18 low-carb dinner recipes recommended by nutritionists to help keep you on track

Zucchini boat
Zucchini is a delicious low-carb option that you can add to any meal. bonchan/Getty Images
  • Low-carb dinners can be packed with flavor to satisfy you and prevent late-night snacking.
  • Go for lean protein like chicken or fish or combine veggies with cheese for a meat-free option.
  • Some go-to low-carb dinners include zucchini casserole, citrus salmon, stuffed peppers, and much more.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Low-carb diets have become increasingly popular since reducing refined carbs, like white bread and pasta, can aid weight loss and help manage type 2 diabetes, says Scott Keatley, RDN, a nutritionist with the private practice Keatley MNT.

However, like starting any diet, it can be difficult to find healthy and delicious recipes that fit your new nutrition goals.

So, if you’ve recently started a low-carb diet, or are just looking to reduce your carbs overall, here are some healthy dinner recipes to try recommended by the MayoClinic and Charlie Foundation, an organization dedicated to ketogenic therapies and epilepsy.

1. Citrus salmon

Salmon
Salmon is a great source of protein, healthy fats, and minerals. Kajakiki/Getty Images

Two salmon fillets of this recipe contain:

  • Calories: 320
  • Carbs: 16 g
  • Protein: 44 g

The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish such as salmon per week, thanks to their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a diet rich in omega-3’s, a type of healthy fat, has been associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease.

How to make it: Season the salmon with orange zest, cumin, and salt and sear each side for two minutes on a greased pan. Make a mixture of apple juice, orange juice, mustard, black pepper, honey, and cornstarch. Cook the mixture in the pan until it thickens, then pour it over the salmon.

2. Ham and cabbage soup

Cabbage soup
Cooking cabbage makes it easier to digest so it’s less likely to cause bloating or gas. Artelier/Shutterstock

One serving of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 303
  • Carbs: 7 g
  • Protein: 25 g

Related Article Module: 3 science-backed benefits of vitamin K and how to get enough of itHam and cabbage soup makes for a hearty, comforting meal. While ham is a rich source of protein, cabbage is a low-carb and low-calorie leafy green vegetable high in vitamin K, a nutrient necessary for healthy blood clotting. One cup of raw cabbage has almost 68 micrograms (mcg), or about 57% of your daily value (DV).

How to make it: Slice ham, cabbage, onion, and carrots and add them to a pot with oil, water, and seasonings like garlic, salt, and pepper. Let it simmer on the stove until the cabbage is tender.

3. Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers
Stuffed peppers are a healthy meal that still feels decadent. BDMcIntosh/Getty Images

Two stuffed peppers contain:

  • Calories: 650
  • Carbs: 10 g
  • Protein: 40 g

Peppers are a great source of vitamins C with one large green bell pepper containing 132 mg of the antioxidant, about 147% DV. Consuming antioxidants may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.

How to make it: Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds, and place them on a baking dish. Stuff them with a mixture of shredded chicken, cheese, salt, and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes at 425 ºF.

4. Zucchini noodle casserole

Zoodles
You can buy pre-made zoodles at some grocery stores. iStock

Two servings of this recipe contain:

  • Calories: 400
  • Carbs: 6 g
  • Protein: 12 g

Zucchini noodles, or “zoodles,” are a low-calorie, high-fiber alternative to pasta that’s also a good source of vitamin A. You can usually find prepackaged zoodles at the grocery store or you can make them at home using a spiralizer.

How to make it: Add salt to the zoodles and place them over a mesh colander for a few hours so they release their moisture. Put them in a baking dish with pasta sauce, salt, pepper, fresh basil, and cheese and bake for an hour at 350 ºF.

5. Shrimp skewers

Shrimp skewers
Shrimp skewers are a low-calorie dinner option that still pack a punch of flavor. Xsandra/Getty Images

Two skewers of this recipe provide:

  • Calories: 210
  • Carbs: 0 g
  • Protein: 48 g

A serving of shrimp has virtually no carbs and roughly 20 grams of protein. Protein not only helps build muscle, it also plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails.

How to make it: Marinate the shrimp in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh tarragon, salt, and pepper for five minutes. Then, skewer it and grill it for around two minutes on high heat, or until it’s cooked through.

6. Almond-crusted chicken

Almond crusted chicken
By pairing almonds with chicken, you’ll get a good mix of fats and protein. SusieKBLane/Getty Images

One serving of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 250
  • Carbs: 9 g
  • Protein: 28 g

Almonds add flavor and texture to this chicken dish. They are also a great source of protein and healthy fats. One ounce of almonds offers 7 grams of protein (14% DV) and 16 grams of unsaturated fat.

