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The Big Low-Carb Baking Guide
Everything You Need to Know About Ingredient Alternatives

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Quick Summary tl;dr

In this guide, we examine the world of low-carb baking in detail. It offers a plethora of low-carb alternatives to standard baking ingredients, starting with a variety of flours sourced from nuts, seeds, and coconut.

Each type of flour provides distinct taste and texture characteristics that can enrich your low-carb baked goods. Similarly, each type of sweetener will provide unique textures, sweetness levels and flavor profiles.

A significant part of the guide focuses on replacing the role of gluten in baking, a challenge when using low-carb, gluten-free flours. It discusses how gluten's elasticity and binding properties can be substituted with various ingredients, such as eggs, gums and even cheese.

Moreover, the guide dives into dairy options suitable for a low-carb diet, suggesting alternatives for those who prefer or need dairy-free options.

Three golden rules for successful low-carb baking recipe adaptation are thoughtful ingredient swaps, adjustments in cooking times and temperatures, and the addition of extra binding agents when needed.

Be patient! Patience and experimentation are key in mastering low-carb baking and ensuring a smooth transition to this lifestyle without having to give up your favorite baked treats.

Table of Contents

In the world of traditional baking, ingredients like flour and sugar are staples. But what happens when you're dedicated to a low-carb lifestyle? Do you have to say goodbye to homemade bread, cookies, and cakes? Not at all. Armed with a bit of knowledge and creativity, you can continue to enjoy the warm, comforting experience of baking and savoring your favorite treats.

This comprehensive guide will unveil a host of fantastic low-carb alternatives to typical baking ingredients and demonstrate how to incorporate them into your culinary repertoire.

Understanding the Role of Traditional Baking Ingredients

Before exploring low-carb alternatives, we must first understand the roles that traditional baking ingredients play. Flour, being the cornerstone of most baking recipes, provides structure to our baked delights. Furthermore, many conventional flours contain gluten, a protein that lends elasticity to the dough, helping it rise and maintain its shape during baking.

Nevertheless, most low-carb flour substitutes are gluten-free. The absence of gluten presents a unique challenge, as we miss out on the elasticity and binding attribute it offers in traditional baking. To compensate for this, low-carb bakers often incorporate additional ingredients like protein powders (collagen, whey, or egg white), flax meal, gums (such as xanthan gum), glucomannan powder, or psyllium husk. These ingredients help establish structure and replicate the texture that gluten would typically provide.

Another significant component is sugar. It's not solely for sweetness but also influences texture, color, and moisture. Therefore, discovering a suitable low-carb alternative goes beyond merely matching the taste. It involves identifying ingredients that can fulfill these roles without burdening the dish with excess carbs.

Low-Carb Flour Alternatives (Nuts & Seeds)

One of the biggest challenges in low-carb baking is finding a suitable substitute for flour. It's not just about the carb content, but also how these alternatives influence the overall texture and moisture of our baked goods.

Experimenting with these flour alternatives and the right balance of additional ingredients can lead to amazing results. Each option brings unique flavors and textures to your baked goods, opening up new and exciting possibilities for your low-carb baking adventures. Below are some of the most popular options and how to use them.

Remember, the fat content and types of fats in nut and seed flours can cause them to go rancid if not stored correctly, so it's best to keep them in the refrigerator or freezer.

Almond Flour

Made from ground almonds, this flour is a favorite among low-carb bakers. Almond flour is sometimes referred to as almond meal, although technically almond meal is made with ground unblanched (whole) almonds.

Almond flour is high in fiber and provides a moist, tender texture to baked goods. For a direct conversion, 1 cup of wheat flour can be replaced with 1 cup of almond flour. To prevent a dense texture, consider adjusting the amount of added fats like butter. For added moisture, consider including almond milk, water, or other moist ingredients such as applesauce or pumpkin puree. Remember, these adjustments will differ based on the recipe.

Almond flour is the most versatile, most common substitute that you'll find in many low-carb recipes such as this Flakey Pie Crust, Strawberry & Cream Cake and Italian Ricciarelli Almond Cookies.

Finally, there's also defatted almond flour, which is much lower in fat and moisture, and it is very fine, similar to coconut flour. Defatted almond flour is ideal for cakes and bread that have a light and airy texture.

Defatted almond flour is less common but totally worth it if you're looking for wonderfully light and fluffy texture. These Cinnamon Rolls, Panettone and Angel Food Cake are just some of the many recipes using defatted almond flour.

Find Almond Flour on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is a highly absorbent low-carb alternative that can add a slightly sweet, coconut flavor to your baked goods. It's ideal for sweet recipe and can be used in savory recipes alongside other low-carb flours.

A general conversion is to replace 1 cup of wheat flour with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour, plus an additional egg for each 1/4 cup of coconut flour. Depending on the recipe, you may also need to add extra liquid (water, cream, etc.), especially if using 1/3 cup of coconut flour.

