In order to achieve your goals on a keto diet, you have to cut your carb intake to a fairly low level – under 20 grams a day – so noodles and pastas that contain 25+ grams of carbs in one serving are out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat noodles on a keto diet. You just need to find keto pasta alternatives to take the place of traditional noodles.
If you haven’t tried to find alternatives yet, you might be surprised to find that there are actually quite a few great alternatives out there. Will they be exactly like those you’re trying to replace? No. But with so many choices, you can surely find low carb pasta alternatives that you don’t mind as a replacement. You might even find one you like better.
Read on to learn more about the various low carb noodles that are available at your local grocery store and how to use them.
Can I Eat Noodles on Keto Diet?
Most noodles and traditional pasta – at least the ones you typically thing of as noodles – are quite high in carbohydrates and that means you cannot eat them on a keto diet. That’s why keto pasta recipes call for low carb pasta substitutes.
For instance, 100 grams of rice noodles, which are used in most Asian dishes, has 25 grams of carbohydrates. The principal ingredient is rice flour and sometimes ingredients such as tapioca or corn starch are added in order to improve the transparency or increase the gelatinous and chewy texture of the noodles. All of those flours and starches have carbs that are not keto friendly.
What’s a Good Substitute for Pasta on a Keto Diet?
A good substitute is one that you’re happy with as a replacement, and that will vary depending on the dish you’re making.
I like to use zucchini noodles in fresh summery dishes, while Shirataki or Miracle Noodles work well in a ramen or hot soup. Spaghetti squash noodles make a great replacement for spaghetti in a tomato sauce. Just as with regular pasta and noodles, you will likely want to have a few alternatives around for versatility.
What Kind of Noodles are Keto Friendly?
We might start by listing what noodles are NOT keto friendly. Basically any noodle or pasta that is made with flour or rice is out. Flour pastas like spaghetti, ziti, penne, and fettuccini are not keto friendly. Rice noodles and egg noodles are also out, because they are made with rice flour and wheat flour plus eggs, respectively.
Gluten-free pasta is not okay to eat on a keto diet, because even though it has no gluten, it still has more than 40 grams of carbs per serving.
It’s always important to check the carb counts on a package of low carb pasta noodles to make sure it comes in under your desired carb count. If you’re on a strict keto plan, you’ll need to stick with only the noodles mentioned below, in the proper serving size.
So what kind of noodles are okay for the ketogenic diet?
- Shirataki Noodles (aka Miracle Noodles)
- Zucchini Noodles
- Spaghetti Squash
- Hearts of Palm Noodles
- Kelp Noodles
- Juroat Slim Noodles (Konjac Flour + oat flour)
Shirataki noodles are great in ramen and soups. One of the first brands to popularize shirataki noodles is Miracle Noodles. They’re made from glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from the root of the konjac yam and water, so they are almost zero calories and zero carbs. They have 1 gram of net carbs per 3.5 oz of noodles.
The two drawbacks of shirataki noodles is that they can have a fishy smell that has to be washed and cooked away. It does dissipate, but some might be really turned off by the smell. They can also be pretty chewy – not the texture that you’re hoping for.
You can make vegetable noodles with a firm crisp vegetable like zucchini. Using a spiralizer, you can make lovely curly noodles to add to Shrimp & Pesto Zoodles. Of you can use a vegetable julienne peeler to make julienne matchstick cuts or ribbons as pasta. Then you either microwave, pan fry, or bake your zucchini noodles into the dish.
Zucchini noodles do best in summery dishes that don’t require a lot of cooking, because the noodles can get really watery and mushy when overcooked.
Other Types of Vegetable Noodles to Try:
When cooked, spaghetti squash turns into a perfect noodle replacement with it’s long sturdy threads that can be used in all kinds of dishes, particularly those with a heavy sauce. There’s not much flavor to spaghetti squash so it’s versatile. A 1/2 cup serving size contains 3.5 grams to carbs and it has many other vitamins and minerals that are good for you, so it’s a healthier option than shirataki noodles.
Spaghetti squash goes particularly well with tomato & meat sauce and it can be quite impressive served right inside the squash.
Hearts of Palm Noodles
There have been a few new brands on the market selling Hearts of Palm noodles, a low carb pasta substitute made 100% out of a natural plant known as Hearts of Palm. When cut and cooked properly, the plant bears a strong resemblance to noodles and can be combined with any kind of sauce. These noodles are being made into many different shapes, like angel hair, spaghetti, lasagna, and fettucine. A 75 gram serving contains 4 grams of carbs.
These noodles are very similar to pasta and make a great alternative, but it’s important to find the right brand that you like, as the taste and/or smell can be off-putting. Palmini Noodles is the original brand and the one I like best.
These noodles are made without the addition of any flour or starch. Kelp noodles are semi-transparent noodles made from the jelly-like extract left after steaming edible kelp. They can be used in stir fry dishes and mimic cellophane or glass noodles. They do have a jelly-like firm texture.
Soaking the noodles for 30 minutes before incorporating them into your dish will help to soften them.
Another version of konjac noodles are Juroat noodles, which are a blend of konjac flour and gluten-free oat flour and water. These noodles have a more “noodle” like texture because of the oat flour, so they are as rubbery as konjac noodles and have a less fishy smell. They are called Slim Pasta or Slim Noodles and come in many shapes like spaghetti, angel hair, fettucine, penne, and lasagna.
They contain only 9 calories per 100 grams, zero carbs, and are gluten and fat free. Once mixed with sauce, they don’t have any taste of their own. But they are quite expensive.
Tools to Make Low Carb Noodle Alternatives
While many of the noodles above (Miracle Noodles, Kelp, Juroat, Hearts of Palm) can be purchased ready-to-serve, some of them are ones you can make at home. Given the price of store-bought alternatives, you might want to opt for making your own vegetable noodles more often.
A spiralizer is one of the best tools you can have in your kitchen for a low-carb or keto diet, because you can make alternative noodles and turn vegetables into something fun, which adds variety to your diet. I like the OXO Good Grips tabletop spiralizer and handheld spiralizer.
Vegetable Julienne Peeler
The great thing about a julienne peeler is that you can make long straight noodles out of just about any firm vegetable, like a cucumber, zucchini, celeriac, etc. All you do is run the peeler along the long edge and you’ve got noodles.
A mandolin is a very useful tool in the kitchen for a low carb diet because of how easy it is to slice, dice, and julienne vegetables. I find that most of my time in the kitchen is used to prepare vegetables and it’s way faster to use the mandolin for these tasks. You’ll want to get one with multiple blades in order to make many different types of pasta replacements.
Homemade Egg Noodle Pasta Recipe
Another option for replacing pasta is to make egg noodles without wheat flour, but the biggest problem tends to be that without gluten it’s hard to get the dough to be sticky enough to make noodles. Many recipes use fathead dough, like we use in this keto gnocchi recipe – which is mozzarella cheese, egg, and almond flour. Some use a high amount of egg yolks for that texture.
The texture isn’t quite the same, but it can be a good alternative for Italian pasta to make ravioli, and shaped pastas.
Here are two recipes to try, if you want to make it at home:
Favorite Keto Pasta Sauces
With so many different keto pasta noodles alternatives, you can find one that will go with just about any type of pasta sauce you like. Tomato meat sauce is one of our favorites, along with Cajun Pasta Sauce and Pesto sauce.
You can also make your own gnocchi (pictured above) or ravioli and serve it with a browned butter sauce and crispy sage. Or if you’re looking for an alternative for lasagna sheets, we use eggplant slices in this delicious recipe.
Keto Pasta Recipes to Try
More Recipes from Delightfully Low Carb
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