Chinese food isn’t always the most diet-friendly, especially when it comes to being a keto food. Some of the sauces and rice or noodles are not exactly low carb/high protein options. Satisfying your Chinese food cravings while sticking to a keto diet is challenging but not necessarily impossible.
Some of the best Chinese foods for a keto diet are:
- Asian broccoli
- Roast pork and duck
- Crispy skinned pork belly
- Salted duck
- Bok choy
- Stir-fried beef
Being on a Keto diet doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite cuisines, including Chinese food. Keep reading to help find the way to your favorite Chinese flavors while remaining on the keto diet. Keep reading for keto-friendly Chinese foods and substitutions you can make for some of the non-keto approved foods.
Best Chinese Foods on a Keto Diet
Drum roll, please… the moment you’ve been waiting for, a complete list of keto-friendly Chinese foods that you can find on most Chinese restaurant menus. Or, if you’re an at-home chef, you can also do any of these in your kitchen.
Shabu- Shabu is a hot meal that is brought to your table. It is a brothy soup with thin slices of beef and is almost always served with vegetables. This is a good option since it allows you to manage good portion controls.
This soup, or hot pot as it is sometimes called, also can be ordered with zucchini noodles. It is typically flavored with none keto-friendly vegetables. These vegetables can be removed before eating, and keto-friendly vegetables can be added. Other recipes are available; however, the simplest recipe can be found here.
This Chicken Satay dish is composed of chicken marinated in unsweetened coconut milk, soy and fish sauce, and fresh lime juice mixture.
It is also served with a low-carb peanut dipping sauce composed of coconut milk, peanut butter, soy and fish sauce, lime juice, minced garlic, and hot chili Sriracha sauce.
These are served as a skewer and can also be modified based on the amount of protein you need. To find this recipe to make at home, visit Ketowize.
Egg Roll in a Bowl
Egg Roll in a Bowl is very similar to an egg roll, the only keto-friendly. It contains meat and cabbage that has been sauteed in a sesame seed oil. It is served with Sriracha hot sauce for an added spicy flavor, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. You can also add toppings such as:
- Sesame Seeds
- Green onions
For the recipe to do at home, just visit Ketowize.
Roast Duck or Peking Duck
This dish consists of a roast duck with a thin but crispy skin. A side that goes well with this dish is steamed green vegetables such as:
- Bok choy
- Choy sum
- Chinese cabbage
There is a great recipe that makes this even more keto-friendly than natural sugar. This recipe uses orange to flavor the chicken and creates an orange sauce. To find this recipe visit Aussie Keto Queen.
Crispy Roast Pork Belly
This is a great keto-friendly recipe that can be made at home or a restaurant. It is marinated with spices and then roasted for a long period of time until the skin becomes so crispy that it is almost like eating bacon.
Crispy roast pork belly has a good amount of fat that is important for a keto diet. To go with this dish, you can order sliced cucumber and a vegetable stir-fry. Just make sure that you let the chefs know not to put cornstarch or add sugar to any sauces.
Steamed Chicken and Broccoli
This dish is a beautiful mix of steamed meat, in this case, chicken, with broccoli. When ordering this meal, it is important to order with no sauce or rice. You can also swap out the chicken for one of these proteins:
Any steamed protein and veggie combo is usually a safe keto-friendly choice, as long as there’s no sauce or starchy components. As tempting as it is, you have to skip the rice. Just make sure to tell the chef no cornstarch or sugar.
Pork Chop Suey
This is a stir-fry dish that is made up of meat and vegetables. It is typically served with sauce and rice. To make this a great dish for your keto diet, order this without sauce and rice, and make sure that the meat is not breaded. This dish can be ordered with:
It also contains vegetables such as:
- Bean sprouts
- Bamboo Shoots
- Water chestnuts
Hunan or Szechuan Chicken
These dishes come with vegetables and chicken tossed in a soy or oyster sauce and served with rice. Of course, you’ll want to skip that rice. Vegetables that are included in this dish are:
- Bell peppers
- Water chestnuts
- Baby corn
To make this a keto-friendly food, just order without sauce and rice. If you’re eating at a restaurant or ordering take-out, you might even ask your server to skip the rice altogether, so you’re not tempted to snag a scoop.