Coconut flour is rarely used alone as it has a less neutral taste compared to almond flour. It also tends to make the texture dense, although in some recipes like these Chocolate Chip Muffins it works just fine. These Pancakes can be made with coconut or almond flour. Finally, these Vanilla Blender Muffins are made with both almond and coconut flour.

Find Coconut Flour on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Flax Meal

High in fiber, ground flaxseeds or flax meal adds a nutty flavor to your dishes. Flax meal is often used in combination with other flours to balance out its strong taste and dense texture. Conversions for flax meal may vary based on the recipe and the other flours used.

Similar to almond flour, there is a very fine, defatted version of flax meal which will work in a similar way to defatted almond flour and defatted sesame flour.

Flax meal is ideal for savory recipes, especially bread, although it can be used in sweet recipes when combined with other flour alternatives. Some of the must-try recipes using flax meal are this rustic Nut-Free Sunflower Bread, Parmesan & Tomato Bread Buns and 5-Ingredient Ham & Cheese Pockets.

Find Flax Meal and Flaxseed on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Other Nut Flours

Produced from whole ground nuts, most nut flour types are rich and flavorful. They can be used as a 1:1 substitute for almond flour. Hazelnut flour, walnut flour or pecan flour are the most common types used in low-carb recipes. Macadamia flour is the one that's highest in fats and will be too fatty/dense for most recipes. For the very same reason it would be a great option for rich brownies.

The options for using ground nuts are endless. Try this Nutella Pie Crust, or Chocolate Hazelnut Celebration Cake!

Find other Nut Flour options on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Sunflower Seed Flour or Pumpkin Seed Meal

While less common, sunflower seed flour or pumpkin seed meal can serve as excellent alternatives for individuals with nut allergies. They have a stronger flavor profile and can add a beautiful color to baked goods. These 5 Ingredient Nut-Free Green Cookies turn green thanks to chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that gives the seeds the ability of turning green under certain conditions. When chlorogenic acid mixes with alkaline baking ingredients such as baking soda, it turns green.

Find Sunflower Seed Flour on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Sesame Seed Flour

Sesame seed flour is an excellent choice as a low-carb, nut-free, gluten-free alternative. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, making it a great addition to both savory and sweet recipes.

Defatted sesame seed flour is the best option for soft and fluffy results, and it can be used similarly to defatted almond flour. These Nut-Free Keto Buns are quite possibly the best alternative to fluffy savory bread you'll ever try!

Find Sesame Seed Flour on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Other Baking Low-Carb Flour Alternatives

Protein Powders

Protein powders, particularly unflavored ones, are a valuable addition to low-carb baking. They not only enrich your baked goods with protein but also serve as effective thickening or binding agents. They can often be used in place of a portion of the flour in a recipe, but typically cannot fully replace flour due to differences in texture and baking properties.

  • Whey Protein Powder: Originating from milk, whey protein is one of the most popular protein powders. It can enhance the texture of your baked goods while increasing their protein content. In baking, it can help to improve the texture and increase the protein content of your recipes. It does not act as a rising agent, so leavening additions might be needed. Make sure you opt for isolate (always low-carb) and not concentrate (relatively high-carb).
  • Collagen Protein Powder: This protein powder originates from animal bones and connective tissues. It can be used to add protein to a recipe and can also improve the texture of your baked goods, similar to whey protein. Do not mistake collagen (hydrolyzed gelatin) powder with regular gelatin powder.
  • Egg White Protein Powder: This is another good option for low-carb baking. As mentioned earlier, it can add volume and act as a drying and binding agent.
  • Plant-Based Protein Powders (like Pea Protein): These can also be used in low-carb baking. Pea protein is a good choice for those who follow a vegan, egg-free or dairy-free diet. Like the other protein powders, it can help increase the protein content and improve the texture of your baked goods.

This Pecan Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake serves as an excellent example of a recipe where protein powder substitutes gluten, resulting in a fluffy texture with less crumbling. And if you like cake, you'll love this Orange Drizzle Cake and Tiramisu Poke Cake!

The first time I learnt about protein powder being used as an alternative to gluten in low-carb recipes was from Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food. Over the years I've learnt a lot from this talented lady. She is without any doubt your number one stop for anything baked that's low-carb and sugar-free!

Find Whey Protein Powder on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Find Egg White Protein Powder on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Find Collagen Powder on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Powdered Egg Whites

These are dehydrated egg whites, and they offer a very high-protein, low-carb, and fat-free alternative to regular eggs in baking. They are used in a variety of recipes, from meringues and marshmallows to cakes and bread. The primary role of powdered egg whites in baking is to add volume and act as a drying and binding agent. When used on its own, powdered eggs and powdered egg whites tend to make baked goods taste eggy, however, they are a fantastic addition to other low-carb flours.

