Bread, breakfast pastries and desserts are notorious for packing in the carbs — exactly why they're a no-go on the keto diet. However, you can easily bake keto-friendly recipes by using some alternative flours that are low in carbs and still lend your homemade treats that fluffy texture.
"Not only great for baking, these low-carb flours can also be used for cooking meals," says Sofia Norton, RD and keto expert. (Think: breaded chicken tenders and fish). Find out which low-carb keto flours to add to your shopping list and scrumptious recipes to put them to good use.
Keep This in Mind About Keto
Just because a diet is touted for its weight-loss benefits, doesn't mean it's healthy. Find out if going keto is right for you — and if you do decide to give the diet a try, make sure to focus on healthy, plant-based fats and get your daily recommended amount of fiber (at least 25 grams per day).
1. Psyllium Husk
This keto-friendly flour comes from the seeds of a medicinal plant called Plantago ovata. "It helps stabilize blood sugar, improve satiety levels and acts as a prebiotic," says Norton, so you won't have to worry about your blood sugar levels fluctuating too much when you're enjoying a batch of keto cookies.
However, avoid using this flour on its own: You'll want to use psyllium with another keto flour since it's super high in fiber and can cause digestive upset.
"When baking with psyllium, make sure to add hot water to activate its dough-like texture," she says, which deems it perfect for bread and baked goods. Psyllium husk is commonly used as a fiber supplement, so the standard serving size is one tablespoon; however, it can be easily adapted into a keto flour. One-tablespoon packs in 35 calories, 0 grams of fat and 1 gram of net carbs with 7 grams of fiber, per the USDA.
Read more: A 7-Day Keto Diet Meal Plan That Burns Fat
2. Sunflower Seed Flour
"Sunflower seed flour tastes a bit nutty but is subtle enough to be used in most recipes," Norton says.
One cup of sunflower seed flour has about 209 calories, 1 gram of fat and about 20 grams of net carbs with a bit over 3 grams of fiber, according to the USDA. Compared to the other options on this list, sunflower seed flour is a bit higher in net carbs, but still lends itself well to low-carb treats. Think about it this way: One cup of flour yields multiple treats, so you'll divide the number of net carbs amongst the amount you made.
Sunflower seed flour also adds a bit of sweetness to your baked treats, which means you can use a bit less erythritol or stevia when baking. Sunflower seeds give you vitamin E, selenium and copper, Norton adds. It can be used a one-to-one ratio, much like with almond flour or meal; however, sunflower seed powder is pricier.
3. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is another popular keto option that's high in fiber and low in calories, helping you fill up faster. "Two tablespoons of coconut flour is low in net carbs, making it a suitable addition to a keto diet," says Bonnie Balk, RD and health expert for Maple Holistics.
Plus, it has antiviral properties (thanks to lauric and caprylic acids) that can support a healthy immune system and keep away dangerous bacteria, fungi and viruses, Balk adds. Another bonus: It packs in important micronutrients that you might be missing on the keto diet such as calcium, manganese, iron and copper, Norton says.
A quarter-cup of coconut flour contains 120 calories, 4 grams of fat and just 3 grams of net carbs with a whopping 12 grams of fiber, according to the USDA.
Bak recommends using half the amount of flour the recipe calls for and adding more liquid. "Since coconut flour tends to absorb moisture, you'll need to add wet ingredients into your recipe (such as eggs) to avoid dryness," Norton explains. Start with two to three eggs per quarter-cup of flour.
Read more: Baking With Almond, Rice and Coconut Flour
4. Almond Flour
Just blend blanched almonds in your food processor until they turn into flour — the mix works well in rich keto fat bombs and as a replacement for breading on meat, poultry and chicken.
"What you'll love about almond flour is that it has fewer carbs and more fat content compared to most flours," Norton says, so you can get those fat macros in pretty nicely. Almond flour is a better option for people who struggle to keep their blood glucose levels low thanks to their satiating fat content, Norton adds. "Plus, eating almonds is also linked with lowering cholesterol levels and increasing heart health," adds Balk, so you can feel great about baking with it.
A third-cup serving of almond flour packs in about 170 calories, 15 grams of fat and just 2 grams of net carbs with an impressive 4 grams of fiber, per the USDA.
"When used in baking, you can equally substitute the same amount of regular flour for almond flour. Beware that since almond flour is free of gluten, baked goods will turn out denser and flatter as opposed to those made with wheat flour," she says.
One Thing to Note About Keto Flours
Many of these keto-friendly flours are high in fiber. So, make sure to drink plenty of water with your low-carb baked goods that pack in these flours to prevent constipation and digestive upset.
Low-Carb Recipes to Try
1. Garlic, Dill and Cheddar Keto Bread
Use almond flour to make this savory garlic, dill and cheddar bread that boasts just 2 grams of net carbs per serving. It's high in healthy fats and vitamin E from the almonds, and you'll also get some good protein (14 grams) to keep you full and maintain your muscles.
Get the Garlic, Dill and Cheddar Keto Bread recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Coconut Shrimp
Coconut flour makes for a crunchy breading in this crowd-pleasing shrimp recipe. Each serving has just 11 grams of net carbs as well as 10 grams of fat and some good protein to tide you over until your next meal.
Get the Coconut Shrimp full recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Sunflower Seed and Sage-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Sunflower seeds work well as a crispy breading for chicken tenders that's totally keto and delicious. There are only 5 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber, clocking in at 3 grams of net carbs, and some ample protein and fats to squash that hunger. Feel free to add more fat by topping with a cream sauce, a peanut dressing, a dollop of Greek yogurt or avocado.
Get the Sunflower Seed and Sage-Crusted Chicken Tenders full recipe and nutrition info here.
4. High-Protein Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie
Talk about a morning smoothie to power your day: This velvety sip has plenty of protein and fiber to keep you full until lunch or help your muscles recover after a tough workout. The added psyllium bulks up the fiber to leave a mere 1 gram of net carbs per serving. It uses monk fruit, another keto sweetener, and is ready in just five minutes flat.
Get the High-Protein Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie full recipe and nutrition info here.