Moo Goo Gai Pan
Consisting of a stir-fry made with chicken and vegetables, this dish is served with sauce and rice. Vegetables can consist of bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, snow peas, and mushrooms. When ordering, you may be given a choice between an egg roll or soup.
To make this dish more keto-friendly, try ordering without the rice or the sauce and opt for a soup like egg drop, wonton, or hot and sour.
Pork Egg Foo Young
This egg-based dish is almost like an omelet. You order this with meat and vegetables. It generally is served with a gravy sauce as well. Sometimes you can order this in various meats such as pork, chicken, and shrimp. It also has a vegetable-only option.
To make this a keto-friendly dish, just order with no sauce or rice and make your protein option pork because pork contains the most fat.
This dish is composed of a marinated chicken, usually in soy sauce, that is served with vegetables and roasted almonds. Sometimes cashews can be substituted for almonds. This is a great keto-friendly meal; however, order this without rice or sauce with a side of egg drop soup in place of an egg roll.
Almond chicken closely compares to the traditional fried chicken with its almond breading, just without all the carbs. This recipe also contains substitutions to help you achieve the keto-friendly, low carb Chinese Almond Chicken that you are looking for. To find this recipe visit The Sugar Free Diva.
Moo Shu Beef
This meat and vegetable stir-fry is tossed with a hoisin sauce and served with thin rolled pancakes that resemble tortillas. This dish can also be served with lettuce wraps. There are different meat options to choose from.
Order this without the pancakes and sauce to make this a keto-friendly food, adding a soup in place of egg rolls or rice.
Chicken with Ginger Garlic Sauce
Chicken with ginger garlic sauce is served with chicken, vegetables, rice, and sauce. Usually, it is better to leave the sauce out, but since this is a fresh ginger sauce, there are good benefits from eating small portions. Making this a keto-friendly dish is simple. Just order this dish with boiled or grilled meat, sauce on the side, and no rice or egg rolls.
Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken is often served as a dry-rubbed chicken with vegetables, chili peppers, peanuts, and rice. This is a really good option, especially if you like spicy food. You just have to order this without rice and sauce, but substitute that egg roll for a soup instead.
Most recipes for this dish can seem confusing. The recipe found on Cast Iron Keto uses substitutions and has nutritional information so you can view exactly what the total carbs will be before you fix this dish.
Happy Family is a great keto-friendly food choice. It consists of different meats and seafood. The different types of meat include:
There are mixed vegetables in a brown sauce with rice served with Happy Family. Avoiding the sauce and the rice makes this a great keto-friendly dish. Egg rolls may also be offered, so be prepared to be tempted. These can be substituted for a soup, like the deliciously salty egg drop. Just avoid those crispy little crunchy fried wonton bits that are served with the soup.
Fast, Frozen Keto Chinese Meals
Perhaps you want Chinese but maybe don’t have the time to go out or make some. There are a variety of these fast, simple, but tasty meals that you can use and that are keto-friendly.
Finding keto-friendly meals maybe a little more difficult than just any other frozen or quick meals, but after understanding the types and what to look for, there shouldn’t be any problem with finding them.
Here are some frozen, fast meals:
- Five One Eight Kitchen Steak Chili with Refried Beans is a keto-friendly meal with beef, bacon, eggplant, beans, onions, and peppers as a chili served with scallions and cauliflower rice.
- Atkins Pork Verde is made of pulled pork, bell peppers, and onions in green salsa with Monterey Jack cheese
- Healthy Choice Power bowl Chicken Marinara with Cauliflower Rice is full of chicken, vegetables, and cauliflower rice in a Parmesan cheese marinara.