If you need to rehydrate powdered egg whites, the typical ratio is 2 tablespoons of water to 2 teaspoons of egg white powder, which equals about one egg white. However, it's always best to follow the package instructions as ratios can vary between brands.

Wondering how to use powdered egg whites in baking? Check out this Ham & Cheese Dutch Baby Pancake and 90 Second White Bread.

And let's give credit where credit is due! Maria Emmerich is the mastermind behind the popular Protein Sparing Wonder Bread which (in my humble opinion) is the reason powdered egg whites have become so popular in low-carb baking.

Find Powdered Egg Whites on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Lupin Flour

Originating from the sweet lupin bean, this flour is a superb source of protein and fiber while maintaining a low carbohydrate content. It's also gluten-free, making it a good option for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Lupin flour has a mild flavor, making it suitable for both sweet and savory recipes. Its fine texture resembles traditional flour more closely than some other alternatives, potentially leading to superior results in your baked goods. It does tend to contribute to a slightly more dense texture so keep that in mind in case you plan to use it on its own. Finally, it's important to note that lupin is a legume and can cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to peanuts.

Wondering how to use lupin flour? Check out this Challah Bread and Nut-Free Keto Tortillas!

Find Lupin Flour on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Bamboo Flour

Bamboo flour is a less commonly known, but increasingly popular, alternative flour. It is a resistant starch, which means it resists digestion and acts more like dietary fiber, making it an excellent low-carb and low-calorie flour substitute.

Bamboo flour has a light, subtle flavor and integrates seamlessly with other flours. However, due to its high fiber content, it can absorb a lot of moisture, so adjustments to the liquid content in recipes might be necessary. It's often not used as a 1:1 replacement for other flours, but rather as an additive to improve texture and increase the fiber content.

Beyond baking, bamboo flour can also be utilized to make dishes like Low-Carb Cauliflower Gnocchi!

Find Bamboo Flour on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

The Big Low-Carb Baking Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Ingredient Alternatives

Binding Agents in Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Baking

Low-carb and gluten-free flours often require extra binding agents to provide structure to your baked goods and avert crumbling. Here are a few options commonly used in low-carb recipes:

  • add more eggs
  • employ alternatives such as flax meal, ground chia seeds, or psyllium husk powder
  • incorporate protein powder, preferably whey protein isolate
  • use a small amount of glucomannan powder (konjak powder), xanthan gum (or other gums)

This Multipurpose Egg-Free Pie Crust uses psyllium and glucomannan powder to enhance dough pliability. This Key Lime Poke Cake uses protein powder to make the cake less crumbly. Flax meal is used in these Burger Buns to reduce crumbliness and add fluffiness. Lastly, these Lemon Bars incorporate xanthan gum in the base to decrease its crumbliness.

Low-Carb Sugar Alternatives

Finding a suitable sugar substitute is a crucial part of low-carb baking. You not only need to mimic sugar's sweetness, but also its role in browning, caramelizing, and retaining moisture in baked goods. Here is a variety of low-carb sugar alternatives and their unique characteristics.


A relatively new player in the low-carb sweetener market, Allulose, a rare sugar, possesses 70% of sugar's sweetness but only 10% of its calories. It browns and caramelizes like sugar, making it an excellent choice for baking.

Allulose is obtainable in granular and syrup forms. It can be used to make a variety of desserts, including Chewy Maple Pecan Granola Bars, soft and creamy Mocha Coffee Ice Cream, Creme Caramel, Smooth & Silky Keto Caramel Sauce, Chewy Keto Eggless Cookies, and even Fluffy Marshmallows which can be baked or toasted.

There are a few options available on Amazon (Amazon US). If you live outside the US, your options will be limited. However, some online stores like Fruitful Yield ship to other countries (no affiliation).

The brand I use and like is RxSugar although they do not currently ship worldwide. If you live in the US you can get RxSugar 20% off by using this link (affiliate link) or by using the code KETODIET20 at checkout.


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that closely resembles sugar in taste but contains almost no calories or carbs. Its popularity in low-carb baking arises from its non-impact on blood sugar levels. Keep in mind, like many sugar alcohols, it may cause digestive issues if consumed in large amounts.

In the many majority of recipes Erythritol can be used just like Allulose, although it does not caramelize and creates a crispy rather than chewy texture. That's why it's ideal for recipes like Classic Shortbread Cookies, Pecan Sandies or Biscotti.

Find Erythritol on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Important note about Erythritol: Recent studies have linked erythritol to increased blood clotting and potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), so beware if you're using this sweetener often. Click here to learn more about Erythritol.


