No matter where you travel in Italy, it seems like they have cracked the code on good cooking. Whether you have pasta, pizza, salad, lasagna, soup, or dessert, you can’t go wrong with authentic Italian food.
Unfortunately, many of the best dishes are filled with starchy foods, flour, or sugar. This can make it challenging to satisfy your craving for Italian food on keto. Find out exactly which foods to avoid when making delicious Italian food.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on all of your Italian favorites to stay in ketosis. In fact, with a few simple ingredient substitutions, restaurant ordering tips, and keto-friendly recipes, you can have a complete Italian meal that tastes authentic and helps you get the results you want.
Often, the most popular Italian dishes feature high-carb foods and ingredients. In general, the following are the most common keto offenders are:
Though we’ve just taken away a big chunk of the menu, there are still plenty of traditional Italian options you can rely on that are both keto-friendly and delicious:
Not only will these options help you on your way to weight loss success, but they are typically much healthier and 100% gluten free. As you’ll see below, many of our low carb Italian recipes and menu items are based on these simple Italian staples.
Now that we know the keto-friendly components of Italian cuisine, let’s go over some specific menu items and how to order them in a way that keeps the carbs as low as possible:
Most Italian restaurants will bring you complimentary bread or breadsticks, which both should be avoided on keto. Ask them to bring some fresh olives and olive oil instead. Olives are the perfect salty, high-fat snack to set you up for a delicious keto Italian meal.
Ordering a low-carb dessert at an Italian restaurant will be much more difficult, so I recommend skipping it and having a homemade keto dessert instead.
That being said, there are a couple of simple options that most restaurants won’t mind preparing for you:
If the menu or the waitstaff leaves you feeling confused, make sure to order with these tips in mind:
However, as with eating out at other restaurants, it is difficult to figure out how many calories, fats, carbs, and protein are in your order. This is why preparing most of your meals at home is one of the best foolproof strategies to ensure that you get the results you want.
In fact, there is no better way to enjoy your favorite Italian dishes than by making them yourself.
The first step to converting Italian meals into a keto-friendly dish is by using low-carb alternatives for the most common high-carb ingredients:
Pasta is typically made from wheat flour, which is packed with net carbs.
To make your favorite Italian pasta dishes keto-friendly, try using spiralized zucchini, eggplant noodles, spaghetti squash, sliced cabbage, shirataki noodles, or a homemade keto pasta noodle recipe instead.
To learn more about each low-carb pasta option, check out our guide to eating pasta on keto.
Since lasagna filling is usually made with keto ingredients, all you have to do is swap out the high-carb pasta sheets. The easiest option is to forget about the layers and double up on the meat and cheese.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to emulate every aspect of authentic Italian lasagna, then lasagna with keto noodle layers will be the best choice.
For a list of keto lasagna recipes, check out the lasagna section of our keto pasta noodle article.
Cauliflower is one of the most versatile keto vegetables. Not only can you make low-carb fried rice with it, but you can turn it into a creamy, Italian-inspired risotto as well.
Feel free to add your own spin on it and change the flavors, fillings, and additional cheeses that can be added to it. It’s customizable, easy to make, delicious, and keto-friendly!
Some Italian dishes just don’t taste right without the breading.
Fortunately, there are several ways to cut out the high-carb flour and keep the coating keto-friendly.
One of our favorite ways to make low-carb cutlets is by using a mixture of ground pork rinds, flaxseed meal, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning for the breading. Check out our chicken parmesan recipe to learn how.
The problem with pizza is the high-carb crust, but there are dozens of ways to make it without the excess carbs.
To find the right keto pizza crust option for you, check out our top 10 pizza recipes featuring meat- and keto flour-based crusts by following this link.
Alternatively, if you have some extra cauliflower in the fridge, you can turn that into keto pizza crust as well (with the help of this recipe).
Italian desserts are a notoriously delicious combination of fatty richness and sugary sweetness.
To experience the authentic flavors you crave from your favorite desserts, it is best to make them yourself with keto-approved recipes.
With the help of the right recipe, you can make keto-friendly tiramisu, Italian cheesecake, and panna cotta. For a comprehensive list of keto Italian dessert recipes, scroll down to see our dessert menu.
Making the dish yourself is the best way to ensure that you’ll get all of the authentic Italian flavors and textures you love while achieving your goals with keto. To help you find your favorites, we created a comprehensive keto Italian menu divided into the following sections:
Speculoos and Macadamia Biscotti — A satisfying keto-friendly version of the traditional Italian biscuit. Try dipping it in Ketoproof Coffee for the perfect start to your day.
Mini Pizza Egg Bakes — Get your morning pizza fix without having to fiddle with keto pizza crust.
Eggceptional Sausage Keto Frittata — There’s no better way to celebrate the Italian frittata than by combining the traditional egg dish with Italian sausage. If you love Italian sausage, you’ll find this recipe to be undeniably satisfying.
