Easy Keto Dinner Ideas for satiating, nourishing meals. These low-carb, protein-forward dinner recipes are ideal for those who eat a lower carbohydrate diet, but also for individuals who simply love a wholesome meal.
I’ve mentioned this in the past but for anyone new here, I wanted to start this post by disclosing I don’t follow a ketogenic diet (not even close), but I do see great benefits for some select individuals who choose to lower their carbs.
The reality is, many of us could see positive outcomes in our health biomarkers if we begin to pay closer attention to the amount of protein, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates we’re eating and tailor those amounts according to our individual needs.
This isn’t to say diet is everything, but it certainly plays a role in long-term health and how we feel day to day.
So for my friends who are either trying to maintain a lower-carbohydrate diet, for those who are interested in giving keto a go, and for the individual that simply loves wholesome meals with plenty of protein and veggies, these easy keto dinner ideas are for you!
I try to keep my recipes simple and approachable always, as I know how challenging it can be to find the motivation to cook when you’re simply out of steam.
For this reason, these easy keto dinner ideas involve ingredients that can be purchased anywhere, require very basic cooking technique, and often relatively little time to prepare.
Whether or not you follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet, I trust you will find plenty of options here to put on constant rotation in your household.
What is the Keto Diet:
The ketogenic diet utilizes fat for fuel, and therefore switches the primary fuel source from carbohydrate to fat. It is by definition, high fat, low-carb, and moderate protein.
When one starts a ketogenic diet, the body begins using up any remaining glucose that’s being stored in the muscle, and eventually switches to burning fat. In this sense, in order for the ketogenic diet to work, one must eat an adequate amount of fat, where 60 to 75% of daily calorie intake is from fat.
A ketogenic diet is a tool that has been used for hundreds of years to treat people with epilepsy and more recently, those with chronic inflammatory issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or ulcerative colitis.
In the last few years, the popularity of the keto diet has skyrocketed as it is used as an effective tool for weight loss.
Distinguishing between keto for medical use and keto for weight loss is something to keep in mind. There is absolutely a carryover between achieving medical benefits in addition to weight loss, but not everyone who eats a low-carb diet does so for the distinct purpose of weight loss.
What Makes Keto Different From Other Diets:
It is important to note that there is nothing inherently special about this diet in the sense that one must still be in a calorie deficit in order to lose body fat, regardless of the contents of their meals.
The difference some people see on keto versus a different diet is they are much more satiated due to blood sugar regulation and the increase in protein and fibrous foods.
In this sense, keto or a low-carbohydrate diet doesn’t necessarily need to be used for fat loss alone, but for overall improvement in health biomarkers and for increased energy and mental clarity.
For the purpose of weight loss, it can be easier for many people to stick to a low-carb diet than cutting calories alone, because they simply don’t feel as hungry.
This is due to the powerful effect keto has on lowering and balancing blood sugar. When blood sugar is within a normal range, cravings subside and dietary adherence is much more likely.
In addition, lowering carbohydrate intake also reduces inflammation and water retention, so there is a nearly immediate noticeable difference in body composition. This factor can be very motivating for individuals as they feel their efforts are working, which again is crucial for dietary adherence. The psychological aspect of losing weight and dieting is just as crucial to keep in mind as the dietary changes themselves.
Who Should Do Keto?:
Because I’m not a medical professional, I’ll let one weigh in here. In case you’re interested, Chris Kresser’s Complete Guide to The Keto Diet addresses the 9 medical conditions that may benefit from a keto diet and also addresses the individuals who will likely not benefit from it.
Premenopausal women who have normal blood sugar ranges, for instance, may actually perform worse on a ketogenic diet, as the female body is very sensitive to changes in carbohydrate intake.
There is good data to suggest a clear medical benefit to cutting carbohydrates and refined sugars in individuals who have blood sugar dysregulation, such as insulin resistance or Diabetes.
Fasted blood glucose decreases and the body begins to respond to glucose in a way that is similar (if not the same) as someone who is not insulin resistant, provided they continue to keep their carbohydrate intake low.
Not to mention, folks who do keto report unparalleled mental clarity and focus with few mood or energy swings.
So is keto a good tool for you? That depends.
If you find you get hangry when you go more than 3 hours without eating, you crave sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods (and eat them in excess), or if you experience chronic inflammatory issues, lowering your carbohydrate intake may be beneficial.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a full tilt keto diet is the way to go, as a simple reduction of carb may be all that is necessary to make some great changes in health biomarkers.