Stevia, a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, boasts zero calories and zero carbs. It's much sweeter than sugar, so less is more when using it in recipes. However, most people can detect a slightly bitter aftertaste. It's often blended with other sweeteners or bulking agents for ease of use (beware of sweetener blends that use Erythritol and artificial sweeteners).

Stevia is best used with other sweetener options such as Allulose, although it can be used alone when using small amounts. Stevia drops are perfect for recipes that don't require a lot of added sweetness, particularly drinks, smoothies and naturally sweet recipes such as Frozen Berry Shake, Strawberry Breakfast Chia Jars or Strawberry & Rhubarb Jam.

Find Stevia on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Monk Fruit Sweetener

This sweetener comes from monk fruit and is incredibly sweet, often blended with other sweeteners or bulking agents for ease of use (beware of sweetener blends that use Erythritol and artificial sweeteners). It has zero calories and carbs, and unlike some sweeteners, it doesn't have a noticeably bitter aftertaste. Just like stevia, it's best to use with other sweeteners such as Allulose, or use in recipes that are already naturally sweet (using berries, coconut and other low-carb fruit).

Find Monk Fruit Sweetener on: Amazon US


Another sugar alcohol, xylitol has a sweetness similar to sugar and 40% fewer calories. It's good for dental health as it inhibits the growth of the bacteria that cause tooth decay. It doesn't impact blood sugar levels as much as sugar, making it a good low-carb option. Although it doesn't caramelize, it can be used just like sugar in most recipes and thanks to its unique properties it's ideal for making candies and lollipops.

Before you use xylitol, beware that it can cause digestive issues if consumed in excess, and it's extremely toxic to dogs as it can cause hypoglycemia.

Find Xylitol on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Yacon Syrup

Made from the root of the yacon plant, this syrup has a flavor similar to caramel or molasses. It's high in fructooligosaccharides, a type of sugar molecule that the human body can't metabolize, making it low in effective carbs. However, it can cause digestive issues if consumed in excess.

When substituting sugar in recipes, account not only for its sweetness but also for the volume and moisture it provides. You may need to experiment with amounts and potentially add other ingredients to achieve the right texture and moisture level.

Apart from being used as a sweetener, it can be used instead of sugar in recipes that use yeast. Unlike most other low-carb sweeteners, it will activate yeast and help create a fluffy texture to baked goods.

Find Yacon Syrup on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Freeze-Dried Fruit Powder

Although it's not a sugar-free option, freeze-dried fruit powder, especially one made from berries, offers a sweetener-free way to add sweetness to baked goods without the extra moisture you'd normally get from fresh fruit. Depending on the type of fruit, you will need to adjust the amount to fit your low-carb lifestyle.

These Chocolate Strawberry Hearts are an example of a delicious recipe that doesn't require any additional sweetener.

Find Freeze-Dried Fruit Powder on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Fats and Oils in Low-Carb Baking

Fats and oils contribute to the texture, flavor, and moisture of baked goods. When opting for low-carb baking, it's essential to select fats that not only contribute to these aspects but also align with your dietary goals. Here are a few options:

Coconut Oil

A great dairy-free alternative to butter, coconut oil can be used in equal amounts. Its high smoke point makes it suitable for baking, and it imparts a subtle coconut flavor. Note that coconut oil melts at room temperature, so keep chilled desserts like Chocolate Covered Pink Truffles in the fridge.

Find Virgin Coconut Oil on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Butter and Ghee (Clarified Butter)

Butter, high in fat and low in carbs, is a superb choice for low-carb baking. It lends a rich flavor and helps create a tender crumb in cakes and pastries.

Ghee (clarified butter), which is lactose and casein-free, is suitable for people with dairy allergies or sensitivities. It has a high smoke point like coconut and avocado oils and gives a nutty flavor to baked goods.

Find Grass-Fed Ghee on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Other Fats & Oils

  • Olive oil can be a good option in some baked goods such as biscotti or certain types of sponge cake.
  • Avocado oil is another dairy-free option, although depending on the avocado oil, it may overpower your baked goods. Its high smoke point makes it an excellent option for baking.
  • Cacao butter is not a common baking fat but can be used for rich textures in recipes like brownies. Unlike coconut oil, coconut butter does not melt at room temperature so it's perfect in chocolate covered truffles that you wish to keep out of the fridge.

Keep in mind that the type of fat you select can affect the taste and texture of your baked goods, so make your choice based on your recipe and personal preference.

Low-Carb Leavening Agents

Low-carb and gluten-free baking often relies on leavening agents to give baked goods their rise and fluffiness. Though these agents typically aren't high in carbs, understanding their roles is still vital.

Baking Powder

Baking powder, a common leavening agent in baking, is carb-free and helps dough rise by creating trapped gas. Baking powder typically contains starches and sometimes even gluten. If you're avoiding these components, you can prepare your own Gluten-Free Baking Powder with just two ingredients.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another carb-free leavening agent. It needs an acidic ingredient in the recipe, like buttermilk, yogurt, or cream of tartar to activate.