Keto Pepperoni Pizza Quiche — Though quiche isn’t keto-friendly or Italian, we can make it into a keto Italian dish by using keto-friendly pizza crust ingredients and Italian-inspired toppings.
Breakfast Keto Pizza Waffles — This recipe sells itself, satisfying your craving for pizza and waffles at the same time.
Ham, Ricotta, and Spinach Casserole — One of the cheapest and simplest ways to fit low-carb vegetables, meat, eggs, and Italian cheese into your day with one quick casserole.
Savory Italian Egg Bake — A savory casserole dish for those who need a hearty protein-packed breakfast to start the day. Feel free to make this for lunch or dinner as well.
Personal Pan Pizza Dip — All the pizza toppings you love, but without the crust. Eat it by the spoonful, scoop it up with pork rinds, or serve with a side of Keto Breadsticks.
Italian Cheesy Bread Bake — Ooey gooey doughy goodness without the high-carb flour. If you’ve been craving authentic Italian stromboli since you started keto, this recipe will really hit the spot.
Hot Sausage & Pepper Soup — A delicious low-carb alternative for Italian soups that come with beans or pasta.
Grilled Tuna Salad with Garlic Dressing — A hearty & healthy keto salad inspired by the fresh flavors of Italy’s Mediterranean coast.
Rosemary Chicken Salad with Herb Balsamic Vinaigrette — This is nothing like the salads where they just plop a bland piece of grilled chicken breast on top. With this recipe, every component is bursting with Italian flavor.
Prosciutto, Caramelized Onion, and Parmesan Braid — Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds. After you have this mozzarella-based braid, you’ll never reach for a high-carb calzone or stromboli again.
Keto Hoagie Lunch Bowl — This keto lunch bowl is like having a cold Italian antipasto combined with delicious hoagie sandwich toppings.
Keto Sub Sandwich Casserole — If you miss the days when you had an Italian sub for lunch, skip the bread and make this casserole instead. Pack it with your favorite meats, cheeses, and toppings for the perfect grab-and-go keto lunch.
Easy Keto Italian Plate — Start your keto Italian night off right with this no-frills cold antipasto.
Low Carb Keto Caprese Snack Salad — The beauty of this Caprese salad is in its simplicity. Just prep, cut, and layer the ingredients for a delicious keto snack or appetizer.
Pesto Keto Crackers — Skip the Italian bread and snack on these pesto crackers. They’ll satisfy your craving for bread while pairing wonderfully with the keto Italian dips below.
Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip — Incredibly cheesy and satisfying, this Italian-inspired dip is a guaranteed crowd favorite.
Spicy Sausage Cheese Dip — Craving something meaty and spicy to kick off your keto Italian dinner? This simple dip will be the perfect starter.
Garlic and Herb Breadstick Bites — Not only are these breadsticks keto-friendly, but they are so much more satisfying than their high-carb counterpart. Serve as a hot appetizer or have it on the side with your soup, salad, or main dish.
Keto Stuffed Artichokes — Inspired by the traditional Italian appetizer, these stuffed artichokes taste surprisingly authentic. Preparing the artichokes can be intimidating at first, but with the help of this recipe, you’ll be able to make a restaurant-quality plate.
Keto Arancini (Cauliflower Rice Balls) — To pull off the ultimate keto Italian magic trick, make yourself some low-carb arancini by replacing the rice and breading with cauliflower and pork rinds. Pour your favorite low-carb sauce over the finished product and enjoy! (Skip the jalapeno if you don’t want the added spiciness.)
Homemade Keto Caesar Salad — Just like authentic Caesar salad, but without the bread or high-carb croutons. Serve with keto breadsticks or low-carb croutons instead.
Vegan Cucumber and ‘Bacon’ Side Salad — Add some extra low-carb vegetables and healthy fats to your Italian meal with this side salad. Don’t forget the sugar-free Italian dressing.
Sausage and Kale Soup — Whether you are craving escarole and bean soup, zuppa Toscana, or minestrone, this recipe is one of the most satisfying low-carb alternatives for these classic Italian soups.
Low-Carb Broccoli Lemon Parmesan Soup — A comforting, cheesy, and creamy broccoli soup that’ll get your taste buds ready for the main course.
Oven Roasted Caprese Salad — Fresh mozzarella accompanied by roasted garlic and tomatoes, tossed together with fresh basil and pesto. This is arguably one of the best salads on keto.
Keto Spaghetti alla Carbonara — Just replace the carb-heavy pasta with a keto option and experience the sublime combination of egg, Parmesan cheese, and bacon that make Carbonara so delicious.
Bolognese Zoodle Bake — A satisfyingly meaty keto sauce without the added sugar and high-carb veggies that are typically added to bolognese. Feel free to serve it with any of your preferred low-carb pasta alternatives.
