A keto diet is another name for a low-carb diet. The fundamental idea for a ketogenic (keto) diet is to get most of your calories from protein and fat, rather than carbohydrates. In the short term, keto is good for helping people with various food sensitivities, like people who have diabetes. Athletes also use keto diets to help burn fat. For a lot of people, being on a keto diet means that you have to know where your food comes from and what the nutrition facts are.
So, as you can imagine, eating out at a restaurant when you are on a keto diet can sometimes seem impossible. After all, it is always hard to tell what the carb count is for any individual meal. If you are contemplating a keto diet, or if you are already on one, do not think that you have to give up going out for some delicious Chinese food. It is actually quite easy to find Chinese food on the menu that is compatible with a low carb or keto diet. Here are the best Chinese dishes for when you are really craving some Chinese take out.
Keto-Friendly Chinese Food Ideas
To eat low carb Chinese food, you have to first be aware of what you should absolutely avoid. Unfortunately, for a lot of Chinese food, the sauces are often made with sugar or corn starch that can make it difficult to stick to your keto diet.
When you are looking for something keto-friendly on the menu, make sure to avoid anything fried, anything with noodles or rice, wontons, dumplings, and most sauces, including, but not limited to, General Tso’s and sweet and sour sauce. The sauces used in Chinese meals are often full of added sugars and corn starch, which are both high in carbs.
Ugh, but doesn’t that include everything good? Sauces are the best part of getting chicken or beef! However, you would be surprised by how much you can actually eat at a Chinese restaurant when you are on keto. Here is a list of all of the low carb Chinese dishes offered at most Chinese restaurants.
Steamed Chicken or Beef
Unfortunately, a large chunk of the protein and meat found at Chinese restaurants is coated in cornstarch before frying or cooking. Thankfully, there is a way to get around breaking your keto diet when you are looking for good meat to fill you up. Steamed protein, like beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp, along with some steamed or cooked veggies, is a perfect replacement meal for anything fried. Of course, make sure you ask them to leave off the sauce (or just get it on the side).
When food is steamed to cook, there is no sugar or starch involved in the cooking process. The only downside is that steaming can make the dish devoid of all that delicious, Chinese food flavor. Make sure you always have a small bottle of your favorite keto-friendly sauce on hand to add a little zest back into your protein.
Some delicious steamed protein meals that are on the menu of almost any Chinese restaurant include Mu Shu chicken or pork, beef (or chicken) and broccoli, and egg foo young. Most of these meals, however, come with a bit of sauce, so make sure you double-check when you order to have the sauce on the side or to leave it off completely.
Egg Drop Soup
Egg drop soup, depending on whether or not the restaurant uses cornstarch as a thickener, is the perfect keto-friendly soup. Make sure you double-check that there is no added corn starch. If not, then not only is egg drop soup keto-friendly, but it is also a good source of fat. You can usually tell if the egg drop soup is keto-friendly depending on the consistency. Runny, thin egg drop soup is probably safe to eat, while a thicker consistency probably means that it is going to contain some carbs.
Chinese Stir Fry
Usually made with veggies, protein, and oil, Chinese stir fry is a perfect keto-friendly meal that anyone who needs to stay low carb can have on a night out. Make sure to double-check that there will be no added cornstarch or sugar when making your stir-fry, as some restaurants will add this to make the meat velvety. You can always ask for accommodations so that your specific stir-fry protein is not cooked in cornstarch. You can also go with a veggie stir fry, like fried watercress, spinach, and chop suey. Some Chinese restaurants use veggies that are high in carbs, so make sure you know exactly what is going in your stir fry before you order.
A lot of the sauces in Chinese restaurants tend to have a lot of hidden carbs. It is important to know what is safe, so you can add a little bit of flavor when eating out. One of the low carb and keto-friendly sauces available at most Chinese restaurants is the black bean sauce. This particular sauce does not tend to have very many carbs. There is a small number of black beans in the sauce itself, but not enough to cause a spike in carbs like some of the other sauces.
Eating out does not have to be a minefield of trying to avoid carbs. Eating Chinese food on a keto diet is easier than you think, especially when you know what to avoid. But what about making your own Chinese food? Homemade Chinese food assures that you are getting the taste you want while also staying well within your carb allowance.
Homemade Keto Chinese Food
If you are skilled in the kitchen and want to have a go at making your own Chinese food that you know is keto-friendly, then you will want to try out these recipes. The benefit of making your own keto-friendly food is that you know exactly what is going in it. There will not be any hidden sugars or cornstarch. Here are some of the best homemade Chinese dishes that are low carb and keto-friendly.
