47 Quick, Easy, & Simple Keto Food Options

Simple, Easy, and Quick Keto Food Options

When I first decided to try a ketogenic diet (back in 2016), I wasn’t really sure what to eat.

Even though I had taken about a million biochemistry and physiology classes, it still seemed confusing and unfamiliar.  

Perhaps you can relate.

Today I’ll share a list of low-carb foods that are simple, easy, and don’t take much prep time.  

As a bonus, most of them are also unprocessed, “whole” foods.

This is my preferred approach to keto because it’s healthy, convenient, and extremely versatile.  

Using the options on this list, you can mix and match to create countless food combinations, many of which are super-delicious!

I hope you’ll give it a try.  

These Aren’t Your Fancy Keto Recipes

Some people like using a bunch of complicated recipes to create things like low-carb bread, low-carb pizza, low-carb cookies, and so on.

I’m not really into that.

Sure, you can do a bunch of tricky low-carb recipes, and it’s not the worst thing in the world.  But it’s a LOT more time-consuming, and probably not as healthy (since you’ll end up using a lot of processed ingredients).  

That’s why I’m focusing on more “natural” foods that don’t require complicated prep.  

A Note About Carb Content

Just so you know, many of the foods on this list still have some carbs.  It varies quite a bit, and I’ve listed the macros under each item for convenience.  

Depending on which options you choose, you may not be eating a “strict” ketogenic diet (under about 30 grams of carbs per day).  But that’s ok.  

Here’s why:

As a beginner, it’s better to ease into it anyway.  By reducing your carb intake gradually, you won’t go through as many carb withdrawals (sometimes called “keto flu”).  

In the beginning, try any combo of foods from this list.  After several weeks — once your brain and body start to adapt to lower carbs — then you can tighten things up.  

When that time comes, start counting your carbs and measuring your ketone levels to make sure you’re actually reaching ketosis (ketones in your blood).  That’s how you know if you’re really eating a ketogenic diet, or not.  

Without further ado…  

47 Simple & Easy Keto Food Options 

Here’s the list!

As I mentioned earlier, these options are meant to be mostly natural, unprocessed foods that are quick and easy to prepare.

It’s not the only way to approach keto, but it’s probably the healthiest and most convenient.

Pick some options, mix and match, and voila!  

Bon appetit.  

1)  Dill Pickles

dill pickles are a good source of salt on a ketogenic diet

You may love ‘em, you may hate ‘em.  

If you can tolerate dill pickles, they’re a nice condiment or snack because they have basically zero calories, negligible carbs, and some extra sodium (which people on keto typically need).

Not to mention, the vinegar they swim in has some other health benefits

Just don’t accidentally bring home “bread & butter” pickles, cuz those ones are loaded with sugar.  

  • Serving:  ⅔ of a spear
  • Carbs:  1 gram
  • Fat:  0 grams
  • Protein:  0 grams

2)  Olives

olives are a healthy and delicious choice on ketogenic diet a

All varieties are fine.

I get large green olives stuffed with jalapenos and garlic, in big jars at Costco.  Just the right amount of spicy, and super delicious!

  • Serving:  2 big olives (stuffed with jalapeno and garlic)
  • Carbs:  0.6 grams
  • Fat:  1.5 grams
  • Protein:  0 grams

3)  Sardines

Sardines are healthy and convenient for a ketogenic diet
the 2 brands I usually buy

It took me a little while to get used to them, but now I enjoy eating sardines straight out of the can.

High in both protein and fat, sardines are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Since they’re low on the food chain, they also don’t have as much mercury as bigger fish.

Some brands are probably better than others.  And the taste definitely varies.  I mainly use the Season brand (available at Costco for pretty cheap), and the “Wild Planet” brand (available on Amazon, perhaps elsewhere).  

  • Serving:  1 can (of Wild Planet)
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  11 grams
  • Protein:  18 grams

4)  Mackerel

Here’s another oily fish that comes in a can.  Also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Serving: 1 can (King Oscar brand)
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  19 grams
  • Protein:  16 grams

5)  Salmon

Like sardines and mackerel, salmon has lots of omega-3’s.  Salmon may require some preparation, but you can also buy it ready-to-eat in a can if you prefer. 

