Your Ultimate Guide To Keto Dinner Ideas
Think you can’t possibly eat delicious meals without carbs like potatoes, rice, and pasta? Think again! While yes, switching to a keto diet can be daunting, and may force you to completely overhaul your diet, you might be surprised by all the amazing foods that you can eat and chances are you will feel great to boot!
Fortunately, committing to a keto diet doesn’t have to mean sacrifice; once you open up the flavorful world of keto cooking you’ll have a long backlog of recipes you can’t wait to try, most of which are beginner-friendly.
In this article, we’re going to guide you through some of our most frequently asked questions about eating keto-friendly dinners, and then we’ll share some of our favorite keto dinner recipes so you can find some new favorites and bookmark any you’d like to try for later!
Keto Dinner FAQs
Starting the keto diet can be overwhelming to some, so it’s only natural that those new to keto or new to cooking keto meals for themselves have some questions. Let me be clear - there are no stupid questions! The keto community is very welcoming, so never be afraid to seek answers for a simple question, even if you feel it may make you look like you’re missing a few brain cells. It’s better to feel a little silly than to make a non-keto friendly choice, right? Yep!
Here are some of the most common keto dinner questions we hear:
What Foods Can I NOT Eat for Dinner on a Keto Diet?
Major Carbohydrate Sources
So, if you are doing a keto diet eliminating most carbs should be a no-brainer, right? Well, even if it’s not, this is us letting you know that you should be steering clear of all major sources of carbs.
That means you need to avoid eating bread, cakes, pastries, and other baked goods (in fact, just don’t go near the bakery aisle - it won’t end well!), pasta, noodles, corn tortillas, and taco shells, and anything made of grains like couscous, rice, oats, and quinoa.
Starchy Veggies & Beans
You’re also going to need to cut out certain vegetables that are high in starch and carbohydrates, such as white potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, peas, sweetcorn, and parsnips.
Beans and legumes are, unfortunately, included in this list, as they are also high in carbohydrates. That means you need to watch your consumption of baked beans, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, and anything else with a name that ends in “bean”!
Fruit (Including Tomatoes!)
While most of us don’t typically add fruit to our meals at dinner time, it’s worth mentioning that you need to be careful with eating those too, including tomatoes. Oranges, pineapples, apples, bananas, pears, grapes, mangos, and many other fruits are high in natural sugars, making them not fitting for a keto diet. For a list of fruits that are acceptable check out this Keto Friendly Fruits article.
Beer, Soda, and Wine
Well if you are a soda drinker it is definitely time to pour it down the drain, but the good news is you can find soda’s that are naturally sweetened with Stevia, or you can switch to sparkling water with a twist of lime. If you like heavy beers like IPA you’ll have to choose one of the readily available low carb light beer options. I know, for some, this one hurts the most, but if you’re going to see the keto results you’re looking for, you’re going to have to make some modifications! For wine drinkers, the key is portion control..most dry table wines are low carb as long as you are not drinking the whole bottle. If you like to hit the hard stuff you’ll be pleased to know that most alcoholic spirits contain zero carbs, making them keto friendly, like vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and tequila. It’s the sugar-laden mixers that can derail your keto drink efforts, so stick with plain soda for your mixers. For more details on what you can drink on keto check out Low Carb Keto Friendly Drinks!
You generally have free-rein to eat what you like when it comes to dairy products, though of course there are some dairy products manufacturers have managed to make so full of unhealthy fats or added sugar that they are best avoided.
Dairy milk isn’t necessarily a “no-no” but it does naturally contain carbs and typically the lower the fat content the higher the carb content, so proceed with caution. For most dairy products, you need to look at what they contain on a case-by-case basis, but generally you should opt for full fat dairy as it is lower in carbs. If you want a glass of milk, stick to unsweetened nut milks instead. Be especially cautious with yogurt as many options are loaded with added sugars.
You don’t have to avoid processed and packaged ready-to-eat foods, but be careful to check the labels for carb content or choose keto specific products. You can even include fast food when you have to as discussed in our Eating Keto on the Go article!).
Is There ANYTHING I Can Eat on Keto?
