If you’ve been following a ketogenic or low-carb diet for a while, you’ve probably noticed cauliflower recipes flooding the internet.
The cruciferous vegetable has taken the keto and gluten-free community by storm.
However, as with other vegetables, not every product is immediately compatible with a low-carb lifestyle without problems.
That’s why you can learn more about the net carbs in cauliflower here and keto cauliflower recipes that will help you enjoy it deliciously and guilt-free.
Is Cauliflower Keto?
Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous family, also known as Brassica oleracea. This family includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and arugula.
Since cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is a particularly sulfur-rich food, so many of its beneficial health effects are due to sulfur-containing compounds. For this reason, researchers also recommend regular consumption of these vegetables (Doleman et al. 20171).
That cauliflower is also extremely popular among low-carb enthusiasts is probably no big secret. However, when we look at the vegetable’s nutritional values later, we will find that the vegetable is neither rich in proteins nor healthy fats.
Therefore, can cauliflower suit a high-fat-low-carb diet, such as the keto diet?
I will answer this question in detail in this article for all conceivable recipe variations of cauliflower. Before we do that, though, let’s look at why cauliflower might be healthy in the first place.
Cauliflower Health Benefits
Cruciferous vegetables provide natural antioxidants, carotenoids, fiber, phenolic and sulfur compounds, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Accordingly, the following micronutrients stand out for their exceptionally high levels in cauliflower’s nutrient profile (*):
However, the genuine health potential of cruciferous vegetables is not as obvious (Grimble 20062; Lee et al. 20123; Keck et al. 20044; Jaafaru et al. 20185; Martín-de-Saavedra et al. 20136; Butawan et al. 20177; Zhang et al. 20118):
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect: Organic sulfur compounds help synthesize glutathione and prevent the formation of tumors.
- Anti-cancer properties: Compounds in cauliflower can help interrupt the cell cycle and induce cell death in cancer cells.
- Protection of cognitive abilities: Researchers showed that glucosinolates reduce neurodegenerative disease risks such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
- Antidepressant properties: Like Alzheimer’s disease, researchers link depression to inflammation in the brain. They claim that curbing this inflammation alleviates patients’ anxiety and depression.
- Pain relief: The sulfur compound methylsulfonylmethane can reduce inflammation and relieve joint and muscle pain.
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease: One study found a low mortality rate in those who ate a diet of sulfur-containing foods such as cauliflower. The researchers attribute the protective effect to glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables.
Now we know that cauliflower can be pretty healthy. But this does not fully answer whether it is also suitable for a low-carbohydrate diet such as the keto diet.
Carbs in Cauliflower
As in other vegetables, carbohydrates predominate in cauliflower. So why is this low-protein, low-fat food so popular in the keto and low-carb community?
How Many Carbs Are in Cauliflower?
100 grams of cauliflower provide the following average nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 25 calories
- Protein: 2.0 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Carbohydrates: 5.3 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2.5 grams
- Net Carbs: 2.8 grams
Thus, cauliflower has a fat-to-net carbohydrate ratio of about 0.036. At first glance, that may not look so rosy. Furthermore, cauliflower is fat-free.
Therefore, on paper, cauliflower is rather a high- than low-carb food. Nevertheless, the absolute amount of net carbohydrates in cauliflower is low.
Is Cauliflower Keto-Friendly?
Cauliflower is a perfect fit for the keto diet.
If we look at a maximum serving amount of 150 grams of cauliflower as a side dish, we get only 5.2 grams of net carbs (*).
This low amount does not exceed the average tolerance limit for maintaining ketosis of 25-50 grams of net carbohydrates daily. Instead, you’d have to eat about 1.5 kilograms of cauliflower daily.
For this reason, cauliflower can be considered a 100% keto-friendly food. Even though it’s not the best source of fat or protein, it represents a low-calorie and low-carb vegetable that can also deliver health benefits.
