Low-Carb Mexican Food Choices When Dining Out and Healthy Recipe Ideas

Conch ceviche
Conch Ceviche. Rick Lew/Taxi/Getty Images

If you're on a low-carb diet, Mexican food may seem difficult to navigate. However, there’s a world of low-carb Mexican food for you to enjoy, whether you're eating at a Mexican restaurant or cooking healthy recipes at home.

In much of Mexico, grilled meats and seafood take center stage, and the sauces tend to be based on vegetables and fruit, with very little flour or other starch, giving you plenty of delicious low-carb options.

Low-Carb Alternatives and Swaps for Mexican Food Dishes

Whether you are eating at a Mexican restaurant or cooking up some healthy recipes at home:

  • Avoid tortillas and/or swap out the tortilla for lettuce wraps or low-carb tortillas.
  • Avoid rice and/or swap out the rice for cauliflower rice or chickpea rice.
  • When ordering, avoid platters and ask if they have any low-carb substitutions.
  • Avoid tortilla chips and/or swap for pork rinds, celery, carrots, or jicama.
  • If ordering beans, it's best to keep your portion small. While they are low on the glycemic index, meaning they are less likely to produce a blood-sugar spike, they still have a fair amount of carbs at 31 grams per 1/2 cup.

Low-Carb Breakfast Options at Mexican Restaurants

The type of Mexican restaurant you visit will determine the type of selections offered on the breakfast menu. Quick-serve restaurants are more likely to provide burritos and other foods that are easy to carry, while sit-down restaurants may provide a greater variety.

In general, consuming foods like meat, veggies, and eggs, as well as limiting beans, and avoiding tortillas, chips, and rice can help keep your breakfast low-carb.

Machaca con Huevos

This satisfying Mexican breakfast includes eggs, beef or pork, and veggies sautéed together. Carbohydrates in the dish vary based on serving size and preparation method.

At a restaurant, you can expect to consume about 140 calories per one-cup serving. About 5% to 6% of those calories are carbs. Your total count will be only two grams of carbs per serving.

Breakfast Burrito

If you can order a breakfast burrito as a bowl (no tortilla) and skip the beans, you should be able to keep this on your list of low-carb options. The flour tortilla will drive the carb count up. In general, stick to burritos that include eggs, meat, and cheese. If possible, try avoid those that include beans or ask for a very small portion.

Depending on size, a breakfast burrito may provide between 200 to 600 calories, and 25 to over 60 grams of carbohydrates, which are mostly starch. Keep in mind that a large flour tortilla may contain more than 60 grams of carbohydrates, so if you avoid the tortilla, you have a much lower-carb version.

Huevos Divorciados

Huevos divorciados, or divorced eggs, consists of two fried eggs served on two corn tortillas, with red and green salsas. It may also be served with beans and queso fresco.

Order this tasty dish without the tortillas and a light serving of beans for a low-carb breakfast loaded with protein. With the tortillas and beans, this provides about 430 calories and about 35 grams of carbs. Without the tortillas, you're looking at about 330 calories and 15 grams of carbs.


There are many low-carb appetizer options at Mexican restaurants, from delicious dips and salsas to small seafood dishes and soups. You can also ask about making the appetizer your main course if there aren't many low-carb options on the menu.


Not only is it delicious, but guacamole is also nutritious. Ask if the restaurant has cucumber or jicama slices to dip, instead of chips. If not, save the guacamole to have with your main dish.

A typical two-tablespoon serving of guacamole contains about 35 calories, but only three grams of carbohydrates. Most of the calories in this popular dip come from healthy fat.


This citrus-marinated seafood is often served with chopped raw vegetables such as bell pepper, onion, and parsley. The dish is packed with protein and other nutrients. A single serving (3 ounces) is likely to provide about 140 calories, with 3 grams of carbohydrates.

