When following a low-carb or keto diet, choosing the right rice is crucial. Not all rice is created equal when it comes to carbohydrate content. The amount of carbs in rice depends largely on the type and serving size. By picking varieties of rice that are naturally lower in carbs and controlling portions, you can enjoy rice while still keeping total carbs low.
Here are quick answers to common questions about low carb rice:
What rice has the least carbs?
The rice with the lowest amount of net carbs is shirataki rice, with less than 1 gram of net carbs per serving. Shirataki rice is made from konjac root and has a very small amount of calories and carbs.
What is the lowest carb white rice?
Short grain white rice has slightly fewer carbs than other types of white rice, with about 16 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup cooked serving. Compared to brown rice which has around 23 grams per 1/2 cup.
Is basmati rice low carb?
Basmati rice is a little lower in carbs than most other types of white rice. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked basmati rice has around 19 grams of net carbs.
Is cauliflower rice low carb?
Yes, cauliflower rice is very low in carbs. It contains only 2-3 grams of net carbs per 1 cup serving, since it is made by pulsing cauliflower florets into rice-sized pieces.
Is brown rice low carb?
Brown rice is slightly higher in carbs than white rice, with 23 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup cooked serving. So brown rice cannot be considered low carb compared to other rice options.
Comparing net carb counts in different rice types
The total carb count doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to rice. Some of the carbohydrates come from fiber, which does not significantly impact blood sugar. To find the carbs that do affect blood sugar, we calculate net carbs by subtracting fiber. Here is a comparison of the net carb count in 1/2 cup cooked servings of different rice varieties:
|White rice (short grain)
|Basmati rice (white)
|Brown rice (long grain)
|Less than 1 g
As you can see, white short grain, basmati and wild rice are lower in net carbs than brown and black rice. Cauliflower and shirataki rice are extremely low carb swaps for regular rice.
Details on low carb rice options
Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the best low carb rice choices:
Shirataki rice is hands down the lowest carb rice option. It is made from the konjac root, which is native to Japan. Konjac is cultivated and processed into a starch noodle-like product that has virtually zero net carbs.
To make shirataki rice, the konjac root is cut into small rice-shaped pieces. Just a 1 cup serving of shirataki rice has less than 1 gram of carbohydrates and only 10 calories. It’s also high in the fiber glucomannan, which can help with appetite control.
Shirataki rice has no flavor on its own, so it easily absorbs the flavors of whatever sauce or seasoning it’s cooked with. Many people use shirataki rice as a substitute for regular rice in recipes like fried rice and rice bowls. It has a gelatinous texture that is best suited to dishes with a lot of flavorful sauces and ingredients.
Riced cauliflower has exploded in popularity as a low carb alternative to rice. It is simply cauliflower that has been finely grated or processed into tiny pieces the size of rice grains. With just 2-3 grams of net carbs per cup, it’s a great rice substitute on low carb and keto diets.
One of the appeals of cauliflower rice is its neutral flavor and color. It can be seasoned with herbs and spices and prepared just like regular rice, while keeping the carb count extremely low. Cauliflower rice goes well in everything from curry dishes to fried rice.
You can easily make cauliflower rice at home with a box grater or food processor. But it’s also widely available pre-riced in the fresh and frozen sections of grocery stores for convenience.
Basmati is an aromatic long grain white rice that originates from regions of India and Pakistan. It has a distinct nutty aroma and fluffy texture when cooked. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked basmati rice has around 19 grams of net carbs, lower than most other types of white rice.
The reason basmati rice is slightly lower in carbs is because it has a lower percentage of starch compared to other white rice varieties. Basmati rice is a nice option for low carb diets because it has a pleasant flavor and texture, making it more satisfying in smaller portion sizes.
Short Grain White Rice
Short grain white rice refers to white rice types like Japanese white rice and Korean white rice that have a short, plump grain compared to long grain rice. Short grain rice has slightly fewer carbs with around 16 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup cooked.
The grains of short grain rice tend to cling together more than long grain, creating a sticky and chewy texture when cooked. Beyond having marginally fewer carbs than other white rices, short grain rice can be satisfying in smaller portions for low carb diets due to its pleasantly chewy texture.
Wild rice isn’t actually rice at all. It’s a whole grain that comes from a semiaquatic grass plant native to North America. Though it has a similar appearance to rice when cooked, it’s nuttier in flavor and higher in protein.
A 1/2 cup serving of cooked wild rice contains around 21 grams of net carbs. So while it’s not the absolute lowest carb rice choice, it does have fewer carbs than brown or white rice. It also contains more fiber and protein than traditional rice.
The bold, savory flavor of wild rice means you can use less of it in a dish while still getting lots of flavor. Just watch portion sizes, as too much wild rice can add up in carbs. Use it combined with riced cauliflower or shirataki rice for an added texture and flavor boost.