However, keto can be easier for some individuals as it takes out some of the guesswork, and again, it is highly satiating.
Keto Foods Versus Non-Keto Foods:
In general, keto-friendly foods are any form of animal protein, fat, and fibrous (non-starchy) vegetables. Foods that can easily knock someone out of ketosis are high-carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and any form of sugar (fruit, cane sugar, honey, pure maple syrup, etc.)
I don’t want to get too far into the weeds here, because there can be quite a lot of misconception of what one can and cannot eat on keto.
The general idea is to consistently not put your body in a position where it’s using carbohydrate for fuel, so it stands to reason that you don’t want to raise your blood sugar substantially with any one meal.
On the flip side, certain foods that are on the “not approved” list may not impact your blood sugar or take you out of ketosis when consumed in small amounts. For instance, using flour as a thickener for sauce in a meal that otherwise is protein and fat forward won’t break your carb bank.
I make this point because people on the internet can be ruthless about what is and is not “keto” when what matters is one’s overall daily carb (and calorie) intake, versus the nitty gritty of each individual food.
For instance, tomatoes or carrots in high amounts aren’t keto friendly, but in small amounts are just fine.
How Many Carbs to Eat on Keto:
The amount of carbohydrate one eats on keto ranges widely depending on the health biomarkers of the individual and their level of activity.
Inactive individuals may need to reduce their carbohydrate intake to 25 to 50 grams per day in order to get into ketosis.
There are athletes that can remain in ketosis while maintaining 150 grams of carbohydrate or more per day. Individuals with a lot of muscle who use a great deal of fuel through physical activity will have wider ranges of carb intake, whereas more sedentary individuals will have a smaller threshold.
How Long Does it Take to Get into Ketosis:
Depending on how much glucose one has stored, it may only take a few days to begin producing ketones; however, it can take a few weeks for a person to become fat adapted.
The best way to know whether or not you’re in ketosis is to test for ketones. You can do so at home with ketone test strips (you urinate on them), or have your blood drawn.
Women in particular do not achieve ketosis easily, as our bodies do prefer glucose as a fuel source for reproductive purposes. It’s not impossible, but it’s important to assess hormonal health when doing an extreme diet like keto.
Tips for Keto:
Eat enough fat. Remember, you’re not only lowering carbohydrate with ketosis, you’re switching your fuel source to fat so increasing fat intake is paramount. This can seem scary for folks who have been avoiding fat, but it’s necessary for the body to have a source of fuel to switch to. Without adequate fat, the body will try to source its carbohydrate from protein and you’ll still be using carbohydrate for fuel.
Stay hydrated and take electrolytes if needed. Removing carbs from your diet also removes a water reserve, as carbohydrates store water. Getting enough salt (and potassium and magnesium) will ensure you stay hydrated.
The Keto Flu. We’ve all heard of it. Here’s Robb Wolf’s guidance on the Keto Flu and how to deal with it.
Eat enough calories. As I mentioned earlier, the satiety level on the ketogenic diet is unparalleled. It can be easy to dramatically under eat as a result, but doing so comes with its own host of problems, namely hormonal issues (low thyroid and low testosterone specifically). While you don’t need to be a megalomaniac about tracking calories, it is important to stay mindful about your body’s energy needs and not dip too far below that need.
Check in with yourself. Like any change, there will be an adjustment period, possibly some energy and digestive shifts. Many people do great on keto after they get over the initial hump, but it may not be right for everyone long term. It is important to assess where your body is at on an evolving basis.
While this just provides some baseline information for anyone looking to make changes to their diet, I encourage you to gather science-based information from professionals prior to taking action.
And for those who are well-researched and experienced in keto, remember to stay cognizant of your body’s needs as you go, as the body is constantly changing.
Now let’s dive into these nourishing, easy keto dinner recipes!
I have broken them out by protein type (chicken, beef, seafood, etc) and have also included the amount of net carbs per serving.
Let me know what you try! I hope you enjoy these delicious meals!
KETO DINNER IDEAS:
30-Minute Creamy Lemon Garlic Chicken – This quick and easy miracle meal is ready in 30 minutes or less! Loaded with creamy, zesty garlicky flavor, you’ll never look at bland chicken breast the same way! 4 net carbs per serving.
