6 Low Carb Rice Substitutes

By Andrew Ly | Keto Foods

Jan 08
Low Carb Rice Substitutes

Coming from an Asian background, believe me when I say it was TOUGH having to cut rice out of my keto diet. Growing up, my family would prepare a side of rice with every single meal (yes, we would even eat our bacon and eggs with a side of rice!).

Is Rice Okay for Low Carb Diets?

The short and sweet answer is no. A single cup of cooked rice can contain anywhere between 40-60g of carbs, depending on the type of rice.

While there are healthier alternatives to rice, such as quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat, the bottom line is that these substitutes are all still relatively high in carbs which is a no-go for a ketogenic diet.

Going on my third year now of being on my own keto journey, I thought I would share some keto rice alternatives that I have found throughout the years.

Low Carb Rice Substitutes

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower Low Carb Rice

This is one of the holy grails or one of the staple options for people looking for a rice substitute. Cauliflower has a multitude of health benefits (on top of being tasty!):

You’ll find a multitude of various recipes or ways to prepare it online.

This can be quick and simple to make. Simply dice up your cauliflower head into chunks and blitz in a food processor until the florets are separated into small rice chunks.

If you’re one of the unfortunate people, like me, who don’t have a food processor, you can also use a cheese grater to rice the cauliflower florets into tiny pieces.

Once you’ve completed the tedious part, all you have to do is fry the riced cauliflower with oil and your choice of seasonings, veggies and meat for a simple low carb rice stir-fry!

You can still enjoy all of your favorite dishes with this simple substitution. While the texture won’t be the exact same as eating rice, it’s one of the closest options for a low carb diet!

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few recipes to get you started.

Miracle Rice (Shirataki Rice)

Miracle Low Carb RiceIf you’ve experimented with keto substitutions, then you may already be familiar with shirataki noodles. Shirataki products are made from a Japanese yam (konjac) which is known for being incredibly low in calories while high in dietary fiber! Being made from the same plant, Miracle Rice has a similar, gelatinous texture to the noodles.

Since konjac is nearly 100% pure dietary fiber, it’s probably the closest thing you’ll find for a zero carb rice substitute. Each serving is under 1g of net carbs and nearly zero calories. Unless you’re eating more than two packs of miracle rice at once, you may not even bother counting it in your macros!

The packaged product also has a bit of a fishy odor so I highly recommend straining it and running it under some water. You can also boil or heat the rice in a skillet and even make stir-fry with it!

I found that Asian supermarkets primarily carry the noodle version, but you can also order the rice one straight off of Amazon and have it delivered right to your door (how conveneient!).

Cabbage Rice

Keto Cabbage RiceSimilar to cauliflower rice, we can substitute the carby goodness with shredded cabbage. Either use a grater or blitz your cabbage into fine pieces in a food processor.

Depending on your preference, you can go with either a red cabbage or a green cabbage. Red cabbage does have its advantages including:

Stir-fry your cabbage, just as you would with your normal rice and toss in your favorite seasonings, additional veggies and meats for a low carb rice recipe alternative!

Studio Snacks has 2 simple recipes that you can follow or use as a guidance on how to prepare such a dish.



Substitute Rice With Salad For Low CarbWhile veggies aren’t exactly a rice substitute, a bed of lettuce or salad can be a great low carb alternative to rice. Instead of eating your meat with a side of rice, how about a side of freshly steamed broccoli, turnips or sauteed spinach?

Again, keto isn’t simply a fad diet, it’s a conscious lifestyle choice. Some sacrifices have to be made. This doesn’t mean you can never eat rice again, but for the vast majority of your meals, try swapping out the rice with a low carb alternative.


Squash and Pumpkins

While they may not soak up your delicious sauces in the same way that rice does, finely diced pumpkin or squash can act as a substitute to rice. These are great substitutes if you want more of a risotto style dish as they tend to soften up and can help thicken your sauces when cooked.

You may want to watch your portion sizes since squash and pumpkins do have a bit higher net carbs relative to some of the other options.

  • Butternut Squash – 12g carbs, 2g fiber, 10g net carbs total per 100g
  • Pumpkin – 7g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 6.5g net carbs total per 100g
  • Kabocha (Japanese) Squash – 8g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g net carbs total per 100g
  • Acorn Squash – 10g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 8.5g net carbs total per 100g

Preparing squash rice is pretty simple. All you have to do is peel and dice up your squash into manageable cubes and then toss them into your food processor for a quick blitz! You don’t want to over process them, otherwise you’ll end up with mashed squash (which is also delicious but not what we’re aiming for here…). Get it into a rice-sized consistency and then toss it on the frying pan for a quick low carb stir-fry or risotto.