Tips for enjoying rice on a low carb diet
If you’re following a low carb or ketogenic diet, you can still enjoy moderate amounts of rice in your meal plan. Here are some tips to keep carb counts low:
Focus on high protein
Eating rice along with high protein foods can help control portions and hunger. Some examples of keto-friendly proteins to enjoy with rice include fattier cuts of meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, bone broth and low carb dairy products like cheese.
Add healthy fats
Combining rice with healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters can also prevent overeating. The fats promote satiety to help the smaller side of rice feel more satisfying.
Stick to a 1/4 cup or less cooked serving per meal, depending on your carb allowance for the day. Measure rice before cooking so you know the exact portion size. Avoid going back for seconds.
Make it fried rice
Turning your rice into flavor-packed fried rice is a great way to make a smaller amount more satisfying. Try cooking it with egg, shrimp, green onions, garlic and sesame oil for a quick keto fried rice.
Use it as a side
Instead of eating rice as the main part of your meal, enjoy it as a modest side to protein and veggies. This automatically controls portions and prevents over-reliance on rice as the only carb source.
Mix with riced veggies
Mixing a spoonful of regular rice with riced cauliflower or shirataki rice can give you the texture you crave while reducing overall carbs. Just a sprinkle of regular rice flavored with herbs and spices can go a long way.
Sample low carb rice meals
Here are a few meal ideas that incorporate rice while keeping net carbs around 15-20 grams per meal:
Chipotle Chicken Rice Bowl
- 1/4 cup cauliflower rice
- 1/4 cup cooked short grain brown rice
- 3 ounces shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1/4 sliced avocado
- 2 tablespoons salsa
- 1/4 cup shredded lettuce
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice
- 1 cup riced fresh cauliflower
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Coconut Curry Shirataki Rice
- 1 bag shirataki rice, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
- 1/2 cup diced chicken breast
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
Low carb rice alternatives
In addition to cauliflower rice and shirataki rice, there are some other creative low carb alternatives for replacing rice:
Miracle Noodle Rice
Made from konjac like shirataki noodles, Miracle Noodle makes a rice-shaped konjac product that has zero net carbs. It works well in rice dishes with sauces.
Hearts of Palm Rice
Chopped hearts of palm can be pulsed into rice-sized pieces as a quirky, low carb rice sub. Each 1/2 cup serving has around 8 grams of net carbs.
Shredded or riced zucchini makes a nice low carb stand-in for rice with about 4 grams of net carbs per cup.
Celery Root Rice
Celery root can be diced and pulsed into rice texture with 3 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup serving.
Diced jicama can also be processed into rice-like pieces. It has 5 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup.
Cooked, drained and finely chopped spinach at 2 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup is a nutrient-packed rice sub.
Nuts and Seeds
Finely chopped nuts like pecans or seeds like pumpkin seeds can mimic rice texture while adding healthy fats and protein.
Read labels carefully
When purchasing packaged rice products like cauliflower rice and shirataki rice, take a close look at the nutrition label. Some processed versions may contain added starches, sweeteners and preservatives that can impact carb counts.
Ideally, choose products with straightforward, whole food ingredients and account for these convenience products in your daily carb tally if following a strict low carb diet.
Consider going grain-free
Another option is ditching grains like rice altogether on a very low carb or keto diet. You may be surprised that you don’t miss rice once you adjust to delicious grain-free meals built around veggies, protein, healthy fats and other low carb options.
Eliminating rice and other grains can help some people overcome overreliance on carbohydrate-heavy meals and achieve better metabolic health. Listen to your body’s response as you reduce or remove rice from your diet.
Experiment with different rice varieties
Finding the tastiest low carb rice alternatives requires some experimentation. Try out different types like cauliflower, shirataki and short grain white rice to see which you like best.
Mixing small amounts of regular rice with riced veggies or shirataki can satisfy a craving for rice texture with fewer carbs. Prepare rice dishes with plenty of fat and protein to balance out the carbs.
Focus on making any rice accompanied by an array of veggies, quality protein, healthy fats and bold seasonings. This allows you to maximize satisfaction from smaller servings of rice.
Make diet adjustments based on goals and response
Your ideal rice intake depends on factors like your total daily carb target, activity level, metabolic health and weight goals.
Track your serving sizes and response to figure out your personal carb tolerance. You may be able to enjoy 1/2 cup servings of rice two or three times a week with no problem. Or you may need to stick to just 1/4 cup servings to maintain ketosis.
Listen to your body and let how you feel be your guide in finding the right rice fit for your low carb or keto diet.
Despite being higher in carbs than other options, rice can be part of a low carb lifestyle when careful choices are made. Prioritizing the lowest carb rice varieties like shirataki rice, cauliflower rice, basmati rice and short grain white rice enables you to enjoy moderate portion sizes.
Combining rice with plenty of fats, proteins and veggies is key, along with keeping serving sizes modest. Experiment to find your own personal tolerance level for including rice in a low carb or ketogenic eating pattern.