30-Minute Creamy Mushroom Chicken– Dairy-free and gluten-free with 11 basic ingredients. Ready in 30 minutes, this nourishing dish is amazing served with rice, noodles or vegetables! 5 net carbs per serving.
Pesto Chicken and Broccoli – Ideal for those who love quick and easy skillet meals, this Pesto Chicken and Broccoli recipe comes together in a flash and requires FOUR basic ingredients. 6 net carbs per serving.
Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken – Easy Stuffed Chicken with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives is bursting with flavor and is remarkably tender. This simple yet flavorful recipe is a marvelous example of just how amazing chicken can be! 7 net carbs per serving.
Instant Pot Garlic Herb Rotisserie Chicken – Fall-off-the-bone tender, incredibly flavorful chicken! For those who love to cook the whole bird, you’ll never roast a whole body chicken in the oven again! 0 net carbs.
Easy Baked Chicken: Quite possibly the easiest baked chicken recipe you’ll ever make and one you’ll keep going back to! Tender, flavorful juicy chicken with amazing crispy skin! If you have an air fryer, try my Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Thighs – both options are 0 net carbs per serving.
Creamy Pesto Chicken – A rich and flavorful meal keeping weeknight eating delicious and fun. Dairy-free, gluten-free, keto, paleo and whole30! Serve it up with your choice of side dishes for a complete meal. 5 net carbs per serving.
Keto Chicken Parmesan – Easy Keto Chicken Parmesan made with the perfect exterior crisp and juicy tender interior. This grain-free chicken parmesan recipe comes together quickly and requires few ingredients for a lovely evening in! 5 net carbs per serving. Serve it up with mashed cauliflower or cauliflower rice.
Sesame Ginger Cashew Chicken – Sesame ginger cashew chicken with broccoli is a marvelously flavorful dinner recipe that takes no more than 40 minutes to make from start-to-finish! 8 net carbs per serving, which does not include any side dishes. I recommend serving it as is or with cauliflower rice!
Chicken Chow Mein Zoodles – A low-carb version of everyone’s favorite Chinese food! Fresh and flavorful, this Keto-friendly Chow Mein is a satisfying and wholesome meal. 2 net carbs per serving.
Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast – Easy Stuffed Chicken Breasts with mushroom, spinach and feta cheese is an incredibly easy way of changing up your chicken dinner routine. Serve it up with your favorite side dishes for an unforgettable meal. – 4 net carbs per serving not including side dishes.
Baked Lemon Garlic Rosemary Chicken – A simple recipe that exudes a fancy vibe while requiring minimal effort, this oven-baked chicken has incredible flavor and turns out fall-off-the-bone exquisite! 2 net carbs without side dishes.
Pesto Chicken Omelette – This flavorful, mouth-watering omelette with spinach and feta makes for an amazingly flavorful and delicious breakfast or dinner! Whip it up over the weekend for a lovely relaxing morning, or any night of the week. 2 net carbs per omelette.
Ground Beef and Cabbage Soup – Using only 10 ingredients, this Ground Beef and Cabbage Soup is a simple soup recipe, ideal for those looking for a belly-pleasing meal without much effort! 6 net carbs per serving.
Perfect Grilled Steak – The BEST Grilled Steak Recipe to level up your grilling game for the rest of BBQ season. Everything you need to know to grill the perfect steak is right here in this post! 0 net carbs without side dishes.
Keto Cottage Pie – Keto Cottage Pie with ground beef, vegetables, and mashed cauliflower topping is a low-carb version of classic cottage pie. Quick, easy, and comforting! You’ll want to put this easy cottage pie recipe on repeat! 8 net carbs per serving!
Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs – Be sure to replace the cherry juice with beef broth or chicken broth, unless you’re okay with some extra carbohydrate. The dinner breaks down to 7 net carbs per serving if you’re eating the carrots. Skipping the carrots lands you at 2 net carbs. Serve it up with my Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower for a wild ride!
Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls – Low-Carb Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls made with winter squash for a keto-friendly burrito treat. Top these beauties with your favorite toppings for a comforting dinner. 9 net carbs per spaghetti squash burrito bowl!
Beef Tenderloin Recipe – How to make the perfect beef tenderloin roast for a super tender, mouth-watering meal. Whether you’re enjoying a fancy evening in with your special someone or serving guests, this beef tenderloin recipe is sure to please! 0 net carbs without side dishes.
