50+ Low-carb recipes for metabolic health

Smart swaps and creative cooking techniques make it possible to eat fewer carbs without sacrificing flavor.


Eating fewer carbohydrates can be a helpful way to regulate blood glucose levels and support metabolic health. Eating too many on a regular basis can lead to frequent blood sugar spikes and falls. This pattern can make your odds of developing metabolic syndrome and its related conditions (including insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease) more likely over time.

Carbs are present in some form or another in many foods, so it’s impossible to eliminate them completely, nor do we need to. What we mostly want to avoid is refined carbs, like sugar and wheat flours. Many lower-carb diets allow up to 40 grams of carbs in a day, according to Levels expert Zoë Atlas, MPH, RDN. Meals and snacks with a max of 10 grams of carbohydrates will help you stay within this benchmark. Pairing carbs with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, and healthy fats, will help create a more balanced blood sugar response.

The following low-carb recipes contain no more than 10 grams of net carbs per serving (total carbs minus fiber), and they’re balanced with protein, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants from a wide array of colorful fruits and veggies. From fluffy keto pancakes to sandwiches without the blood sugar spike, you’re sure to find something in this list that delivers the flavors you’re seeking.

Low-carb breakfasts

Egg-based morning meals like omelets and scrambles aren’t the only ways to avoid traditionally carb-dense breakfasts. A few simple swaps to classic recipes like pancakes and oatmeal can drastically cut their impact on blood glucose without altering their flavor profiles.

1. Goat Cheese Omelet

Total carbs: 0 g per serving

This omelet is perfect for busy mornings. It requires no slicing or dicing and comes together in minutes. Plus it contains zero carbs because its main ingredients—eggs and goat cheese—are composed only of protein and healthy fats.

2. Keto Pancakes

Total carbs: 6 g per serving

Subtly sweet almond flour is the secret to this keto take on flapjacks. Top with berries and natural nut butter.

3. Grain-Free Hot Cereal

Total carbs: 22 g for the whole recipe, so roughly 11 g per serving

This recipe uses a blend of chia seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, and flaxseed meal to create a convincing oatmeal alternative that’s far less likely to spike blood sugar levels. Skip the date syrup or swap it for a natural sweetener alternative instead.

4. Low-Carb Granola

Total carbs: 7 g per serving

This granola recipe skips the oat base and goes right for the good stuff: almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. You’ll get the same satisfying crunch, plus plenty of healthy fats and fiber.

5. Summer Garden Crustless Zucchini Pie

Total carbs: 7.8 g per serving 

Think of this recipe as a frittata that doesn’t need to be cooked over a hot stove. No crust means a fraction of the usual carbs, as well as half the usual bake time.

6. Turkish Menemen

Total carbs: 7 g per serving

This dish is a hop and skip away from shakshuka, another tomato and egg-based breakfast dish. Though you might normally be inclined to soak up all the glorious, spicy sauce with a slice of bread, opt for a low-carb side (like one of these breads unlikely to spike blood sugar) instead.

7. Egg Muffin Cups

Total carbs: 1 g per serving

Egg muffins are a low-carb meal-prep game-changer, because you can make a batch, freeze the leftovers, and reheat as needed. These also pack two servings of vegetables into the start of your day, thanks to spinach, broccoli, or whatever you have on hand.

Low-carb bread recipes

Low-carb bread often gets a bad rep taste-wise, but with the right base (such as almond, hazelnut, or coconut flour, or even cauliflower) and seasonings, you can have delicious pizza crust, burger buns, and more.

1. Low-Carb Banana Bread

Total carbs: 6.4 per serving

Thanks to almond flour and stevia, this banana bread tastes as good as the real deal—with only about 6 grams of carbs per serving. Top with natural nut butter for a snack with more staying power.

2. Low-Carb Tortillas

Total carbs: 6 g per serving

Though this recipe uses coconut flour, it’s the abundance of egg whites that do the heavy lifting in recreating that traditional tortilla texture—and add a fair amount of protein to boot.

3. Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins

Total carbs: 6.8 g per serving

Three forms of coconut—flour, milk, and oil—make these muffins dairy free and lend a touch of natural sweetness.

4. Gluten-Free Paleo and Keto Hamburger Buns

Total carbs: 9 g per bun

Instead of using one alternative flour, these burger buns use almond flour, flaxseed meal, finely ground psyllium husk, and xanthan gum. The result: The chew and mouthfeel we all know and love.

5. Low-Carb English Muffins

Total carbs: 8 g per muffin

In addition to containing only five ingredients—almond flour, coconut flour, butter, egg, and baking powder—this breakfast classic only takes two minutes to make.

6. Cauliflower Pizza

Total carbs: 9 g per serving

Cauliflower is the chameleon of the vegetable kingdom and no recipe proves it quite like this low-carb pizza dish. Top yours with sugar-free tomato sauce, full-fat organic mozz, and a boatload of veggies.

7. Low-Carb Sandwich Bread

Total carbs: 3 g per slice

This bread is ideal for everything from BLTs to grilled cheese. It uses a mix of almond and coconut flour instead of relying on traditional wheat flour.

Low-carb soup recipes

Soups may seem like a safe bet when it comes to eating low-carb, but ingredients like corn and potatoes (as well as the obvious rice and noodles) have been shown to cause blood sugar spikes in some people. These low-carb soups and stews omit excessively starchy ingredients without dramatically changing the flavor of the dishes.

1. Curried Cauliflower Soup

Total carbs: 9.8 g per serving

This soup is full of spices and aromatics like Thai red curry paste, lemon zest, and basil. It also uses a splash of wine. Although the alcohol cooks out, you can omit it to reduce the overall amount of sugar in the dish if you like.

2. Keto Chili

Total carbs: 9 g

Net carbs: 6 g

Unlike other chili recipes, this one doesn’t contain any beans. Instead, there’s plenty of beef as well as veggies like onions, peppers, and tomatoes.

3. Classic Chicken Soup

Total carbs: 4 g per serving

When you crave comfort, nothing is better than a bowl of piping hot chicken soup. This one has all the flavors you’re looking for, minus the carb crash that might come from a version containing noodles or rice.

4. Instant Pot Keto Tuscan Soup

Total carbs: 9 g per serving

Pre-made sausage adds protein to this dish, but make sure you’re choosing one that’s minimally processed and doesn’t contain a ton of additives, like this option from Bilinski’s. You can also substitute the cream for a dairy-free option.

5. Vegetable Soup

Total carbs: 11 g per serving

Fiber: 2 g; Net carbs: 9 g

You don’t have to worry about eating enough vegetables in a day with a soup like this. Though it calls for a mix of celery, carrots, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, and spinach, you can toss in just about anything—perfect when you need to clean out the fridge.

6. Keto Gumbo

Total carbs: 11 g per serving

Fiber: 3 g; Net carbs: 8 g

With shrimp and sausage, this keto gumbo recipe is all about the protein. It’s also low in carbs since it swaps traditional white rice for cauliflower rice.

7. Keto Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken

Total carbs: 7.7 g per serving

A mix of coconut milk and red curry paste make this veggie and chicken-filled soup spicy and creamy.

Low-carb chicken recipes

Though chicken itself is low in carbs, many of the things that are paired with chicken often aren’t (think: French fries, pasta, rice, and breading, to name a few). These recipes find creative ways to work around this dilemma, like coating chicken in nuts for an equally crunchy breadcrumb dupe, and serving chicken shawarma and fajitas with lettuce cups.

1. Ginger Air-Fryer Chicken

Total carbs: 7.3 g per serving

This recipe was designed to be made in an air-fryer, but you can just as easily cook it in your oven. Omit the honey entirely to prevent a blood sugar spike or swap it for a sugar-free alternative.