Cream of Tartar

This ingredient is often used in baking as a leavening agent, especially in conjunction with baking soda. It's also frequently used to stabilize egg whites when whipping them into peaks, as it helps increase their heat tolerance and volume. In low-carb baking, cream of tartar is a valuable ingredient due to its versatility and zero carb content. If you don't have cream of tartar, other acidic ingredients like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar can be used as substitutes.


Yeast is a living organism that feeds on the sugars in your dough to create carbon dioxide gas, causing the dough to rise. Although yeast doesn't significantly contribute to carbs, traditional yeast-dough recipes may require sugar or honey to activate the yeast.

Sugar is an ingredient that is essential for activating the yeast. Don't panic, no sugar will be left after the fermentation of yeast! Alternatively, you can always use inulin-based sweetener such as yacon syrup.

Some of our best recipes that use yeast are Low-Carb Yeast Bread, Naan Bread, Stollen Christmas Cake, Panettone and Hot Cross Buns.


In many low-carb and gluten-free baking recipes, eggs act as vital leavening agents. When baking, the protein in eggs coagulates, contributing to the structure and lift of the baked goods.

The Big Low-Carb Baking Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Ingredient Alternatives

Low-Carb Dairy Options

Dairy products in baking contribute to the texture, moisture, and flavor of your baked goods. For those on a low-carb diet, it's necessary to choose dairy products or alternatives that align with your carb limits. Here are the suitable options:

Heavy Whipping Cream

High in fat and low in carbs, heavy cream can be used in many recipes where milk would traditionally be used. It contributes to the richness and moisture of baked goods. Same applies to double cream and single cream.

Looking for ways to use heavy whipping cream in recipes? From tarts and pies to cakes and mousse, we've got you covered!

Greek Yogurt

Choose unsweetened and full-fat Greek yogurt for a lower-carb and lower-fat option. It can replace sour cream in numerous recipes, providing moisture and a mild tanginess to baked goods. Greek yogurt is used in these Chocolate Glazed Donuts to add moisture and a rich flavor without too much fat.

Hard Cheese

Many types of cheese, particularly hard cheeses, are low in carbs. Cheese introduces flavor and texture to diverse baked goods. Shredded cheese, particularly mozzarella or cheddar, is a key ingredient in making Chaffles (cheese waffles), a popular low-carb substitute for bread. It can also be used in a variety of other recipes to add flavor and texture. These Cheddar Dill Biscuits are another great example of how you can use shredded cheese.


This is a rich and creamy Italian cheese with a subtle, slightly sweet flavor. It can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It is frequently used in low-carb baking for lending creaminess to desserts and concocting creamy sauces. Recipes like Key Lime Pies and Swiss Roll use mascarpone to make the filling ultra rich and creamy.


Ricotta cheese is a fresh, soft cheese with a slightly sweet flavor. Ricotta can feature in multiple low-carb recipes, including pancakes and muffins, or serve as a cheese filling in cakes and pastries.

Cream Cheese

This is a popular ingredient in low-carb baking due to its versatility and neutral flavor. While it is a common ingredient in desserts like this Easy Pound Cake, cream cheese also finds use in savory recipes such as bread and pancakes, enhancing their moisture and creaminess. Just as most dairy option, it can be used in toppings and frostings.


In moderation, even buttermilk can be used to make low-carb recipes. It's the key ingredient in these fluffy Sourdough Keto Baguettes!

Mozzarella Cheese Instead of Gluten?

It may sound like an odd ingredient to use but part-skim, shredded mozzarella cheese (the one you'd use on a pizza, not fresh mozzarella for salads) is the ideal ingredient in low-carb baking. Melted mozzarella lends elasticity to the dough, facilitating its shaping and rolling. The final result works surprisingly well and doesn't even taste cheesy.

Not convinced? Check out these recipes that use mozzarella:

Dairy-Free Options

  • Almond Milk (or any nut & seed milk): Unsweetened almond milk is a great low-carb, dairy-free alternative. Almond milk can directly replace milk in the majority of baking recipes. Beware of almond milk products containing starches, sugar and/or soy.
  • Coconut Milk: Unsweetened coconut milk is another excellent dairy-free alternative. High in fat and low in carbs, coconut milk fits well into low-carb baking. Again, read the labels before purchasing to avoid unwanted ingredients, or make your own if needed.

Find Almond Milk on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Find Coconut Milk on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Other Ingredients for Low-Carb Baking

Many standard baking recipes incorporate ingredients that add moisture, contributing to the overall taste and texture of your baked goods. When baking with low-carb flours, you can utilize similar ingredients that are low in carbs. The focus remains on ensuring the recipes are suitable for low-carb living. Here are a few options:

Pumpkin Puree

An ingredient not just for fall but for year-round low-carb baking. It brings moisture, mild sweetness, and fiber without too many carbs.

