When you're making your weekly keto meal plan, it's easy to overlook healthy snack provisions. But everyone loves an occasional snack, even if your low-carb, high-fat diet keeps you mostly full between meals. Prepping for snacks on the keto diet is actually pretty important because you might not always be able to find keto-friendly options on the go.
That being said, things are changing in the world of food every day, and as the keto diet gains momentum, so do your snack options in the grocery store aisles. As a stop-gap, and to help you get into the mindset of ideal keto snacking, we've come up with a master list of options. Some are great for on-the-go, some require a little prep. All are deliciously low-carb, keto snacks that will help you stay on track and in ketosis.
Before we delve into our master list of options, we want to give you some general guidelines for how we decided what should be on this list and where on the list it belongs. Even within the ketogenic diet, some snack options are more ideal than others. Whether it's because of their micronutrient profile or the macronutrient makeup, certain snacks will accomplish certain goals in your diet.
For example, some high-fat, zero-carb snacks are great in a pinch but not an ideal source of vitamins or minerals. It's fine to include snacks like this in your plan, but it's important not to rely too heavily on foods that don't provide much more than the macros. There are also quite a few foods that technically count as keto-friendly snacks as far as the macros go, but are otherwise not super awesome to be eating all the time (or every day).
Another consideration is whether or not everything needs to be organic. While we aren't strict across the board on this, we do recommend sticking to organic, grass-fed, or pasture-raised meat, dairy, and eggs. That's because the keto diet is a high-fat diet, and fat is where toxins are stored, not only in us, but in the animals we eat. If you're eating full-fat cream, fatty cuts of meat, and whole eggs on this diet we want to make sure that you're avoiding things like antibiotics, growth hormones, glyphosate, and other harmful chemicals used by conventional farmers and ranchers.
Our guidelines are actually pretty simple and straight-forward. The best keto snacks are those that offer healthy fats, no added sugar, and very few net carbs. In an ideal world, those snacks will also be nutrient-dense, minimally processed, and, of course, delicious.
Best Quick Keto Snacks
In many nutrition-focused circles, quick can feel like the enemy of healthy. That doesn't have to be the case though. Quick doesn't have to mean fast food, a bag of chips, or overly processed snack bars. On the contrary, quick can mean raw and fresh. It can mean prepped-ahead and ready for you in the fridge. Or it can mean a packaged snack that you pick up at the grocery store or online.
Raw and Fresh
- Avocado: There's nothing more deliciously creamy and filling than a perfectly ripe avocado. You can do a lot with avocados – make guacamole or homemade mayonnaise, stuff it with chicken, tuna, or egg salad, chop it into a big bowl of salad veggies – but just a plain avocado with a little salt and pepper goes a long way for a quick snack. Cut it in half, sprinkle, and dive in with a spoon.
- Keto-friendly veggies: Crudités makes for a perfect, nutrient-dense keto snack. Slice ahead of time for an even quicker grab and go snack. Keto-friendly raw snacking veggies include bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and radish. Another delicious, lesser-known veggie that's super crunchy and delicious when eaten raw is kohlrabi. It's related to broccoli, cauliflower, and kale (in the brassica family). Dip your veggies in keto-friendly ranch or an avocado mayo-based dip to add healthy fat to your snack.
- Nuts, nut butters, and seeds: While some nuts and seeds are higher carb than others, all contain good fats and fiber. The lowest-carb nuts (in order) are pecans, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts. Each of these nuts has less than two net carbs per one ounce serving. Pine nuts and almonds have just under three net carbs per serving. The lowest carb seeds are shell-on pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and shelled pumpkin seeds. Nut butters are a delicious and easy way throw a healthy spoon full of calories into your mouth on the go as well. Don't forget that
Question: Are peanuts/peanut butter keto-friendly?
Answer: Yes, even though peanuts are technically legumes (typically too high-carb to include on a keto diet), their ratios are more similar to nuts: 2.1 net carbs per ounce. However don't overdo it. Some health experts are concerned about the potential mold content in peanuts, which could cause health problems in some if peanuts are over-consumed.
Prep-Ahead/Minimal Prep Snacks
- Gelatin dessert: Also known by the Jello name brand, gelatin dessert (as long as you use a healthy sugar-free sweetener like stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol) is a perfect keto snack because it's zero carbs, rich in collagen, and can be topped with keto whipped cream (either full-fat heavy cream or coconut cream) to add fat into the mix. Obviously, this option works great for dessert as well.
- Kale chips: Kale chips are pretty easy to make and store in a tightly sealed container in your pantry. Simply rinse and thoroughly dry your kale. De-rib it, and toss it in olive oil, nutritional yeast, and salt. You can add herbs or other spices if you want to kick up the flavor, but nutritional yeast on its own is pretty delicious. Spread the kale chips out (no overlapping) on a cookie sheet and bake on 325°F for between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on your oven. You'll know they're done when they're crispy. You can also buy kale chips, just make sure you check the net carbs per serving. Many brands out there add cashew paste to the mix for additional substance, which add to the total carbs per serving.