2. Keto Garlic Chicken

Total carbs: 7 g per serving

This speedy yet tasty dish has plenty of fiber from veggies like broccoli. The cheese adds a fair amount of healthy fats, but avoid pre-shredded options, which may contain unwanted additives.

3. Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Total carbs: 2 g 

Consider swapping the mozzarella in this stuffed chicken dish for provolone. The latter is typically aged for more time and is therefore more fermented, which may make it less likely to spike blood sugar.

4. Chinese Chicken Salad

Total carbs: 12 g per serving

Fiber: 5 g; Net carbs: 7 g

Though many takes on the classic Chinese chicken salad use dried noodles to add crunch, this one uses crispy vegetables like raw cabbage and sliced almonds to create the same effect with far fewer carbs.

5. Skillet Chicken Fajitas

Total carbs: 15 g per serving

Fiber: 4 g; Net carbs: 11 g

Pair these skillet chicken fajitas with lettuce cups or low-carb tortillas for a full and satisfying meal.

6. Sheet-Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

Total carbs: 13 g per serving

Fiber: 4 g; Net carbs: 9 g

Despite not using sugar of any kind, this one-pan dinner gets a subtle sweetness from balsamic vinegar and roasted red onions.

7. Chicken Shawarma in Lettuce Cups

Total carbs: 15 g per serving

Fiber: 5 g; Net carbs: 10 g

This chicken shawarma recipe marries spices and herbs like allspice, oregano, parsley, and cilantro while veggies like cucumber, tomatoes, and raw onions create a welcome crunch.

Low-carb beef recipes

Many beef recipes face the same issue as chicken recipes: The meat itself isn’t high in carbs, but the things it’s paired with often are. These recipes flip the script by making beef the centerpoint and serving it with veggie-filled sides and low-carb alternatives to traditional pairings.

1. Beef Cabbage Stir-Fry

Total carbs: 14 g per serving

Fiber: 4 g; Net carbs: 10 g

Skip the brown sugar in this recipe to ensure that it doesn’t cause a blood sugar spike, and opt for grass-fed, organic beef, which is typically leaner and higher in omega-3s.

2. Low-Carb Burgers

Total carbs: 2 g per serving

When buying steak seasoning for this recipe, double check the ingredients list to ensure it doesn’t contain any added sugars, excess sodium, or other unwanted additives.

3. Keto-Stuffed Peppers

Total carbs: 18 g per serving

Fiber: 8 g; Net carbs: 10 g

Too often, stuffed peppers are mostly stuffed with rice or other grains that can be detrimental to metabolic health. Not this recipe, which loads up the veggie boats with cauliflower rice, ground beef, onion, tomatoes, olives, and cheese.

4. Turnip and Carrot Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

Total carbs: 12 g per serving

Fiber: 3 g; Net carbs: 9 g

Although potatoes are the usual ingredient that adds starchy goodness to beef stew, this version uses turnips to get the same effect.

5. Keto Meatloaf

Total carbs: 2 g per serving

This meatloaf recipe keeps the sugar (and carb count) down by opting for a sugar-free ketchup to make the sticky, sweet glaze that this dish is famous for.

6. Zucchini Stuffed with Beef Bolognese

Total carbs: 7 g per serving

Much like stuffed peppers, zucchini boats are a great way to eat low-carb without sacrificing flavor. Plus, aside from the main vegetable, this recipe has only three other ingredients—beef, cheddar cheese, and parsley.

7. Keto Shepherd’s Pie

Total carbs: 10 g

While traditional shepherd’s pie is topped with mashed potatoes, this version uses mashed cauliflower to equally satisfying results.

Low-carb fish recipes

Fish is an excellent protein source because it’s lower in calories than meat like chicken or beef and has way more omega-3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for metabolic health. These recipes show that it’s possible to make some of the most iconic seafood dishes without relying on starchy ingredients.