Albóndigas Soup

This soup contains meatballs and veggies in a broth base. The meatballs usually have some rice in them, so this is probably not best if you are following a very low-carb diet.

If you order this soup, ask how it is prepared, as that will greatly impact the nutritional breakdown. If the meatballs are made with rice, ask if you can get yours with grilled chicken or steak instead.


Salads are almost always a smart choice if you follow a low-carb diet. Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish, or make it a meal with some carne asada or other protein on top. Just be sure to remove any fried, starchy, or crispy toppings or see if you can order the salad without these additions.

Main Dishes

Entrees choices will vary substantially based on the type of restaurant you visit. A traditional Mexican restaurant is likely to offer more low-carb choices than a popular Tex-Mex restaurant.


Coastal Mexican food often revolves around grilled seafood with light and delicious sauces. If you seldom cook fish at home, take this opportunity to get a protein source consistently correlated with good health. Carb counts will vary based on the preparation method, but, in general, a piece of grilled white fish, such as tilapia, provides zero grams of carbohydrates.

Grilled Meats

Try carne asada (steak grilled with Mexican spices) or chicken dishes, sometimes served with grilled veggies and salsas. Carb counts vary based on the dish, but most meat and poultry contain zero carbohydrates. However, be mindful of any sauces that might be added.

For example, mole (pronounced moe-lay) sauce preparations vary. Some are sweet and may be high in carbs, but some are not very high in carbohydrates, consisting of complex mixtures of chilies, spices, seeds, and often chocolate. Ask about details regarding any sauces and get them on the side if necessary.


This classic low-carb Mexican dish is widely available and perfect for you if you want to enjoy a low-carb Mexican meal. Just consider getting it without any tortillas to keep the carb count low.

In some restaurants, you may be able to get extra vegetables if you ask for no tortillas. Your total carb count will depend on the vegetables you consume. In veggies, carb counts can range from nearly no carbs to over 20 grams of carbs per serving.

Chili Verde

This is a spicy stew, usually made with pork. Some versions of this stew may be low-carb friendly. But others, such as those made with beans, will behigh in carbs. Unfortunately, it is not likely that you can ask for substitutions on this menu item, so order cautiously.

In a one cup serving made without beans, this soup may provide around 160 calories, 18 grams of carbs, 7 grams of protein, and 7 grams fat.


It's not just Mexican food that can raise your daily carb total. Drinks at Mexican restaurants are something to be mindful of as well.


Some people just can’t imagine having Mexican food without a margarita. Although most are loaded with sugar, some Mexican restaurants have sugar-free versions.

A traditional margarita made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec has up to 36 grams of carbohydrates, depending on the amount of triple sec. If you want, you can ask for your margarita without the triple sec and add artificial sweetener (keep a small bottle of Sweetzfree liquid handy).


It's a popular accompaniment to Mexican food, but beer carbs vary and you'll have to choose wisely. Low carb beer choices include Amstel Light (5 grams of carbs) and Budweiser Select (less than 2 grams of carbohydrates).

Agua de Jamaica

Agua de jamaica, or hibiscus water, is a chilled drink made with hibiscus flowers, water, and sugar. In an 11 ounce serving, it provides about 130 calories, 33 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of carbs. However, no sugar added versions can significantly reduce the carb count on this refreshing beverage.


While you can make low-carb versions of many of your favorite desserts at home, the offerings at restaurants tend to be higher in carbs. Popular Mexican sweets may be fried and covered in sugar.

Tres Leches

This popular creamy white cake is sweet—and as you might imagine—quite high in carbohydrates. You are likely to consume at least 26 grams of carbohydrates in a single serving.


Small churros, which may or may not be filled, are made of fried dough and coated in cinnamon and sugar. Each small churro provides about 60 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 7 grams of carbs.


Flan looks like it might be lower in carbs because it doesn't have the starchy quality of a cake or cookie. But, there is a lot of sugar used in the preparation of this caramel custard dish. You'll boost your carb intake by at least 32 grams if you eat a 4-ounce serving.

