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Welcome to our Dan-O’s Seasoning review!
Moments after sauntering up to their booth at Natural Products Expo East 2022 for a surprisingly flavorful sample of low-sodium seasonings (on chicken, of course), our review team nodded silently in agreement—we gotta check these guys out.
A more in-depth sampling round of Dan-O’s seasonings after the event and a follow-up interview with VP of Sales Tyler Watson revealed that the flavors and the brand behind them are indeed the real deal.
Whether you’re living the low-sodium life or not, Dan-O’s low-sodium, gluten free, 100% clean seasonings will make each dish pop with savory goodness.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent flavor across the board
- Low sodium content (50mg/serving)
- No added sugar or stabilizers
- Website often doesn’t display ingredients
- No organic, other certifications
From Local Acclaim to Viral Fame: The Dan-O’s Story
To paraphrase Tyler’s opening comments on the Dan-O’s origin story, there was a time before the “social media takeover,” and a time after. Before we get to the fateful (and pretty funny) viral moment that lurched Dan-O’s into a higher gear, we’ll start from the top—summer of 2017.
Of the founder, Tyler said, “Dan’s story is simple. The guy started with eight thousand dollars, a backpack, and a dream that he had a better-tasting and better-for-you seasoning than anything on the market.”
Dan’s story is simple. The guy started with eight thousand dollars, a backpack, and a dream that he had a better-tasting and better-for-you seasoning than anything on the market. We wanted to be able to provide something with flavor that didn’t oversalt or oversugar your meals, so we came out with this low-sodium, all-natural, sugar-free blend that had an incredible flavor profile.
Tyler Watson, VP of Sales at Dan-O’s Seasoning
“We wanted to be able to provide something with flavor that didn’t oversalt or oversugar your meals, so we came out with this low-sodium, all-natural, sugar-free blend that had an incredible flavor profile,” Tyler went on to explain.
For several years, Tyler, Dan, and company sold these two seasonings at trade shows, state fairs, farmers markets, and flea markets to gain some momentum.
As their regional rep grew, they eventually got into local health food stores and a local division of a little over 100 Kroger stores.
Dan-O’s used this momentum to grow internally, landing investments and bringing in talented marketers, among other key positions.
Then, well, let’s just say 2020 happened. Luckily for Dan-O’s, they had already started selling online before lockdowns swept the nation.
Phil Crosby, one of the aforementioned investors who became Dan-O’s CEO, mobilized with Dan to keep the business afloat using social media.
And then it happened.
Phase Two: The Dan-O’s Social Takeover
In their early pandemic TikTok debut, which was a recipe video showing off their seasoning on some crab cakes, Dan made the perilous decision to use canned crab.
And the trolls smelled blood.
He’s just a Kentucky boy who didn’t know any better.
Tyler Watson, VP of Sales at Dan-O’s Seasoning
“He’s just a Kentucky boy who didn’t know any better,” Tyler offered somewhat wryly in defense of Dan after describing the onslaught of shade they received from Marylanders with their noses turned up (I can say it, I lived there).
But in a spectacular case of “failing upwards,” the viral video and those following launched Dan-O’s to a new sphere of popularity, effectively ramping up their business by a huge margin.
Since then, Dan-O’s has capitalized on their online presence by networking with more than 1000 influencers.
Tyler was gone for the middle chunk of this story, but upon his return, there were 100+ nationwide retail stores carrying Dan-O’s, a figure that blew up to 11,000 in the space of a year.
And that brings us to today.
A low-sodium seasoning brand banking off of social media saltiness. Poetry.
Our Dan-O’s Review
We use these six universal criteria when reviewing brands (Dan-O’s scores included):
- Quality (A-)
- Transparency (B-)
- Website Experience (A)
- Customer Service (A-)
- Value (A-)
- Brand Value (A-)
With no added sugar or preservatives in sight and very little sodium, Dan-O’s has brought a clean, albeit not organic, product to market.
Because both good and bad actors can (and often do) arrive at a similar end product quality, we make sure to take ingredient sourcing, manufacturing, and other key factors into account as a way of accurately gauging overall quality.
Starting with ingredients, Dano-O’s seasonings are made exclusively from natural ingredients, such as the following:
- Dehydrated garlic
- Sea salt
- Lemon peel
- Orange peel
- Cayenne pepper
We were initially a bit miffed at the umbrella term—“spices”—present on many of Dan-O’s ingredient lists, but the about page disarmed most of our skepticism.
