Are you on a low carb diet, and wondering if there is low carb rice that you can enjoy in your diet?
If so, you are not alone. Many of us love eating rice and would love to continue eating them even while we are on low carb diets!
The good news is, there is low carb rice that you CAN enjoy, and there are numerous low carb rice substitutes that are so delicious that you may not want to go back eating rice afterwards. Ok, maybe occasionally ☺
What Type of Rice Is Low Carb Rice?
The low carb rice you can enjoy on a low carb diet is wild rice. Wild rice is technically a seed of a type of grass, and not a grain (1). However, from a culinary perspective, it is essentially viewed the same as rice, due to its very similar shape, texture, and taste.
Wild rice is much more nutritious than white rice, and even has three times more fiber than white rice.
Here is a list of health benefits of wild rice (2) (3):
- Contains three times more fiber than white rice
- A single-cup serving of wild rice provides 15% of the phosphorus the body needs in 1 day, and the same amount of zinc and magnesium
- Wild rice contains a high amount of antioxidants
- Wild rice is a great source of folate, which may help prevent birth defects
- Wild rice is gluten-free
Carbohydrates In Wild Rice
So, how much carbohydrates are in wild rice (4)?
Wild rice has 40% less carbs (excluding fiber) than rice, and has 31% less calories than white rice.
See below a comparison of rice carb count between wild rice, brown rice, and white rice.
|Carbs Excluding Fiber Per Cup||Fiber||Calories Per Cup|
|Cooked Wild Rice||32.0g||3.0g||166 calories|
|Cooked Brown Rice||42.3g||3.5g||218 calories|
|Cooked White Rice||53.2g||0.0g||242 calories|
Since wild rice also contains fiber, it will be absorbed more slowly into the body than white rice, which helps keep the insulin more stable, which is good for weight loss.
Another benefit of wild rice is that it has more a chewy texture, forcing you to chew it longer than white rice, which helps you eat slower and digest the food better.
How To Cook Wild Rice
One tasty way to enjoy wild rice is simply to add it to stews and soups. You will end up with a very hearty meal, with low carb rice. This is particularly ideal for people on a very low-carb diet or a ketogenic diet, since you don’t need to use a lot of wild rice.
Sprinkle in wild rice to the stew or soup, and cook until the wild rice is to the tenderness you prefer, usually 20-30 minutes.
To make wild rice as its own dish:
1. Combine 1 cup of wild rice with 4 cups of water in a pot
2. Bring to a boil
3. Lower heat to a simmer, and simmer for 40-60 minutes or until the rice is tender to your liking. While simmering, add more water if necessary.
Wild rice can be enjoyed in small volumes, since you don’t need much volume for wild rice to provide satiety, due to its fiber content and chewy texture.
Best Low Carb Rice Substitutes
There are also multiple low carb rice substitutes that have the tummy “filling” effect we all enjoy when we eat rice.
Cauliflower only has 1.8 grams of carbs (excluding fiber) per cup, and 29 calories per cup (5), which makes it a perfect diet and low-carb food. Being so low-carb and low-calorie, you can eat a large volume of cauliflower rice.
Cauliflower rice is probably now the most popular low carb alternative to rice. It is now available in many grocery stories pre-packaged and ready to use. If you can’t find it your local grocery store, try Trader Joe’s or Amazon. They both carry it.
Cauliflower rice can also be made easily at home. All you need is a food grater or a food processor to shred a fresh cauliflower head.
Cauliflower Rice Recipe (6)
1. Shred the cauliflower head with a grater or grater attachment on a food processor
2. Heat up coconut oil or butter in a skillet using medium heat, add the shredded cauliflower, and stir fry until the cauliflower is softened, usually 5 to 10 minutes
3. Add salt and optionally herbs such as curry, paprika or turmeric
On a side note, mashed cauliflower is also very delicious and fulfilling. Here is the recipe.
Mashed Cauliflower Recipe
This is an excellent substitute to mashed potatoes.
1. Steam cauliflower in a big pot until tender
2. Using a hand blender, mash the cauliflower
3. Mix in organic butter
Butternut Squash Rice
If you are looking for a rice substitute that is a bit sweeter and perfect for a Risotto, Butternut Squash Rice is a perfect alternative. Butternut Squash Rice has 14.9 grams of carbs (excluding fiber) per cup, and 82 calories per cup (10).
Butter Squash Rice is easy to make. Peel and cut your butternut squash into cubes. If you have it, wear disposable kitchen gloves as the butternut squash can stain your fingers.
Butternut Squash Rice Recipe
1. Slightly soften the butternut squash: You can either steam it for 10 minutes until soft or put it in the microwave on high for 5 minutes
2. Process it: Put the softened butternut squash in the food processor and pulse until the butternut squash looks like rice. Pulse and DO NOT keep it running. Otherwise you will end up with mashed butternut squash, which can be a substitute for mashed potatoes, but that is a different story : )
3. Heat up coconut oil or butter in a skillet using medium heat, add the shredded butternut squash and 1 cup of water of vegetable broth and cook covered for about 5 minutes
4. Remove the lid and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated
Another good low carb alternative is rutabaga rice. Rutabaga is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. In the US, rutabaga is also known as Swedish turnip or yellow turnip.