How to make it: Mix ground almonds, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried thyme. Dip chicken breasts in this mixture, then in milk, and then back into the mixture again. Sear the chicken in a greased skillet until golden brown on each side then bake for 10 minutes at 400 ºF.

7. Blackened sole

Fish with green beans
Pair sole with a low-carb vegetable like broccoli or tomatoes for a healthy low-carb dinner. Juanmonino/Getty Images

Two, 4-ounce (113.40g), sole fillets of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 276
  • Carbs: 2 g
  • Protein: 46 g

Sole is a high-protein, low-fat, and low-calorie variety of white fish with a mild and sweet flavor. It is also low in mercury compared to other varieties of whitefish, like swordfish and marlin. Mercury has been shown to affect brain development in young children and growing fetuses, so sole is a great option for families with young children and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How to make it: Make a blackening seasoning mixture with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Use it to season the fish, then sear the fillets in a greased skillet for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until flaky.

8. Creamy broccoli chicken

Broccoli in a steamer basket.
Broccoli is a great low-carb veggie to pair with your dinner. lucentius/Getty Images

One serving of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 500
  • Carbs: 5 g
  • Protein: 18 g

Related Article Module: 6 health benefits of fiber and how to add more to your dietBroccoli and chicken make a great combination offering a healthy mix of protein and fiber. Broccoli is also a good source of folate, or vitamin B9, which helps form the red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen through your body. One cup of chopped broccoli contains 57 mcg of this vital nutrient (14% DV).

How to make it: Sauté chunks of chicken breast in olive oil, until golden. Add chopped broccoli, a dash of heavy cream, chicken broth, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and paprika and cook until the broccoli is tender.

9. Crab cakes

Crab cakes
Pair crab cakes with a hollandaise sauce for more flavor. Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Two crab cakes contain:

  • Calories: 248
  • Carbs: 14 g
  • Protein: 36 g

If you use a thin coating of breadcrumbs, you can keep crab cakes low-carb without sacrificing the flavor or texture. You should also stick to using whole-wheat breadcrumbs since they contain more fiber than their refined counterparts.

How to make it: Combine crab meat with mayonnaise, egg whites, mustard, dill, lemon juice, and seafood seasoning. Shape the mixture into round patties and coat them with whole-wheat breadcrumbs. Bake them for 20 minutes at 350 ºF, until golden.

10. Pork tenderloin with apples and blue cheese

A wedge of roquefort blue cheese on a wooden board
Adding blue cheese to your meal will boost your calcium intake. grafvision/Shutterstock

One serving, about 4 ounces (113.40g), of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 235
  • Carbs: 17 g
  • Protein: 26 g

Can’t decide between savory or sweet? You don’t have to choose with this recipe thanks to the tart blue cheese and sweet apples. Apples contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that can improve digestion and reduce constipation.

How to make it: Sear pork in a large skillet before baking at 350 ºF for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, sauteé apples on the stovetop until dark brown. Then, pour them over the tenderloin and top with blue cheese.

11. Tofu and bok choy

Tofu
Try tofu if you want to cut back on animal-based protein. Nevena Zdravic / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Four tofu squares and bok choy pieces of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 290
  • Carbs: 24 g
  • Protein: 22 g

Tofu is a great vegetarian and vegan-friendly alternative to meat while still being a rich source of protein with half a cup containing 10 grams (20% DV). Plant-based proteins are typically lower in saturated fat than proteins from animals. Eating too many saturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease.

How to make it: Drain the tofu and season it with a mixture of vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and garlic. Bake the tofu for 10 to 15 minutes at 450 ºF. Meanwhile, steam the bok choy until tender, then serve it with the tofu.

12. Salmon and avocado sushi nori rolls

Seaweed
Nori is a good source of vitamin B12. Food_asia/Shutterstock

One serving of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 502
  • Carbs: 5 g
  • Protein: 17 g

Sushi typically includes rice, excluding it from low-carb diets. However, nixing the rice and stuffing your roll with options like avocado, cucumber, and carrots boosts nutrition while also cutting carbs.

How to make it: Use a nori seaweed sheet as the base. Spread whipped cream cheese and sesame seeds over it, then place salmon, avocado, and ginger strips on one end. Roll the sushi and refrigerate it for an hour before cutting it in one-inch-thick slices.