Terms like “spices” help to keep proprietary blends a secret—a common occurrence throughout the food and beverage industry—but Dan-O’s assures site visitors that their use of the term only conceals “herbs and spices that are safe for most folks, like rosemary, parsley, and more”.
While Dan-O’s seasonings don’t officially carry organic or any other certifications, they are non-GMO, low in sodium, and contain no sugar, gluten, anti-caking chemicals, or MSG.
We also learned in our interview with Tyler that Dan-O’s uses lemon and orange peel to enhance the intensity of the salt flavor, helping them to keep the sodium really low (usually 50mg per ¼ tsp serving).
As for the sourcing and logistics end, Dan-O’s sources many of their own ingredients, and though they still partner with their smaller, ride-or-die copacker (that they’ve been with from the beginning) on occasion, they mostly use a third-party logistics company to package their products.
The overall impression made on our team in the quality department emphasizes a clean, well-made product, but with some room for improvement in supply chain ownership and/or certifications.
Balancing these points, we’ve landed on an A- for quality.
Here’s a quick look at the Dan-O’s Product Catalog.
All Dan-O’s Products
Dan-O’s has four unique seasoning blends:
The seasonings come in 3.5oz, 8.9oz, and 20oz containers, and bundles are available (2-, 3-, or 4-count) for the smallest and largest sizes.
Crafted with orange and lemon peel to enhance the sea salt (it’s a thing), Dan-O’s Original is the perfect all-purpose seasoning blend.
It’s made with rosemary, garlic, onion, and more to provide a rich flavor profile.
Everything you normally use salt and/or pepper on can be kicked up a notch with a few sprinkles of Dan-O’s Original.
Dubbed “the spiciest of them all” by the Dan-O’s crew, the Hot Chipotle delivers with chipotle peppers and plenty of garlic.
Even while your tongue’s throbbing, the toned-down salt content allows the vibrant flavors more room to shine.
This seasoning is ideal for any spicy dishes, eggs, seafood, and much more.
Dan-O’s Everything Bagel
A later addition to the catalog, the Everything Bagel is our team’s favorite for its dynamic, yet surprisingly salty flavor.
Even though Dan-O’s recommends sprinkling generously, we found that you can stretch a few shakes of the Everything Bagel pretty far.
It was very tasty on avocado toast, eggs, and even meat.
For the most part, the Dan-O’s team and website provide easy access to product and (some) company info, but they take a solid ding for not listing ingredients on most product pages.
First of all, we get it—it’s seasoning, not a timeshare.
Still, though most customers won’t expect essay-length product descriptions for seasoning, the importance of learning the basic specs (ingredients, nutrition, etc.), product sourcing/manufacturing, brand information, and more is not diminished.
Living out their mantra—“sprinkle generously”—in a literary sense, the heavy-handed use of puns on Dan-O’s “Dantastic and Dan-O-Myte” product descriptions doesn’t go unnoticed by this team of seasoned writers.
Joking aside, the descriptions themselves usually describe the taste and usage adequately, but another component of the product page presents a not-so-minor transparency issue: displaying ingredients.
Several of the product pages listed on the Dan-O’s site do not have any official ingredient lists whatsoever.
Ingredients are often explicitly mentioned in the product description, but making site visitors click around—or even resort to a third-party site—to get the complete ingredient list is not a great transparency move.
Tyler was very forthcoming in our interview as it related to the Dan-O’s sourcing and manufacturing setup, but little of what he shared is actually divulged on the site.
Our personal experiences with the Dan-O’s team, their site, and their products give us no impression that they’re actively trying to hide or omit anything, but even as a clerical oversight, the ingredient listing issue brings their transparency score to a B-.
A breezy shopping experience, solid recipe section (including video clips), and attractive design make the Dan-O’s online experience a positive one.
Considering we only review e-commerce sites, we prioritize ease of shopping and beginner-friendly educational resources over design.
The setup of the Dan-O’s shop—aided by their relatively small catalog—is intuitively simple.
Hover over the shop link, and a drop-down menu gives quick access to major categories, which is essentially split into seasoning and merchandise (hats, cups, koozies, etc.).
It’s all standard from there; click on a product to view more details, add to cart, and so forth.