For more ideas on what to get for a frozen Chinese keto-friendly meal, visit healthline.
Adapting Low Carb Chinese Foods for A Keto Diet
Many Chinese dishes can be adapted or changed to help fit the lifestyle associated with eating on a keto diet. Depending on your own cooking skills and whether or not you’re ready to experiment in the kitchen, some of these are easy to adapt at home with the right ingredients. Other times, it’s easiest to ask someone else to make the substitutions for you. That way, you know it’s done right.
If you plan to go out for a meal at a Chinese restaurant, then there are some adaptations you can make for that low carb, keto-friendly meal. Small adjustments that can be made is leaving off the sauces as well as for opting for a soup instead of an egg roll. When your meal is served with rice or noodles, it is always best to leave those out.
Sure, avoiding these carb-filled foods sounds easy in theory, but not popping that crab rangoon or dumpling into your mouth is much more of the challenge when it’s on the table in front of you. If at all possible, try to keep those out of reach.
Using any soup as a substitute for egg rolls or appetizers can be a great way to keep your meal keto-friendly. It is important to make sure that your soup is clear or thin. This means that there was no added cornstarch or sugar used to thicken up the soup.
Cornstarch is not keto-friendly since it contains starch. This can make your soups a high carb. The best soups to order, or make, are:
- Clear soup
- Egg drop
Getting a stir-fry as a meal can be beneficial. Not only can you get a meat and vegetable only stir-fry, but you also can add or remove any meats or proteins that you want.
This makes it a great option if you just don’t know what to order or what to use as a substitution. It is always best to assume that anything with rice or noodles should be changed.
Stir-fry usually also comes with vegetables. The vegetables that come in a stir-fry can add natural flavor or are even good as a side. This meal can be a great guide to go by to eat at a restaurant or to fix at home. Fixing these at home can be beneficial. Great benefits to fixing stir-fry at home are:
- Using a low carb oil for frying
- Leaving out sauces or creating your own low carb, keto-friendly sauce
- Using ingredients that can be low carb but can also give you the flavor that you want
- Adding extra or leaving out anything you like or don’t like to achieve the meal you are looking for
Like anyone else, you probably love the sauces that are available for Chinese food. Unfortunately, most of the sauces that are served in a restaurant are not keto-friendly. Since sauces tend to have cornstarch, it is always the best option to skip or hold the sauce.
However, there are some sauces that you can use, on the side and in moderation, of course, that is low carb enough that they can be keto-friendly.
Some of these sugar-free, keto-friendly sauces are:
- Bean Sauce
- Garlic Sauce
- Sugar-Free Sweet Chili Thai
- Sugar-Free Teriyaki
- Easy Peanut Sauce
- Asian Wing Sauce
- Keto General Tso’s Chicken
- Low-Carb Sesame Ginger Dressing
For more sauces and their recipes, visit Parade.
When using any of these sauces, it can be a great idea to use them in moderation, especially if you are eating these sauces in a restaurant. Since restaurants may use cornstarch or sugar, some of these sauces could be secretly made with one or the other, or even both.
It may also be a great option to just make these sauces at home. This will ensure that there are no “hidden” ingredients that may be harmful to a keto diet.
Vegetables are always going to be a great choice. Although all vegetables are healthy to eat, some may not be as keto-friendly as you would think.
The majority of vegetables included in most stir-fries and other Chinese meals can seem to be the best for the dish they are served with. However, this is not always true.
The best and simplest rules to follow according to DietDoctor are:
- Above-ground vegetables are safer for a keto diet since they are lower in carbs
- Below-ground vegetables- or root vegetables- are higher in carbs and are not considered good for a keto diet. Examples of these “root” vegetables are potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Below is a list of veggies that are viable keto-friendly swaps. Some of these can be used in moderation, of course, and modified into a healthier choice.