I know, the list of what you can’t eat may seem long, but the good news is that once you get the hang of what you can eat on the keto diet and start finding great keto dinner ideas, you’ll find your new favorite meals to replace the old ones. (And we’ll help you find those in just a sec!)
What Kind of Chicken Is Best for Keto?
Pretty much any kind! Chicken is a fantastic source of protein and a popular choice for keto dinner ideas. Shoot for brands that do not use antibiotics or hormones, and select whichever cut (thighs, breasts, wings etc.) you prefer. It’s up to you whether you leave the skin on or not, some like the flavor and texture and it does provide a bit of extra protein! A great tip to save money is to buy a whole chicken and learn to cut it up and prepare it yourself, or roast it whole. The carcass can be used to make wonderful stock and broth for keto-friendly lunches and dinners. When it comes to chicken, it’s all down to how it is prepared. Be aware that deli-style chicken meat often has sugar added for flavor, and obviously breaded chicken is a no-no.
What Are The Best Meats To Eat On Keto?
If you are a carnivore, the best thing about keto is that you’re free to stick to your carnivorous ways, pretty much without restriction - as long as you’re sticking to your macros (the number of carbs, protein, and fat in grams you should eat a day). This keto calculator is a great tool if you need to figure out approximately how many grams of protein, fat and carbs you are allowed per day!
While protein is absolutely vital for your body’s most important functions, like building and repairing tissues and making important enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals, it turns out you actually can have too much of a good thing, at least where protein is involved. Keto diets generally recommend a moderate protein level, and if you eat more protein than your body needs, some of the amino acids in the protein will be turned to glucose which could prevent ketosis. Generally, if you stick with your recommended level of protein it is highly unlikely you’ll have to worry about this, it is just something to be aware of with excessive protein intake.
To keep your body well-balanced, not to mention to add flavor the best meats to eat are often those with a little natural fat. Ribeye and other steaks are great options, as is nitrate-free unprocessed bacon, pork belly, lamb and pork chops. And don’t forget fatty fish like salmon, as well as prawns and tuna, which are all great sources of protein. Some general tips for selecting the best meats to eat on keto are to buy high-quality products and veer away from processed meat with additives such as carrageenan, BHT/BHA, sodium nitrate and added flavors and sugars. When selecting seafood consider if it is wild-caught or sustainably-farmed, choose beef that is grass-fed and organic whenever possible, poultry that is organic and antibiotic-free, and deli meat, sausages, and bacon that are free of additives and preservatives.
If you’re a regular hunter or have a family member who is, feel free to eat venison and anything else they bring back to eat - in many cases, it will be better for you and even more keto-friendly than what you buy in a package in-store, not to mention it is definitely going to be free-range!
What Are The Best Vegetables For a Keto Diet?
At first figuring out which veggies to eat while on keto can be difficult - I get it; other diets basically tell you to eat as many vegetables as you like with no limitations, provided you aren’t deep frying them, of course. With keto, there are a few restrictions. You need to avoid high-starch and carb-heavy vegetables like potatoes and the others we outlined in the what not to eat section above.
Some of the best keto friendly vegetables are:
- Cauliflower - extremely versatile and a staple for many people on keto as it makes a great substitute for carbs like potatoes and rice
- Bell peppers - sweet, colorful, and full of antioxidants and vitamins
- Broccoli - a tasty superfood crammed with essential vitamins and minerals, and loaded with disease protective phytonutrients, if you’re on the fence about broccoli make sure you’re buying it fresh and not overcooking it!
- Asparagus - high in vitamins and like broccoli it is rich in phytonutrients You can eat it for any meal and it is delicious wrapped in bacon!
- Mushrooms - super low in carbs and they naturally contain properties with anti-inflammatory potential
- Spinach - extremely healthy and a great source of vitamins and minerals, great in a salad, as a side, or wilted and added to recipes, especially with eggs
- Green beans - the only beans you really can eat, so remember these are the exception and not the rule
- Kale - nutrient-dense and versatile, add to salads, recipes, or bake to enjoy a good chip substitute
- Brussels sprouts - loaded with fiber and high in vitamins, delicious quartered and fried and added as a side or to omelets, or roast in the oven in a little oil - always buy fresh as frozen just doesn’t give you the same quality taste!
