Low carb diets may offer many health benefits, such as weight loss and better blood sugar control, but prepping low carb meals may seem daunting at first — especially if you have a busy schedule.
However, numerous tasty low carb meals require minimal prep and only a handful of ingredients.
Here are 12 simple, healthy low carb recipes, along with a few meal-prep tips.
Here are some strategies to help you succeed with your low carb eating plan.
Easy low carb substitutes
Check this table for easy low carb substitutes for some of your favorite foods:
|If you miss||Try|
|mashed potatoes||mashed cauliflower|
|breading (for example, on chicken nuggets)||1 part almond flour and 1 part Parmesan cheese|
|table sugar||granulated allulose|
|bread, buns, or tortillas||leaf lettuce|
|crackers or chips||celery, mini peppers, or baby carrots|
Time saving meal-prep tips
Eating low carb can be an adjustment and may limit your options for dining out or ordering in. Here are some ways to make low carb meal prep easy:
- Plan your meals for the week. Planning your meals in advance makes it easier to shop for groceries and to stick to your diet when things get busy or hectic.
- Prep certain foods up front. Likewise, prep as much as possible in advance. For instance, you can chop veggies, brown ground beef, and make dressings or marinades in advance. You can also prep all your meals for work during the weekend prior.
- Keep plenty of low carb ingredients on hand. This way, you can throw together a quick low carb meal. For instance, if you have frozen shrimp, shirataki noodles, and a jar of Alfredo sauce, you can make a low carb shrimp Alfredo any time.
Be sure to limit packaged condiments
Some foods contain hidden carbs that may sabotage your low carb diet.
In particular, many condiments are loaded with sugar, even though they may not taste particularly sweet. You may want to avoid or limit the following:
1. Egg and veggie scramble
This dish makes a great breakfast that you can enjoy every day. It’s rich in protein and vegetables to help keep you full for a long time.
- 1/2 tablespoon (30 mL) coconut oil
- roughly 1 cup (70–150 grams) fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice (I like sliced mushrooms)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- salt and pepper
- Add coconut oil to a skillet and turn the heat to medium.
- Add vegetables and cook until mostly done or crisp on the bottom. If you use frozen veggies, they’ll need a few extra minutes.
- Add eggs, salt, and pepper. Stir continuously so that the eggs scramble and don’t burn.
- As soon as the eggs have set completely, remove the pan from heat and serve the eggs.
- varies based on the veggies you include
2. Bacon and eggs
Although bacon is highly processed and may not be appropriate for your everyday breakfast, it’s an excellent treat every once in a while.
- Add bacon to a skillet and fry over medium heat until it reaches the crispness level you like.
- Transfer bacon to a plate and crack both eggs into the pan, then add salt and pepper. Cook the eggs in the bacon fat.
- If you like runny yolks, don’t break the yolks. Instead, flip the eggs when the whites on the bottom have set, then remove them once the entire white has set. If you prefer the yolks fully cooked, it’s easiest to break them.
3. Overnight chia pudding
Overnight oats are easy and flavorful but loaded with carbs. One alternative is chia pudding, which is much lower in carbs. Tiny, fiber-rich chia seeds absorb liquid and swell overnight to form a jelly-like texture.
- 2 tablespoons (24 grams) chia seeds
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) unsweetened milk of your choice
- liquid stevia drops (or your preferred sweetener)
- berries for topping (strawberries and raspberries are low in carbs)
- In a lidded Mason jar, combine chia seeds, milk, and liquid stevia drops. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, top with berries and enjoy.
- depends on the type of milk and berries used
- roughly 10 grams of carbs and 9 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoons (24 grams) of
4. Bunless butter burger
It doesn’t get much easier than a bunless burger that you can dress however you’d like.
- Add butter to a skillet and turn the heat to medium-high.
- Add hamburger patty and season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
- After a few minutes, flip the patty and season the other side. Cook fully, or until the juices run clear.
- Dress the burger with your favorite low carb toppings and serve with a side salad to make it a complete meal.
- A plain, cooked
hamburger pattyhas 0 grams of carbs
- Toppings and sides may add carbs
5. Avocado Waldorf chicken salad
Avocado serves as a fiber-rich alternative to mayo in this take on a Waldorf chicken salad. To reduce the carbs even further — for instance, to make it keto-friendly — you can exclude the apple and grapes.
- about 1 cup (140 grams) shredded cooked chicken (you can use a rotisserie chicken for convenience)
- 1 green apple, cored and diced
- 5 seedless grapes, quartered
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 ounce (28 grams) crushed walnuts
- 1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and smashed
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- Combine chicken, apple, grapes, celery, and walnuts in a medium bowl.
- Add avocado and lemon juice and mix until avocado has coated all other ingredients.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- contains roughly 23 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber per serving
- makes 2 servings
6. Low carb snack board
For an easy meal or irresistible party appetizer, make a snack board with your favorite low carb ingredients and dips.
