Popular in Mexican dishes, corn tortillas are considered by many as a “healthier” alternative to flour tortillas because they’re gluten-free and have fewer carbs. But for people on a very low-carb keto diet, it’s important to note that nearly all breads are off-limits. This begs the question — are corn tortillas keto?
If you’re trying to reduce your carbohydrate intake, this guide discusses what corn tortillas are, corn tortilla carbs, and good alternatives for your keto dishes.
Corn tortillas (Tortillas de Maíz) are a type of thin, unleavened flatbread often used for tacos and taquitos. There are lots of ingredients to enjoy them with, such as beef, chicken, beans, cheese, salsa, and more. You can even slice them up to make chips or cut them into strips as salad toppers.
Some people make their own corn tortillas at home by buying masa harina (dried corn dough) and combining it with salt and water, then cooking the shaped tortillas on a frying pan. With masa harina on hand, you’ll be able to skip the whole nixtamalization process, which involves soaking and cooking corn in an alkaline solution (*).
Given that these are authentic corn tortillas — made with corn flour — they’re not suitable for the keto diet. As a starchy vegetable, corn is high in carbs, and should be avoided. Keep in mind the daily recommended carb intake to maintain ketosis, which is less than 50 grams per day (*).
According to the USDA, one large corn tortilla (44 grams) has 19.6 grams of total carbs and 2.77 grams of fiber, which gives us 16.83 grams of net carbs. This number is too high to be keto-friendly, considering that you’ll be consuming other foods with carbs — unless you’re eating mostly meat on keto.
Moreover, note that store-bought corn tortillas may vary in their carbs depending on the brand. But as long as they’re made from corn, a high-carb vegetable, these tortillas are generally off-limits on keto.
Pro tip: If corn tortillas are among your favorite foods, there are only two instances where you can have them. One is if you’re following a targeted keto diet (TKD). In that case, have a serving of corn tortilla around your workout. The other is if you’re doing a cyclical keto diet (CKD) in which you’re allowed to eat more carbs one to two days a week.
Unless you follow a targeted or cyclical version of the keto diet, it would be best to avoid corn tortillas. Nowadays, you can find low-carb substitutes for almost anything, so it’s not impossible to discover options that are equally good — and even better for weight loss and blood sugar management.
Check out these corn tortilla replacements:
- Almond flour tortillas: These low-carb tortillas are gluten-free and made from almond flour. Other ingredients may include eggs and psyllium husk. One serving (one tortilla) provides only about 3 grams of net carbs.
- Coconut flour tortillas: Made with coconut flour, these tortillas are a source of medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, which support ketosis (*). One serving (one tortilla) provides about 6 grams of net carbs.
- Pork rind tortillas: Pork rinds or chicharrones have no carbs, which makes them a great ingredient for keto tortillas. Simply combine them with eggs, garlic powder, cumin, and water. One serving (one tortilla) provides less than 1 gram of net carbs.
- Cauliflower tortillas: Cauliflower, one of the best low-carb veggies, can be used together with eggs, garlic powder, and cheese to make tortillas. One serving (one tortilla) provides only 1 gram of net carbs.
- Oopsie bread: Known as cloud bread, oopsie bread is also a low-carb alternative to corn tortillas. It’s made of simple ingredients, such as egg whites, cream cheese, and cream of tartar. One serving (one piece) provides less than 1 gram of net carbs.
- Lettuce wraps: Lettuce wraps won’t probably be the first thing you’ll think of to replace corn tortillas — however, they’re wonderful for wrapping deli meats and cheese. The trick is to use large iceberg lettuce leaves. One serving (one large leaf) provides less than 1 gram of net carbs.
Thanks to keto-friendly flour substitutes like almond flour and coconut flour, there’s no shortage of tortilla recipes you can enjoy with your loved ones. Check these out:
- Easy Keto Tortillas
- Easy Street-Style Keto Tortilla
- Soft Low-Carb Tortillas
- 3-Ingredient Keto Tortillas
- Grain-Free Keto Tortillas
Can you eat corn tortillas on keto? As you’ve learned, corn tortillas are generally off-limits due to their higher carbohydrate content. A large corn tortilla has 16.83 grams of net carbs.
However, if you follow a targeted keto diet (TKD) or cyclical keto diet (CKD), you may be able to consume them within reason — around your workout times for TKD and during your higher carb days for CKD.
Enjoy low-carb corn tortillas with better substitutes like the ones made from almond flour and coconut flour, and even lettuce wraps if you can’t make keto tortillas from scratch!