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Best Low Carb Bread Crumb Substitutes to Satisfy Your Crunch Craving

Published September 15, 2019
Kate Sullivan

Written By: Kate Sullivan, MS

Kate holds a MS in Business Psychology and is currently a PHD researcher in Well-Being and Performance Psychology.

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<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@type":"BlogPosting", "headline":"Best Low Carb Bread Crumb Substitutes to Satisfy Your Crunch Craving", "datePublished":"September 15, 2019", "description":"Looking for low carb bread crumb substitutions to make your favorite crunchy dishes? Swap standard breadcrumbs for one of these 6 flavorful low-carb options.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/08/bread-crumbs-bowl-ingredient-prep-thumbnail-0242.jpg" }, } ] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">What Are Breadcrumbs and Why Aren’t They Low Carb Friendly?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">What Can I Use Instead of Breadcrumbs on the Keto Diet?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">6 Best Keto Breadcrumb Substitutes</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Crispy, Crunchy, Craveable Low-Carb Recipes</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p><i>Breadcrumbs</i>. Those magical, golden-brown, crunchy morsels that make so many of our favorite comfort foods extra-craveable. They add texture and flavor, really pulling a dish together.</p> <p>But the problem with breadcrumbs is obvious in the name itself: they’re bread! And bread means carbs… lots of them.</p> <p>What’s a foodie to do if you love eggplant parm, fried shrimp, chicken tenders, crunchy-topped casseroles and more, but still want to stick to your low-carb diet goals?</p> <p>Swap those carb-loaded breadcrumbs for low carb bread crumb substitutes, of course!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What Are Breadcrumbs and Why Aren’t They Low Carb Friendly?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Breadcrumbs are pretty self-explanatory: they’re crumbs made from bread! Most of the time we buy these at the store in convenient little packages, either plain or seasoned with Italian herbs, though you can also make your own from whirling stale bread in a food processor. These dry breadcrumbs are typically used to coat the outside of foods like chicken or fish before baking or frying, adding a crispy texture to the final dish.\n\nBreadcrumbs are sometimes used to bind together ingredients in other recipes. Meatballs, meatloaf, and even veggie burgers often rely on breadcrumbs to help all the other ingredients stick together.\n\nBreadcrumbs are also often used as a topping for casseroles or baked dishes like mac and cheese. Because these comfort foods can get a little boring when it comes to texture—so soft and gooey!—a layer of crunchy toasted breadcrumbs on top goes a long way to jazzing things up.\n\nBut obviously anything that’s made from crumbling up bread is going to be a problem when you’re trying to stay low carb. A mere quarter-cup of breadcrumbs contains 19.5 grams of carbs, just 3.6 grams of protein, and only 1.4 grams of fat—not very keto-friendly."}}]}</script> <h2>What Are Breadcrumbs and Why Aren’t They Low Carb Friendly?</h2> <p>Breadcrumbs are pretty self-explanatory: they’re crumbs made from bread! Most of the time we buy these at the store in convenient little packages, either plain or seasoned with Italian herbs, though you can also make your own from whirling stale bread in a food processor. These dry breadcrumbs are typically used to coat the outside of foods like chicken or fish before baking or frying, adding a crispy texture to the final dish.</p> <p>Breadcrumbs are sometimes used to bind together ingredients in other recipes. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-beef-stroganoff-meatballs/" rel="noreferrer">Meatballs</a>, meatloaf, and even veggie burgers often rely on breadcrumbs to help all the other ingredients stick together.</p> <p>Breadcrumbs are also often used as a topping for casseroles or baked dishes like mac and cheese. Because these comfort foods can get a little boring when it comes to texture—so soft and gooey!—a layer of crunchy toasted breadcrumbs on top goes a long way to jazzing things up.</p> <p>But obviously anything that’s made from crumbling up bread is going to be a problem when you’re trying to stay low carb. A mere quarter-cup of breadcrumbs contains 19.5 grams of carbs, just 3.6 grams of protein, and only 1.4 grams of fat—not very keto-friendly.</p> <h3>How Many Carbs Are in Panko Breadcrumbs?</h3> <p>The foodie world has gone nuts for panko breadcrumbs, a special type of breading originally from Japan. Rather than crumbling standard wheat bread, panko is made by mixing yeast, flour, and oil to form a paste. That paste is then dried, scraped, and flaked to create light, airy shards rather than standard hard crumbs. When used as a breading or topping, panko is lighter and crispier than normal breadcrumbs and absorbs less oil, making for a healthier and tastier final dish. </p> <p>But panko is still made of wheat flour, which means it’s still high in carbs! A quarter cup of panko has 14 grams of carbs, 3 grams of protein, and 0.5 grams of fat. So although it’s lower in carbohydrates than standard bread crumbs, it’s still not a good option for anyone following a low-carb diet, even when much less strict than keto.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/chicken-tender-nugget-breaded-0242.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/chicken-tender-nugget-breaded-0242.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/chicken-tender-nugget-breaded-0242.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/chicken-tender-nugget-breaded-LR-0242.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="chicken-tender-nugget-breaded"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What Can I Use Instead of Breadcrumbs on the Keto Diet?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Luckily, there are tons of great keto-friendly swaps for both panko and regular breadcrumbs! Better still, you probably have most of them on hand already for your keto baking and other recipes. Oh, and did we mention that they tend to add even more flavor than normal breadcrumbs? It’s a win-win!"}}]}</script> <h2 id="section2">What Can I Use Instead of Breadcrumbs on the Keto Diet?</h2> <p>Luckily, there are tons of great keto-friendly swaps for both panko and regular breadcrumbs! Better still, you probably have most of them on hand already for your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/best-low-carb-flour-substitutes" rel="noreferrer">keto baking</a> and other recipes. Oh, and did we mention that they tend to add even more flavor than normal breadcrumbs? It’s a win-win!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>6 Best Keto Breadcrumb Substitutes</h2> <h3>Crushed Pork Rinds</h3> <p>One of the most popular keto substitutes for breadcrumbs is pork rinds. And no wonder—they’re crunchy, flavorful, and crisp up beautifully in the oven. Plus, they add plenty of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/bring-on-the-bacon" rel="noreferrer">good fat</a> to your diet! Made by frying pork skin or thin strips of pork fat, pork rinds are a popular snack in the US and around the world. They’re also super keto-friendly. A one-ounce serving has 0 grams of carbs, 17 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat.</p> <p>Pork rinds can be used to replace breadcrumbs in almost any recipe. They work as a binder in meatballs or crab cakes; as a coating for proteins like chicken, fish, or pork cooked in the oven or air fryer; and as a crispy topping for <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/loaded-cauliflower-casserole" rel="noreferrer">low-carb casseroles</a>.</p> <p>Several companies now sell pre-made pork rind crumbs, but they’re super-easy (and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-on-a-budget" rel="noreferrer">inexpensive</a>) to make yourself. If you’re looking for a fine texture—great for a binder—just whirl your pork rinds in a food processor. Want a crunchier, more panko-like texture to use as a coating? Put them in a zip-top bag and crunch them up by hand or with a rolling pin. </p> <p>For even more flavor, try barbeque or chili-lime seasoned pork rinds to take your casserole to the next level.</p> <h3>Parmesan Cheese</h3> <p>Another flavor-packed low carb breadcrumb substitute is Parmesan cheese. Whether grated or shredded, this dry aged cheese packs a load of flavor and makes a great topping for baked fish or chicken…or even eggplant or zucchini! Just brush your food with a little olive oil or smear with mayonnaise to create a binder, then press the cheese on firmly. Bake or broil and you’ll have a golden crust in no time.</p> <p>You can also use Parmesan—or its cousin, pecorino romano—to top a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/cauliflower-and-chicken-casserole" rel="noreferrer">casserole</a>, or as a binder in meatballs. It also makes a great finishing touch for veggie side dishes like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/crispy-garlic-parmesan-cauliflower" rel="noreferrer">crispy cauliflower</a>!</p> <p>Two tablespoons of Parmesan has just 0.5 grams of carbs, plus 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of heart-healthy fats. </p> <h3>Almond Meal</h3> <p>Want a low-carb breadcrumb sub that works as both a binder and a breading? Look no further than almond meal! That magical <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/best-low-carb-flour-substitutes" rel="noreferrer">keto baking swap</a> also works wonders in main dish recipes, holding together a low-carb meatloaf or providing a crispy crunch for oven-fried chicken tenders.</p> <p>Keto mozzarella sticks, anyone? Just dip string cheese into beaten egg, then roll in almond meal before popping in the oven or into the fryer.</p> <p>Be sure to use almond <i>meal</i> instead of almond <i>flour</i> for the crunchiest coating. Almond meal isn’t as finely ground as almond flour, so it provides more texture to the final dish. A quarter-cup serving has just 5 grams of carbs, but gives you 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of healthy fats.</p> <h3>Coconut Flour</h3> <p>For a lighter breading almost on par with fluffy, airy tempura batters, try coconut flour! Heck, you can actually use coconut flour for tempura—just stir together with a splash of seltzer water and dip veggies, shrimp, chicken, or whatever else you can think of into the mixture, then fry up. You’ll get a crackling outer shell with none of the carbs from regular wheat flour.</p> <p>In recipes that call for dredging food in egg wash, flour, and then a final breadcrumb coating, coconut flour makes an excellent swap for the flour. It may not add the same crunchy texture to a final dish as almond meal or pork rinds, but it helps other coatings stick better and adds an extra layer of flavor.</p> <p>A two-tablespoon serving of coconut flour has 20 grams of carbs, but 12 of these are fiber—that means there’s just 8 grams of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/why-you-should-be-calculating-your-macros" rel="noreferrer">net carbs</a>, which are what count on keto. It also has 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/is-mct-oil-the-key-to-burning-stubborn-fat" rel="noreferrer">super-healthy fat</a>.</p> <h3>Chia Seeds</h3> <p>An unsung hero of the keto breading world is the chia seed! High in protein and fiber, and low in carbs, these little miracle seeds offer a ton of satisfying crunch when used as a topping for your favorite protein. </p> <p>They work best as a breading when combined with coconut flour or almond meal. Just dip your target food—try chicken tenders or eggplant slices—in some beaten egg or melted coconut oil, then dip into a mix of chia seeds and almond meal. Pan fry or bake in the oven for an irresistibly crunchy crust. </p> <p>That crust will also be packed with nutrition: one tablespoon contains 0 net carbs (8 grams carbohydrate minus 8 grams fiber!) as well as 4 grams protein and 8 grams of fat.</p> <h3>Flax Meal</h3> <p>Golden flax meal browns up beautifully, gives a great nutty flavor, <i>and</i> packs a nutritional punch. Use it to bread meats or veggies before pan-frying for a golden brown and delicious crust.</p> <p>Flax meal also makes a great binder to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/baked-buffalo-meatballs/" rel="noreferrer">replace breadcrumbs</a>, eggs, or both. Just mix a tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of water and allow to sit for about 5 minutes before adding to your recipe. The resulting “flax egg” will help all the other ingredients stick together—without adding many carbs! That’s because a tablespoon of flax meal has just 5 grams of carbs (4 of which are fiber, for just 1 net carb) along with 3 grams of protein and 5 grams of heart-healthy <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/chia-seeds-vs-flax-seeds" rel="noreferrer">omega-3 fatty acids</a>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/mozzarella-sticks-fried-snack-0242.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/mozzarella-sticks-fried-snack-0242.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/mozzarella-sticks-fried-snack-0242.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/mozzarella-sticks-fried-snack-LR-0242.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="mozzarella-sticks-fried-snack"> </picture> <h2 id="section4">Crispy, Crunchy, Craveable Low-Carb Recipes</h2> <p>Sold on swapping your breadcrumbs for low-carb bread crumb alternatives? Use the tips above to get started, then try out one of these tasty recipes:</p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/crispy-keto-chicken-tenders/" rel="noreferrer">Crispy Keto Chicken Tenders</a></li> <li>Popcorn Shrimp</li> <li>Eggplant Parmesan</li> </ul> <p>Looking for even more great ways to get that crunch fix when you’re living a keto lifestyle? Don’t be afraid to experiment! Take a standard oven-baked recipe and swap out the breadcrumbs for one of the tasty suggestions above or try mixing a few. For example, swap out breadcrumbs for almond meal, but add a tablespoon of chia seeds to the mix—you’ll boost both the nutrition and the crunch factor.</p> <p>Think about other pairings, too. For a great appetizer or main, dip shrimp in melted coconut oil, then dip in coconut flour, go back into the coconut oil, and finish off by pressing into unsweetened, flaked coconut before baking or frying. You’ll have sensational low-carb coconut shrimp with a triple dose of coconut flavor! </p> <p>When it comes to addictively crispy keto cooking, a few smart swaps are all it takes to whip up delicious meals. And for an additional 44 Keto Carb recipes, never miss your carb favorites with our <i><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/keto-carbs/free-cookbook/?&utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=wm-keto" rel="noreferrer">breads and pastas cookbook</a></i>! Happy baking.</p> </section> </article>

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