- Zucchini - low in carbs and high in vitamins, and if you buy them spiraled or you happen to have a spiralizer you can easily make your own zoodles and use as a pasta replacement
Easy Keto Dinners for Two
Looking for easy meals for you and your partner? Whether or not they’re on their own keto journey too, they’ll love these recipes just as much as you will. While all the recipes in this article are easily halved or doubled to get the right portion size, the recipes below are great for keto couples.
Cinnamon Spice Pork Chops
Love a good chop? If so, you’ve got to try these Cinnamon Spice Pork Chops. Pork chops are super flexible and work well cooked with sweet spices or savory herbs, and are high in fat and protein, so you really can’t go wrong - they are a perfect keto ingredient! This recipe uses monk fruit sweetener, a low carb and healthy sweetener, along with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Pair these with a salad, with cauliflower and asparagus, or any other keto side you love. Best of all, you can season your chops ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze for later.
Amazing Dry Rub Chicken Thighs
Anyone who loves chicken will probably agree that the best parts are the thighs. Tender and full of flavor, your tastebuds will be singing when you take a bite, especially with crispy skin! In this Amazing Dry Rub Chicken Thighs recipe the natural flavors are ramped up to 10 with this delicious herby rub. And, at only 1g of net carbs per serving, it is the perfect core to a keto dinner that is easily paired with roasted cauliflower and asparagus.
Keto Tacos with Cheese Taco Shells
Think tacos are a complete no-go on keto? Well, in their corn shells they are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t replicate them. This recipe takes a bit of work but makes a classy dinner for two, or more if you find yourself with more mouths to feed! These Keto Cheese Tacos are tangy, full of flavor, and the perfect substitute for the high carb traditional version – some would even say the cheese ones are better. Plus, the homemade taco seasoning is fantastic and with none of those hidden carbs, so that’s definitely something you could use in other Mexican-style dishes.
Easy Keto Dinner for One
Hey, sometimes the best company is yourself, right? If you’re eating alone tonight or if your family aren’t ready to join you on your keto journey, you need some delicious easy and quick keto dinner recipes for one - and that’s exactly what we’ve got here.
Pan-Seared Salmon with Capers and Baby Artichokes
Isn’t your mouth watering at just the name of this dish? Fortunately, it not only looks and sounds great, it tastes amazing too. This Pan-Seared Salmon with Capers and Baby Artichokes recipe will help you forget you have any dietary restrictions at all. How can you feel restricted when food is this delicious? Salmon is the perfect keto-friendly fish; rich in protein, it also has those all-important omega-3 fatty acids that support heart health and are beneficial in so many other ways. This dish is elegant, full of flavor, and takes just 30 minutes. No halving measurements required!
Single-Serve Lasagna in a Bowl
If you're looking for super easy comfort food for one, this is it. This Single-Serve Lasagna in a Bowl is delicious, low-carb, and will freeze for easy meals later in the week. Once you’ve cooked the sausage (of your choice!) it takes almost no time at all: just five minutes to prep, two minutes in a microwave (or a little more in a regular oven) and it’s done. There are only seven ingredients and one of them is salt. Super easy, super tasty. If you make it in the oven you’ll even get that lovely crispiness on the cheese and around the edges!
Chicken Caprese Salad
Looking for something light to eat in the summer? Or super quick to throw together? This Chicken Caprese Salad is another easy and quick keto dinner recipe that is perfect when you’re too tired to cook, or need a salad to accompany your pork chop, chicken thigh, or steak. Avocado is loaded with monounsaturated fat, making it ideal for a keto diet, and super good for you. The smooth texture and mellow flavor of the avocado is balanced with the peppery flavor and crispness of the arugula. A light yet filling dinner idea that’s extremely versatile. Throw together two portions and you’ve got lunch for the next day as well!
Easy Keto Dinners for The Family
So, what do you do if you’re going keto and you’ve got a family to feed? Well, you’ve got two choices: make two sets of meals (or more, since so many family members have different likes, dislikes, and dietary requirements) or find tasty family keto dinner ideas to cook up instead! If you're a superhero in the kitchen maybe you’re happy to whip up five different versions of the same meal, and props to you if so! We’re a little bit lazier here (hence why all our foods are so convenient to “make” and eat), so we’ve found some great family keto dinner ideas to make instead that will keep everyone happy!