You can buy canned unsweetened pumpkin puree or even make your own Pumpkin Puree - it's easy! You can then use it to make a variety of seasonal recipes, including No Fail Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins, Basque Burnt Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies.

Apple Sauce

Use unsweetened apple sauce for added moisture. It does contain some natural sugars, making it less suitable for strict low-carb diets such as the keto diet.

Are you worried about the carb count in apple sauce? Make our Apple Butter from zucchini! You can read all about low-carb alternatives to apples in this guide.

Mashed Bananas

Though higher in carbs, a small amount of mashed bananas can significantly moisten and flavor your recipes, often without the need for additional sweeteners. You can use them in keto recipes like this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

Zucchini or Other Squash

Grated (and sometimes also drained) zucchini or other squash types add substantial moisture without altering flavor. This makes them a versatile choice for various recipes.

Grated or blended zucchini can be used in both sweet and savory recipes, including Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake, Chocolate Truffle Cake and Savory Zucchini Muffins.

The Big Low-Carb Baking Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Ingredient Alternatives

Low-Carb Egg Alternatives

Eggs play a significant role in traditional baking. They provide structure, leavening, and moisture. While eggs are low in carbs and high in protein, some people may want or need to replace them in their baking. Each of these egg alternatives offers different properties, so choose according to your recipe needs and personal dietary preferences. Here are a few low-carb alternatives:

Flax meal or Chia Seeds

Mix one tablespoon of ground flax meal, or whole or ground chia seeds with three tablespoons of water to replace one egg. This blend is more suitable for recipes that demand fewer eggs. They won't work in cheesecakes and custards. A good example of a recipe using flax egg is this Quick Eggless English Muffin.

Find Chia Seeds on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Psyllium Husk

Use one tablespoon of psyllium husk mixed with two to three tablespoons of water to replace one egg. Psyllium husk functions as a binding agent, offering structure to your baked goods.

Apart from being a good alternative to eggs in some recipes, psyllium husks and psyllium husk powder are great for binding and adding volume to baked goods. Some of the best keto breads are made with psyllium powder.

Whole psyllium husks make the best Keto Tortillas, Taco Shells & Nachos while psyllium husk powder is ideal for fluffy Keto Burger Buns and Bread.

Find Psyllium Husk on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Gelatin and Agar Agar

Gelatin is a protein that comes from collagen. It's often used in baking and cooking as a thickening or gelling agent, especially in desserts like jelly and mousse. In low-carb baking, it aids in imparting structure and firmness to recipes. For instance, it can be used instead of psyllium powder in these Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Gelatin can come in powdered form or in sheets:

  • Gelatin Powder: For replacing a tablespoon of gelatin granules with gelatin powder, use six sheets of leaf gelatin.
  • Gelatin Sheets: To utilize gelatin sheets in place of powder, soak the sheets in cold water for a few moments to soften. One sheet of leaf gelatin is approximately equivalent to 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin powder.

Find Gelatin Powder on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Agar is a vegetarian and vegan gelatin substitute derived from seaweed. It's available in a few forms, but flakes and powder are most common:

  • Agar Powder: Agar powder sets more firmly than gelatin and can be used in a 1:1 ratio in most recipes. This implies that you can replace 1 teaspoon of gelatin in your recipe with 1 teaspoon of agar powder.
  • Agar Flakes: Agar flakes don't set as firmly as the powder. To achieve the firmness of 1 teaspoon of gelatin, you'd need to use about 1 tablespoon of agar flakes.

Find Agar Agar on: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Both gelatin and agar powder can serve as gelling agents and binders in your baking. To replace one egg, dissolve one tablespoon of unflavored gelatin in three tablespoons of boiling water (or use agar agar for a vegan alternative).

The Big Low-Carb Baking Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Ingredient Alternatives

Three Golden Rules for Recipe Adaptation in Low-Carb Baking

Transitioning to low-carb baking doesn't imply sacrificing your preferred recipes. With a little creativity and adaptation, you can transform almost any recipe into a low-carb version. Here's a broad approach:

1. Ingredient Swaps

The first step in recipe adaptation is swapping out high-carb ingredients for low-carb alternatives. As discussed throughout this guide, you can substitute flour, sugar, fats, dairy, and even eggs with low-carb alternatives. The key is understanding the role of each ingredient in your recipe and choosing a substitute that provides similar functionality.

2. Adjust Cooking Times and Temperatures

Low-carb ingredients might have a different cooking process compared to their high-carb counterparts. You may need to adjust the cooking time or temperature of your recipes. For example, almond flour tends to brown faster than wheat flour, so you might need to lower your oven temperature and increase cooking time. This same rule applies to most other flours as nut and seed flours typically requite a lower baking temperature.

