When people are new to the ketogenic diet, they often wonder what type of foods they should and could eat while making the changes they need to make. While I do have a food list for people on keto, it doesn’t cover everything and definitely doesn’t cover recipes or common foods people are always asking for.
Use the list below to get an idea of what replacements you can use on the ketogenic diet and what type of foods you could replicate while going the low-carb route. Not only does this make the diet or way of eating viable for long term use, but it makes it feasible for enjoyment, too!
Scroll down to the bottom to get explanations on each section and recipes for each section. Pin, share, and tweet this to help out all of your friends doing keto and to spread the word about keto!
Flavored Yogurt -> Full Fat Greek Yogurt, Coconut Milk Yogurt
For a typical yogurt replacement, you can sub in full fat Greek yogurt, full fat cottage cheese, sour cream, or you can even make your own coconut milk yogurt. Get creative and add toasted nuts, a small amount of fresh berries (raspberries and blackberries are lowest carb), or your favorite spices.
Cereals -> Chia Pudding, Flax Granola, Toasted Nuts
Instead of making your own cereal, you can always have a low-carb alternative. Try out chia seed pudding, flax granola sprinkled into coconut or almond milk, salted caramel pork rind cereal, or just assorted toasted nuts that are crushed and crispy. It’s quite easy to find a crunchy alternative to cereal (or just a replacement in general) so keep your eyes out and experiment for yourself to see which you like best.
Oatmeal -> Cauliflower, Chia Seed, Flaxmeal Oatmeal
Oatmeal is something we all miss when it starts to get cold outside. You can easily make your own oatmeal by following one of the many recipes online. Or, if you’d like a special twist on oatmeal, give my Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal a try. Using what you might think are strange ingredients (cue cauliflower), you get an absolutely delicious faux oatmeal.
Pancakes and Waffles -> Cream Cheese Pancakes, Almond Flour Waffles
Easily make yourself some delicious, fluffy pancakes. You can do this through many different methods and using many different ingredients. My favorite though, is the Faux “Buckwheat” Pancakes that are made with almond flour and flaxseed meal. An absolutely delicious and fluffy combination that tastes just like the real thing.
Want a waffle? No problem – one of my favorites is this Cinnamon Roll Waffle. Two perfectly crisp, fall flavored waffles with a bright and creamy “icing” tucked in the middle. Definitely a hit for the kids!
Egg Whites -> Whole Eggs
Since on a ketogenic diet you have to keep your fat intake high, you want to be consuming whole eggs rather than egg whites. Protein consumption needs to be kept to a moderate amount, so making sure you aren’t eating pure protein normally helps with this. Plus, all of the flavor comes from the yolk!
Burger and Fries -> Buttered Steak and Salad or Broccoli
Instead of getting a huge burger with a pile of french fries on the side, try giving yourself a medium portion of steak that’s slathered full of butter. Broccoli on the side with cheese if you’d like. Or, you could even do a cheesy creamed spinach. The protein will fill you up, and the fats will keep you full for a long time.
If you’re looking to pinch some pennies and opt out of grabbing a juicy steak, that’s no problem either! Other options include bun-less burgers as a substitute that can replace even the crunchiest and softest bread out there. Some ideas include:
Lastly, we do have some alternatives for those that just need the bun on there. You can get creative and use vegetables (mainly portobello mushrooms) as the buns, or we can even use a low-carb hamburger bun that’s cooked in the microwave – easy peasy!
Pizza -> Mozzarella Cheese Dough
Very closely relating to Thin and Crispy style pizza, a mozzarella and almond flour pizza crust will fool you into thinking you’re eating the real thing. Though there’s a ton of different pizza recipes out there, this one is definitely the best and most realistic.
Fried Chicken -> Pork Rind and Parmesan Crust
You can still get a super crisp crust on chicken while keeping it moist and juicy on the inside. There’s a few ways to do this, but the best method I’ve found is by grinding up pork rinds in the food processor and adding parmesan cheese to the mix. This will result in a fantastic crust all the way around your chicken, giving you perfect fried chicken.