- Meats and proteins: hard-boiled eggs, jerky, pepperoni, salami, deli meats
- Cheeses: pepper jack, Gouda, Parmesan, cheddar
- Nuts and seeds: walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Fruits: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
- Vegetables: olives, celery, baby carrots, mini peppers, raw broccoli, raw cauliflower, cherry tomatoes
- Dips: cream cheese dips (unsweetened), sour cream dips, hummus (in small amounts only)
Keep in mind that firm cheeses or individually wrapped soft cheese wedges are easiest to deal with.
- Choose any of the ingredients above and assemble your board in a visually appealing fashion.
- Optionally, garnish with fresh herbs or dried herb bundles.
- varies depending on serving size and ingredients chosen
7. Weeknight chicken wings
These wings take very little prep and are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
- 1 pound (450 grams) raw, unbreaded chicken wings
- seasoning blend or rub of your choice
- Rub chicken wings with spice blend of your choice.
- Bake at 360–395°F (180–200°C) for about 40 minutes, or until each wing is fully cooked.
- To finish, broil the wings until browned and crunchy, flipping as needed. Watch closely so they don’t burn.
- Serve with ranch dressing, celery sticks, and carrot sticks.
Unbreaded chicken wingsare carb-free
- Still, certain rubs or spice blends may contain carbs
8. Shortcut fajitas
This quick low carb meal uses shredded rotisserie chicken.
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) coconut oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups (210 grams) shredded cooked chicken (from a rotisserie chicken, if available)
- fajita seasoning, salt, and pepper
- water, as needed
- sour cream
- low carb tortillas
If you don’t have fajita seasoning, combine chili, garlic, and onion powders.
- Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and bell peppers and cook until some parts are browned but the veggies retain some crispness.
- Add chicken and seasonings, plus 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) water if needed to help the seasoning stick to the meat and vegetables.
- Once chicken is cooked through, remove from heat.
- Serve with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and low carb tortillas.
- The fajita filling contains approximately 9 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber per serving
- This recipe makes 2 servings
- The carb count may increase, depending on tortillas and toppings
9. Low carb chicken nuggets
Using an easy breading mixture and an air fryer, you can make healthy, low carb chicken nuggets to rival those from your favorite restaurant.
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup (48 grams) almond flour
- 1/2 cup (45 grams) grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into nugget-size pieces
- olive oil cooking spray
- Place beaten egg in a medium bowl.
- Combine almond flour, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in another medium bowl.
- Toss chicken pieces in beaten egg, then bread each piece with almond flour-Parmesan mixture.
- Place nuggets in an air fryer basket that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and spray nuggets with cooking spray to help them brown.
- Cook at 375°F (190°C) for 5 minutes, then toss or flip and cook at the same temperature for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with a low carb dipping sauce and a side salad.
- Carb count depends on the size of the nuggets, which affects how much breading adheres to them
- Still, these nuggets contain minimal carbs from the almond flour and cheese
If you miss pizza on your low carb diet, you’ll love this crustless “meatza.”
This recipe is easy to modify, and you can add any low carb ingredients you want — veggies, mushrooms, cheeses, and so on.
- 1/2 pound (225 grams) ground Italian sausage
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) pizza sauce
- 1/3 cup (40 grams) shredded pizza cheese
- your preferred pizza toppings
If you want a less greasy, less messy dish, use a leaner sausage, such as chicken sausage. Alternatively, you can season any type of ground meat to make your own sausage.
- On a nonstick rimmed baking sheet, shape ground sausage into a thin square or circle and bake at 375°F (190°C) until fully cooked.
- Drain excess fat from the sheet, then add sauce, cheese, and toppings to the sausage.
- Return the sheet to the oven until the cheese is melted and browned, 10–15 minutes.
- varies based on sauce and toppings chosen
11. Cauliflower rice taco bowls
Tacos are still possible on a low carb diet — just opt for taco bowls loaded with low carb ingredients instead of using taco shells.
- cauliflower rice
- cooked, taco-seasoned ground beef
- red onion
- lime wedges
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
- radish slices
- taco sauce
- Set out all ingredients, family-style.
- Let each member of your household prepare their bowl to their liking.
- varies based on portion size and ingredients chosen
12. Easy zucchini spaghetti
Using a premade no-sugar-added pasta sauce, you can easily make a low carb zucchini spaghetti.
- 1 pound (450 grams) lean ground beef
- 4 medium zucchini, spiralized
- 1 (24-ounce / 700-mL) jar no-sugar-added spaghetti sauce
- grated Parmesan cheese
- In a skillet over medium heat, cook beef until fully browned.
- While beef is cooking, salt zucchini noodles to draw out excess moisture.
- Drain excess fat from beef.
- Reduce heat to low and add sauce to pan with beef.
- Pat zucchini noodles dry and add them to the pan. Allow them to heat through.
- Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan before serving.
- contains about 10 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber per serving
- makes 4 servings
Low carb diets have been shown to offer various health benefits, including weight loss and reduced blood sugar levels. However, it can be tough to stick to a low carb diet without some planning.
That’s where these easy recipes come in. They require relatively few ingredients, and some take just a few minutes to prep — perfect for those with busy schedules.
Just one thing
Try this today: Looking for more tips to help you stick to your low carb diet? Check out our list of 13 easy ways to reduce your carb intake.
Don’t worry about making all these changes at the same time. Instead, focus on making one change at a time until it becomes a habit.