Low-Carb Side Dish Recipes

low carb side dishes

The term "side dishes" can make it seem as though these elements are almost afterthoughts to the "main event" part of the meal, which is usually the protein. On the other hand, side dishes are what really make the meat, fish, or other entree "star" into a full meal—and they can make or break it. This may be especially true for those following a low-carb diet, as people usually eat two or three times the amount of vegetables they were eating before they began their new way of eating.

These delicious, low-carb side dishes are mostly easy to make and can transform your meals.

Classic Side Dishes

These recipes are low-carb versions of some of the most-loved sides. There's no need to feel deprived.


This "rice" made of cauliflower is surprisingly easy to make, so much so that people often wish they had tried it sooner. Cauli-rice can be served on its own or as a basis for fried "rice" and some other rice-based dishes (though it won't absorb liquid). It's great to put under jambalaya or curries.

BBQ Beans
Combine Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce and a can of black soy beans—which have very little starch (around 8 grams in a 1/2 cup serving), but taste a lot like black beans—for a lower-carb version of a traditional side dish.

Cauliflower Potato Salad
You can alter this recipe if you have your own way to season potato salad. But watch out: You may be asked to bring this to every potluck.

Low-Carb 4-Bean Salad
If you want to have more control over the ingredients and reduce the sodium content, you can try using dry beans that you soak overnight and cook yourself. Soaking the beans can reduce gastrointestinal effects such as gas and bloating.

Low-Carb Grits or Polenta
These "grits" or "polenta" made from almond meal are surprisingly versatile.

Mashed Cauliflower
You have to try this even if you think you don't like cauliflower. The flavor is mild, and lots of people like it even better than potatoes.

Non-Potato Fries
These oven-baked "fries" are made from rutabagas, but feel free to use a root vegetable of your choice.

Refried Beans
Making fajitas or other Mexican dishes? You can make low-carb refried beans to go with it. Try using black soy beans.

No-Sugar-Added Cole Slaw
It's best to stay away from the coleslaw at the deli counter (there's a lot of sugar there). Using bagged coleslaw (shredded cabbage), this no-added-sugar alternative is easy to throw together.

Colorful Vegetable Side Dishes

Not only do vegetables with vivid colors make your dinner plate appetizing, they pump up the nutrition as well.
Broccoli Salad with Bacon

Traditionally, this salad is fairly carby, with sugar in the dressing and lots of raisins. This recipes keeps the same flavors with far less sugar.

Mediterranean Summer Vegetables
Nothing says "August" like cooking up a mix of farm-fresh eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. This is similar to a French ratatouille.

Peppers and Mushrooms With Wine and Herbs
Tip: Many grocery stores now have these vegetables already chopped for you.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
This side dish is easily made in the oven, which brings out the sprouts' nuttiness.

Roasted or Grilled Asparagus
This is one of the easiest vegetables to fix. Pop them into the oven or onto the grill.

Simply Scrumptious Spinach
Put frozen spinach, nuts, mushrooms, and a few other ingredients in the food processor, and you get a dish that surprises everyone with how good it is.

Vegetables Instead of Pasta

One of the bedrocks of low-carb eating is to substitute non-starchy vegetables for the starches that usually take up part of the dinner plate. These recipes are great substitutes for pasta. Here are other low-carb pasta ideas.

Eggplant Involtini
Involtini is similar to manicotti. It has a ricotta-based filling, but eggplant is used instead of the pasta.

Spaghetti Squash
This low-carb favorite is high in nutrients and low in carbs, and it pulls apart to resemble, you guessed it, spaghetti. It's also easier to cook than you might think.

Zucchini Lasagna and Zucchini Noodles
You can make the pasta out of zucchini without it turning to mush.

Vegetable Casseroles

Side-dish casseroles have a lot going for them. They are great as leftovers (some are even nice with breakfast) and freeze well.​

Green Bean Casserole
If green bean casserole if one of those "must haves" for your holiday table, try this low-carb version.

Italian Squash Casserole
Use any type of squash you like for this delicious side dish.
Mashed Cauliflower Gratin
If you want something fancier than plain mashed cauliflower, gussy it up with cheese and eggs.

Southwest Summer Squash Casserole
Corn casserole on a low-carb diet? The secret is using summer squash instead of corn. It includes a can of chopped green chiles for southwest flair.
Spinach Casserole
So easy...and so good. This is one of those recipes where you can throw a bunch of ingredients in a baking dish and you're pretty much done.
Sweet Potato Crunch
Sweet potatoes aren't low in carbs, but they are highly nutritious. This lower carbohydrate version of the original, with a pecan topping, is a great holiday splurge or choice on a moderate-carb diet.

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