It’s a simple fact: bread is one of the best foods on Earth. It’s the stuff of life. It’s a crusty, crunchy, soft and airy in the middle little bundle of carby joy. And no one, keto-dieters included, should be deprived of it.
Keto bread sounds like an oxymoron. The keto diet swaps out carbohydrates for fat, signaling the body to go into ketosis—the process of converting fats instead of glucose into energy, with the idea of burning fat and ultimately losing weight. But the main ingredient in bread is wheat flour, which is high in carbohydrates—the stuff that produces glucose. So how in the world is keto bread a thing?
We’re going to show you how to do the seemingly impossible: make delicious keto bread. With some creative alternative ingredients and substitutions, it may not be the real thing—but it’s pretty darn close. Whether you’re doing it for health reasons or dietary restrictions, find out the secret to baking keto bread that’s actually good.
Tips for Making Keto Bread
The thing about bread is it’s made with wheat flour, and wheat forms gluten. Gluten traps gas that’s created in fermentation that occurs once dough is mixed, which gives bread the lift, spring and natural air pockets we want to see. So the trick to making keto bread is knowing what ingredients and how much to use in place of regular flour.
Leverage the Power of Leavening
In the absence of common wheat flour, there are ways to emulate the shape, texture, and overall quality of bread as we know it, and that’s by leavening. The three types of leavening are physical, chemical and natural. Natural leavening occurs with the addition of yeast, physical leavening is activated by using eggs and oil, and chemical leavening results from mixing in ingredients like baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
Mike Carmody, Head Baker of Proof Bakeshop in Atlanta, recommends using a combination of these leavening methods when making keto bread. “You want to create something that’s going to trap gasses in the oven and that will give you lift and won’t just be a hockey puck which no one wants.”
In addition to your alternative flour of choice, he suggests mixing in instant yeast, whipped egg whites, a combination of fats like butter and coconut oil, baking soda, baking powder, water, and salt. Xanthan gum is another binding agent that could be used instead of or along with eggs. Whipping egg whites until they’re very stiff is important for the bread to rise as well as forming holes when making loaves.
Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum, $10.39 from Target
“You’re just trying to bind these flours that don’t naturally bind to themselves so you need an added ingredient,” says Carmody. He offers buttermilk as another option to produce great texture and flavor.
Find the Right Flour
As for which flour(s) to use, for keto bread, you want them to be high in fiber, like flax flour, almond flour, coconut flour, and sunflower seed flour. Psyllium husk powder is another flour substitute used in keto bread recipes made from the Plantago ovato plant which lends a bread-like texture.
Kate Naturals Psyllium Husk Powder, $9.99 from Amazon
Many keto bread recipes contain a mixture of different flour alternatives for the best results. Determining the best flour combinations and ratios takes experimentation by trial and error.
“Think about the physical properties of each flour and think about the texture you want and make a decision based on that. It’s a new branch of baking. There’s not 6,000 years of history you can look to, it’s more like 10, 15, 20 years, so it’s new and exciting,” says Carmody.
Speaking of experimenting, Carmody has his eye on an unconventional, perhaps controversial, keto-friendly flour made from crickets or grasshoppers. That’s right—dried and milled bug flour. “It’s a prevalent protein that doesn’t harm the environment at all, it’s totally self-sustaining, easy to produce, and actually has a pretty delightful flavor,” says Carmody. “It’s kind of on the fringe right now, but I think it’s going to get a lot more popular.”
Keto Bread Recipes
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on the current bread baking craze just because you’re keto. Play around with keto bread recipes like this Easy Paleo Keto Bread or this 90 Second Microwaveable Low Carb Keto Bread. There’s even Keto Sourdough! And Keto Banana Bread, of course.
Check out some of our favorite keto cookbooks for even more inspiration.
Header image by Chowhound