Low-Carb Mexican Food Recipe Ideas

Mexican food recipes can be made with low-carb alternatives, or may focus more heavily on meat, eggs, and veggies. Whether you're looking for a delicious breakfast, lunch, snack, drink, or treat, there are some great low-carb options you can cook up.

Huevos Divorciados Recipe

This dish provides about 330 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 23 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbs, 6 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein. If you serve this dish on two low carb tortillas, you'll add about 90 calories, 8 grams of protein, 18 grams of fiber, 4 grams of fat, and 24 grams of carbs.


  • 2 low carb tortillas (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons red salsa
  • 2 tablespoons green salsa
  • Cotija cheese (optional)


  1. Heat up the tortillas in a frying pan and place on a plate.
  2. Add the vegetable oil to the pan and place on medium high heat.
  3. Add both eggs to the pan and sprinkle with salt to taste. Fry the eggs until the whites are done, but leave the yolks a bit runny.
  4. Place the eggs on the tortillas (if applicable).
  5. Drizzle the red salsa around one egg and the green salsa around the other egg.
  6. Sprinkle the cotija cheese on both eggs.
  7. Garnish with cilantro.

Low-Sugar Margarita Recipe

Per serving, this drink provides about 104 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 0 grams of fat.


  • 1 1/2 ounces of tequila
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Ice
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish per drink


  1. Add water, tequila, lime juice, orange extract, and some ice to a cocktail shaker or blender.
  2. Shake or blend until combined.
  3. Pour into the glass. You may want to add additional ice if your drink was shaken.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

Guacamole Recipe

In a 1/2 cup serving, this guacamole provides about 120 calories, 2 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat, and 9 grams of carbs. Instead of serving with chips, use jicama slices, pork rinds, celery, or carrots to keep your carb count low.


  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder


  1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop into a bowl.
  2. Add lime juice, cilantro, and shallots to the bowl.
  3. Mash the avocado until ingredients are just combined.
  4. Add salt, chili powder, and tomato to the bowl. Mix gently until combined.

Low-Carb Taco Salad Recipe

For a 2 cup serving, this meal provides about 313 calories, 16 grams of carbs, 32 grams of protein, and 15 grams of fat.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 8 green onions, chopped with white and green parts separated
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 4 ounces of sliced black olives
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup salsa


  1. In a skillet, add beef, salt, pepper, chili powder, and the white part of the onions. Cook until done to your liking. To keep the beef warm, cover the pan and turn off the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, add lettuce, tomato, green onion, olives, avocado, meat, and cheese. Gently mix the ingredients together.
  3. Top with yogurt and salsa.

Low-Carb Flan Recipe

This recipe makes 6 servings. For 1 flan, this dessert provides about 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbs.


  • 1 cup allulose
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (no carbs) or unsweetened coconut milk (about 1 gram of carbs)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease 6 3/4 cup ramekins.
  3. Add the water and 1/2 cup allulose to a saucepan and cook on low heat until the mixture simmers.
  4. Next, increase the heat to medium and begin stirring regularly until it thickens and slightly browns.
  5. Pour evenly into each of the 6 ramekins, coating the sides as well.
  6. Add milk and the rest of the allulose to a clean saucepan and cook on low heat until it simmers. Remove from heat once it simmers.
  7. Whisk in eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt to the sweetened milk mixture. Continue whisking until smooth.
  8. Strain the mixture through a sieve and divide it evenly into the 6 ramekins.
  9. Place the ramekins in a large baking dish. Fill up the large baking dish with boiling water to about halfway up the ramekin to create a water bath, or bain-marie.
  10. Bake for 50 minutes until nearly set in the middle. Allow to cool completely and refrigerate overnight before serving.
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By Laura Dolson
Laura Dolson is a health and food writer who develops low-carb and gluten-free recipes for home cooks.