In addition, cauliflower is an excellent substitute for high-carb foods in otherwise non-keto-friendly dishes like rice, mashed potatoes, or pizza.
Carbs in Cauliflower Rice
100 grams of cauliflower rice serve us with the following nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 25 calories
- Protein: 2.0 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Carbohydrates: 5.3 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2.5 grams
- Net carbs: 2.8 grams
If these nutritional facts sound familiar, you’re right. Organic cauliflower rice from the grocery store and the homemade variety should always consist of 100% cauliflower.
For this reason, the same information applies here as for the vegetable itself above.
Is Cauliflower Rice Keto?
If you make it yourself, cauliflower rice is 100% keto-friendly. If you add grass-fed butter, fat to net carbohydrates improves dramatically.
Then there’s no doubt that homemade cauliflower rice is 100% keto. You can find my favorite homemade cauliflower rice recipe below.
Keto Cauliflower Rice to Buy
However, for the lazy among us, there is now ready-made organic cauliflower rice, also made from 100% cauliflower, which is keto-friendly.
Here’s the affiliate link to my current favorite product on the market: Buy Riced Cauliflower.
Carbs in Mashed Cauliflower
Homemade mashed cauliflower should consist only of cauliflower and butter. Therefore, 100 grams of cauliflower puree can contain no more than 2.8 grams of net carbohydrates.
Is Mashed Cauliflower Keto?
If you make the cauliflower mash yourself according to my recipe (see below), it will be 100% keto-friendly.
The fat-to-net carbohydrate ratio turns positive thanks to the grass-fed butter in the mashed cauliflower. It, therefore, makes the puree even more keto-friendly than the vegetable alone.
I have yet to come across a ready-made keto-friendly mashed cauliflower. However, this shouldn’t be a hurdle since you can easily make keto mashed cauliflower yourself with my recipe.
You can get the main ingredient online using this promotional link: Buy Cauliflower Fresh.
Carbs in Cauliflower Pizza Crust
This delicious, low-carb version of the ever-popular pizza has also taken my heart by storm. Cauliflower pizza crust not only tastes fantastic, but it’s also low in carbs and high in fat.
Even if you resort to ready-made cauliflower pizza crust, some variations leave the net carbohydrate content down in the basement as follows (*):
- Energy: 183.5 calories
- Protein: 15.3 grams
- Fat: 11.1 grams
- Carbohydrates: 7.24 grams
- Dietary fiber: 4.84 grams
- Net carbs: 2.4 grams
However, I still recommend going with a non-processed homemade version. My recipe for cauliflower pizza crust (see below) only adds parmesan and mozzarella to the veggie.
Is Cauliflower Pizza Crust Keto?
The cheese turns the cauliflower into a high-fat, low-carb meal. So homemade cauliflower pizza crust is 100% keto-friendly.
The best ready-made version I could find on the U.S. market uses fresh cauliflower, parmesan cheese, cage-free eggs, pure nutritional yeast, garlic, basil, and oregano (*).
Therefore, it scores with a similar good fat-to-net carbohydrate ratio as the homemade keto pizza crust.
Best Keto Cauliflower Pizza Crust to Buy
I believe the best ready-made cauliflower pizza crust on the market is keto-friendly and comes without unnecessary additives.
Here is the promotional link to the best keto cauliflower pizza crust: Gourmet Cauliflower Pizza Crust.
Carbs in Cauliflower Chips
Some cauliflower chip variants have a favorable ratio of fat to net carbohydrates. But what about the ingredients?
Are Cauliflower Chips Keto?
Unfortunately, all ready-made cauliflower chips have a catch. That’s why I don’t want to recommend any of these products, even if it means I could earn a commission.
No keto variety of cauliflower chips comes without highly refined vegetable oils. These industrially produced soy, canola, rice bran, and sunflower oils have been found to promote inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in general (Ramsden et al. 20139).
For this reason, cauliflower chips are neither healthy nor keto-friendly, in my opinion.