If you don’t feel like grinding up pork rinds, you can also use the skin on your chicken thighs as a crispy element in your chicken. Check out the Oven “Grilled” Asian Chicken that I did!
Processed Soups -> Fresh Cream Based Soups
Stop eating foods from a can that are packed full of chemicals and carbs. Start making soups yourself, in bulk, and have a meal for anytime you want. Soup freezes wonderfully and can be re-heated and eaten quickly. One of my favorite soups to make is this Enchilada Chicken Soup. But, if you’re more of a seasonal eater, take a look at this low-carb Pumpkin Soup!
Pasta -> Zucchini Noodles, Shirataki Noodles
Also known as Zoodles, zucchini noodles are a great addition to any person’s plate that’s missing pasta as an entree. Smother with alfredo sauce or make your own cream sauce and you have yourself a perfect ketogenic meal! To make zucchini noodles, you can get a spiralizer here.
Alternatively, you can have super realistic pasta that almost mimics that of whole-wheat pasta. This recipe, however, is inside of my cookbook (along with tons of other awesome recipes) which you can find here: Keto-fied! Comfort Foods Made Low Carb.
Chinese Takeout -> General Tso’s Low-carb Chicken, Low-carb Sweet & Sour Chicken
Chinese takeout was my kryptonite previously to going keto. It’s my all-time favorite food to be honest, but I’ve experimented and made some great low-carb renditions of this delicious sweet and sticky food. My two favorites definitely come out to be my Mock General Tso’s (featured in Keto-fied!) and Mock Sweet and Sour Chicken. I even updated the sweet and sour chicken recipe so that it takes less time and comes out to be even crispier than before!
Rice -> Cauliflower Rice
You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that you can make fried rice with cauliflower, but you surely can. I will admit that it’s not exactly the same as the real thing, but it certainly gets the job done and fills that hole in your stomach that you were just itching to fill.
Give it a bit of soy sauce, bacon, egg, and a couple of vegetables thrown in there and you have yourself an extremely low-carb version of fried rice. Perfect to serve up with those Chinese takeout replicas.
Mashed Potatoes -> Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Not only can you make rice with cauliflower, you can also make faux mashed potatoes. They’re super light and fluffy, can be mixed in with cheese, and hold up their own against the real thing. And guess what? You can even make low-carb shepherd’s pie with it, too!
Burritos and Tacos -> Flax Tortillas, Taco Salad
Tortillas are something that plenty of us know about when we switch over to low carb. There’s a lot of options for low-carb tortillas in the store, but they’re generally packed full of gluten and may want to be avoided. If you’re the type to make everything at home, you’re in luck! Give a try to these flax tortillas, or even these psyllium husk tortillas. You won’t be disappointed!
Bread and Sandwiches -> Lettuce Wraps, Flax Seed Wraps
Instead of cracking out that crusted rye bread to make a sandwich with, take the initiative to switch over to something that’s a better option. From cabbage rolls to lettuce wraps, making wraps will be a simple process that you won’t have to worry about.
If you’re looking for a more realistic wrap, you can even try your hand at a flaxseed wrap or even a psyllium husk wrap. Both are fantastic alternatives to the store-bought low-carb wraps and both won’t include any gluten!
Lastly, if you need a bread replacement, you can always go the easy route and make some microwave bread. A simple, easy, and painless process will have you a hearty sandwich in no time at all. And, you can even grill it to make some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches.
Chips and Cookies -> Dehydrated Vegetables, Low-carb Cookies
If you’re one of the lucky people that have a dehydrator, you can take serious advantage of it by dehydrating thin slices of vegetables overnight (normally 12 hours) to get crisp, perfect vegetables that you can eat as snacks. Do this with zucchini, radish, or jicama. If you’re not lucky enough to have a dehydrator (like me), then you can easily make cheese chips in the oven and flavor them with your own spices!
