What Chinese food is lowest in carbs?

Quick Answer

Chicken and vegetable stir-fries, egg drop soup, boiled shrimp, and steamed fish are some of the lowest carb Chinese food options. By avoiding rice, noodles, dumplings, and breaded dishes you can significantly reduce the carbs in a Chinese meal. Focus on chicken, seafood, eggs, and non-starchy vegetables for the lowest carb choices.

Lowest Carb Chinese Food Entrees

When trying to reduce carbs in Chinese food, it helps to choose protein-focused dishes made with minimal added sugar and starch. Here are some of the lowest carb Chinese entree options:

  • Chicken and vegetable stir-fry – Only the small amount of oil or sauce adds carbs, allowing you to control the total.
  • Kung Pao chicken – Spicy chicken with vegetables and peanuts. Avoid the rice or noodles.
  • Beef and broccoli – Tender beef and crisp broccoli in sauce. Skip the high carb side dishes.
  • Mongolian beef – Thinly sliced beef with onions and vegetables in savory brown sauce.
  • Sweet and sour chicken – Chicken with pineapple, bell pepper, onions in tangy sauce. Hold the rice.
  • Egg drop soup – Brothy soup with wispy egg strands. Very low carb.
  • Hot and sour soup – Spicy broth with tofu, vegetables and egg. Limit rice or noodles.
  • Egg foo young – Omelet stuffed with meat and vegetables. Skip the high carb gravy.
  • Steamed fish – Fresh fish steamed with ginger and green onions. Little to no carbs.

The key is avoiding the higher carb sauces and keeping rice, noodles, dumplings, pancakes, and deep fried ingredients off your plate. Load up on non-starchy veggies like broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, cabbage, and bok choy to fill up without a lot of carbs.

Low Carb Chinese Appetizers

Many classic Chinese appetizers tend to be fried and starchy, but here are some lighter carb options to start your meal:

  • Egg rolls without the wrapper – Cabbage, mushrooms and meat wrapped in lettuce instead of fried dough.
  • Potstickers without the wrapper – Filled with meat and veggies, steamed instead of pan fried.
  • Crab rangoons without the wrapper – Crab and cream cheese mixture baked in small cups instead of fried wontons.
  • Scallion pancakes – Made with almond or coconut flour instead of white flour to reduce carbs.
  • Fresh summer rolls – Rice paper wraps stuffed with shrimp, vegetables and herbs.
  • Hot and sour soup – See entree section.
  • Egg drop soup – See entree section.
  • Shrimp cocktail – Large boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce.
  • Chicken lettuce wraps – Minced chicken in lettuce cups instead of wheat wraps.

Focus on the fillings and avoid the starchy wrappers, noodles and fried components. Fresh vegetable-based appetizers are naturally low carb options.

Lowest Carb Side Dishes

Popular Chinese side dishes like fried rice, lo mein, and dumplings are very high in carbs. To reduce carbs at your Chinese meal:

  • Skip rice or noodles – Choose veggie dishes instead.
  • Sub shirataki noodles for wheat noodles – Shirataki noodles are made from yam husks and very low carb.
  • Ask for brown rice – It has more fiber and fewer carbs than white rice.
  • Avoid pancakes, dumplings and buns – Choose shrimp or egg dishes instead.
  • Replace sugary sauces with soy sauce.
  • Order steamed vegetables – Broccoli, string beans, bok choy and snow peas.
  • Add a side salad with vinaigrette dressing.
  • For soup, stick to broth-based like egg drop or hot and sour.

Focus on getting your carbs from fibrous vegetables rather than refined grains and flours. Even better, skip the rice and noodle side dishes altogether.

Low Carb Chinese Desserts

Instead of traditional Chinese desserts that are loaded with carbs like rice balls, custards, and pancakes, opt for lighter fare:

  • Fresh fruit – Melon, berries, stone fruits, citrus.
  • Chia pudding – Made with coconut or almond milk and sweetened with monkfruit.
  • Green tea ice cream – Flavored with matcha powder.
  • Yogurt with nuts and cinnamon.
  • Coconut milk panna cotta – Flavored with vanilla and ginger.