The checkout process is made simple with no unnecessary splash pages or other navigation quirks.
As for “educational content,” we weren’t expecting much more than recipes, which Dan-O’s delivers in convincing fashion.
We especially appreciate how some of the recipes reflect the attributes of their products, i.e., the keto recipe section pairs their low-carb seasoning (I mean, it’s seasoning) with low-carb meals.
Finally, the site design is simple and endearing, and we found no display/formatting issues on either the desktop or mobile versions.
Dan-O’s earns a grade of A for their “Dan good” website experience—okay, that’s the last one.
The friendly and prompt response to our test of the phone service left us with a positive impression of Dan-O’s customer service, though the refund window is a bit restrictive.
A key proving ground no matter what you’re peddling, customer service gives us and the everyday consumer a chance (hopefully) to speak with a human being.
In addition to testing support services, we also evaluate return policies, shipping costs, and any other customer-facing elements relating to customer service.
Dan-O’s has email and phone support services, a common standard usurped only by the coveted phone-email-messenger combo.
They also plug their social media profiles—TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube—which we normally don’t highlight, but will in this case due to the major role social media has had in the Dan-O’s story.
We were pleasantly surprised to not only reach a human being on our first attempt at the phone service, but to do so with no holding time or robo-prompts whatsoever.
The representative answered our question confidently and politely, and that was that—no handing off the phone or return calls to bother with.
The email service responded toward the later end of our two-business day window (any later and we start griping) with a thorough response.
The return policy, however, was less impressive, offering customers only 7 days from the time of receipt to receive a refund or a replacement product.
Overall, the Dan-O’s customer service department stays true to the relaxed and welcoming vibe of founder Dan, putting that southern hospitality thing on display for us bristly northerners—A- for customer service.
They won’t compete with most of the grocery store shelf on price, but for a premium brand, Dan-O’s has restrained themselves fairly well.
While important in itself, every price tag tells a story, so we make sure to balance price with the quality behind it.
Here are the per-ounce prices of Dan-O’s three sizes of seasoning:
For comparison’s sake, we’ll use the middle value of $1.45/oz, which is a bit puffier than the price points of grocery store staples like McCormick—a brand that sticks around $1.20/oz for most of their all-purpose seasoning blends.
The major competitive advantage of Dan-O’s is that, being completely free of sugar, stabilizers, and preservatives (and very low in sodium), their seasonings are much more dense in natural, flavorful, and healthier foods.
Fair enough, we said, let’s compare them to another premium brand: FlavorGod.
Despite the modesty-lacking moniker and goofy, but lowkey-fire logo (these guys are a trip, may have to reach out to them), FlavorGod’s seasonings basically go toe-to-toe with Dan-O’s on ingredient quality, but they cost around 15-20% more depending on quantity.
For example, FlavorGod Buffalo Seasoning is $14.99 for a 4 oz container, reducing to $3.75 per ounce, which is roughly three-quuarters more per ounce than Dan-O’s smallest (3.5oz) quantities.
In other words, Dan-O’s is on the lower end of the price spectrum for premium seasoning brands, while remaining reasonably more expensive than most grocery store staples.
The competitor price points and Dan-O’s ingredient quality both compare favorably to what Dan-O’s charges, so we’re sticking with an A- for value.
Of course, if you factor in the staggering 5% savings of Dan-O’s “autoship and save” program, then the grade is… yeah, no, still an A-. Had to do it.
Having been one themselves, Dan-O’s makes sure not to forget “the little guy” when it comes to giving generously, all while innovating within and disrupting the industry.
Each brand has its unique way of leaving a mark on its industry and/or the world at large, which is why this category is a bit more fluid. Still, we keep these factors in mind to provide a well-rounded assessment of each brand’s value:
- Industry disruption
- Public nutrition impact
You might be thinking, just how innovative can seasoning be? As Dan-O’s is demonstrating, you don’t need cutting-edge technology to change the way a product is used for the better.
The low-sodium aspect of Dan-O’s seasonings combined with the overall cleanliness (gluten-free, no preservatives, etc.) and excellent flavor creates new applications while reaching out to people who have had to go light on the seasoning or forgo it altogether. Sounds innovative to us.
The commitment to philanthropy at Dan-O’s appears to go well beyond the usual pandering, involving turkey giveaways, various donations to cancer research and other causes, and several other charitable partnerships.