Zucchini Ribbons & Avocado Walnut Pesto — A lighter and brighter tasting keto pasta dish featuring basil and walnut pesto.
Eggplant and Bacon Alfredo — Surprisingly enough, eggplant makes for the perfect keto noodle, soaking up the alfredo flavors better than fettuccine.
Keto Lasagna — This is the closest you’ll get to the real thing on keto. In fact, you may even find this to be more satisfying and flavorful than traditional Italian lasagna.
For a wider variety of keto pasta alternatives and recipes, check out our 15 best pasta recipes.
Simple Chicken Parmesan — A deliciously tender, pan-fried chicken cutlet with keto breading and layered with sauce and melted cheese. (You can use the same low-carb breading method to make Eggplant Parmesan as well.)
Keto Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Thighs — Like a vodka cream sauce with a hint of chicken Cacciatore, this keto recipe belongs on the menu at the best of the best Italian restaurants.
Baked Italian Meatballs — The humble meatball deserves more attention. Its versatility, simplicity, and flavor are unmatched. After making these classic Italian meatballs, don’t forget to try stuffing them with cheese or make them with Italian sausage.
Keto Shrimp Alfredo — Pan-fried shrimp swimming in a decadent, creamy alfredo sauce without the high-carb fettuccine getting in the way of your goals.
Zingy Lemon Fish — A quick low-carb fish dish inspired by the flavors of fish Piccata.
Vegan Portobello Steaks with Avocado Salsa — A vegan-friendly way to experience Italy without the meat, cheese, and carbs.
Perfect Ribeye Steak — Follow the recipe as is or amp up the flavor by marinating the steak in Zesty Keto Italian Dressing.
Lemon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs — This keto recipe takes the classic flavors of Chicken Piccata to another level with roasted chicken thighs and aromatic herbs.
Coffee and Wine Beef Stew — A warm, comforting stew reminiscent of Beef Spezzatino (Italian beef stew).
Mashed Cauliflower with Parmesan Cheese and Truffle Oil — The perfect side for your main dish, especially if you’re craving mashed potatoes.
Keto Breadsticks — Italian food is better with fresh breadsticks. With this low-carb recipe, you’ll learn how to make them Italian-style or extra cheesy.
Low Carb Cauliflower Mushroom Risotto — Creamy, cheesy risotto doesn’t have to be filled with net carbs. Next time you have keto Italian night, give this cauliflower-based risotto a try instead.
Crisp Garlic Parmesan Keto Green Bean — A simple side of green beans covered in garlic and parmesan.
Low Carb Broccoli and Cheese Fritters — Another delicious keto alternative for arancini and a great way to add more low-carb vegetables to your main dish.
Low Carb Focaccia Bread — Aromatic Italian bread that is actually keto-friendly.
Keto Plain Pizza — Quick and easy plain pizza in just 5 minutes, no flour necessary.
Low Carb Pepperoni Pizza — Sink your teeth into a keto-friendly slice of thin-crust pepperoni pizza.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust — Replace the flour with cauliflower, and learn how to turn this keto vegetable into the perfect pizza crust.
Portobello Personal Pizzas — Like stuffed Italian portobellos, but they’re packed with pizza toppings.
Keto Stromboli and Calzone Options:
If you’d like to see more pizza or bread recipes for keto, click the following links:
Blackberry Chocolate Panna Cotta — A creamy keto-friendly alternative for the classic Italian dessert.
Keto Tiramisu — Everything you love about traditional tiramisu without the added sugar and high-carb flour.
Italian Lemon Sponge Cake — A lighter keto dessert option that features a fluffy, airy cake and a subtle lemon flavor. Don’t forget to top it with homemade sugar-free whipped cream.
Keto Mocha Gelato — Most keto ice cream recipes are so rich and creamy that they serve as a perfect gelato substitute as well. If coffee-flavored gelato isn’t your favorite, here is a link to our other keto-friendly flavor options.
Keto Cheesecake Bites — Simple, creamy, and satisfying, just like a bite-sized Italian cheesecake.
Keto Cream Cheese Truffles — Decadent truffles reminiscent of fine Italian chocolates, no specialty ingredients or sugar necessary.
Whether you are eating out, ordering takeout, cooking at home, or looking for a quick snack, you can eat Italian food while staying in ketosis and experiencing the benefits of keto.
To fit more of your favorite Italian dishes into your keto diet, make sure to follow these three rules:
However, the only way to ensure that what you are eating will satisfy your craving for Italian without impairing ketosis is by making the dishes yourself. This is why we’ve included 50+ Italian keto recipes above (and why we update our keto recipe catalog regularly.)
As with any keto meal, it is also crucial to consider how these dishes fit into your nutritional needs for the day. This is because your results ultimately depend on what and how much you eat.
To help you figure out exactly what this means for you, we’ve included several tools that’ll help you achieve your health and weight loss goals with keto: