Zero-Carb Diet Recipes and Ideas

Burger topped with a fried egg
What can you eat on a Zero-Carb Diet?

I recently received an email asking me for help in overcoming the boredom that results from eating a carb-free diet.

Hot Wings and Heroine Wings can get pretty monotonous after a few weeks, so the reader asked if I had recipes or menu ideas that would fit into a zero-carb diet.

I haven't talked about zero-carb diets very much because my own personal experience with going zero carb wasn't a pleasant experience. I prefer to talk about subjects that I have personal experience with.

However, many people do find no carb and very low-carb diets to be extremely helpful in peeling off the pounds. Zero carb just makes them feel better.

Even though I did give zero carb a couple of tries, it never got beyond the diet mindset stage.

Since my experience with this is limited, I have spent the past few days thinking about how I would go about upgrading a meat-only diet to be more of a lifestyle.

Here's what I came up with:

Pinterest Image: Rib Steak on Grill and Smoked Turkey

What is Zero Carb?

There is a lot of confusion online as to what a zero-carb diet is, so I thought I'd give you a brief explanation.

A no-carb diet is a subset of a low-carb diet. And it's exactly what it sounds like. You eat no carbs at all or only the carbs found in a few incidentals, such as eggs, cheese, and heavy cream. Maximum daily carb limit is about 5 grams, or less. This gives you room for coffee and eggs to go along with your meat.

Zero-carb options easily fit within the context of all low-carb diets. At the very heart of carbohydrate restriction, meat dishes are the mainstay and focal point for everyone.

If you don't have time to cook, want to keep things simple, are extremely insulin resistant, or have decided to go dairy free, restricting carbs further than Induction levels can make your keto diet easier to live with.

Most people who follow a no-carb lifestyle don't eat dairy, but some still do, so the following ideas and suggestions will cover both types of zero-carb diets.

Whether you're doing just meat, meat and eggs, or meat, eggs, and cheese, I'm sure you'll find something useful here.

Meat-Crust Pizza

Pizza on zero carb?

You bet!

In fact, a Meatza Pizza was very popular among low carbers back in the late '90s. Instead of using fancy low-carb products or cream cheese, eggs, and tons of mozzarella to make the crust, driving up the carb count, you can simply use ground meat. 

Any type of ground meat will work:
  • ground beef
  • ground turkey
  • ground chicken
  • ground lamb
  • bulk sausage
Whatever you have on hand or is cheap that week. Do be careful if you opt for the sausage though. You want something that will enable you to fit within the less-than-5 carbs per day limit for this type of diet.

You'll need about a pound of ground meat. Mix it with an egg. If you can't eat eggs, just leave it out. It will still work. With no eggs, though, you'll need a fattier grade of meat. Or crush up some zero-carb pork rinds and use that as a binder instead. A little dried Parmesan cheese would also work here.

Season the meat with salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings. Pat it into a pie plate, square baking dish, or small pizza pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain off the grease as it accumulates. Once baked, top it with whatever you like. 

Tomato-based pizza sauce isn't allowed on a no-carb diet, but you don't really need it. You can opt for a little Alfredo or just skip the sauce all together.

Use a variety of meats -- I used pepperoni and sausage, so it had that familiar pizza taste --  and whatever cheese allowance will keep you within your 5 grams of carbs per day.

Mozzarella cheese is about 1 gram per 1/4 cup of cheese. Same for Parmesan. Cheddar is only about half of that, but it won't have the same pizza flavor.

Pop the Meat-Crust Pizza back into the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Meat Soups

Whole Chicken Cooking in a Pot for Soup
While meat-and-vegetable soups are all the rage for
low-carb diets, you can simply leave out the veggies.

Traditional low-carb diets take advantage of nature's bounty to whip up creative soups and stews, but a no-carb diet can do the same thing using a variety of meats and a good homemade soup broth

Fill a pot with a combination of:
  • chicken legs or whole chicken
  • turkey parts
  • pork steak or cubed roast
  • chunks of beef chuck
  • or sliced sausage
Add enough water to cover the meat. If you're a zero-carb purist, simply bring it to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Let it cook over a low heat until the broth is as flavorful as you want it to be. 

If you are just using a zero-carb diet because you're not losing weight on 20 net carbs, you can season the broth with:
  • minced garlic
  • minced ginger
  • salt
  • pepper
  • herbs
  • and other spices
I usually add some minced fresh cilantro to mine.

Once the soup is done, chop or shred the meat and add it to the broth. If you are eating eggs, you can drizzle a well-beaten egg or two into the hot broth, and the egg stream will cook as soon as it hits the water.

Burger Fun

Bunless burgers are a staple of any low-carb diet.

Even those who just eat beef and drink only water eat a lot of hamburgers.

If you're just keeping your carbs below 5 carbs a day and don't mind a little bit of vegetable matter, you can add some minced jalapeno or pickled peppers to the ground meat to spike the flavor.
  • Crumbled bacon
  • minced garlic
  • grated cheese
  • crushed pork rinds
  • and a variety of spices
will season your raw hamburger meat before you form it into patties. Some people have even used chopped pepperoni or salami to give their burgers an extra kick. 

Also, don't limit yourself to just beef.
  • ground turkey
  • ground pork
  • bulk sausage
  • ground chicken
  • ground lamb
All make nice, flavorful burgers. If you can eat eggs, topping your burger with a fried egg and a slice of cheese makes the burger a bit more special.

When I was eating zero carb, our local diner would make something they called a Hawaiian Burger. You can do the same thing at home. Just top your cooked burger with a slice of ham, a slice of cheese, and a fried egg.