Though they haven’t unseated the long-reigning champions of the seasoning aisle, Dan-O’s is highly disruptive in the sense that they’ve got the right product to do so—a better alternative that’s making some noise.
Finally, there’s a strong argument to be made for how Dan-O’s is elevating the state of public nutrition. Claiming just under 700,000 people in the United States every year, we’ve all heard by now that heart disease is a serious issue. Dan-O’s is perfectly positioned to help people stay faithful to their low-sodium diets without sacrificing the joy of home-cooked food.
All considered, Dan-O’s earns an A- for brand value.
Our team sampled the following Dan-O’s seasonings:
Getting the minutia out of the way first, everything arrived on time, fully intact, and with some fun swag like stickers and trucker hats (thanks, Dan-O’s crew!).
The lids and bottles gave us no issues, and were well-labeled, including a QR code that takes you to the recipe section of the Dan-O’s site.
Given the oft-repeated slogan—sprinkle generously—we were surprised at how boldly the Spicy, Hot Chipotle, and Everything Bagel came across with what felt like average amounts of sprinkling.
The Original seasoning, on the other hand, while equally tasty, did require fairly generous sprinkling.
All of them rank very highly with us on the flavor profile, with the Everything Bagel and Hot Chipotle standing out as especially delicious on everything we tried them on.
With less salt to wash out the other flavors, you can taste just about every ingredient in Dan-O’s seasonings, and it’s much easier to tell each Dan-O’s seasoning apart than most brands because of this increased “room” the flavors have to play with.
Our favorite application of the four seasonings we tried was the Everything Bagel seasoning on avocado toast (with eggs and a bit of cheese). Unconventional? Sure, but delicious.
Otherwise, virtually any kind of food you would want seasoned is covered by the Original and the Everything, with the spicier selections lending themselves appropriately to Latin American cuisine, barbecue, or just a simple chicken breast dinner you were too lazy to do anything else with.
Overall, every Dan-O’s product we tried lived up to the hype, adding a bold and unique accent to the dishes we sprinkled them on.
Dan-O’s Seasoning FAQ
What’s so special about Dan-O’s Seasoning?
Dan-O’s Seasoning is unique in that it is low in sodium, gluten free, all natural, and completely free of preservatives.
Is Dan-O’s Seasoning healthy?
Made with ingredients like onion, sea salt, garlic, and more, Dan-O’s seasoning offers greater nutritional value than most seasonings. The lower sodium content is also an improvement on the norm.
What does Dan-O’s Seasoning taste like?
Dan-O’s seasonings are bold and flavorful, with the onion, garlic, and pepper flavors popping against more subtle undertones of sea salt and herbs.
What seasonings are in Dan-O’s Original?
Dan-O’s original contains spices (a proprietary blend), garlic, sea salt, onion, parsley, lemon peel, orange peel, and cayenne pepper.
Who owns Dan-O’s Seasoning?
Dan Oliver is the founder and owner of Dan-O’s seasoning.
Why is Dan-O’s Seasoning so popular?
Dan-O’s was steadily gaining popularity on a local level with their gluten-free, low-sodium, and all-natural seasonings, but a viral video or two on TikTok catapulted them to national recognition.
Is Dan-O’s keto friendly?
Yes, Dan-O’s products are keto friendly.
Does Dan-O’s Seasoning have carbs?
All of Dan-O’s seasonings report 0g carbs per serving on the label.
Dan-O’s earned an overall grade of A- from our review team.
They didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but Dan-O’s is innovative in how they approached a seemingly locked-down market with a clean, low-sodium, and highly flavorful product that seems to do everything better than the other guys.
Everyone we spoke with from the Dan-O’s team was welcoming and willing to share, though the website could reflect this openness more.
Outside our capacity as reviewers (i.e., pretending to be anonymous customers), it was easy to reach a real human being and learn more about the products and the company.
Every Dan-O’s seasoning we tried was very tasty, highly versatile, and priced to outperform other premium brands on value.
Finally, Dan-O’s is making an active effort to improve the state of their surroundings, from the product itself offering a healthy option for low-sodium folks to their efforts in giving back to needy communities.
Low-sodium or not, we recommend Dan-O’s to anyone looking for tasty spice blends that work on dozens of dishes.