Many of the comfort foods we crave just don’t jive with a keto diet (lookin’ at you, mac and cheese). They don’t necessarily lack fat, but even a bite or two can pack enough carbs to mess with ketosis.
Luckily, with a little creativity, you can transform even the most carbalicious comfort meals into keto-friendly eats. Next time you’re jonesing, whip up one of these low-carb, nutritionist-approved recipes.
1. Fried Chicken
While your average fried chicken breading features flour or other high-carb ingredients, like corn flakes, a few quick swaps make chicken fingers and wings possible on keto.
Ground pork rinds or almond flour substitute well for the flour in conventional, high-carb breading, says Gabby Geerts, R.D., dietitian for keto meal service Green Chef. A little avocado mayonnaise and egg help the breading stick to your chicken—and drive up that fat content.
- 3/4 cup pork rinds or almond flour
- 1 tsp Cajun spice
- 1 egg
- ½ avocado
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- Dry chicken and season with salt and pepper.
- In a plastic bag, combine crushed pork rinds or almond flour with desired spices to make breading. Add to a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg, avocado, and mayonnaise.
- Coat each piece of chicken in the breading, then dredge in the egg-mayo mixture, and coat in breading again.
- Place chicken on a wire rack-topped baking sheet and bake at 425 until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
2. Keto-fied Nachos
Since classic nacho ingredients like beef, cheese, avocado, and sour cream are all high in fat and perfectly keto-friendly, replace those pesky tortilla chips with a lower-carb vessel and you’re good to go.
Geerts suggests swapping your usual chips for chip-shaped chunks of bell peppers to keep carbs minimal. (Tip: Green bell peppers are the lowest in sugar.)
While sautéing your ground meat of choice with some onion and favorite taco spices, roast chip-shaped slices of bell pepper for a few minutes at 450 degrees. Top with ground meat and shredded cheese as desired and bake again until cheese melts. Then, add your go-to nacho accessories, like avocado slices, sour cream, jalapeños, and diced red onion.
3. Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
“It’s hard to imagine a cheesesteak without the bread, but fill a bell pepper with the sandwich filling and you won’t miss it,” says Geerts. Plus, with all that steak and cheese, this easy meal is well-suited for keto.
Place halved and seeded bell peppers in a microwave-safe bowl, cover, and cook for three to four minutes to soften. Meanwhile, sauté shaved steak and yellow onion over medium heat. Add some stone-ground or Dijon mustard to the steak mixture and spoon into the pepper halves. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Roast until cheese is melted.
4. Avo-Chocolate Pudding
Already a go-to on a healthy keto diet, avocado also comes in clutch when sweet cravings strike. In fact, it’s the perfect base for creamy keto pudding.
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- 1 small ripe avocado
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 scoop chocolate pea protein
- ½ tsp orange extract
- 4-6 Tbsp water
- stevia, to taste
- Scoop the insides of a small, ripe avocado into a food processor.
- Add cacao powder, vanilla extract, pea protein, orange extract (which adds citrus-y sweetness), and water.
- Process until smooth.
- Taste the pudding and add stevia until you reach your desired sweetness.
- Cover and chill for at least two hours before serving.
5. Keto Biscuits
Give your Sunday brunch a keto makeover with these low-carb biscuits from Tara Allen, R.N., C.H.C., C.P.T. At just three grams of net carbs—plus some protein and plenty of healthy fats—per biscuit, you can totally have your bread and eat it, too.
Allen suggests making a double or triple batch so you can freeze the extras!
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
- 1 ½ Tbsp coconut oil, solid
- 6 egg whites
- Mix the almond flour, coconut flour, and baking powder in a bowl.
- Add the coconut oil and mix by hand until a crumbly mixture forms.
- In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the eggs into the crumbly mixture, then use an ice cream scooper to scoop the dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
6. Kohlrabi Fries
When you’re craving fries on keto, this healthier baked alternative comes in clutch.
“Made with kohlrabi, a lesser-known cruciferous veggie cousin of Brussels sprouts and cabbage, you can feel good about eating these fries,” Allen says.
Each satisfying serving contains just four grams of net carbs.
Toss two cups of kohlrabi strips in a tablespoon of coconut oil. Add salt and cumin to taste. Spread fries on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees, flipping halfway through.
7. Cauliflower Fried Rice
“Fried rice is the ultimate comfort food, however, those on a keto diet have to avoid carbohydrate-rich rice,” says Ysabel Montemayor, R.D., lead dietitian for organic ready-to-eat meal service Fresh ‘n Lean.
One easy way to compromise: Switch out the rice with cauliflower rice. Not only is cauliflower low in carbs, but it’s also rich in nutrients.
Sauté cauliflower rice in a hot pan, adding chopped vegetables, a healthy oil, soy sauce or coconut aminos, and spices of your choice. Up the protein by scrambling in an egg or any leftover meat you have in the fridge.
8. Avocado Milkshake
Here, too, avocado makes keto dessert doable.
In addition to packing healthy fats and fiber, avocado also contains vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin E, says Montemayor. Plus, its creamy texture makes it a great stand-in for the ice cream in your typical milkshake.
Scoop the insides of a ripe avocado into a blender. Add unsweetened almond milk, a few ice cubes, and your go-to low-calorie sweetener. For extra sweetness, add a few drops of vanilla extract. For a refreshing feel, add a few fresh basil leaves. Blend to your desired thickness and enjoy.