen foods market. Often used as a kids’ meal or a snack, these reformed poultry pieces were a staple. While nuggets are still popular, now more sophisticated types of breaded poultry have emerged in the supermarket. Chicken strips, mini fillets, goujons and even “popcorn” chicken can be found among this category. 

Sodium guidance for breaded and battered meats is divided into two categories as set out by the FDA. Whole muscle meat products have the recommended sodium guidance of 740mg per 100g, and reformed meat products are 660mg per 100g. The WHO takes a different approach, assigning a benchmark of 230mg sodium per 100g to raw breaded meats, and 270mg per 100g to heat-treated breaded meats.

In a search across international supermarket websites, we found many battered or breaded chicken products that met the lower WHO benchmark. Unfortunately we also found many that exceeded the higher FDA guidance. 

Whole muscle meat products may be perceived by consumers to be healthier than their reformed meat counterparts. However, many of the whole muscle products are not healthier in terms of salt. One example of this is a frozen buffalo flavour chicken strip product from a leading US brand. This breaded whole muscle product has 890mg of sodium per 100g – well over the FDA’s 740mg guidance. 

Another whole muscle frozen breaded chicken “bites” product in UK supermarkets has a massive 920mg of sodium per 100g. That’s almost 25% over the highest FDA guidance for any breaded meat product.

In looking at reformed breaded chicken products, many supermarket options were much higher in sodium that the famous McDonald’s “McNuggets”, which have 566mg of sodium per 100g. 

The FDA recommends no more than 660mg of sodium per 100g for reformed breaded products such as chicken nuggets, chicken patties, chicken fritters, and chicken fries.

While the reformed chicken products we saw tended to have less sodium than whole muscle products, many still exceeded FDA guidance. An example of this is a reformed breaded product called “chicken patty fries” for sale in US megastore has 670mg of sodium per 100g.

The “country fried” food trend in the US has yielded a range of whole muscle and reformed meats enrobed in a heavy crumb batter. Country fried breaded beef products are popular, and many have the same salty problem as breaded chicken. One of these frozen breaded beef patty products contains 790mg of sodium per 100g. 


The battered fish market is particularly strong in the EU and the UK, where fish in breadcrumbs is a traditional favourite. 

Whether it’s whitefish, scampi, or squid, the FDA puts all breaded and battered seafood in a single category with the guidance of 600mg of sodium per 100g. The WHO sets a much lower sodium benchmark of 270mg per 100g. 

Many health-conscious consumers choose fish as a lower-calorie protein with beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat than red meats. Often the sodium content in processed seafood can compromise its healthy profile, and this is certainly true with many high-sodium breaded and battered seafoods.  

Battered fish is a classic British comfort food, but consumers around the world now purchase battered fish goujons and mini-fillets from their supermarket freezers. In the US, a megastore supermarket sells frozen beer-battered fish fillets with 720mg of sodium per 100g. The same store has breaded tilapia fillets with 810mg of sodium per 100g. 

Some of the smallest breaded seafood products had the biggest salt content. We found nibbles like scampi and squid rings with excessive sodium levels. A breaded frozen scampi product in a premium UK supermarket has 760mg of sodium per 100g, and a battered salt-and-pepper squid product has 720mg of sodium per 100g. These are way over the FDA sodium guidance of 600mg per 100g, and more than double the WHO benchmark.


The explosion in plant-based processed foods has been a trend over recent years. So it’s not surprising that many favourite breaded and battered foods have been adapted into PB alternatives. 

Although some consumers seek out PB products on the basis of health benefits like higher fibre and lower saturated fat, PB alternatives are not always the best when it comes to sodium.

As we’ve seen in other plant-based food categories, many PB breaded and battered foods are packed with salt. 

Since there’s no specific sodium targets from either the FDA or the WHO on breaded and battered PB foods, we can look to their general recommendations on meat and cheese substitutes. The FDA recommends no more than 660mg of sodium per 100g in plant-based analogues, and the WHO sets a sodium benchmark of 250mg per 100g for these. 

All the PB breaded foods we looked at exceeded the WHO benchmark. Many were within 100-200mg of the much higher FDA guidance. A plant-based breaded chicken nugget alternative in a US supermarket has 490mg of sodium per 100g and plant-based breaded mozzarella stick product from the same store has 600mg of sodium per 100g. 

In the UK supermarkets, we found a “vegan fish stick” product with 460mg of sodium per 100g. The saltiest PB product was a plant-based chicken kiev product with a massive 712mg of sodium per 100g. 

Making lower sodium part of the better crunch challenge

It’s clear that consumers love the satisfying crunch of crispy battered and breaded products. 

Food manufacturers have made huge progress in formulating better and better coatings that now deliver a real restaurant-style crunch from a home oven. 

But it’s time to add improved nutrition into the mix. Reducing sodium in processed food is becoming more urgent as government regulators and consumers alike are turning their attention to the fact that 80% of our sodium comes from processed foods.

The good news is that reducing sodium in coatings and batters can be the most straightforward  thing about producing such items. Unlike the complex technical challenges of formulating the perfect batter, achieving 35% less sodium is a simple 1:1 swap. Just replace standard PDV salt with SALTWELL®. That’s it!

As a unique natural sea salt, SALTWELL® is a 100% clean-label ingredient. And the taste is just what you’d expect from a natural salt – smooth flavour without any of the unpleasant notes of artificial salt substitutes. 

SALTWELL® is a trusted partner to the food industry, with years of experience working in ingredients. We understand that specific technical requirements are crucial to food manufacturing, and that’s why we’ve developed a range of naturally reduced sodium sea salts for every application. All made to BRC and ISO standards, and all with 35% less sodium.

If youre ready to take the next step in creating a better crunch with less sodium in your battered and breaded products, then we are ready to help. To learn more, get in touch or request a sample.