Cookies aren’t a problem either. You can easily make your own almond flour cookies – or mix it up by using different mixtures of “flours”. From flaxseed to chia seed, there’s always something that you can make! Some examples of different cookies you can have are:
- Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Buckeye Cookies
- Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Vanilla Latte Cookies
- Pumpkin Flax Cookies (with Almond Butter Icing)
- Peanut Butter Cookies
Crackers and Dippables -> Flaxseed Crackers, Chia Seed Crackers
Looking for that hearty crunch that’s packed full of flavor? Look no more. Instead of cracking open a box of Ritz or Cheez-Its, go ahead and make your own! You can make crackers from anything including flaxseed meal (featured in The RULED Book), chia seeds, or even almond flour to make your own homemade crunchy snacks with a delicious flavor of your own.
Sweets and Treats -> Fat Bombs, Mug Cakes
Give yourself something sweet that’s still packed full of delicious and healthy fats. Fat bombs get their name because they’re filled with fats – a delicious way to get those fats up in your diet, and enjoy doing it instead of just eating oil off of the spoon.
Don’t believe me? Just check out these chia almond butter squares (oooh, browned butter) or even a rich and tasty mug cake for one. Get creative and make any flavor you’d like, too. Check out some of my other mug cake recipes here:
- Chai Spice Mug Cake
- Maple Pecan Mug Cake
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Mug Cake
- Churro Mug Cake
- Coconut Chocolate Mocha Mug Cake
- Vanilla Whisky Mug Cake
- Bacon Cheddar Chive Mug Cake
- Green Chile White Cheddar Mug Cake
Soda and Fruit Juice -> Water, Smoothies, Tea
Try to replace all soda and juice consumption with something that has no sugar or little sugar inside. Switch out fruit juices for smoothies and tea. Tea comes in a variety of flavors that can help you get through the day if you get tired of water. There’s a variety of different smoothies you can make for a meal replacement or just as a snack.
Water should be your go-to replacement for soda, and I don’t recommend drinking diet soda as it can bring back cravings for sweets. Stick to drinking at least 3 litres of water a day, but try to aim for a full gallon a day.
Coffee and Sugar -> Coffee & Stevia
Instead of adding sugar to your coffee, you can put a few drops of stevia in there to really sweeten it up. Stevia is a great sweetener and won’t increase your blood sugar levels – so it’s a perfect way to sweeten your morning coffee.
Cappuccino and Frappe -> Ketoproof Coffee
Missing your lattes and frappes? That’s not a problem! Ketoproof coffee is a fantastic mix of coconut oil and butter in your coffee instead of the generic cream or milk. You might think that it sounds disgusting at first, but if you think about what butter is made out of – it’s pretty much just hardened cream. Once you melt it down and mix it all up using an immersion blender, you get a delicious coating of froth on the top of your mug o’ joe.
Cocktails -> Dry Wine, Liquor
Instead of getting sugar filled cocktails, make a change to go after a low-carb alternative. Liquor is the best choice, being the lowest in carbs (most are 0 carbs, in fact). Dry wines are the second best choice, being 3-5g carbs per glass. Make sure you keep an eye on flavored liquors or mixed liquors as they may have carbs. For wines, it’s best to stick with classic red and white dry wines.
Read more about what alcohol you can have on a ketogenic diet here: The Ketogenic Diet and Alcohol
Mixers and Chasers -> Diet Soda, Water and Lemon
Although I do suggest cutting out diet soda completely, you can make an exception to this rule for when you’re drinking. This shouldn’t be done on a regular basis, but is a much better substitute than using full sugar soda or a fruit juice as a mixer. Be very careful with even reduced calorie mixers as often times they’ll be packed full of sugars.
Ice Cream -> Avocado Ice Cream, Low-carb Sorbet
Ice cream can be made on a ketogenic diet, normally using eggs, cream, and some type of sweetener as the base of the custard. But if you want an “easy” version of an ice cream, you can easily use avocado. Avocado has a fantastic creamy texture that’s easily hidden or can even be accented to make your own delicious sorbet!
