Despite the numerous varieties of potatoes you might find at your local market, there’s one type you won’t come across – low carb potatoes. This popular root vegetable is naturally high in carbohydrates, which can pose a problem for those following a low-carb diet. In this article, we will introduce you to some of the best substitutes for potatoes, discussing their textures, flavors, and nutritional profiles.
Are Potatoes Low Carb?
No, potatoes aren’t low-carb. Although they are a healthy vegetable offering a range of nutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6, they are, by nature, a starchy vegetable with a high carbohydrate content.
A 100-gram serving of baked potatoes contains approximately 21.6 grams of carbs and 1.5 grams of fiber, leaving about 20.1 grams of net carbs (*).
For this reason, potatoes have a high glycemic index meaning they can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels after eating. This is not ideal for those trying to maintain steady blood sugar levels or lose weight.
The good news is there are numerous low-carb potato alternatives that offer unique flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits while having significantly lower carb content compared to potatoes. They provide excellent alternatives for those seeking to enjoy potato-like dishes without overloading on carbs.
8 Best Low-Carb Potato Substitutes
Below is our list of low-carb substitutes for potatoes that are just as delicious and nutritious as the real deal:
- Zucchini – 1.7g of net carbs per 100 grams
- Radishes – 1.8g of net carbs per 100 grams
- Daikon – 1.8g of net carbs per 100 grams
- Cauliflower – 3g of net carbs per 100 grams
- Turnips – 3g of net carbs per 100 grams
- Celery Root – 4.7g of net carbs per 100 grams
- Kohlrabi – 5.6g of net carbs per 100 grams
- Butternut Squash – 7.3g of net carbs per 100 grams
1. Zucchini (1.7g Net Carbs)
This summer squash is loaded with vitamins C and B6 and is significantly lower in carbs compared to potatoes (1.7 grams of net carbs per 100 grams) (*).
However, zucchini does differ from potatoes due to its high water content. This makes it less suitable for recipes that call for a crispy texture. Additionally, it cooks faster than potatoes, so it’s important not to overcook it to prevent it from becoming mushy.
For recipes that require less moisture, there’s a simple fix. After grating your zucchini, place it in a clean dish cloth and squeeze out the excess water. You can also press zucchini slices with a paper towel to absorb some of the water.
A refreshing zucchini salad makes a great summer recipe. Slice zucchini thinly, toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, then let it sit for a few minutes to absorb the flavors. Top with feta cheese and chopped herbs for a quick, delicious, and low-carb meal.
2. Radishes (1.8g Net Carbs)
Due to their small size, radishes are an especially ideal swap for baby potatoes. Their petite size and unique crunch make them a vibrant addition to any dish, especially when you’re seeking a low-carb alternative.
The tiny root vegetables contain an array of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. Their distinct peppery taste can also bring a fresh, spicy twist to your meals. They cook much faster than potatoes, so be careful not to overcook them.
For a simple breakfast dish, try pan-fried radishes. Cut the radishes into halves, then sauté them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add some chopped onions and your choice of herbs for extra flavor. Finally, top with a fried egg for a hearty low-carb start to your day.
3. Daikon (1.8g Net Carbs)
Daikon, also known as Japanese radish, is a wonderful low-carb substitute for potatoes. Hailing from Asia, daikon has a similar texture to potatoes but is less firm and less spicy compared to common radishes.
It’s significantly lower in net carbs than potatoes, making it a top choice for a low-carb diet. Despite being low in calories, it’s packed with important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium (*).
Daikon has a slightly sweet, mild flavor, which is slightly different from potatoes. It’s, however, still a fantastic addition to soups, stews, curries, and roasts, where it readily absorbs flavors of the dish.
A simple, nourishing daikon soup can be a great way to get to know the vegetable. Slice the daikon into rounds and simmer it in chicken or vegetable broth, along with some onions, garlic, and your choice of spices. Cook until the daikon is tender and enjoy a warm, comforting soup that’s both flavorful and low in carbs.
4. Cauliflower (3g Net Carbs)
Cauliflower has a similar texture to potatoes, though it’s not as firm because it has less starch.