1. Shrimp Stir-Fry

Total carbs: 12 g per serving

Fiber: 3 g; Net carbs: 9 g

Combining a frozen vegetable pack of broccoli, carrots and mushrooms with bell peppers, green beans (as well as plenty of shrimp), this dish is great and filling as is. Or pair it with cauliflower rice if you’re missing the side grain.

2. Baked Salmon with Parmesan Herb Crust

Total carbs: 2 g per serving

This simple salmon preparation is packed with bright flavors. Swap the traditional mayonnaise in this recipe for one made with avocado oil if you want to reduce your intake of saturated fats.

3. Tuna Stuffed Peppers

Total carbs: 9 g per serving

Though stuffed peppers often contain meat, this spicy recipe calls for canned tuna.

4. Keto Ahi Tuna Bowl

Total carbs: 13.6 g per serving

Fiber: 5.9 g; Net carbs: 7.7g

Enjoy the flavors of sushi without rice. When shopping for this recipe, choose sushi-grade frozen or fresh ahi tuna. Or, if you’re leery about preparing raw fish, simply saute the tuna first.

5. Lemon Garlic Baked Cod

Total carbs: 1 g per serving

Serve this lemony fish dinner with a side of veggies like roasted asparagus or a bowl of cauliflower rice with fresh herbs.

6. Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Total carbs: 13 g per serving

Fiber: 8 g; Net carbs: 5 g

In addition to being rich in protein and low in carbs, this recipe gets a fair amount of fiber from a zesty avocado salsa with lime and cilantro.

Low-carb vegan recipes

It may seem daunting to eat fewer carbs as a vegan, because so many low-carb ingredients (like meat and dairy) are off the table. But it’s definitely not impossible, especially with chameleon ingredients like cauliflower, zucchini, and cashew cream.

1. Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

Total carbs: 7.6 per serving

Along with cauliflower and a store-bought buffalo sauce (choose one with no added sugars like the offerings from The New Primal), onion salt, garlic powder, and dried dill and parsley are the only ingredients you need to make this craveable dish.

2. Keto Vegan Zoodles

Total carbs: 8.4 per serving

The mix of olives, tomatoes, and avocado in this recipe add plenty of healthy fats and flavor that won’t leave you hungry afterward.

3. Garlicky Vegan Creamed Spinach

Total carbs: 11.4 g per serving

Fiber: 3.5 g; Net carbs: 7.9 g

Thanks to homemade cashew cream sauce (made with miso paste and nutritional yeast), this dish is both cheesy and creamy without any actual dairy.

Low-carb desserts

There are a ton of easy ways to satisfy a sweet tooth and keep it low carb. One great trick is to pair fruit with something high in protein and/or fat, like Greek yogurt, dark chocolate, or almond butter. Or try one of these recipes.

1. Frozen Greek Yogurt Bark with Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate

Total carbs: 8 g per serving

Skip the added sugar in this recipe. The yogurt, pomegranate arils, and dark chocolate lend enough natural sweetness.

2. Keto Apple Crisp

Total carbs: 14 g per serving

Fiber: 4 g; Net carbs: 10 g

The apples in this dish have plenty of natural sweetness—along with a fair amount of fiber—so you can omit the optional sweetener. It will taste just as great.

3. Cinnamon Pecan Shortbread

Total carbs: 5 g per serving

This recipe calls for a mix of coconut and almond flour to achieve a perfect crumb and a bit of monk fruit sweetener to lend the sugary flavor you expect from cookies.

4. Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Total carbs: 10 g per cup

Though this recipe calls for added sugar, your PB cups will taste just as sweet without any thanks to the natural sugars in peanuts and dark chocolate.

5. Low-Carb Blueberry Dump Cake

Total carbs: 9 g per serving

A mix of almond and coconut flours create the cakey texture of this low-carb dessert alternative. And you can make this year-round since it calls for frozen blueberries.