As a rule of thumb you'll need to be baking them 10 to 30 degrees centigrade lower. The exact temperature will depend on the type of flour as well as other ingredients. For instance, if a recipe calls for 175 C fan (350 F), you'll be baking it at 145 to 165 C fan (290 to 330 F) instead.

3. Add Extra Binding Agents

Low-carb and gluten-free flours often require additional binding agents provide structure to your baked goods and keep them from crumbling. Adding more eggs, or using alternatives like flaxseed, glucomannan powder (konjak powder), xanthan gum, chia seeds, or psyllium husk can help.

Experimentation in Low-Carb Baking

When it comes to low-carb baking, experimentation is key. Low-carb flours, sweeteners, and other substitutes behave differently than traditional baking ingredients. Therefore, it may take some trial and error to get the texture and taste you're aiming for. Here are a few tips:

  • Start Small: Rather than baking a large batch, start with a small one to see how the substitutions work. This will allow you to tweak the recipe as needed without wasting ingredients.
  • Keep Notes: Keeping track of what works and what doesn’t can be helpful for future baking attempts. Note down any modifications you made to the recipe and their results.
  • One Modification at a Time: Ideally, only make one change at a time. Although it may be a lengthy process, do not make more than one modification between different batches. If you make more changes, you won't know which one of them had the most significant impact.
  • Patience: Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t turn out perfect. Each failure is a step closer to perfecting your low-carb baking skills.


In conclusion, transitioning to low-carb baking doesn't mean sacrificing the delight of enjoying your favorite baked goods. With the diverse array of low-carb alternatives available for traditional high-carb ingredients, you can recreate nearly any recipe to fit your low-carb lifestyle.

By understanding the role and behavior of these alternatives, adjusting cooking times and temperatures accordingly, and adding extra binding agents when necessary, successful low-carb baking is entirely achievable.

Remember, patience and experimentation are key in this journey. Start small, keep notes, and don't be discouraged by initial hiccups. With each attempt, you're refining your low-carb baking skills, opening up a world of delicious and healthy possibilities. Happy baking!

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Martina Slajerova
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Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

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Comments (12)

You left out another option for sugar free ingredients: Bocha Sweet, which comes from the Kabocha plant, a squash. 0 on the glycemic index, same ratio to sugar and tastes just like sugar. It is a bit spendy, but I feel well worth it for the taste and texture. No aftertaste as with stevia or monk fruit (Which I, personally can’t get past).
Thank you once again for the great post. Full of information and options to try.
My 2 go-to's are Bocha Sweet and Allulose for replacing sugar (T2D) Bocha Sweet even has a powdered version as well as a "brown sugar" version. (I think it incorporates some erythritol)
I also have a bit of yacon syrup, but haven't used it yet.

Thank you so much for the tip! I'll need to update my sweetener post to include this option. I seem to remember that it is a mixture of kabocha and birch xylitol but I'll have to check again. It's pretty good. Allulose, Bocha Sweet, liquid stevia and monk fruit are the only sweeteners I use now. I love yacon syrup too but use it sparingly because it is not carb-free.

Your comments on protein powders seem not very detailed.  I have found that collagen, whey, egg white and gelatin all behave quite differently in baking, even though sometimes people suggest substituting one for the other.  For example, I developed a pound cake recipe that is tender with whey protein but tough with egg white protein.  Collagen is even more of a tenderizer and tends to make things moist, and of course, gelatin can make things chewy.  I'm still working to understand how to best use these ingredients.   I've also noticed puzzling behaviors when the protein powders are mixed with other ingredients, like adding a  whey or egg white to a mixture containing nut butter or nut flour and liquid will leave me with a tight ball of dough and a pool of liquid (fat from the nut butter, maybe?).  
You don't mention oat fiber.  Any idea about this ingredient?  Maybe similar to bamboo flour?  

Hi Adrian, you are right, I didn't get to the nuances of protein powders, I felt the guide was getting huge and thought maybe I should cover this in a separate one. Whey and egg white protein powder can be substituted almost equally in many recipes but whey protein powder almost always leads to superior results, it's always the best choice in sponge cakes and bread. Indeed, collagen is less suitable than the two and is best for cakes that are more moist. Gelatin is VERY different and I would not use it as a substitute to gluten. I rarely use it in baking apart from cookies and brownies. It's just something that's best for chilled desserts.
As for oat fibre, I thought about including it but I don't feel like I've tested it enough. I only used it twice and it gave me horrible stomach cramps and bloating so I've not used it since then. I'll see if I can find more information and will ask people in our Facebook group to get some real feedback.
Any more ideas? Let me know and thanks again!