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Baby corn
Although that stir-fry or vegetable side may seem like the greatest option, and it very well could be, it is important that you are aware of which vegetables will be keto-friendly and which ones won’t. Knowing which vegetables will help in the long run for substituting one vegetable for another, more keto-friendly vegetable.
Since a keto diet consists of an intake of mostly fat, choosing the best proteins for your meals can be difficult. Using fattier meats can help achieve the fat intake needed to maintain your keto diet, but sometimes it can be difficult to adapt to the higher fat.
Adapting can be difficult since it takes a few days to a week for your body to adjust to the changes.
What a keto diet does is gets your body adapted to using fat instead of carbs for energy. This creates a type of ketosis, which means that your body breaks down the fat.
Depending on the stage of ketosis, the fat adaption can take weeks to months to fully start, but this type of adaptation can be long-term.
This makes eating the right proteins important. Knowing which proteins are fatty and better for a keto diet will help in the long run. When you better understand the types of proteins that you can get and different meat substitutions, a Chinese keto-friendly meal can vary.
Types of proteins that are good for a keto diet are:
|Fatty Fish and Seafood
|Nuts and Seeds
A lot of time picking out a healthy oil can be difficult enough. Getting one for your keto-friendly diet can seem almost impossible. However, choosing oils can be fun and can be easier than you think to find. Oils that are healthy for a keto diet are:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Sesame Seed Oil
Not only do the oil choices matter for your keto diet, but also some seasoning that you may be used in everyday meals. Seasonings that are keto diet-friendly are salt, pepper, and herbs. Using these seasonings can help boost your flavors and can even help with adding extra nutrients when using fresh herbs.
What Chinese Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Of course, there are the obvious keto-diet enemies that you’ll want to steer clear of when eating Chinese food:
- Steamed white rice
- Fried rice
- Lo mein… or any noodles for that matter
- And of course, anything fried with a crust (unless you know the ingredients)
But there are some ingredients that are found in Chinese cuisine that might not seem so obvious. Here are some of those lurking anti-keto foods that you should avoid:
Tricks to Enjoying Chinese Foods on a Keto Diet
Whether you like making your own Chinese food or ordering from your favorite restaurant, you should still be able to follow your keto diet and enjoy Chinese food.
Of course, when you’re at home, you can prepare your food however you want. But don’t be shy about asking for substitutions while you’re at a restaurant to suit your keto diet needs.
With each option, your goal is to get the same aroma and taste of your favorite Chinese food dishes while also providing you with all the benefits your keto diet needs.
Try a Buffet
Buffets are a fantastic, often overlooked option for Chinese food on a keto diet. Going to a buffet can be better since you get to choose what to get and decide what should not go on your plate.
Choosing food from a buffet also lets you use portion control when making your meal. This can make the process of eating keto-friendly Chinese food easier and more convenient.
Here are just a few ways that eating at a buffet can make Chinese food on a keto diet just a little easier:
- Stay away from sticky or saucy items, or better control the amount of sauce you get on your food.
- It’s easier to stick to a mixture of stir-fries for the same flavors without too much sauce
- You can see the amount of protein in each dish (and sometimes even sneak a little extra onto your plate).
- Don’t ignore the salad bar. It’s another way to add more veggies and variety to your plate without the sauce.
It’s hard to keep to a diet. Staying true to your keto diet, especially when you want to eat Chinese food, can be even more difficult if you are not familiar with the basics or what you need to stay away from. Using some of these substitutions or leaving out certain things like rice can make a difference in your meal that you will more than likely miss.
However, remember that while adding other variations like extra keto-friendly vegetables can be used in place of any starchy sides, that the vegetables used are also very keto-friendly. This can make your whole meal take on a new and improved taste.
With practice and knowledge, you can make eating a keto-friendly diet, especially Chinese food, just a normal habit. Remember that protein is very important with a keto diet, so as with everything, making sure that you are eating in moderation and healthy is important.