13. Pineapple chicken salad

Pineapple chicken salad
Add a burst of sweetness to your chicken by pairing it with pineapple. vkuslandia/Getty Images

Four cups of this recipe contain:

  • Calories: 372
  • Carbs: 14 g
  • Protein: 34 g

Related Article Module: 7 science-backed benefits of pineapple, according to dietitiansAdding pineapple to your chicken salad is not only a fun twist, but also means you’ll be eating bromelain, an enzyme only found in pineapple that has anti-inflammatory properties and can improve digestion.

How to make it: Sauté cubed pieces of chicken in a greased pan until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Toss the cooked chicken, pineapple chunks, baby spinach, broccoli florets, and sliced red onions with a balsamic vinegar dressing.

14. Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup
Pumpkin soup is a good low-carb winter dinner. Westend61/Getty Images

Three cups of this recipe contain:

  • Calories: 225
  • Carbs: 39 g
  • Protein: 9 g

Like other orange and red veggies, pumpkins are a good source of vitamin A with 494 mcg per serving (55% DV). Vitamin A supports eye health and immunity. Adding milk to the soup will also give a boost of calcium, a mineral essential for building and maintaining strong bones.

How to make it: Add onion, pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, nutmeg, and cinnamon to a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for five minutes, then add milk and cook until the milk is hot but not boiling. Garnish with black pepper.

15. Beef brisket

Beef brisket
Making a whole beef brisket means you’ll have plenty for leftovers. Shutterstock/Brent Hofacker

One serving (3 ounces (85.05g) meat and 3 ounces (85.05g) sauce) of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 229
  • Carbs: 6 g
  • Protein: 31 g

Brisket is a lean cut of meat, which means it’s lower in saturated fat than prime cuts. Reducing saturated fat can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

How to make it: Cook the brisket in a Dutch oven at 350 ºF until it is browned on all sides. Take it out of the pot, and cook onions, garlic, and thyme in the pot for a minute then add canned tomatoes, pepper, vinegar, and red wine. Once it boils, put the brisket back, cover it, and bake it in the oven at 350 ºF for three hours.

16. Feta balsamic chicken

Roasted chicken breast
Chicken is a lean cut of meat so it contains less fat than beef. Douglas Sacha/Getty images

One serving (1 breast) of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 279
  • Carbs: 9 g
  • Protein: 25 g

Feta is one of the healthier cheeses you can eat. It’s relatively low-cal and is typically made from goat or sheep’s milk so people who are lactose intolerant can eat it. It also contains important minerals for bone health including phosphorous and calcium.

One ounce of feta cheese offers 95.5 mg of phosphorus (15% DV) and 140 mg of calcium (11% DV).

How to make it: Season chicken breasts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, paprika, brown sugar, thyme, mustard, and salt. Marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator then bake at 375 ºF for 15 minutes. Sprinkle feta cheese on top.

17. Fennel, pear, and walnut salad

Pear
You can also swap the feta out for another cheese of choice, like blue cheese. Joff Lee/Getty Images

One serving of this recipe contains:

  • Calories: 144
  • Carbs: 15 g
  • Protein: 3 g

If you’re in the mood for a fresh salad, try making one with pear, fennel, and walnuts. Fennel has a licorice-like flavor and adds fiber to your meal with one serving containing almost 3 grams of fiber, or 10% of your DV.

How to make it: Combine salad greens with sliced fennel and pear. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and Parmesan cheese on top. Drizzle with an olive oil vinaigrette dressing.

18. Spinach frittata

Frittata
Unlike quiches, frittatas don’t have a crust so they’re low in carbs. Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock

Two wedges of this recipe contain:

  • Calories: 372
  • Carbs: 40 g
  • Protein: 26 g

Related Article Module: Yes, eggs can help you lose weight – here’s how to eat them as part of a healthy dietEggs are a great source of protein with one egg offering almost 4 grams (8% DV). Pairing them with veggies such as spinach adds nutrients like fiber and iron to your meal.

How to make it: In a pan, pour whisked eggs over sautéed veggies like spinach, onions, potato, and peppers. Add salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and mozzarella cheese and cook on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then broil for around 3 minutes.

Insider’s takeaway

If you’re looking to go low-carb, the above healthy and delicious dinner recipes can keep you under your carb goal, without sacrificing essential vitamins and minerals.

Eating fewer carbs may help you lose or manage your weight and keep blood sugar levels stable.

20 easy and healthy low-carb breakfast ideas, recommended by dietitians10 low-carb snacks that are delicious and fillingA full beginner’s guide to the keto diet – and what research says about its health benefits and risksWhat the different types of carbs are and how they can affect your health