And I almost forgot to mention this. Nut butter can separate (the oil from the solids) and the recipe is almost always ruined because it's too dense without the oil, which you can't re-incorporate. It usually happens when the mixture is over-processed, and protein powder doesn't have to be used. The one recipe I can remember going wrong like this is this one: Chewy Low-Carb Peanut Butter Cookies and a variation 5 Ingredient Keto Chocolate Cookies

I haven't personally noticed any particular reaction to oat fiber, but it seems like a hard ingredient to get.  (I think I ordered a different brand and it seemed like a different product.)  I have one recipe---for shortbread---where if I omit the 15g of oat fiber it ruins the texture, so that oat fiber (or something like it) is crucial.  I found getting shortbread texture---dry and sort of sturdy, a little hard, but not crunchy or chewy---to be very tricky.  My current approach requires drying them over night in a dehydrator after baking.  
I think I tend to notice oil coming out of nuts more when making non-cooked products.  For example, I have a marzipan recipe where I replaced some of the sugar with collagen protein and it has a tendency to get very oily, though it doesn't ruin it.  I make that using almond flour, not almond butter.  And yes, it does depend on the amount of mixing.  But it seems like it can be a fine line to walk between mixing enough and mixing too much.   I was fiddling with a protein bar recipe made from macadamia butter, whey protein and almond flour, to which I was adding lime juice and it would turn very oily if I processed it for too long---this made it hard to experiment with ratios because it was hard to adjust the recipe after it came together without bringing out the oil.   I find that "too long" is not very long.  I mean, it's a difference of 20 seconds in the food processor vs 30 or something like that.  I have to stop processing as soon as it seems like it's just starting to come together if I want to avoid the oily texture.  
What do you think is the reason to use nut butter instead of nut flour in a baked recipe?  I don't usually do this.  And if I see a recipe calling for nut butter I usually just substitute equal weight of nut flour instead.  I think I have one recipe---a microwave bread---where I have tested both and nut butter produces a very slightly better, more bread-like texture.   With a nut butter, the oil is unbound, as is evident when you look in the container and see it floating there.  On the other hand, it's not clear that unbound oil is catastrophic in baking.  After all, we add butter or other fats, so if things won't stay integrated for a baked recipe, it makes me wonder if the recipe should be formulated differently.  If you made a conventional recipe and the butter or oil wouldn't incorporate you'd think something was wrong with the recipe, and conventional baking recipes usually call for more mixing, not less (until you add the flour, at least).   My experience with fat coming out has suggested that it specifically has something to do with protein powder.   My first striking experience with this did not involve lengthy mixing:  I added protein powder and immediately my dough, which had been fairly soft, spread around the bowl, clenched together into a tough mass that formed a ball, and a bunch of oil came out.   Maybe I should try one of the recipes you list above (no protein powder) and see if I can get it to break.  
I have been using collagen and gelatin both in cookies.  So for example in chocolate chip cookies I use both of them.  Note that I don't usually bloom the gelatin---just mix it in like any other protein powder.   I also have gelatin in some roll cake recipes, where it seemed to improve the texture and decrease cracking when I roll the cake.  I have it in a waffle recipe and also a bread recipe.  I have a high protein angel food cake where the flour is almost entirely replaced by protein powder and I found that if I use a mixture of whey and collagen I get a texture I like which is somewhat moist, and it seems like adjusting that ratio can control how moist it is.  Actually I think it's probably better than a conventional flour-based angel food cake.   The original recipe had all egg white protein and the cake was very tough.  
In testing I've done with xanthan gum I've never noticed it to have any detectable effect on my baked goods.   I've seen accacia gum (aka gum arabic) in commercial low carb products and wondered whether that might be useful, but not tried it.  
With regards to other ingredients of interest, I'd also ask about inulin and corn fiber, which I've seen show up in lots of low carb items.   I tried replacing oat fiber with inulin in my shortbread recipe and it made them chewy instead of dry, which was wrong for shortbread, but not a bad result.   There is also the sweetener Bochasweet.  I don't know what availability outside the USA is like for this.  

You are amazing!!! I'm your biggest fan!!
I have your app in my iPhone, I love your blog and site and I downloaded all your books.
I'm so happy to "find" you in the social media/ internet
I'm also decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic diet. With all your help and support this journey is easy and fun. Thanks!!!
I live in Brazil. I'm a Chef, a book lover, reading and writing fanatic and researcher as well.
You inspired me.

Thank you so much Renata, your comment has made my day!

Martina, thank you so much for keeping us informed about keto and such creative meals ideas.You are a blessed person. Thank you so much .

Thank you so much for your kind words, Sharline!

This is amazing Martina! I've pinned and printed every single guide you shared in the last two weeks. It's already like a little book full of great tips. I can't wait to see what you share next!

Thank you Tasha! I've been working on a guide to bread alternatives so hopefully it will be live in the next couple of days 😊