Keto Vegetables

What vegetables are best on a keto diet? There’s a simple rule:

  • Above ground vegetables are generally lower carb and therefore the best keto options.

  • Below ground vegetables, a.k.a. root vegetables, contain more carbs and should be consumed with care, especially potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Exceptions to that rule do exist. Read on for more details.

Above ground

Carb counts are provided as net carbs per 100 grams (3½ ounces) serving. The options to the left are solid keto vegetables.

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Carb counts represent net carbs for a standard serving size of 100 grams for each vegetable (3½ ounces, about the weight of an average tomato). For example, 100 grams of asparagus contain 2 net carbs while 100 grams of broccoli contain 4 net carbs.

Note that while the below ground vegetables range from 7 to 17 carbs per 100 grams, the above ground carbs pictures are all under 5 carbs per 100 gram serving. Completely different!

A word about onions: while they grow below ground, and are higher carb, onions as a seasoning can be added to foods because generally people do not eat too many onions at once. Be careful of caramelized onions, or sautéed onions, as these are easier to consume in larger amounts. Green onions, or scallions, as a topping for salads and dishes are fine in modest amounts.

Vegetables on keto

All foods are comprised of macronutrients – carbs, protein, and fat. While meat and most dairy are primarily made up of protein or fat, vegetables contain primarily carbs. On a strict ketogenic diet, with fewer than 5% of calories from carbs, it’s important to know which veggies are the lowest in carbs, particularly if your goal is to consume fewer than 20 grams of carbs per day.

On a keto diet, vegetables with less than 5 net carbs may be eaten relatively freely — have them with butter and other sauces!

It is hard to over-eat spinach, zucchini, lettuce, asparagus and kale on a keto diet. These can be considered keto vegetables.

You will have to be a bit more careful with slightly higher carb vegetables like bell peppers (especially red and yellow ones), Brussels sprouts, and green beans to keep below 20 grams of carbs a day on a keto diet. Their carbs can add up. One medium sized pepper can have 4-7 grams of carbs. 

While tomatoes are technically a fruit, you can have them on a keto diet, but again be careful as their carbs are a bit higher and, combined with other foods, may take you up over 20 grams net carbs a day if you consume too much.

If you are doing a more moderate or liberal keto diet, with more than 20 grams of carbs a day, you can eat as many above ground vegetables as you desire.

Vegetables and fat

You can use keto vegetables as a vehicle for fat by seasoning cooked vegetables with butter. Better yet, sauté or roast them in lard, coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee. If you eat dairy, you can make a cream sauce with heavy cream, cheese, and/or cream cheese.

Another excellent way to add fat to vegetables is by dipping them in salad dressings or other dipping sauces, or simply adding olive oil to your salad.

Note that if you have plenty of excess weight that you want to lose, you may not want to overdo the addition of fat. You may want to let your body burn excess body fat, instead of extra added dietary fat. In this case, just eat enough fat to not feel hungry.

Top 10 Keto Vegetables

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Here are ten fantastic keto vegetables, tasty and containing plenty of nutrients but very few carbs. We’ve attempted to rank them in order of popularity and usefulness in keto cooking. Carb counts are provided as net carbs per 100 gram (3½ ounce) serving. 

  1. Cauliflower – 3 g. The darling of many keto recipes, cauliflower has a mild flavor and is very versatile. It’s used as the base of staples such as cauliflower rice and cauliflower mash.

  2. Cabbage – 3 g. The humble cabbage becomes a standout when sautéed in butter or used as the base of our popular Asian cabbage stir fry. See more of our top cabbage recipes 

  3. Avocado – 2 g. Technically a fruit, but let’s not get fussy when it is chock full of nutrients, healthy fat, and delicious to boot! Whether eaten plain in slices, mashed as guacamole, or even baked, avocado is a keto go-to, with so many ways to be enjoyed. Here’s some great avocado recipes 

  4. Broccoli – 4 g. A versatile, tasty, and simple replacement for pasta, rice or potatoes. It can be steamed, fried in butter, drizzled in cheese sauce, baked au gratin, roasted with bacon… with so many ways to prepare it you’ll be saying ‘more trees, please!’.

  5. Zucchini – 3 g. Missing potatoes? Try our  zucchini fries or zucchini chips. Zucchini can also be spiralized to make keto pasta, like in this keto carbonara.

  6. Spinach – 1 g. Extremely low-carb, spinach is one of the most keto-friendly vegetables. It can be used raw in salads, baked into chips, sautéed, or creamed. Check out our very popular  keto frittata with fresh spinach or any of our many other spinach recipes 

  7. Asparagus – 2 g. Very filling, highly nutritious, and very low carb, asparagus was made for a high-fat sauce such as hollandaise or béarnaise. It’s a great keto vegetable. 

  8. Kale – 3 g. Although slightly higher carb than spinach, use kale raw in salads or bake into chips, sauté in lard, or use as a base instead of pasta. 

  9. Green beans – 4 g. Green beans can be roasted, steamed, or stewed, but may taste even better cooked in some type of fat such as bacon fat or butter. 

  10. Brussels sprouts – 5 g. These baby cabbages pack a lot of flavor and are excellent roasted until crispy or served in a creamy sauce.