If you’re eating a low-carb or keto diet, there are probably times you crave old foods or recipes. For example, maybe you want to turn a traditional fall cheesecake or winter beef stew keto but both call for cornstarch—which has over seven carbs in one tablespoon! Not to mention it’s GMO and can cause inflammation and kick you out of ketosis.
Thankfully, you can make just about anything keto these days. And while thickeners can be a little trickier, especially if you’re trying to revamp a traditional recipe, there are plenty of options for you.
The purpose of cornstarch in recipes is to thicken. Other thickeners that aren’t too keto-friendly include wheat flour, potato starch, arrowroot flour, rice flour, and tapioca flour.
So all you need to do is use a low-carb option that will still thicken as needed. Here are the top choices and how to use them.
Despite its funny name, glucomannan powder is a great keto cornstarch substitute. It’s a pure powdered soluble fiber taken from the konjac plant’s roots.
Glucomannan powder is tasteless, zero calorie, zero carb, and also a probiotic. It forms a thick gel when mixed with hot water.
This powder thickens much more than cornstarch, so you only need to use about ¼ teaspoon for every two teaspoons of cornstarch. To avoid clumping when it gets hot, mix the powder with a little cold water before adding it to a recipe.
Almond flour is one of the best low carb flours you can use. It’s also a great thickener and cornstarch substitute! Plus, it provides extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
In ¼ cup of almond flour, there are just three net grams of carbs, and you’ll likely use less than that when subbing for cornstarch.
Flaxseeds are extremely healthy and provide a great dose of soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. The consistency is different, but it still provides thickening and binding effects. There is only one gram of net carbs in ¼ cup of flaxseed meal.
One tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with four tablespoons of water typically works as a sub for two tablespoons of cornstarch.
Chia seeds are another great source of omega-3s and fiber. And if you use Living Chia as your thickener, you’ll also get gut-healthy probiotics and important minerals like magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Chia seeds expand and gel when they come into contact with liquid, providing a good keto-friendly thickening property. One tablespoon of Living Chia has just one net carb, and you can add it a teaspoon at a time until your recipe achieves the thickness you want.
Like glucomannan, psyllium husk is a plant-based soluble fiber that’s low in carbs—about one net carb per teaspoon. It’s also great for those who want to add extra fiber to their keto diet.
You only need a small amount of psyllium husk to thicken, so begin with ½ teaspoon and add more as needed.
If you don’t want to use or don’t have access to the thickens above, another option is mashed cauliflower. Cauliflower is the ultimate keto mashed potatoes substitute, and it works much like potatoes for thickness.
For thickening soups or stews, try pureeing some cauliflower in a food processor with grass-fed butter and/or cream cheese and simmering it in your soup for 20-25 minutes.
Guar gum is a vegetable gum made from guar beans. It’s highly processed and best as a last resort, but can be used occasionally as a thickener in gluten free and keto-friendly baked goods.
Although guar gum contains nine carbs per tablespoon, it also contains the same amount of fiber—making the net carb count zero.
One note: Some people who are sensitive to soy or have digestive issues may also have issues with guar gum, so use with caution.
Some recipes can work just fine without the thickening agent, or you can use other techniques like:
Another option is to simply search “keto” in front of the type of recipe In most cases, someone will have a keto-friendly recipe for whatever you want to make! Plus, you can find many of them right here or at KetoZone.com.