If you’re on the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet, there’s a lot of comfort food you’ve given up! Loaded mashed potatoes? Gone. Big spaghetti dinner? Nope. Sandwiches and pizza crusts? They’re out too, unless you can find a low-carb way to replace them. The same goes for rice, and you may be wondering: what’s a good keto rice substitute? This article has 10 contenders, along with tasty keto recipe recommendations to get you started.
When looking for keto-friendly side dish substitutions, you just have to think a little bit outside the box. Ask yourself: what is it that you love about rice: the texture, the fillingness, the flavor? Most people enjoy rice as a satisfyingly dense vessel for other spices and flavors. When it comes to looking for low-carb rice alternatives, you may be desiring the appearance and utility of rice without having to take a carb-heavy ding on the health benefits you gain from eating a keto diet.
Review the following foods, and see if you can’t find a perfect replacement for high-carb rice that fits your budget, your schedule, and your dietary needs.
Cauliflower is an excellent rice replacement, not only because it resembles the look and texture of rice but also because it makes for a great mashed potato and pizza crust replacement. What better way to keep keto than by swapping out a carb-heavy grain for a veggie? Compared to the 37 grams of carbs in a cup of regular rice, cauliflower rice has about 5 grams per cup, and there are several ways to make it at home, with or without a food processor.
These instructions from certified culinary scientist and author Jessica Gavin show four different ways to prepare cauliflower rice: you can chop it, run it over a grater, or use a food processor or blender. However you break up your cauliflower into white rice-like little bits, you’ve got an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used as a side, in a stew, pressed into pizza dough or taco shells, or simply eaten on its own with some butter and seasoning.
This green cousin to cauliflower can also be riced to make for a vibrant keto rice substitution. With 4 grams of carbs per cup according to the USDA, this great low-carb rice replacement food is easily found in just about every grocery store, and can be quickly cooked at home to the desired consistency.
As Jessica Gavin explains, broccoli can be prepared and riced much the same way as cauliflower. By using broccoli instead of cauliflower, you get a more interesting visual on your plate, plus all the nutritional benefits that come with green veggies: potassium, calcium, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, dietary fiber, folate, protein, and the vitamins C, E, and K.
Did you know that rutabagas can be riced? Because it’s a fellow root veggie, it’s more often used as a potato replacement, but it makes for an excellent rice replacement too…in moderation. With only 9 grams of carbs per cup, rutabaga also contributes vitamin C, 2 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of dietary fiber.
These instructions from Steph the Meal Plan Addict show you how to prepare this veggie for perfect substitution of rice and spaghetti. The first step is to run it through a spiralizer. After that, it’s into the food processor where, after just a few pulses, you’ve got a substitution so rice-like that other people might not even notice the difference!
Shirataki rice is made from flour derived from the root of the konjac plant, which is a yam-like tuber native to China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. When riced it’s referred to as “miracle rice” (just as shirataki noodles are called “miracle noodles”) thanks to its amazing nutritional profile: a 1-cup serving of shirataki rice has only 15 calories, 4.5 grams of carbs, and 1.5 grams of protein. Composed mostly of soluble fiber, it helps manage blood sugar levels and slows stomach emptying, which increases feelings of satiety.
Check out this quick recipe from Susie T. Gibbs at Fluffy Chix Cooks for Vegetarian Miracle Fried Rice—gluten free and low carb, it can stand in for couscous and orzo as well. This versatility makes it another great substitute for white rice, brown rice, and more.
Spiralized zucchini makes for a great pasta replacement (referred to as “zoodles”). Much like rutabaga, once spiralized it can be chopped into a rice-like texture with only 4 grams of carbs per cup, or you can skip the kitchen equipment and grate it yourself!
This recipe from Erin McDowell at PureWow shows just how tasty a bowl of grated zucchini rice can be, combined with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
Butternut squash can be baked and made into short spaghetti or rice-like shreds. So simple to make, you may not even need a bowl! This recipe from Love & Lemons shows that with just a little bit of olive oil and seasoning, you can bake your squash and then run a fork through it to create the short spaghetti-like strands.
Just 1 cup of prepared spaghetti squash has about 7 grams of carbs, and you can flavor it any way you want, not just to create the perfect substitute for rice, but for pasta dishes too: cheesy chicken, spinach and artichoke, kale and fetta—the combinations are endless and can be eaten right out of the skin it was grown it.
The texture of mushrooms may not be the same as rice, but it may be more appealing when you realize that a cup of mushrooms has just over 2 grams of carbs. You can use this Garlic Butter Mushroom medley recipe from Cast Iron Keto to get your rice fix. Use mushroom caps to stuff them full of other tasty keto ingredients, or chop your mushrooms into recipes like keto chili to replace carb-heavy rice.
Perhaps the fluffiest alternative on this list, while it doesn’t have the same texture as regular rice, it is incredibly easy to prepare and can be flavored just as you would any rice dish. With just under 4 grams of carbs per shredded cup, it’s keto-friendly and convenient.
Low Carb Yum has a Cabbage Rice with Indian Spices recipe that showcases just how easily green or red cabbage can be substituted for a keto rice replacement. Check out our own Keto Egg Roll Bowl for another Asian-inspired recipe utilizing cabbage in place of rice.
Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) can be subbed in for rice just like plain cabbage, and brings the benefits of probiotics along with a tangy taste. With just 6 grams of carbs per cup, you can add a flavorful surprise to sushi, tacos, and stir-fry dishes.
This Keto Crock Pot Kielbasa And Sauerkraut recipe from Carb Manager shows just how creative you can be with sauerkraut.
Romanesco broccoli (aka Roman cauliflower) is an edible flower bud from the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, just like regular broccoli and cauliflower. Romanesco has a remarkable appearance thanks to its natural fractal growth pattern, and it can stand in for rice just as well as its cruciferous cousins with fewer than 8 grams of carbs per cup.
This recipe from Allison Day at Alive pairs Romanesco Rice with Cilantro and Lime for a zesty and creative side dish.
A low-carb diet can lead to safe, healthy weight loss and other life-long wellness benefits. When compared to the irreplaceable health perks associated with keto dieting, rice is totally replaceable. Now you’re armed with a variety of texture and taste options, so you never have to feel deprived without rice. You can instead feel rich in replacement options!