- Caprese skewers: This deceptively fancy snack requires very quick, super-simple prep. In fact, the skewer part is just a suggestion. You can just as easily throw cherry tomatoes, mini-balls of fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, olive oil, and a very tiny dash of balsamic vinegar into a bowl and mix it up without bothering with the skewers. It's that simple.
- Bacon: The rise in popularity of the keto diet has elevated bacon*. It's almost its own food group at this point, right? Prep a quick low-carb snack ahead of time by baking a pack of bacon in the oven and storing it in the fridge. If you need a quick boost of energy, grab a slice on the go. Shoot for organic, pasture-raised pork, and always look for nitrate-free, uncured bacon.
*Bacon is an example of a keto-friendly food that you're welcome to enjoy, but maybe don't eat it every day of your life. Technically, bacon is processed meat, which has been linked to colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and overall cancer mortality.
- Smoothies: You might think that, by definition, smoothies aren't keto-friendly. While it's true that a blender full of fruit and fruit juice will certainly take you way over your carb limit, there are ways to create delicious, keto-friendly smoothies.
Start with a full-fat liquid base like coconut milk or heavy cream (like 1/4-1/2 a cup). Add some leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, or romaine lettuce (spinach and romaine impart the least "green" flavor). Choose a healthy protein like collagen peptides or another high-quality option, then pick your favorite berry and add 1/2 cup. Add some water if it's too thick, or if you're not into coconuts or dairy, consider a spoonful of nut butter or 1/4 an avocado to add some fat.
- Hard boiled eggs/egg salad: Hard-boiled eggs are so underrated. They're nature's perfect food, especially if they're coming from happy chickens. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are richer in vitamin E than conventional eggs. They're also high in choline, selenium, and certain B vitamins. Additionally, when hens are fed Omega 3 rich foods like krill and flaxseeds, their eggs are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids (a heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory fat source).
Hard boil a dozen eggs for a quick snack waiting in the fridge. To save time day to day, you can even peel them ahead of time for a grab-and go nosh. Egg salad requires just another few minutes of prep. Toss your hard boiled eggs into a big bowl with chopped celery, a handful of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, capers or dill pickles, green onions, avocado mayo, your favorite style of mustard, and a pinch of sea salt. Cut up the eggs as you mix it all together, and you have egg salad. Enjoy it taco-style in a coconut wrap or use hearts of romaine as lettuce cups.
- Parmesan crisps: This delectable snack food is pure umami goodness. Save a few bucks by making them yourself and storing them in a sealed zip lock or air tight container. Simply spread shredded parmesan (or other dry cheese like Romano or asiago. It can also work with cheddar cheese, but cook time will vary) onto a parchment paper-lined sheet tray. Optional to add some seeds like chia, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds, and bake on 350°F until crispy, 15-20 minutes. Increasingly, these savory crisps are available pre-made as well. Just make sure the ones you buy don't have popped quinoa or any other hidden carbs in them.
Best Snacks to Buy
- Sardines: If you're not used to eating sardines, rest assured, they're actually pretty tasty and surprisingly un-fishy. You can get wild caught sardines packed in water, olive oil, tomato sauce (watch the sugar on that one), and even mustard. You can eat them on keto-friendly crackers (like flaxseed crackers), cucumber slices, mix them into a salad, or simply eat them right out of the tin for a great keto snack. Sardines are high protein, and if you get them bone-in, you'll get a mineral boost with every bite. Zero prep!
- Beef jerky: Like bacon, beef jerky is tricky because it's technically a processed meat, which comes with some potential health risks. It's also always packed with lots of sodium. Same goes for the next two items on our list. We do like to include beef jerky here, however, because it's an easy, non-perishable snack that works great as an emergency back up in your car or gym bag. It also contains zero grams of carbs if you pick the right one. Just make sure you find one that has no (or very minimal) added sugar. And if you can opt for organic or grass-fed, go for it.
- Pork rinds: Another processed meat product, pork rinds are the favorite keto chip alternative. Pork rinds are literally dried pork skin. Deliciously salty, often flavored the same way as chips – BBQ, ranch, sour cream and onion – they make the perfect party food for keto party goers. But, just like most party food, they're great for a special occasion, not necessarily for every day of your life.
- Deli meat: Deli meat is a staple in so many households across America. It's easy to throw into a sandwich (or keto roll-up), it stays fresh for a long time, and it's relatively inexpensive (especially compared to jerky). It's also a form of processed meat that shouldn't be eaten every day. This includes roasted turkey and chicken, salami, pepperoni, pastrami, prosciutto, etc. A few quick snacks a week will do for this keto-friendly option, some lunch meat rolled up with some dry aged cheddar cheese makes for a delicious snack.