Avoid sweet bean desserts, fried sesame balls, banana spring rolls, and dishes made with rice flour or white flour. Focus on fresh fruit or dairy-based treats made with low carb sweeteners.

Lowest Carb Chinese Sauces

Many Chinese sauces and cooking wines are loaded with sugar. To keep your meal low carb:

  • Ask for sauces on the side – Then you control how much you use.
  • Skip syrupy sauces like sweet & sour, plum and teryaki.
  • Choose savory sauces like soy, oyster, fish, chili and garlic.
  • Avoid rice wine, Mirin or Shaoxing cooking wine.
  • Use garlic, fresh ginger, rice vinegar, chili paste, sesame oil to add flavor.
  • Replace cornstarch with xanthan gum to thicken sauces.

Carefully inspect Chinese sauces for added sugars. Savory umami flavors will satisfy without the high carb sweetness.

Low Carb Chinese Meal Ideas

Here are some balanced Chinese meal ideas with less than 30g net carbs:

Shrimp & Veggie Stir Fry
– Shrimp and vegetables sautéed in peanut oil with garlic, ginger and soy sauce.
– Side salad with sesame dressing

Kung Pao Chicken
– Diced chicken breast sautéed with vegetables, chili peppers and peanuts.
– Steamed broccoli with oyster sauce

Beef & Snow Peas
– Sliced flank steak stir fried with snow peas and mushrooms.
– Small portion of brown rice

Mongolian Beef
– Thinly sliced beef and onions in savory brown sauce.
– Sauteed string beans

Egg Foo Young Omelet
– Chinese omelet filled with ground pork and bean sprouts.
– Hot and sour soup
– Fresh melon

Tips for Ordering Low Carb Chinese Takeout

Ordering takeout makes it harder to customize your meal, but there are still ways to reduce carbs:

  • Choose entrees focused on lean protein and vegetables.
  • Skip anything breaded, fried or in high carb sauces.
  • Order a la carte instead of combo meals with rice/noodles.
  • Ask for no pancakes, crackers, fried noodles, rice or desserts.
  • Request extra veggies instead of rice or noodles with entrees.
  • Use hot chili oil and soy sauce instead of high carb sauces.
  • Add a side salad with vinaigrette or chicken broth soup.

With thoughtful choices, you can still stay low carb with convenient Chinese takeout and delivery.

Low Carb Replacements for High Carb Favorites

You don’t have to give up your favorite Chinese dishes to reduce carbs. Try these swaps:

High Carb Low Carb Swap
Fried rice Cauliflower fried rice
Chow mein noodles Shirataki noodles
Dumplings Dumpling fillings wrapped in lettuce
Sesame chicken Air fried or baked chicken with sesame oil
Egg rolls Fresh summer rolls in rice paper
Scallion pancakes Omelet with scallions

With a little creativity, you can recreate your favorite Chinese dishes and still keep carbs low by swapping high carb ingredients.

Common Questions about Low Carb Chinese Food

What are the highest carb foods at Chinese restaurants?

Rice, noodles, buns, dumplings, egg rolls, fried rice, sweet sauces and desserts tend to be highest in carbs on Chinese menus.

What are the best low carb substitutions?

Cauliflower rice, shirataki noodles, lettuce wraps, and skipping rice, noodles and pancakes are good low carb swaps.

Is brown rice better than white rice?

Brown rice is slightly better with more fiber and nutrients, but white rice is nearly pure starch. Limiting rice altogether is best for low carb.

Can I eat sweet and sour chicken or orange chicken?

The sauces in these dishes tend to be thickened with cornstarch and loaded with sugar, raising the carbs. Ask for sauce on the side or plain chicken stir fry instead.

What about low carb alcoholic drinks?

Dry wines and spirits like scotch, whiskey and vodka are lowest in carbs. Avoid liqueurs, sweet wines, sake and beer when possible.


You can enjoy delicious Chinese food on a low carb diet by focusing on protein dishes like chicken, beef, shrimp, and egg-based entrees. Load your plate with steamed veggies instead of rice or noodles. For sauces, stick with lower carb options like soy, garlic, chili and oyster sauce. With mindful menu choices, you can still savor Chinese cuisine while maintaining low carb eating.

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