  • Serving:  0.5 fillet (198 g)
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  27 grams
  • Protein:  40 grams

6)  Other Fish

There are lots of other types!

In general, look for “oily” fish that are higher in fat.  But any fish is okay since they don’t have any carbs.

If you get a non-oily fish, you may want to add some olive oil, butter, or another fat source to balance things out.

7)  Salami

salami is extra fatty, great for a ketogenic diet

Moving into the meat section, salami is nice because it’s fattier than other meats.

It’s also really convenient, since it doesn’t require any cooking or preparation.  Just slice it up!  

  • Serving:  5 slices (Boar’s Head)
  • Carbs:  1 gram
  • Fat:  9 grams
  • Protein:  6 grams

8)  Pepperoni

Sure, most people think of pepperoni as a pizza topping. But it’s perfectly reasonable to eat by itself, and quite delicious.  Not to mention convenient.

  • Serving:  5 slices 
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  4.7 grams
  • Protein:  2 grams

9)  Sausage 

Many types.  Just make sure you’re not getting one with a bunch of added sugar. 

In general, sausage is high in fat, high in protein, and low in carbs. 

  • Serving:  2 pork links
  • Carbs:  0.7 grams
  • Fat:  13 grams
  • Protein:  8.5 grams

10)  Bacon

eat delicious bacon on a ketogenic diet

Bacon is another fatty meat that works well on a ketogenic diet.

Sure, cooking bacon takes some effort. But you can also buy it precooked, which is what I usually do (in bulk at Costco).

  • Serving:  3 slices
  • Carbs:  0.6 grams
  • Fat:  12 grams
  • Protein:  12 grams

A Quick Note About Processed Meats

Sometimes you’ll see headlines about processed meats causing cancer, or other scary things. In general, those concerns are probably overblown because the data is based on unreliable questionnaires, and it’s in the context of a high-carb, high-sugar diet.  

While it’s probably healthier to eat unprocessed meats, it’s pretty clear that processed carbs (like sugar, white flour, etc) are WAY more harmful than processed meats.  So I’d say avoiding processed carbs should be a much higher priority.

11)  Chicken (and Other Poultry)

eat chicken with the skin for higher fat

Some chicken is really lean.  But it depends on the cut.

You could try leaving the skin on, or adding fat when you cook it.  

It can take some prep time, but it doesn’t have to take much.  Maybe about 5 minutes in a pan with some butter, salt, and pepper. And if you prefer, they also sell it precooked.

  • Serving:  3 oz (roughly the size of your palm or about ⅔ cup)
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  11 grams
  • Protein:  20 grams

12)  Pork

As with chicken, if you get a lean cut, you may want to add some additional fat (like butter, coconut oil, etc).

  • Serving:  3 oz (about ⅔ cup)
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  12 grams
  • Protein:  22 grams

13) Other Meats

There are countless other options to try.  

Ideally, look for fattier cuts.  Not only are they more ketogenic, they usually taste better as well.

With any lean cuts (like chicken breast or pork chops), just add some additional fat to the meat, or something fatty to your meal, to increase your fat/protein ratio.  

14)  Eggs 

eggs have no carbs, great for keto

Eggs are about 60% fat by calories, with practically no carbs.  A solid option for keto!

Prep time varies, but it only takes about 2 minutes to fry an egg (with butter, salt, and pepper).  Hard boiled can be really convenient as well.  

  • Serving:  1 large egg
  • Carbs:  0.4 grams
  • Fat:  4.8 grams
  • Protein:  6.3 grams

15)  Walnuts

 

walnuts are 80% fat by calories, good for a ketogenic diet

Let the nuts begin!  

Unless you have allergies, I’d say nuts are a fantastic option, and could be a staple.  

Walnuts are about 80% fat (by calories), so they’re a solid keto food.  And super healthy.  

  • Serving:  2 walnuts 
  • Carbs:  1.1 grams
  • Fat:  5.2 grams
  • Protein:  1.2 grams

16)  Pecans

Not to be outdone, pecans are even higher in fat than walnuts, at about 90%!  And really tasty.  They go great with cheese.  