General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s chicken is probably one of the hardest Chinese meals to give up when you go keto. There is just something about that sauce that’s addictive! Thankfully, Keto Bite’s has come up with a low-carb version of General Tso’s that is sticky, sweet, and savory, just like the real thing.
For the actually chicken, you will want to gather these ingredients:
- 6 small chicken breasts
- ¾ cup of crushed pork rinds
- ⅓ cup of almond flour
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 large eggs
For that iconic General Tso’s sauce:
- 2 tablespoons of reduced sugar ketchup, erythritol, and sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- ¼ cup of chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon of minced ginger
- ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon of hoisin sauce, red chili paste, red chili flakes, and garlic powder
To make some delicious, keto-friendly General Tso’s chicken, first, grind up half a bag of pork rinds in a food processor until they are ground into powder. Next, mix the pork rind powder and almond flour together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, scramble the two eggs for dipping the chicken.
To prepare the chicken, make sure that any fat or grit is removed and cube the chicken breasts into small, bite-sized pieces. Once your chicken is prepared, dip them into the egg, then the almond flour mixture. Set your coated chicken aside for frying.
Using a pan, heat up your olive oil and coconut oil. After it is heated up, you can drop your coated chicken in for them to fry. You want to cook them just enough to create a hard crust, but not enough to cook them all the way through. The rest of the cooking will be done in the oven.
Next, you have to make your delicious, General Tso’s sauce. Thankfully, the General Tso’s sauce takes a lot less time and effort than the chicken. Just toss all of your sauce ingredients into a clean bowl and combine until completely incorporated. The sauce should have a dark red color. Cover the chicken in the sauce and transfer to a baking tray.
All that is left to do is pop the chicken into a 350-degree oven. You are going to want to cook it for 60 minutes in 15-minute intervals. Every 15 minutes, make sure to take your chicken out to flip in the baking pan and mix them in the sauce, which should begin to thicken up.
There you have it! Enjoy your delicious, keto-friendly General Tso’s chicken, without the added sugar and cornstarch.
Beef and Broccoli Chinese Stir Fry
Here is another keto-friendly Chinese recipe to try out. From Stay Snatched, not only is this beef and broccoli stir fry recipe low carb, but it is also paleo and dairy-free. This is a totally delicious, healthy meal that will help you really temper that Chinese food craving.
For your marinade, you will want to pick up the following ingredients:
- 1 pound of steak (sirloin tips recommended to save on slicing)
- 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and steak rub
- Salt & pepper
For the sauce, here are the ingredients you need:
- ⅓ cup of beef broth
- 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and sesame oil
- 2 minced garlic cloves
And for the rest, pick up:
- Chopped, fresh broccoli
- 1 teaspoon of butter
- 2 and ½ cups of frozen riced cauliflower
Alright, now that we have all the ingredients we need, let’s start putting this keto-friendly dish together. Start with seasoning the steak with all of your marinade ingredients. If you have sirloin tips, you do not have to worry about slicing up your steak beforehand. Marinate the steak in the fridge for an hour at the very least. While the steak is marinating, you can start steaming the broccoli.
Steam the broccoli in a pan with an inch of boiling water for about 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat, or until the broccoli is tender.
For the sauce, add some hot water to a medium-sized bowl. Add the beef broth, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and brown sugar to the bowl. Stir until it is well incorporated.
Now that everything is ready, it’s time to make the beef and broccoli stir fry. To begin, you are going to want to heat up the butter in a skillet (or wok, if you have one) on medium-high. Once the butter is melted, you can add the marinated steak. As you cook the steak, make sure to flip it every 4 to 5 minutes.
As you cook it, reduce the heat to medium. You can then add the stir fry sauce and steamed broccoli. Make sure to stir the ingredients around so that both the broccoli and steak are thoroughly coated in the sauce. Now, you can just keep cooking until the steak is cooked all the way through to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees.
After you remove the beef and broccoli from the skillet, you can cook the riced broccoli in the same pan for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until it becomes soft.
And voila! You have a delicious, keto-friendly beef and broccoli meal.
When you make the decision to go keto, whether you do it for health reasons, weight-loss reasons, or athletic reasons, giving up some of your favorite high-carb foods can be extremely difficult. Learning how to eat and cook with a new diet takes some time. Thankfully, even when you are on keto (or even a strict keto diet with very few carb allowances!) you can still find ways to enjoy your once-favorite foods.
Hopefully, this guide will help you the next time you are at a Chinese restaurant and you are looking for the best keto-friendly meals on the menu. Check out the low carb Chinese food /Keto Chinese food recipes above, too, and feel free to make any changes depending on your personal keto diet. Now you can enjoy your favorite take out at home, the healthy way, without compromising on flavor or texture.