The Best Low-Carb Bread Substitutes
Cut those carb cravings with these simple swaps.
If you are on a low-carb diet, bread is pretty much forbidden. One slice of wheat bread can have about 13 grams of carbs — which is a lot when you're limiting net carbs to around 25 grams — and the number is even higher for refined bread varieties like bagels or white bread.
Luckily, there are ways to enjoy a bread-like dishes without the actual carbs. You can substitute in almond flour, cheese, and other ingredients to get a similar taste and texture to bread while still remaining low-carb.
Here are a few ways to get that fix without wrecking your diet:
Low in carbs, but high in protein, eggs can easily make substitutes like cloud bread. "Also called oopsie bread, cloud bread is a low-carb and grain-free alternative to wheat bread. It looks almost like pita bread and is soft, fluffy, and has a delicate taste that pairs well with spreads, dips, and mains," says Sofia Norton, RD.
Recipes differ, but most call for eggs and cream cheese as the base ingredients. "These are then beaten and gently folded to help preserve air bubbles. The resulting batter is then spread into circles on a baking sheet and baked for 15 minutes to half an hour," she says.
A typical slice of cloud bread has zero carbs, 36 calories, and 2 grams each of fat and protein. Use it in place of English muffins, burger buns, sandwich bread, and more.
You can use almond as a low-carb, keto-friendly substitute for baking. "Bread made with almond flour, coconut flour, or a combination of both instead of wheat flour is often called keto bread because it's low in carbs," says Norton. These are leavened with eggs and baking powder instead of yeast. Many recipes also call for xanthan gum to make the finished product less crumbly. You can also use almond flour to make low-carb pancakes for breakfast, or even a batch of cookies.
Bread made with almond flour can be used for sandwiches, ground into breadcrumbs, or turned into French toast. The nutrition in keto bread recipes vary, but most have fewer than 5g of net carbs in a slice.
Rich and gooey cheese makes a surprisingly good substitute for bread, pizza dough, and even crackers. "Fathead dough is a popular pizza, bagel, and bread substitute and it's made with mozzarella cheese, almond flour, egg, and baking soda," she says. The resulting baked goods are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a fairly mild almond taste.
"On the downside, fathead dough is high in calories. It can have 100-200 calories per serving, and that's without any toppings, sauces, and other ingredients you'll likely combine with it," says Norton. But if carbs are your dieting culprit and not calories, fathead dough is still a good choice with about 2g of net carbs per serving.
Whether you love breaded chicken or want croutons in your salad, finding a low-carb alternative to breadcrumbs is a necessity. Thankfully there are several options to choose from:
- Ground pork rinds
- Almond flour or almond meal
- Crushed nuts
- Keto bread crumbs
- Psyllium husk
Which one of these you should use depends on the recipe, but all are great options in general. "For deep-frying, go for keto bread crumbs or psyllium husk. These are high in fiber and will absorb excess fluid while also turning crisp," says Norton. When it comes to casseroles, go with crushed nuts or almond meal for a crunch. Lastly, crumbled pork rinds are often used for patties, meatloaves, or crispy coatings.
Believe it or not, veggies can be used as bread in some recipes. "Some keto dieters like to replace bread with low-carb veggies. This not only keeps carbs low, but it also helps you eat more fiber, vitamins, and minerals," says Norton.
Veggies used to replace bread can include:
- Nori sheets
For example, lettuce wraps are a popular substitute for burger buns, flour tortillas, or sandwich bread. Nori sheets can be folded around sandwich fillings. And grilled veggies — such as eggplant or zucchini slices — be be layered as an alternative to buns or bread.