Special Low-Carb Ingredients for Cooking and Baking

Crushed nuts on cookie dough
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Although anyone can follow a low carb way of eating with no special ingredients at all, there are certain ones that are helpful in cooking and baking. Most of them can be found in a regular grocery store, some can be found in health food stores, and others must often be specially ordered unless you’re lucky enough to live near a store that stocks it.

  • Almond Flour/Almond Meal: This may be the most versatile low-carb flour. It can be used for cakes, muffins, quick breads, biscuits, and more. One advantage is that you don't have to buy it already prepared. You can make almond flour or almond meal out of roasted almonds using your food processor. However, you need to be sure not to over-process it our it will turn into nut butter. While you can enjoy the nut butter on its own, you'll need more almonds to make a batch of almond meal.
  • Flax Seeds and Flax Seed Meal: These are high-fiber, low-carb alternatives that are also high in nutrition.
  • Coconut Flour: Very high in fiber, but you can't simply swap it for nut flour in a recipe as it will require different amounts of the other ingredients. You'll need to look for recipes that specify it or experiment on converting them yourself.
  • Other Nut Flours: Hazelnut and walnut flours are suggestions.
  • Vital Wheat Gluten: This is just the protein part of the wheat, so it is low carb. If you are avoiding gluten, of course, this is off-limits.
  • ThickenThin Thickeners: This and similar Expert Foods products such as StarchNOT can be useful when you need to thicken sauces without using flour or cornstarch.
  • Liquid Sucralose/Splenda: This contains zero carbs and can be used in almost anything in place of powdered artificial sweetener.
  • Artificial sweeteners of your choice
  • ErythritolThis sugar alcohol has almost no impact on blood sugar. It works really well with chocolate. Be sure to get the powdered type if you can, rather than granulated.
  • Good, unsweetened chocolate (quality really makes a difference)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Powdered Egg Whites: These help give structure to certain baked goods. The least expensive form is "Egg White Protein Powder" such as the NOW brand.
  • Gelatin (plain)
  • Xanthan or Guar Gum: These are useful for thickening and binding.
  • Unsweetened Soy Milk:  This contains fewer carbs than any other milk and is neutral in taste.
  • Carb Counters Instant Mashers:  A versatile ingredient for binding crab cakes, making latkes, and even in gnocchi.
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP): Can be used as a substitute for rice in casseroles, bread crumbs in meatloaf, and even be a hot breakfast cereal.
  • Whey Protein Powder
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • High Oleic Safflower or Sunflower Oil: For high-heat cooking or baking that requires a more neutral taste than olive oil, these are good choices. These are specially bred to be high in monounsaturated fat and have a relatively high smoke point. Saffola is one brand. You must be certain to get the high oleic types as most of these oils are high in polyunsaturated fat, which are not preferred.
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