  • Serving:  6 nuts
  • Carbs:  1.3 grams
  • Fat:  6.6 grams
  • Protein:  0.8 grams

17)  Macadamia Nuts

Also about 90% fat, macadamia nuts are one of the highest sources of monounsaturated fats (along with avocados and olive oil), which is more heat stable than the polyunsaturated fat found in things like vegetable oil.  

  • Serving:  5-6 nuts
  • Carbs:  1.9 grams
  • Fat:  10.5 grams
  • Protein:  1.1 grams

18)  Almonds

Not quite as high in fat as the options above, but almonds still have a pretty decent ratio. 

  • Serving:  6 almonds
  • Carbs:  1.6 grams
  • Fat:  4.1 grams
  • Protein:  1.6 grams

19)  Pistachios

 

pistachios have more carbs, but still lots of fat

If you don’t love pistachios…you might be an alien.  They’re ridiculously good with a slice of cheese!

Pistachios have a little higher carb content than most other nuts, but should still be fine in moderation–especially when you’re starting out.

  • Serving:  6 kernels
  • Carbs:  1.1 grams
  • Fat:  1.9 grams
  • Protein:  0.9 grams

20)  Cashews

Super delicious, and great with cheese!

Like pistachios, a little higher in carbs.  But they’re fine in moderation. 

  • Serving:  6 nuts
  • Carbs:  3 grams
  • Fat:  4.4 grams
  • Protein:  1.4 grams

21)  Other Nuts

you can try many varieties of nuts on a ketogenic diet

I guess I could just have made a list of 47 different nuts to eat on a ketogenic diet. 🙂

Instead, I’ll stop here.  Obviously there are a bunch of other options, including Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and more.

Almost any type of nut is pretty high in fat, with low-to-moderate amounts of protein and carbohydrate.  

22)  Peanut Butter

peanut butter is like a keto dessert all by itself

I usually just eat peanut butter by the spoonful.  No need for bread and jam. 🙂  It’s almost like a dessert all by itself.   

Look for a fairly “natural” version, without much added sugar, and no hydrogenated oils.

  • Serving:  2 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  7.2 grams
  • Fat:  17 grams
  • Protein:  8.3 grams

23)  Almond Butter

It’s probably a little bit more nutritious than peanut butter, but otherwise the same basic idea.

Have a spoonful, why don’t ya? 🙂

  • Serving:  2 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  6 grams
  • Fat:  17.8 grams
  • Protein:  6.8 grams

24)  Other Nut Butters

Just like there are lots of nuts, there are lots of nut butters!

The main other one I’ve tried is cashew butter, which I used to grind freshly at WinCo (before the pandemic).

25)  Cheese

cheese is a great option on a ketogenic diet

Cheese is delicious and easy. Just cut a slice.  It also has zero (or nearly zero) carbs, depending on the type.  

Cheese goes extremely well with nuts–especially pistachios.  You’ve got a meal right there.  

  • Serving: About 2-3 slices of cheddar (2 oz)
  • Carbs:  1.8 grams
  • Fat:  18.8 grams
  • Protein:  13 grams 

26)  More Cheeses

Some cheeses have a little more fat (like colby or cheddar), others a little less (like mozzarella).  Feel free to try various kinds.  There are so many!

27)  Even More Cheeses 😉

try soft cheeses as well on keto

Since there are so many types of delicious cheese, I couldn’t list it just once.  Or even twice, apparently. 

There may be too many to count!  

Feel free to branch out and try some other options, including soft cheeses like French brie (my new favorite — they sell a big wheel of it at Costco for cheap), or goat cheese.  

The flavors vary a lot, so don’t just settle for typical American options like cheddar and mozzarella.  Spend some quality time with the cheese island at your local store.  Or make a trip to France (haha).  

28)  Sour Cream

Sour cream goes well with various meats, or eggs.  You could also make something like strawberries & cream.

  • Serving:  1 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  0.6 grams
  • Fat:  2.3 grams
  • Protein:  0.3 grams

29)  Cream Cheese

A little more processed, and I don’t buy it all the time. But when I first tried keto I ate it by the spoonful, and it was quite enjoyable.  Kind of a treat.  

  • Serving:  2 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  1.6 grams
  • Fat:  10 grams
  • Protein:  1.8 grams

30)  Coconut Oil

coconut oil is healthy and ketogenic

Now we’re getting into the 100% fat options. 