Low-Carb Cauliflower Keto Recipes
As already announced, here you will find the best low-carb recipes with cauliflower for a keto diet – from rice to puree to pizza.
I use Organic Grass-Fed Ghee Butter to maximize the health benefits when frying cauliflower.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. Unlike nightshade vegetables or legumes, this vegetable family comes without a high content of antinutrients, such as lectins, in the refrigerator.
Accordingly, we can describe cauliflower as healthy, low in calories and carbohydrates, and high in fiber.
These characteristics make it ideal for a keto diet.
Accordingly, numerous keto cauliflower recipes exist. Cauliflower can be used as a keto substitute to make pizza bases, purees, casseroles, and even rice keto-friendly. Moreover, these keto recipes are just as delicious as the classic versions.
Is Cauliflower Keto FAQ
Can you eat cauliflower on keto?
Yes, you can eat cauliflower on keto. Although cauliflower contains carbs, you must eat about a whole kilogram daily to exceed carbohydrate limits for ketosis.
Is cauliflower high in carbs?
There are carbohydrates in cauliflower. However, the amount of net carbohydrates is low because of fiber.
What vegetables are forbidden on keto?
Especially starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn are forbidden on keto.
Studies Click to expand!
1Doleman JF, Grisar K, Van Liedekerke L, Saha S, Roe M, Tapp HS, Mithen RF. The contribution of alliaceous and cruciferous vegetables to dietary sulphur intake. Food Chem. 2017 Nov 1;234:38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.04.098. Epub 2017 Apr 18. PubMed PMID: 28551250; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5460521.
2Grimble RF. The effects of sulfur amino acid intake on immune function in humans. J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6 Suppl):1660S-1665S. doi: 10.1093/jn/136.6.1660S. Review. PubMed PMID: 16702336.
3Lee DY, Li H, Lim HJ, Lee HJ, Jeon R, Ryu JH. Anti-inflammatory activity of sulfur-containing compounds from garlic. J Med Food. 2012 Nov;15(11):992-9. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.2275. Epub 2012 Oct 11. PubMed PMID: 23057778; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3491620.
4Keck AS, Finley JW. Cruciferous vegetables: cancer protective mechanisms of glucosinolate hydrolysis products and selenium. Integr Cancer Ther. 2004 Mar;3(1):5-12. doi: 10.1177/1534735403261831. Review. PubMed PMID: 15035868.
5Jaafaru MS, Abd Karim NA, Enas ME, Rollin P, Mazzon E, Abdull Razis AF. Protective Effect of Glucosinolates Hydrolytic Products in Neurodegenerative Diseases (NDDs). Nutrients. 2018 May 8;10(5). doi: 10.3390/nu10050580. Review. PubMed PMID: 29738500; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5986460.
6Martín-de-Saavedra MD, Budni J, Cunha MP, Gómez-Rangel V, Lorrio S, Del Barrio L, Lastres-Becker I, Parada E, Tordera RM, Rodrigues AL, Cuadrado A, López MG. Nrf2 participates in depressive disorders through an anti-inflammatory mechanism. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Oct;38(10):2010-22. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.03.020. Epub 2013 Apr 23. PubMed PMID: 23623252.
7Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017 Mar 16;9(3). doi: 10.3390/nu9030290. Review. PubMed PMID: 28300758; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5372953.
8Zhang X, Shu XO, Xiang YB, Yang G, Li H, Gao J, Cai H, Gao YT, Zheng W. Cruciferous vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jul;94(1):240-6. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.009340. Epub 2011 May 18. PubMed PMID: 21593509; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3127519.
9Ramsden CE, Zamora D, Leelarthaepin B, Majchrzak-Hong SF, Faurot KR, Suchindran CM, Ringel A, Davis JM, Hibbeln JR. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. BMJ. 2013 Feb 4;346:e8707. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8707. PubMed PMID: 23386268; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4688426.
Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.
Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.