When it comes to nutrients, the vegetable is packed with fiber and vitamin C, making it a healthy substitute for potatoes.
Plus, it has only 3 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, making it a winner for those watching their carb count.
Cauliflower is milder in flavor than potatoes meaning you’ll want to add some herbs or seasoning to bring out its taste.
It’s excellent for making mashed cauliflower, but also fits perfectly into stews and soups. For a tasty mashed cauliflower, just boil a head until it’s soft, then drain and mash it. Add butter, garlic, and your choice of seasonings, and mix until it’s smooth.
For a more traditional taste, mix half potatoes and half cauliflower. This way, you still get the taste of potatoes but with fewer carbs.
5. Turnips (3g Net Carbs)
Typically served alongside other dishes, turnips are a terrific low-carb substitute. Like potatoes, turnips are nutritious and share a similar texture. However, turnips have only 3 grams of net carbs per 100 grams (*). Unlike some of the substitutes on this list, they are easy to find in most grocery stores.
Turnips can sometimes be slightly firmer than potatoes, but they cook well whether they’re baked, boiled, steamed, or mashed. They tend to be sweeter than potatoes, adding a unique flavor to your dishes. For a more neutral dish, balance this sweetness with your choice of seasoning.
A simple and delicious way to enjoy turnips is by baking them. Just chop the turnips into bite-sized pieces, toss with olive oil, salt, and your favorite herbs, and bake until they’re golden and crispy.
6. Celery Root (4.7g Net Carbs)
Celery is widely used in many kitchens, but it’s usually the stalks and leaves that get the spotlight. However, the root, also known as celeriac, is also fully edible despite its unusual appearance.
In terms of nutrition, celery root holds its own compared to potatoes, offering a good dose of vitamin K and vitamin C, but with only 4.7 grams of net carbs per 100 grams (*).
The texture of celery root is similar to potatoes, making it a versatile ingredient. It works well in a variety of dishes such as soups, roasts, and even mashed celeriac. While it does have a distinctive flavor that’s more earthy and nutty compared to potatoes, it’s still mild enough to blend well with other ingredients.
A simple way to enjoy celery root is to roast it. Peel and cut the root into chunks, toss with oil and your preferred seasoning, then roast until tender and slightly browned.
7. Kohlrabi (5.6g Net Carbs)
Kohlrabi, a bulbous veggie, is another wonderful low-carb alternative to potatoes. It’s packed with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium and only 5.6 grams of net carbs per 100 grams (*).
While it is slightly higher in carbs than the most of the veggies on our list, it is still a good choice for those wanting to keep their carb intake in check.
Kohlrabi has a slightly sweet, mild flavor and a crunchy texture, ideal for dishes like hash browns. Try grating a peeled kohlrabi, squeeze out the excess moisture, then mix with some chopped onion, egg, salt, and pepper. Heat a bit of oil in a skillet, form the mixture into patties, and cook until they’re golden and crispy.
A typical serving of potato hash browns contains around 16 grams of net carbs. In contrast, a serving of kohlrabi hash browns has only about 6 grams of net carbs. This is over a 60% reduction in carbs when you make the switch from potatoes to kohlrabi.
8. Butternut Squash (7.3g Net Carbs)
Butternut squash is a powerhouse of nutrients, including fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Its vibrant orange flesh is a visible indicator of its rich nutritional profile.
This squash works wonderfully when roasted, mashed, or surprisingly, even when fried. It’s easily found in grocery stores and is generally quite affordable.
However, butternut squash does have a distinctively sweet and nutty taste, different from the starchy flavor of potatoes. Rather than viewing it as a direct replacement, it’s better to see it as an alternative, especially in the colder months when you need a cozy meal.
Try roasting it in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for a simple, delicious side. Or mash it up with some butter and spices for a low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
The Bottom Line
While there may not be a low-carb variety of potatoes, these tasty substitutes are available to satisfy your cravings. While these might not taste just like potatoes, they offer new ways to enjoy your favorite dishes. If you’re just starting out, consider using a mix of half potatoes and half low-carb alternative in your recipes. This way, you can slowly get used to the new tastes and textures until you feel confident enough to make the switch.