Cake -> Low-carb Cake, Cheesecake
Cake is always something that people miss because it’s so easy to come by and pick up in the grocery store. On keto, you can have your cake and eat it, too! Normally made with almond flour (or some mixture of different flours) you can have a delicious and airy cake, a dense and flavorful cake, or even cupcakes. Take your pick and make it as you want. Some examples of my favorite cake are:
- Keto Chocolate Roll Cake
- Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Salted Caramel & Bacon Cake Pops
- Italian Lemon Sponge Cake
- Ultimate Coffee Cake
The other option you have (that is also high in fat and delicious) would be cheesecake. Using sugar substitutes, you can make some amazing flavored cheesecakes that will come out just as good, if not better, than regular cheesecake. Try your hand at these awesome mini key lime cheesecakes or even some raspberry cheesecake bites.
Brownies -> Avocado Brownies, Almond Flour Brownies
Besides cakes, brownies definitely come second on that list of delicious treats that we want once we turn to a ketogenic diet. You can easily make replacement brownies that you enjoy and feel no cravings for more afterward. Besides using almond flour and other mixtures of flours, you can actually make them out of avocado!
Puddings -> Flavored Avocado Pudding, Whipped Cream Pudding
To this day, my childhood cravings for pudding come back with a vengeance. To combat this, we can make some awesome pudding at home from different things. From avocado pudding to whipped cream pudding, there’s tons of ways you can replicate this delicious substance.
Even if you don’t want to go that route, you can even make pudding our of cottage or ricotta cheese. Flavor it up with extracts and sweeteners and you’ll never know the difference.
Pie Crust -> Nut-based Crusts
Pie crust is usually a tough one to recreate, especially since you won’t be able to get that flaky and fluffy crust you might be used to with all-purpose flour. But, we can create thin and crispy, or thicker and softer crusts on keto. Using almond flour or a mixture of flours, we can now have our pumpkin, lemon curd, or even meat pies!
Recently I did experimentation with a new pie crust and found an absolutely delicious crust using both almond flour and psyllium husk. You can check that out on my Keto Pie Crust recipe.
Custard -> Pots de Crème
If you’re a sucker for custard or crème brulee, then you’ll definitely love pots de crème. Originally made in France, these super rich custards will be the perfect set piece for a dessert. Impress your friends (even the non-ketogenic ones) and serve them something they’re sure to love!
They do take a bit of work and can be a bit finicky while cooking, but the end result is a perfectly delicious warm custard that is packed full of flavor.
Flour -> Almond Flour and Eggs
Although almond flour doesn’t get the same texture and rising ability as normal all-purpose flour, it’s a much healthier option and filled with delicious fats that can help us reach our nutrient goals for the day. Almond flour works extremely way as a replacement for all-purpose flour, giving us cakey textures and by using eggs we can achieve the rising we’re looking for.
Alternatives include coconut flour with added eggs, but keep in mind that the texture does change when you do this.
Chewiness -> Flaxseed Meal, Psyllium Husk
Chewiness is definitely something we look for when we make dense cakes, breads, or mostly anything that’s a low-carb version of the real thing.
My absolute favorite way to add to that chewy texture is adding psyllium husk to the recipe. Keep in mind that psyllium is very absorptive, so extra liquids may be needed to combat this. Psyllium husk powder is what you’ll need, and you can find it on Amazon.
Flaxseed Meal is also another example of an ingredient used to give a slightly chewy texture. Though I feel that it’s not as good as psyllium (it gives a slightly gelled texture), many people have used it successfully in place of psyllium. Make sure you grab a pack or 3 from Amazon. It’s super cheap and lasts a long time!
Breadcrumbs -> Pork Rinds
As mentioned for the fried chicken, you can definitely use ground up pork rinds to get a breadcrumb type of effect. Grinding pork rinds in the food processor is definitely the preferred method here, as they get to a finer consistency and will crunch up well.
If you’d like an example of a breadcrumb crust that I’ve used before, check out my Keto Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin. Here, the pork rind crust crisps up and gives you a great change in texture as you’re eating.
