Some of the most delicious dishes have rice as a key ingredient. Risotto, fried rice, paella, and sushi, for example, rely on this starchy grain, but are there any varieties of rice that are carb-free? Unfortunately, the answer is no. If you’re following a ketogenic (or other) low-carb diet, you’ll need to avoid rice for optimal results. Check out the following rice substitutes for your keto diet.
With that said, you should know that you can still get your rice fix by using the right low-carb substitutes and keto recipes. Let’s start our journey through the world of rice and its alternatives taking a closer look at the composition of each grain.
Why rice is not good for low-carb diets
Each grain of rice is essentially starch packed into a capsule of fibrous protein. From a nutritional perspective, rice is like a bean but with more starch and less protein and fiber.
Although different types of rice vary in their carbohydrate content, even the lowest carbohydrate variety is not low enough to fit into a low carb diet. In fact, it will be nearly impossible to find a variety of rice that is made up of less than 75% net carbs.
To give you a better idea of this, we have included a table with the carbohydrate content of the most popular varieties of rice below. In this case, we’ll be focusing primarily on the “healthier” rice options (which aren’t as low carb as you might think).
Is wild rice, black rice, or brown rice low carb?
Although brown rice, wild rice, and black rice are higher in micronutrients, fiber, and protein than white rice, they still contain too many carbohydrates to fit into a low-carb diet.
variety of rice Total Carbs / 1 Cup – Cooked Net Carbs / 1 Cup – Cooked
Integral rice. 44.2 grams. 43.6 grams
White rice. 49.6 grams 46.5 grams
Black rice 68.0 grams 64.0 grams
Wild rice 35.0 grams 32.1 grams
As you can see, wild rice is the lowest carb rice. However, with less than 32 grams of net carbs in each half cup, it will be a challenge to fit it into a low-carb or keto diet without cutting out other nutritious keto-friendly foods.
Are rice noodles low carb?
Rice noodles can be thought of as long strands of net carbs (similar to traditional flour-based pasta).
More specifically, a cup of rice noodles comes with 44g of total carbs and 42.2g of net carbs (which is nearly identical to the carbs in white rice).
Instead of skipping the noodles altogether, there are many ketogenic rice alternatives that you can try We will learn more about them after we find out the truth about rice cakes.
Top 5 Low Carb Rice Substitutes for Keto
If you can’t eat rice, what can you eat on a low-carb diet as a suitable alternative? These are the best low carb rice substitutes that are healthy and keto:
- cauliflower rice
- Miracle rice (shirataki rice)
- cabbage rice
- Hemp seeds
- rice with mushrooms
1. Cauliflower rice
This is the most popular low carb rice alternative as it is relatively cheap, low in carbs, and packed with health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In general, ½ cup (85 g) of cauliflower rice prepared has 4 grams of total carbohydrates and 2 grams of net carbohydrates, which makes it easy to adapt to a strict ketogenic diet, as well as non-ketogenic low-carb diets.
Cauliflower rice can be made at home if you have a cheese grater or food processor.
How to use it:
This low-carb rice substitute, such as cauliflower ricemakes a great base for keto pizza, the perfect substitute for fried rice, and a tasty low-carb alternative to sushi rice.
2. Miracle Rice: The Lowest Carb Ketogenic Rice
Made from konjac root, miracle rice (and shirataki noodles) contain only trace amounts of net carbs and are packed with health-promoting fiber. More specifically, an 85g serving of Miracle Rice comes with 10 calories, 3g of fiber, and less than 0.5g of net carbs.
Miracle rice is available at most health food stores or online. It is also called “shirataki rice”, “thin rice” or “konjac rice”.
As long as the product is listed as zero net carbs per serving, it will be the perfect rice alternative for the ketogenic diet.
How to use it:
Try using miracle rice as a rice alternative in a stir fry, pilaf, or cauliflower rice recipe. It would also work well as a substitute for rice or barley in soups and stews.
3. Cabbage rice
Another great substitute for keto rice is cabbage rice. You can prepare cabbage rice as you would cauliflower rice: in a food processor or with a cheese grater.
Both red and green cabbage are keto options, and green cabbage has a slightly lower net carb count:
Red Cabbage – 1 cup, chopped (89 g) has 6.2 grams of total carbs and 3.9 g of net carbs
Green Cabbage – 1 cup, chopped (89 g) has 4.9 g total carbs and 3.2 g net carbs
How to use it:
Cabbage rice is great in casseroles, as an alternative to fried rice, or as a signature vegetable in a keto bowl. It will pair exceptionally well with spices commonly used in Indian food, such as garam masala, cumin, and turmeric.
4. Hemp seeds
Shelled hemp seeds are great for mimicking the taste and texture of wild rice and other heartier grains.
They’re also packed with healthy fats, plant-based protein, and fiber, making them the best substitute for rice for anyone looking to get their intake of these nutrients while keeping carbs low.
In general, each ½ cup of shelled hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts) provides us with:
- 442 calories
- 39g fat
- 25g protein
- 6.9g total carbohydrates
- 3.7g net carbs
Since this is the highest fat substitute for rice, be sure not to overdo it. Calories from fat can be accumulated surprisingly quickly and slowly for weight loss.
How to use it:
use these hemp seeds as a substitute for wild rice for wild rice pilaf or add it to your keto meals to mimic the mouthfeel of couscous or wild rice.
5. Rice with mushrooms
With their earthy umami flavor, mushrooms also make a delicious keto-friendly substitute for rice. Just be sure to keep the carb counts in mind because they will vary depending on the variety of mushrooms.
Here are the carbohydrates in the most consumed mushrooms (in each cup, sliced):
Mushroom Type Total Carbs (g) Net Carbs (g)
- Portobella / 5.9 / 3.2
- Shiitake / 7.4 / 3.9
- White button / 4.4 / 2.5
- Cremini / 3.0 / 2.6
How to use it:
To prepare keto mushroom rice, finely chop a cup or two of mushrooms and sauté with a little butter and salt. You can also combine mushroom rice with other low-carb rice alternatives to change up the flavor and texture of your meals.