You can consume these fat sources by themselves, mix them with hot drinks (see below), or use them when cooking meat, veggies, etc.

Coconut oil melts at about 76 degrees Fahrenheit, so it may be liquid or a solid depending on your home environment.  When it’s solid–but soft–it works well for dipping veggies.  

  • Serving:  1 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  13 grams
  • Protein:  0 grams

31)  MCT Oil

MCT (or “medium chain triglyceride”) oil is especially ketogenic.  It gets absorbed more directly than other types of dietary fat, and turned into ketones more easily.

For that reason, MCT oil can boost your ketones, which is helpful if you’re on a ketogenic diet.  It’s also why MCT oil can be a useful supplement when fasting.  

It’s usually made from coconut oil or palm oil, but unlike coconut oil MCT oil is consistently liquid at room temperature.  

  • Serving:  1 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  13 grams
  • Protein:  0 grams

32)  Olive Oil 

Good for light cooking, or as a dressing on your vegetables.

  • Serving:  1 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  14 grams
  • Protein:  0 grams

33)  Butter / Ghee

A tasty source of fat.  

If you’re unfamiliar, ghee is a slightly purified type of butter that’s a little better for cooking.  

  • Serving:  1 Tbsp
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  12 grams
  • Protein:  0.1 grams

34)  Keto Coffee (or Tea)

keto coffee aka bulletproof coffee

One way to get some extra fat on a ketogenic diet is to add fat to your black coffee, or unsweetened tea.

Sometimes called “bulletproof” coffee, it’s basically any type of fat melted in a hot drink.  

Typically the recipe is something like 2-4 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil in a cup of coffee.  Some people also like to use bulletproof coffee while intermittent fasting.  

  • Serving:  1 cup (2 Tbsp butter added)
  • Carbs:  0 grams
  • Fat:  23 grams
  • Protein:  0.4 grams

35)  Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a good veggie option cuz they’re reasonably low in carbs, and super quick to  prepare.

Try some sliced tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt.  

Wanna make “keto pizza” (without cooking anything)? 🙂

Try combining tomato slices with cheese, pepperoni, olives, and pistachios.  You won’t be sorry.  

keto pizza without any cooking
tomatoes, pepperoni, salami, cheese, olives, cashews

(The photo above is a slightly different version of “keto pizza”, but you get the idea.)

  • Serving:  1 small tomato
  • Carbs:  3.5 grams
  • Fat:  0.2 grams
  • Protein:  0.8 gram

36)  Bell peppers

bell peppers are healthy and delicious on keto

Here’s another veggie that’s easy to slice and eat with other foods on a platter.  Also pretty low in carbs.  

  • Serving:  half a pepper
  • Carbs:  3.7 grams
  • Fat:  0.1 grams
  • Protein:  0.5 grams

37)  Onions

These are more for cooking, like with your eggs, meat, etc.  Very low carb.  

Feel free to saute them in butter, coconut oil, or olive oil as well.  

  • Serving:  1 medium slice
  • Carbs:  1.3 grams
  • Fat:  0 grams
  • Protein:  0.1 grams

38)  Celery

Hardly any calories.  Makes a crunchy snack. Good with peanut butter, or dip them in coconut oil (see above).

  • Serving:  1 stalk
  • Carbs:  1.2 grams
  • Fat:  0.1 grams
  • Protein:  0.3 grams

39)  Spinach

spinach, kale, & other leafy greens have very few carbs

Leafy greens are really nutritious, and you’d have to eat a ridiculous amount before the carb content would add up enough to matter.

Why not make a salad using greens, other veggies, nuts, cheese, olive oil, olives, vinegar, seasonings, or any combination thereof?  Delicious, and nutritious.  

  • Serving:  1 cup (raw)
  • Carbs:  1 grams
  • Fat:  0.1 grams
  • Protein:  0.8 grams

40)  Kale

Same idea as spinach. Super nutritious, and hardly any calories.

  • Serving:  1 cup (raw)
  • Carbs:  1.4 grams
  • Fat:  0.1 grams
  • Protein:  0.7 grams

41)  Other Leafy Greens

Naturally, the list goes on. Chard, mustard greens, and various others.  