Margarine and Vegetable Oil -> Butter, Coconut Oil
Some of the studies over the last 20 years have shown us that margarine and vegetable oils are just plain bad for our health. But saturated fats like butter and coconut oil are actually beneficial and on a ketogenic diet can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. These fats are an absolute treat and can be used exactly the same way margarine or vegetable oil would be used.
To get a good deal on coconut oil, check out Coconut Oil on Amazon
Frosting -> Cream Cheese Frosting
Instead of getting that store-bought can of frosting that’s filled with sugar, food coloring, and trans fats – make your own! Cream cheese and butter come together to create a rich and creamy frosting that really makes all of your cakes taste better. If you want an example of a great cream cheese frosting (with added fruit compote) check out my Low Carb Spice Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Sugar -> Stevia, Erythritol
Sugar is definitely something we aim to get rid of on a ketogenic diet, but we do need those sweet treats every once in a while, so here’s a replacement. While erythritol does have sugar alcohols, they are not processed in the body – erythritol does not pass the blood barrier in the intestine during digestion and it passes through us mostly through urine. Neither of the two effect blood sugars, and both have a glycemic index of 0. Not to mention, both are a natural sweetener.
Erythritol alone can have a “cooling” sensation that can be unpleasant, but when you combine both together, it seems to negate the “bad” tastes from both and create a delicious sweetener that is 0 GI, natural, and perfect for almost everything you’ll need it for.
Chocolate -> Baker’s Chocolate, Dark Chocolate
The normal store-bought chocolate bars will be loaded with added sugar to give them a consumerist’s taste. Since we’re trying to avoid sugars, we really want to make sure that we avoid these, too. There are a number of alternatives you can use – my two favorites are Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate.
With Baker’s chocolate, you’ll have to add a bit of extra sweetener to really take away from the bitterness of the Baker’s chocolate. With dark chocolate, you want to aim for a high cocoa percentage. I normally try to get anything above 86%. Additionally, there are some low-carb chocolate alternatives you can buy in the store or online, but they run a pretty penny and don’t think it’s worth it in the long run.
We can’t forget about cocoa powder either. You want to go after the dark and unsweetened types where you can control the amount of sweetness the chocolate has (and control what type of sugar sub is going in). Cocoa powder is great for baked goods that you want to have an overall chocolate taste to – cakes, cookies, or even puddings. If you’re going with a higher quality (Dutch style) cocoa powder, make sure to keep in mind its strength. You won’t need to use as much as the typical recipe calls for, as it’s normally much stronger in taste.
Fruits -> Extracts
Fruits taste great, plain and simple. Although we can usually have a few berries here and there on a ketogenic diet without much negative impact, it’s usually best to avoid (especially in the beginning). Instead of using berries, we can get fruit extracts to use in our baked goods. Want some blueberry muffins? Not a problem!
You can even make smoothies using fruit extracts. For example this tropical smoothie will taste just like you used fresh fruit juice to make, but you can keep it a secret that you didn’t.
Cornstarch -> Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a very well-known thickener that’s gaining popularity in cooking techniques such as molecular gastronomy. It’s definitely not unknown in the world of ketogenic diets, either. Xanthan gum can be used to thicken just about anything. From an ice cream custard base, to your morning smoothie, and even to sauces, to get a thick and sticky consistency.
Just be careful when adding xanthan gum because a little goes a long way. To thicken sauces no more than 1/2 tsp. should be used (and that’s for a good amount of sauce). If you add too much, it will turn into a jelly type of consistency, which can be quite unpleasant.
High Carb Vegetables -> Dried Spices
Looking at that onion and deciding whether 14g of carbs is just too much for a single recipe? Fear no more – use the dried spice! Replacing higher carb vegetables like fennel, celery, and onion (not to mention a myriad of other vegetables) with their dried counter-parts will be packed full of flavor and only require a small amount to bring a powerhouse of flavor to your dish.
Looking for more?
New to the ketogenic diet and want even more information about this website and what to do to get on your merry way for losing weight? If you want a quick and easy way to kickstart your keto lifestyle and get right into the nitty gritty like a pro, check out the Keto Academy below!