Low Carb Noodles

Low Carb Rice AlternativesIf you’re missing the texture or taste of rice, this isn’t exactly a direct substitute. However, if you’re simply looking for something to fill you up (and you’re not a huge veggie fan), or to soak up some of your sauces, you can give low carb noodle alternatives a try.

I’ve listed 6 low carb substitutes to noodles and pastas which you may want to try to pair with your favorite rice dish!

Hopefully these 5 alternatives have given you some ideas of what you can swap out your rice with when beginning your keto journey.

If you have any other favorite alternatives to rice, feel free to let me know and share them in the comments!


About the Author

I started my Keto adventure back in July 2013 where I lost nearly 100lbs over the course of the year. While losing the weight is great, my journey is far from over as I continue to strive towards a healthier me!

Leave a Comment:

(14) comments

Rads July 21, 2017

Thanks so much! Good recipes here for the keto beginner 🙂

Aisha September 20, 2017

I found hemp hearts to be my game changer to my rice substitute. It’s not perfect, but it’s by far the best thing I’ve come across!

    Angela November 14, 2017

    Thank you. I was looking for a rice sub that could be made sweet. Hemp hearts may work!

Daniel Gullo November 16, 2017

Half pound of peeled cooked shrimp with the tails off, minced in processor. Mix with 2 whole eggs and your choice of spices. Stir fry. It’s amazing as a no carb rice substitute.

Diana April 17, 2018

The title of this article “5 Low Carb Rice Substitutes,” is misleading. I am a very picky eater and there is no way I can substitute rice with any of the above. I even hate quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat. I love long grain rice & potatoes. This article should had been 2 sentences long: “Is Rice Okay for Low Carb Diets? The short and sweet answer is no,” and I am okay with that.

    I hate Diana April 30, 2018

    Thanks for your super insightful comment Diana.

    Keto May 19, 2018

    We dont care. Get out of here.

    Grow Up!! June 26, 2018

    This is the weirdest comment, you seem annoyed that the article didn’t fit YOUR picky eating habits… well then move on? Most people can find a rice substitute they like… it is nice that other people take the time to write and share the things they have tried. As many others DO like them. These are substitutes, and they works for hundreds of thousands of people, so for you to think that this article should have been catered to your super picky needs, and reflect only your feelings and desired answer is really immature and self centered. Then the fact that you also feel the need to comment as such, well it is telling.

annie May 30, 2018

I’m going to try to cook miracle rice, with tofu bits and cauliflower. I will post how it goes. Zucchini noodle does not taste like spaghetti however, it satisfies the noodle component when mixed with meat sauce. There is no perfection here, just suffer through a little bit to get to your goals peeps.

STAYLOR71 June 26, 2018

Honestly the best rice substitute I have tried is BETTER THAN RICE. It absorbs any flavor like tofu, and has the texture and size of rice. It is definitely my favorite. Miracle Rice has a weird texture and tastes like rubber, and the shape is all wrong, it reminds me more of tapioca pearls than rice. Thanks for the article, I love to hear about and try new things 🙂

    Andrew Ly June 26, 2018

    Thanks for the positive comments and suggestion on BETTER THAN RICE. I figured it would be similar to Miracle Rice, granted they’re both made from Konjac but I’d love to give it a try myself now to taste the difference!

    I found that the fishy odour with miracle rice/noodles has been off putting for many people and the texture definitely has a more rubber-like feel. One of my biggest challenges was finding a substitute that could absorb sauces and flavors (without making my rice/noodles literally swim in sauce).

FK June 27, 2018

Can I use the miracle rice for sushi I wonder? 😀

    Andrew Ly June 28, 2018

    It may be worth a try, but I find Miracle rice isn’t sticky like regular rice is (each grain kind of holds its own shape) so it might be difficult to press together. But who knows, if you can find a way to get the rolls to stick together, please share because I would LOVE to have some sushi alternative with a low carb rice filler.

    For sushi alternatives, I usually get sashimi or some places offer cucumber rolls where they wrap your fillings (minus the rice) with a cucumber sheet.

chandra October 1, 2019

Try mixing it with egg whites and bake them just to congeal them. You should be able to shape them or spread them

Add Your Reply

Leave a Comment: