Easy Low-Carb Snack Recipes
The snack aisle is filled with carbohydrates. Good thing making low-carb snacks at home is so simple.
People have been following and raving about low-carbohydrate diets for decades — and with good reason. There’s plenty of scientific evidence that easing up on carbs while increasing your intake of lean protein and healthy fats can help you lose weight quickly. That kind of eating plan may also lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
But low-carb diets aren’t without pitfalls, and snacking can be a big one. Finding a quick, low-carb snack is often easier said than done. Many convenient snack foods, from a banana to a bowl of whole-grain chips, have more carbohydrates than your plan might permit. We can help! Read on for a rich assortment of options so simple, even an inexperienced home cook can manage.
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Low-carb diet basics
Low-carbohydrate diets include Atkins, which kicked off the whole craze in the 1990s, and the ketogenic diet, the 21st-century fad. With both, you start out by eating around 20 grams of carbs each day (the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults eat around 130 grams of carbs each day). With Atkins, you increase your intake in phases until you reach your target weight. When you go keto, on the other hand, the goal is to keep your body in a state known as ketosis, which means you’ll need to maintain that extremely low level indefinitely — not an easy task, unless you really like eating fat and protein.
You don’t need to go to extremes to see health benefits. Simply cutting back to a moderately low level, somewhere between 50 and 100 grams each day, might be enough — and you may be able to achieve that just by reducing your intake of refined sugar and processed foods. But no matter which kind of low-carb diet you choose, you’re likely to run into trouble at snack time.
What kind of snacks can you have on a low-carb diet?
Picture this: It’s the middle of the afternoon, and your energy is flagging. You pop into a convenience store to pick up a treat to hold you until dinner, and what do you see? Chips, crackers, cookies, and cakes. Even the healthier options like fruit-flavored yogurt can have almost 30 grams of carbs in a single serving. That’s why making your own low-carb snacks makes so much sense.
When you prepare your own snacks, you’re in control. You know exactly what’s going into the recipe, and you can modify seasoning and ingredients to suit your taste. It’s also likely to be a lot less expensive than hitting the vending machine every time you need some nibbles. To stock your pantry for low-carb snack recipes, you’ll need just a few key ingredients:
Nuts, nut butters, and nut flours
Avocado and other vegetables
Cocoa powder, dark chocolate, or sugar-free chocolate
Ready to get started making your own low-carb snacks? You’re bound to find recipes you like in this lineup — some are low enough in carbs to work for a keto diet, while others suit a more moderate approach.
Quick and easy low-carb snacks
When you need to satisfy your munchies fast, snack recipes with very few ingredients are usually the way to go. Each of these is ready within 15 minutes.
You won’t believe crunchy homemade crackers can be this easy. Melt mozzarella cheese, stir in almond flour, and you’ve got your dough. Roll it out, sprinkle with seasoning, cut, and bake. You’re going to have a hard time keeping these on-hand — they disappear quickly.
Nuts always make a terrific low-carb snack, but plain nuts can get boring, fast. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a mix of spices and sizzle them in a skillet for a few minutes, though, and the nibble you’ve got is anything but dull.
When you make small piles of shredded cheddar cheese on a sheet pan and bake them for just a few minutes, they turn into crunchy, salty, chip-like treats. This recipe offers bonus varieties — in addition to plain and taco crisps (sprinkled with taco seasoning), you’ll find pizza crisps (with mozzarella, Parmesan, and diced pepperoni) and jalapeño popper crisps (with jalapeño and bacon).
Sometimes, you just need to dip some veggies into creamy, spicy guacamole. This shortcut version is ready in the blink of an eye, because you’re mixing only mashed avocado with prepared salsa and lime juice. (For this recipe to work with your low-carb goals, skip the optional crackers and flautas you see in the photo.)
Easy high-protein, low-carb snacks
Low-carbohydrate doesn’t always mean high-protein, but if you need your snacks to provide the long-lasting energy (and steady blood sugar) you’ll get from protein, these recipes will do the trick.
When you season canned chickpeas with yummy spices and roast them in the oven, they crisp up into the perfect snack food for adults and kids alike: super-crunchy, salty, and spicy-but-not-too-spicy. We’ll bet you can’t eat just one (handful).
While the chickpeas in the previous recipe start out canned, here you’re turning dried split peas into a crunchy, protein-packed topper for avocado toast (use low-carb bread if you’re following a keto plan). The peas need some soaking time before you fry them up in a skillet, so think ahead — the hardest part of this recipe is remembering to get them into the water!
At first glance, this might not look super special, just some cream cheese rolled inside salami slices. But the cheesy filling also includes chipotle powder, smoked paprika, and garlic salt, with some finely chopped shallot for a sharp bite. You’ll be looking for foods to stuff it in! The recipe calls for salami, but you can easily swap in other cold cuts, if that’s your jam. (These also make a mighty fine appetizer or hors d’oeuvre.)
Protein bars are easy enough to buy, but they usually have a ton of ingredients you might not want or even recognize — not to mention a hefty dose of carbs in the form of added sugar. Who needs that when making your own is so easy? These no-bake bars taste like everybody’s favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread, but they’ve got only 2 grams of net carbs each.
Easy low-carb snacks on the go
If you’re out and about when hunger strikes, finding a low-carb pick-me-up can be challenging. Each of these recipes will have you snacking on the go, no problem.
Does “beef jerky” bring to mind one of those meat sticks from the corner store? Once you've tried homemade jerky, you’ll have a whole new understanding of the possibilities. To make it, slice a lean steak very thin, marinate in savory seasoning, and use a dehydrator or your oven to reduce the pieces into deliciously chewy strips.
Pecans form the base of these no-bake bars — process them with cacao powder, coconut oil, and other ingredients. Press more chopped pecans and dark chocolate chips into the surface before they hit the freezer to firm up. Cut ‘em, wrap each bar in waxed paper, and go.
Grain-free granola is perfectly portable and full of healthy fats. Nuts like almonds and pecans make up most of the mixture (also great: cashews), along with shredded coconut and sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Protein powder gives it extra nutritional oomph, while peanut butter and sweetener help hold everything together. Spread it on a sheet pan, bake, and your granola is ready for packaging.
A serving of the big national-brand cheese cracker has a whopping 24 grams of carbs. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, they're out of the question. These uber-cheesy crunch bombs turn mozzarella, Parmesan, and cream cheese into an irresistible keto snack with only 1.2 grams of net carbs per serving.
Sweet low-carb snacks
Whether you’re on a keto diet or a moderately low-carb one, finding sweet treats to fit your meal plan can be challenging. Enjoy these healthy snacks, which get their sweetness from fruit or keto-friendly sweeteners like erythritol and monkfruit extract.
What would life be like with no chocolate chip cookies? It’s unthinkable. That’s where keto recipes like this come in: A handful of smart ingredient swaps and sugar-free chocolate chips keep the carb count low. Each heavenly cookie has just 2 grams of net carbohydrates.
Fudgy, gooey, and downright decadent, these secretly healthy brownies could fool almost anyone into thinking they’d sink an attempt at weight loss. Almond flour and almond butter provide the heft, while cocoa powder makes them richly chocolatey, and shredded zucchini keeps them moist (but you won’t even taste it). And each one has only 148 calories, with net carbs coming in at just 2 grams.
You won’t believe how much deliciousness can come from natural peanut butter, a ripe banana, and some coconut oil. As you might guess, with so few ingredients, these candy-like bites take only minutes to put together (and some time in the freezer).
We all occasionally get a hankering for a creamy frozen treat. Just five ingredients and 15 minutes of effort go into these berry-scented balls of satisfaction: cream cheese, strawberries, salted butter, vanilla extract, and sweetener.
Explore low-carb diets and recipes
Are you on a keto kick or have your mind set on kicking some habits? Here are a few more articles on healthy eating you'll find meaty and just the right kind of nutty.