Burger Buns and Sandwich Bread

A Pan Filled with Dr. Atkins Revolution Rolls
If you're doing a meat, eggs, and cheese diet,
Dr. Atkins Original Revolution Rolls make a great
zero-carb cloud bread. 

When I was doing a zero-carb diet a few years ago, eggs and cheese were frowned upon. Today, many no-carbers are doing zero carb for a different reason, so they take advantage of the super-low carbohydrate content of cheese and eggs.

Several traditional low-carb foods will fit into the 5-carbs a day limitation. Dr. Atkins Original Diet Revolution Roll, sometimes referred to as Cloud Bread, is one of them.

The recipe can be easily adapted to fit whatever macros you're doing. If you don't want to use protein powder, just leave it out. I've used mayonnaise and cream cheese in these with equal success.

Some people have even spread the batter in a cookie sheet or pizza pan and then used it for a pizza crust.

**The key to making these rolls work is to not overcook them.

Use a low temperature, and only bake for about 30 minutes. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, pop them off the cookie sheet and place each roll in a zip lock bag.

Put the rolls into the refrigerator, and don't touch them until the next day.

This is essential.

It is NOT optional!

The texture and taste of the rolls will change from dry, crumbly, and eggy bread to something closer to a sponge cake after they have sat in the refrigerator overnight.

Meat-Only Stir-Fry

Stir-fries often focus on the vegetables to provide color and flavor, but you don't have to make your oriental masterpiece with peppers and other stir-fry veggies.

Why not use just meat instead?

One of my favorite lunches is Chili Garlic Chicken. It uses chicken breast cut into cubes and takes advantage of a little bit of garlic-chili sauce. Garlic-chili sauce does have a carb or two, but it has no sugar and makes the chicken really, really tasty.

Here again, don't limit yourself to just chicken. It's easy to fall into a rut that way. Try stir-frying one or a combo of:
  • beef
  • veal
  • lamb
  • pork
  • turkey breast
  • or shrimp
You can even stir-fry ground meat. It doesn't have to be cubes or strips. Toss in some crumbled bacon, lots of butter or coconut oil, and season the mixture with hot sauce, soy sauce, or garlic chili sauce. 

Tasty Mustard Sauce and Dip

Eggs are about 1/2 a carb each, so most people can eat a couple of eggs a day, without problems. But even if you're not eating eggs, check out our fake honey-mustard sauce in the Chili-Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry I linked to above.

Fake honey mustard makes a great dip for simple grilled meats, pan-sauteed meats (like ham), and hard boiled eggs.

The key to making grilled or sauteed meats tasty is the marinade, fat, herbs, or sauce you use to perk up the flavor. 

Shish Kabob

Several Skrewers of Caramelized Chicken Chunks
Vegetables are traditionally used for Shish Kabob,
but you can use a variety of meats instead.

Most Shish Kabobs are filled to the brim with vegetables. Often, more vegetables than meat. But, just like no-carb soups, stews, and stir-fries, you can simply use meat on your skewers:
  • chicken breast chunks
  • pork cubes
  • beef strips or cubes
  • and even Italian Sausage chunks
All these would work well. Just make sure that you don't place meats on the same skewer that need different cooking times.

If you mix chicken with pork, for example, like I did once, the chicken breast will come out overcooked before the pork is cooked through.

Barbecue sauce isn't allowed on a zero-carb diet, but you can use butter mixed with a flavorful oil-and-vinegar marinade to keep your kabobs from drying out on the grill.

The Bottom Line

Finding recipes that fit within a zero-carb diet isn't hard, but it does take a bit of creativity.

The easiest way to add some variety to your meals is to search the web for low-carb main dishes and low-carb meat recipes, and then simply eliminate the vegetables or other ingredients that are not allowed on a zero-carb diet.

Tweaking already existing recipes will enable you to come up with your own variations and ideas.

For example, our Pizza-Chicken Recipe can both be adapted to a zero carb diet. Just skip the pizza sauce and top your partially baked chicken with grated cheese, sausage, and pepperoni. Some chopped ham or Canadian bacon would also be a good choice.

For our Chicken Alfredo Bake, just leave out the broccoli, or use some chopped ham or shelled shrimp instead.

Zero carbers have a wide variety of:
  • grilled meats
  • flavorful marinades
  • barbecue spice rubs
  • herbs and spices
they can use. The trick is to just substitute meat, eggs, or cheese for some of the other ingredients you'd normally find in a traditional low-carb recipe.

Even casseroles are not off-limits.

Add more than one meat to give your palate the banquet its craving. Or just let the recipe spark an idea of your own.

Plate Filled with Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Strips
Don't look at a recipe and think: I can't have that.
Twist it into something you CAN have!

A bacon-wrapped hot dog recipe isn't exactly off-limits for a zero-carb diet, except for those who insist on only eating pure meats. But you can also convert that bacon-wrapped hot dog into something entirely new.

Try wrapping partially fried bacon around a chicken strip and baking it to crisp instead of using a pork-rind breading.

A pork roast could also be thrown into the crock pot with a little bit of soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and water. Instead of serving it inside low-carb tortillas, spoon it into a bowl and top with grated cheese and sour cream.

Chicken breast can be sauteed in a non stick pan, then topped with crumbled bacon, pepperoni, and Parmesan cheese.

You could even whip up a casserole using mayo and cheese for the sauce and use a variety of meats instead of the veggies.

Meatloaf and meatballs can also be easily made carb free.

Think in terms of "how can I adapt this recipe to get rid of all the carbs," and you'll quickly come up with a treasure chest of your own ideas.

Additional Zero-Carb Recipes For You:

How to Make Your Own Salty Chicken Broth
Chicken Nuggets or Strips Made with Pork Rinds
Crispy Sesame Chicken Wings
Pork Chops with Spicy Cream Sauce (Leave Out the Mushrooms)