- Seaweed snacks: Nori has become a super popular snack, keto or otherwise. Light, airy sheets of roasted seaweed satsify a need for salt and they tinest touch of sweet. Perfect for a low-carb diet, seaweed snacks work on the go and offer a nice combination of trace minerals that help balance electrolytes in the body.
- String cheese: A throwback to school lunches in the 1990's, who doesn't love string cheese? It's a simple snack that's fun to eat, requires zero prep, and contributes zero carbs to your diet. When you're buying string cheese, just make sure you're getting the full-fat kind. And again, search for organic.
- Nut butter: Pre-packed nut butters are a super simple on-the-go snack. They're already portioned out and mess-free, and Superfat offers a number of options to choose from. Whether you're looking for a particular flavor or specific health benefits, we have you covered. Pre-packed nut butters are also an awesome non-perishable option to throw in your car or gym bag so that you have a reliable snack at your fingertips.
- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate makes for a delicious mid-day treat for the keto dieter. While it's true that you're supposed to be avoiding all added sugar on the keto diet, if you stick to 80% dark or higher, you'll be fine. There are also some chocolate options out there that have either added fiber or non-glycemic sweeteners to the mix to allow for a sweeter chocolate. Some use stevia, others erythritol or monk fruit. Make your own using cacao powder, coconut oil, cacao butter, and your favorite keto sweetener.
- Olives: Great as both a stand-alone snack and an ingredient in low-carb meals (add a few to your egg salad or toss some on your cauliflower crust pizza), olives are a great keto snack option. They aren't carb-free, but they're very low carb, about one gram of carbs per 10 olives. Not bad.
- Keto crackers: We showed you how to make your own parmesan crisps, but you can also easily buy premade options. Other keto cracker options include dehydrated flax seed crackers, avocado crisps, and even some almond flour cracker options.
Sweet Keto Snack Recipes
Sometimes, despite the slow training of your tastebuds away from overly sweet foods, you just want something that satisfies a sweet tooth. Keto recipes of the sweet variety can range a lot as far as flavor, ingredients, and prep, but the same rules still apply. They must be very low-carb, high-fat, and, ideally very tasty and satisfying.
- Avocado chocolate pudding: We dare you to serve this to your boo without cluing them in on the ingredients. See if they can tell what's in it! The recipe is simple: avocado, raw cacao, a splash of coconut milk, and your favorite keto sweetener.Place it all in the food processor and blend until you've got a rich, silky chocolate pudding filled with healthy fats from the avocado and antioxidants from the raw cacao.
- Fat bombs: Granted, fat bombs can be sweet or savory, but our favorites are sweet. The idea behind a fat bomb is to provide a tasty vehicle to keep your macros in line. There are hundreds and hundreds of awesome fat bomb recipes to be found all over the web, but here are our favorites:
- Cream Cheese Fat Bombs by Chocolate Covered Kate
- Blackberry Coconut Fat Bombs by Low Carb Yum
- Lemon Macadamia Nut Fat Bombs by Health Starts in the Kitchen
- Grass-fed Cinnamon Butter Fat Bombs by Whole Natural Life
- Almond Butter Pistachio Fat Bombs by The Healthy Foodie
- Keto ice cream: If you want to get aggressive about your pursuit of the perfect homemade keto dessert (or sweet snack), we've found the recipe template for you. It's by the geniuses over at gnom gnom, and not only have they provided you with the base recipe, but they've made lots of flavor suggestions as well. Starting with a base of full-fat coconut milk and heavy whipping cream, you can't go wrong with this one.
- Cocoa-dusted almonds: This sweet treat can be made yourself or purchased on line. It's a great alternative to chocolate-covered almonds, which are loaded with sugar. In a large freezer bag, toss almonds, raw cacao, and erythritol together, lightly coating the nuts and giving you a bit of sweetness in every bite.
Best Way to Snack
The best way to snack on the keto diet is to choose wisely. Ideally, the foods you're eating at mealtime are enough to cover you between meals on most days, but on the days when you're more active, coming off a fast, or even just extra hungry for some reason, it's good to have a line up of options that can work within your parameters.
Our list covers everything from the simplest, rawest ingredients, all the way to the fat bombs and keto ice cream of the century. We know that you'll find what you're looking for somewhere on this list. Let us know which one is your favorite!
Author: Toni Sicola
|Toni is a wellness professional with a Master's in Integrative Health, is passionate about spreading health, happiness, and personal fulfillment to as many people as possible. She has a professional background in health and wellness, dietary supplements, and nutrition, and embarks every day to live a well, balanced, happy life.|
Hungry for more?
Read Our Beginner's Guide to Keto, or try our delicious keto-friendly nut butters.