6 Low-Carb Rice Substitutes to Lighten Your Next Meal
Have your "rice" and enjoy it, too.
Pictured Recipe: Cuban Cauliflower Rice Bowl
When you go low-carb, one of the first things you cut down on (or cut out if you want to go keto) is rice, but it's also one of the hardest to give up. However, there are a few low-carb rice substitutes you can try that are just as tasty and more nutritious than regular white rice. Whether you want something to tame the spices in your chicken tikka masala or you need a base for your poke bowl, here are six low-carb swaps for rice to try.
First, we'll address why riced cauliflower is so popular — while it's not exactly like white rice, it has a similar look and texture as white rice. It's also mild in flavor so it can go with most dishes without messing with the flavor experience. It's also very easy to make—give cauliflower florets a few pulses in the food processor and it's ready to cook. You can also get cauliflower rice at the grocery store to save on meal prep work. Look for it in the produce section or frozen. 1 cup of cauliflower rice has about 4 grams of carbs, so if you follow a low-carb or keto lifestyle, cauliflower is a good keto substitute for rice.
Shirataki rice might sound like it's too good to be true. It's referred to as "miracle rice" (there's also a "miracle noodle"). It's made from konjac root and contains less than 1 gram of carbs per serving. It's also calorie-free and gluten-free. Miracle, indeed.
Like cauliflower rice, cabbage rice is minced cabbage. The flavor is a bit stronger than rice, so when you're pairing it with sauces or proteins, make sure the cabbage rice won't overpower the other food — something spicy or very flavorful would work well. A cup of cabbage rice contains about 5 grams of carbs while a cup of cooked white rice has about 53 grams of carbs.
Broccoli rice is made the same way you make cauliflower rice—it's quickly pulsed in a food processor and it's ready. 1 cup of broccoli rice has about 6 grams of carbs, so it's good for a low-carb meal as well. However, like cabbage, broccoli has a strong flavor. Keep that in mind when you're thinking about something to serve it with. You can also try mixing cauliflower and broccoli rice in recipes to tame the broccoli flavor. Making broccoli rice with broccoli stems is also a great way to minimize food waste. Try broccoli rice in this recipe for Vietnamese Pork & Broccoli "Rice" Bowls.
Zucchini rice contains about 4 grams of carbs per cup which, not surprisingly, is why zucchini noodles are so popular. That said, the simplest way to make zucchini rice is by making zoodles, or zucchini noodles, and chopping them up into smaller pieces to resemble rice. You can also grate or chop the zucchini to make small rice-like pieces. Zucchini also makes a great rice swap because it's mild in flavor which means you can pair it with mild sauces, in addition to very spicy sauces.
Turnips make good low-carb rice as well with around 8 grams of carbs in a cup. Turnips also spiral very well before being chopped into bits, but a food processor will work just as well to get it the turnips to the right texture. The flavor might be polarizing—to some people, turnips can taste extremely bitter which is something to be aware of if this is the root you want to rice. You may need a rice recipe with a little kick to offset the turnip flavor.
There are plenty of DIY low-carb rice substitutes, but there are also a lot of plant-based "rice" products on the market that are high-protein. However, if you are concerned about carbs, some of those high-protein rice substitutes may have the same amount of carbs as rice hidden under the "high-protein" label.
While these low-carb "rice" substitutes are a nice way to bump up your veggies you can also include regular old white rice as part of a healthy diet.