30-Minute Ground Beef and Mushroom Skillet – Another 30-minute skillet recipe! 7 basic ingredients is all you need to throw this together any night of the week! Change up the flavors to your heart’s delight for a healthy dinner that will always satisfy. 6 net carbs per serving.
Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats – Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats are an easy low-carb dinner recipe, perfect for celebrating your summer bounty of squash! These cheesy delights are easy to prepare any night of the week! 1 net carb per serving.
Fish and Seafood:
4-Ingredient Mediterranean Stuffed Salmon – Mediterranean Stuffed Salmon with feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach. This quick and easy healthy dinner recipe only requires 4 ingredients (not counting oil and sea salt), and comes together in about 40 minutes. 3 net carbs.
Creamy Tuscan Shrimp – Quick and easy creamy rustic shrimp recipe with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and artichoke hearts in a dairy-free cream sauce. A lovely main entrée or side dish. Whip it up to go alongside steak for a surf and turf dinner. Weighing in at 12 net carbs per serving, I recommend serving with sautéed zucchini or broccoli or enjoying without sides.
Greek Salmon Salad – Greek Salmon Salad with zesty dressing, avocado, tomatoes, red onion, and avocado includes all the yummy flavors and textures – savory, zesty, creamy, crunchy, just marvelously filling! 7 net carbs wins you this big, filling salad!
Creamy Lemon Garlic Cod – This easy cod recipe comes together in 30 minutes or less and makes for an incredibly nutritious meal! A marvelous weeknight staple, yet is fancy enough for date night! 5 net carbs per serving.
Keto Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles – An easy 20-minute keto-friendly Shrimp Scampi recipe with zucchini noodles is a quick and nourishing meal! Whip it up any night of the week for a healthy dinner that is deceptively fancy yet low-fuss. 6 net carbs per serving.
30-Minute Spring Salmon Bowls – A fresh, vibrant dinner recipe perfect for springtime! These Spring Salmon Bowls with asparagus and peas celebrate spring produce and are a nutritious low-carb meal. 14 net carbs for those who can go a little higher in their carbohydrate intake.
The Only Grilled Salmon Recipe You’ll Ever Need – Crispy and tender perfectly cooked grilled salmon with a grilled zucchini and tomato salsa.
Chili Lime Grilled Shrimp Skewers – Sweet, tangy Chili Lime Glazed Grilled Shrimp can act as an appetizer or main entrée! This quick and easy recipe requires only a few basic ingredients and hardly any time to prepare! A whopping 1 carb per serving!
Sausage and Mushroom Pizza – Sausage and Mushroom Keto Pizza on KALE crust is a dreamy low-carb pizza recipe that is loaded with flavor! Don’t be shy…kale crust is not only a fabulous keto pizza crust option, but it’s packed with vitamins and antioxidants! 9 net carbs per serving.
Easy Air Fryer Pork Chops – At 0 net carbs without the green beans, you can tailor the amount and type of side dish to your needs. You can also serve the pork chops up with my Air Fryer Garlic Butter Brussel Sprouts.
Perfect Grilled Pork Tenderloin – An easy, delicious go-to any time of the year. You’ll go bonkers over the easy marinade and are sure to love the perfectly crispy, charred, yet tender juicy pork tenderloin. 0 net carbs per serving.
One Pan 30-Minute Sausage and Peppers – a quick, easy, delicious dinner recipe that you can throw together any night of the week! While this recipe is crazy easy, it has so much flavor that it comes off as fancy when it is anything but! 8 net carbs per serving.
Instant Pot Carnitas – Tender, shredded carnitas made easily in the pressure cooker! This simple Mexican shredded pork recipe requires minimal prep time and effort!
Keto Side Dishes:
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Jalapeno Ginger Cauliflower Rice
- Spanish Cauliflower Rice
- Garlic Herb Roasted Vegetables
- Turnip Fried Rice
- How to Roast Green Beans
- Air Fryer Garlic Butter Brussel Sprouts
While I’m not a huge advocate for eating a great deal of artificial sweetener, sometimes we all crave a sweet treat. Check out my Keto Dessert Recipes for some low-carb options.
I hope you love these healthy dinner recipes! Keep checking back for more!
Thursday 27th of January 2022
Thanks for this Julia. Am currently following keto and already tried a few of these recipes. Not exaggerating when I say the ones we’ve tried have all been delicious. Would love you to write a low carb cook book!
Thursday 27th of January 2022
I'm so happy you enjoy them, Nicky! Your sweet words are very encouraging! xoxoxo :D