Rutabaga rice has 12.4 grams of carbs (excluding fiber) per cup, and 72 calories per cup (10).
Rutabaga Rice Recipe
1. Peel and cut 2 rutabaga into cubes.
2. Process it: Put the rutabaga cubes in the food processor and pulse until the rutabaga looks like rice. Pulse and DO NOT keep it running. Otherwise you will end up with mashed rutabaga.
3. Heat up coconut oil or butter in a skillet using medium heat, add the shredded rutabaga and 1/3 cup of water and cook covered for about 5 minutes
4. Strain water, add butter and salt & enjoy!
Miracle Rice, Shirataki Rice
This is something entirely new.
Miracle rice or shirataki rice has 0.0 grams of carbs (excluding fiber) per cup, and zero calories per cup (10). Yes, this is not a typo. This rice substitute has no calories and no carbs.
Miracle rice or shirataki rice is made from konnyaku flour. Konnyaku has been a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine for a very long time, and you can find them in many Japanese dishes like Sukiyaki, Oden, or Nabe (stew).
Konnyaku is also popular in Japan for its health benefits.
Miracle rice or shirataki rice is pre-packed food which makes it convenient to use. If your local grocery store does not carry it, you can buy it on Amazon.
Miracle Rice Recipe
1. Open the bag and rinse for 1 min with cold water
2. Bring a pot of hot water to boil, add the miracle rice and boil for 1 minute
3. Strain water, add butter and salt & enjoy!
While not having the texture of rice, green peas have 16.2 grams of carbs (excluding fiber) per cup, and 134 calories per cup (7) and can be another option of low carb eating. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
Green peas make a good rice substitute due to its fiber content, which prevents sugar spikes and makes you fill full for a longer period.
Simply mix cooked green peas with butter. If you add sautéed onions to them, they will taste even better.
If you love eating spaghetti, zucchini spaghetti is one of the closest low-carb alternatives to pasta.
Zucchini contains only 3.1 grams of carbs (excluding fiber) per cup, and 21 calories per cup (8). Essentially you can eat zucchini all day long, without worrying about carbs or calories.
It is best to eat it raw, but you can also stir fry them very quickly to warm them up and mix in any sauces.
In any rice-based or pasta-based dish, you can replace the rice or pasta with zucchini spaghetti. It is very delicious, and you may not want to go back to regular pasta afterwards.
Best Way To Eat Any Rice
Here is a trick you can use whenever you eat any type of rice, particularly white rice since that is high-carb and highly processed. As a matter of fact, this applies to any high-carb foods you may want to enjoy once in a while, such as potatoes and bread.
When you eat rice, try to eat them together with good fats and/or fiber. Good fats and fiber help slow down the absorption of starch from the rice into your body (9). As a result, you will end up with slower absorption of sugar converted from starch into your body, which will help you feel full longer and prevent sugar spikes.
In other words, you can limit the damage of eating high-carb foods such as white rice by eating them with fiber and good fats.
Low Carb Rice FAQs
Which rice has the least amount of carbs?
Wild rice has the least amount of carbs with 32.0g carbs per cup. By comparison white rice has 53.2g carbs per cup and brown rice has 42.3g carbs per cup. If you include rice alternatives, then miracle rice or shirataki rice has the least amount of carbs with zero grams of carbs per cup.
Is there a low carb rice?
There are multiple solutions for low carb rice. If you want to eat proper rice, wild rice is your best choice. If you are open to rice alternatives, there are multiple low carb rice alternatives including cauliflower rice, butternut squash rice, rutabaga rice, and miracle rice/shirataki rice.
Can you have rice on a keto diet?
Most keto diets recommend less than 20 grams of carbs a day. With that, it will be difficult to eat white, brown or wild rice on a keto diet. You can, however, eat low carb rice alternatives like cauliflower rice, butternut squash rice, rutabaga rice, or miracle rice/shirataki rice.
(1) Dr. Weil; Cooking With Grains: Wild Rice: https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/cooking-cookware/cooking-with-grains-wild-rice/
(2) Dr. Mercola; What Kind of Rice Is Best?:https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/23/rice-types-benefits.aspx
(3) Dr. Axe; Wild Rice Can Boost Energy & Increase Bone Mass: https://draxe.com/wild-rice/
(4), (5), (7), (8) CalorieKing; https://www.calorieking.com
(6) Diet Doctor; Low-carb cauliflower rice; https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/low-carb-cauliflower-rice
(9) Dr. Mercola; Eating Fat Won’t Make You Fat but These 10 Things Will: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/08/08/eating-fat-wont-make-you-fat-but-these-10-things-will.aspx
(10) United States Department of Agriculture; Agricultural Research Service; National Nutrient Database; https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/302081?manu=&fgcd=&ds=&q=Squash,%20winter,%20butternut,%20cooked,%20baked,%20without%20salt