Not all my cup of tea, but if you don’t mind them they can be a healthy option.

42)  Other Non-starchy Vegetables

eat non-starchy veggies on a ketogenic diet

Obviously I haven’t listed every vegetable option. There are a ton.

As long as you stay away from the starchy vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn, you should be okay.

When in doubt, check the nutrition info and see how many grams of carbs you’re consuming.  As time goes on, you’ll gradually get more familiar.

43)  Blueberries

 

blueberries, raspberries, & blackberries are lower in sugar than other fruit

Most fruits are a little too sugary for a ketogenic diet. Berries are the main exception.

As a bonus, they’re also more nutritious than your average fruit. 

So try some berries, but keep it in moderation.

  • Serving:  10 berries
  • Carbs:  2 grams
  • Fat:  0 grams
  • Protein:  0.1 grams

44)  Blackberries

  • Serving:  5 berries
  • Carbs:  3.1 grams
  • Fat:  0.1 fat
  • Protein:  0.4 grams

45)  Strawberries

  • Serving:  5 large berries
  • Carbs:  6.9 grams
  • Fat:  0.3 grams
  • Protein:  0.6 grams

46) Other Berries

Raspberry, boysenberry, etc. 

As I mentioned above, berries are a bit lower in sugar than other fruits, but it does add up so don’t go completely crazy.  

47)  Avocados

avocados are high in healthy fat and fiber, and low in carbs

Last (but not least), here’s a classic option.   

Avocados are really high in monounsaturated fat, and fairly low in carbs.  

At first glance, avocados have a little more carb content than you’d think. But that includes fiber, which isn’t really digested or absorbed, so it’s a bit misleading.

Subtract the fiber from the total carbs to get the “net carbs”, and it looks a lot better (about 3-5 net carbs per avocado). Not bad, eh?  

(The same calculation is helpful with nuts, veggies, and some of the other “whole” foods listed above. But watch out for processed “keto products”, where net carbs are manipulated, and become more of a marketing ploy.)

  • Serving:  ½ avocado
  • Carbs:  8.6 grams (including fiber)
  • Fat:  14.7 grams
  • Protein:  2 grams

5 Sample Combinations Using These Food Options

Ok, so you’ve got a ton of food options.  But how do you put them together?

Overall, it doesn’t matter that much–just try something!  Honestly, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.  

But in case it helps spark some creativity, here are just a few of the combos I’ve used. 

Naturally, there are infinite combinations, so keep experimenting to see what you like.  

Avocado, Bacon (precooked), Strawberries, Olives, Cheese (French Brie)

avocado, bacon, strawberries, olives, french brie

Eggs with Sausage & Onion, Tomato, Avocado, Olives

eggs scrambled with sausage & onion, tomatoes, avocados, and olives

Steak with Cheese; a Huge Salad with Avocado, Olives, Cheese & Many Veggies

steak with cheese, salad with many veggies

Salami, Pepperoni, Tomato, Cheese, Blackberries, Parmesan “Whisps” (from Costco)

salami, cheese, pepperoni, tomato, blackberries, parmesan whisps

Avocado, Bacon, Blueberries, Red Bell Pepper, Cheese 

bacon, avocado, blueberries, pepper, & french brie

Wrapping it Up

Eating a ketogenic diet doesn’t require a lot of complex recipes.  

Trying to make “low-carb everything” (like bread, pizza, etc) is a viable approach, but also really time-consuming, and probably not optimal for health due to all the processed ingredients.

Personally I prefer a simpler approach that uses whole, unprocessed foods and requires very little prep time.

Remember, you don’t need to start with a strict ketogenic diet from day one. Just gradually lower your carb intake, and after a month or so you can start tightening things up (and measuring your ketones).

In the meantime, you’ll still be getting a lot of health benefits just by cutting out the processed sugars and refined flours that most people live on nowadays.

So mix, and match, and enjoy!

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Ben Tanner, PA-C

Ben Tanner, PA-C

Ben has been practicing as a physician assistant (PA, or PA-C, similar to a doctor) in emergency medicine, urgent care, and family practice since 2014. Since 2016, he has developed an avid interest in various forms of fasting, using it to improve his own health while helping friends, family, and patients do the same.

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