(Of course, mixing a keto diet with family members who are vegetarian, vegan, or dairy-free can be a challenge, but it absolutely can be done if necessary.)
Cheesy Creamy Low-Carb Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
This Cheesy Creamy Chicken Cordon Bleu won’t be getting any complaints at the dinner table. Perhaps a few oohs and ahhs, but who doesn’t like that? Sometimes, a comforting tangy bake is just what everyone needs after a hard day at work or school, and this recipe is simple, easy, and delicious. No one at the table will miss the breaded coating - and young ones won’t even know it was supposed to be there! With 44g of protein and 2g of sugar per serving, it’s the perfect keto dish. Pair with roasted cauliflower, roasted Brussel sprouts, and garlic asparagus for a complete keto dinner.
Low-Carb Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
Oh. My. God. If you haven’t yet discovered this Low-Carb Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole I am about to blow your mind - and your tastebuds! This is another easy recipe the whole family will adore - bar none. The prep is simple and it really does taste like a cheeseburger. If you are dying to head down to McDonald’s, Sonic, Whataburger - or all of them (though that might be quite the trip if you don’t live in the South!), this needs to be your go-to recipe.
And, if you do have any family members who can’t eat meat or cheese, you can easily make them their own alternative in another dish with plant-based meat, tofu, or dairy-free cheese.
Keto Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole
Think you have to give up pizza for dinner when you go keto? While yes, the traditional dough base does have to go, this Keto Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole hits all the right spots. This dinner is uncomplicated, easy on the wallet, and is so tasty everyone in the family will love it. It’s the perfect midweek or Friday night recipe, and you can always add in other keto-friendly veggies and meats to give it a little something extra.
Cheap Keto Dinner Recipes
Rumor has it that one major drawback of going keto is - it’s expensive… isn’t it? As with any diet, it is all relative to what you buy and whether or not you’re willing to put in a little extra effort in planning meals and in the kitchen. There are some of our favorite cheap keto dinner recipes and rest assured knowing that even just a cursory Google search will help you find many more delicious quick and easy dinner recipes that are kind to your bank account.
Bacon-Wrapped Keto Meatloaf
Meatloaf: a classic American dinner with low carbs and plenty of fat - ideal for the keto diet. Simple to make and cheap, what more could you want? This Bacon-Wrapped Keto Meatloaf is delicious and can be eaten over multiple meals, including for lunch.
Cheesy Spinach Jalapeno Baked Eggs
Eggs are cheap and perfect for keto, so these Cheesy Spinach Jalapeno Eggs will quickly become a staple in your household. This easy bake is made using just eggs, cheese, jalapenos and spinach, it looks great, and tastes even better. Easy to make and economical too, any keto-friendly egg bake or frittata recipe will be perfect for your dinners and lunches.
Hamburger Patties with Onions and Brussels Sprouts
There’s no point denying it - we all love a good hamburger, and this Hamburger Patties with Onions and Brussel Sprouts recipe does a delicious job of making it healthy and keto-friendly. To mix it up, try using pork, turkey, or ground lamb for a different taste without blowing your budget!
Kid-Friendly Keto Dinner Ideas
Yep, kids can be difficult to cook for. Many are picky and pretty much exclusively want to eat carbs, and most are likely not going to be thrilled if you serve them pork chops with mashed cauliflower and asparagus, no matter how good it actually tastes. It was up to them, they’d just eat cookies all day long. (Of course, we wouldn’t do that given the choice… right?)
Since we want our kids to eat the healthy food that is put in front of them, here are some great kid-friendly keto dinner ideas they’ll love as much as you do.
Egg Roll in a Bowl
Sounds too simple to taste good, right? Wrong. This Egg Roll in a Bowl is deceivingly simple and has all the flavor of egg rolls but without the carbs. Kids will be happy to eat it and you’ll be delighted with how easy it is to make - and that there’s only one pan to clean! You can make it with ground beef, pork, chicken, or game, and it’s certain to become one of those heavy rotation recipes in your armory!
Low-Carb Creamy Cottage Pie
This cottage pie recipe is the perfect keto comfort food for everyone. If you are on a keto diet, traditional cottage pie with all that carb-laden potato, is a no-go, but here Annissa Slusher reimagines it with healthy low-carb celeriac taking the place of those naughty tubers. Not only keto-friendly but gluten-free, grain-free and suitable for diabetics as well, so almost everyone can eat it!
No Noodle Keto Lasagna with Spinach and Meat
A meat eaters’ delight, this No Noodle Keto Lasagna recipe replaces the lasagna noodles with seasoned “meatza”, a flattened meatloaf like noodle substitute. The result is a perfect lasagna taste with almost no carbs! Easy to make, it can be cooked from frozen which can be a real lifesaver when all you want to do is eat dinner and chill out in front of the TV.
A kid friendly keto dinner idea list is not complete without adding in a mac-n-cheese recipe, this classic comfort food recipe is made with cauliflower and bacon. You and your kids will definitely be reaching for a second helping!
Keto Dinner Ideas For A Dinner Party
If you want to use going keto as an excuse to stop being sociable and spending money out at restaurants, go right ahead, but if you’re not going to survive long on this diet without some social eating, we’ve got your back. Here are some of our favorite keto-friendly dinner ideas for your next social gathering.
Amazing Low-Carb Beef Stew
This Amazing Low-Carb Beef Stew is made with celery root, turnips, or rutabaga to replace the usual starchy root vegetables and it contains no thickeners making it the perfect stew for the keto diet with a more refined and intense flavor. The real trick is to pay attention to the cooking so the beef is on the way to the melting in the mouth stage right before you add the vegetables. It looks and tastes sensational!
Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops with Pimentón and Mint
You won’t believe how herby, minty and smoky this Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops recipe from chef Nancy Silverton is. Mouthwateringly good, you can leave the lamb chops nestling in the herb marinade in your refrigerator until ready to cook and then they only take 11 minutes to cook and rest. Ideal for a dinner party when you just need to quickly cook up and serve!
Keto Family Crockpot Meals
If you’re often out late at work, hitting the gym, or ferrying kids to and from various extracurriculars, you need a little bit of ease in your life! Put your Crockpot or Slow Cooker to good use with these keto-friendly dinner ideas.
Crockpot Slow Cooker Crack Chicken
This Crockpot Crack Chicken recipe is super easy to make and the cream cheese and bacon give it a real depth of flavor. This is meaty, creamy, and completely addictive. What’s more, you can serve it on low carb keto-friendly buns, in a lettuce wrap or use it as a dip with low carb veggies.
Crockpot Meatballs and Zoodles
Who needs spaghetti when you’ve got zoodles? Zucchini noodles are sooo popular. Why? Because they are low carb and delicious, that’s why! This Crockpot Meatballs and Zoodles recipe combines them with succulent slow-cooked meatballs.
Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
Love Chinese food? This Mongolian Beef tastes like the best takeout ever, and when served over cauliflower rice it is keto-friendly, healthy, looks sensational, and preps in no time!
Best Keto Dinner Sides To Make
Looking for great sides for your protein staples? We’ve got you. Here are our favorites.
Cheesy Baked Asparagus
Don’t you just love asparagus? Combined with cream and cheese this Cheesy Baked Asparagus makes asparagus the number one veggie in your life!
Garlic Butter Mushrooms
We already know that mushrooms are super low in carbs and good for you, so here’s a recipe that makes them take center stage on your plate. This Garlic Butter Mushrooms recipe is fast and easy and pairs with just about anything.
HighKey Cauliflower Mash
We couldn’t let you get away without a shameless plug for the easiest keto-friendly side dish imaginable that your whole family (or your dinner party guests) will love! HighKey has perfected the cauliflower mash and believe me one bite of this and your potato craving will be kicked to the curb. Simply add hot water and a bit of butter and you will be saying “Potatoes? what potatoes?” Available in Cheddar Asiago or Cheddar Chipotle.
So there you are – more keto friendly dinner ideas than you’ll know what to do with. If you need more inspiration take a look around our site, as we’re always adding new recipes and lists of our favorites, or jump on Google to find new recipes from the keto community.
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