If you are new to keto – or new to cooking altogether – these five keto cookbooks could make all the difference in helping you stick to your plan.
There are tons of keto cookbooks on the market today. Some are basic, some are for cooks with some experience, and others are designed for specialty cooking (i.e., baking, entertaining, Instant pot cooking, etc.).
I began experimenting with low carb cooking quite a long time ago. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution contained a few recipes and there were a several, now-defunct, recipe boards online. But cookbooks devoted to keto and low carb hadn’t arrived on the scene yet. There were virtually no recipes with almond flour, erythritol or even coconut oil, ingredients now commonly used in keto and low carb.
However, as time went on, and people started to see that low carb and keto were here to stay, imaginative cooks started doing some serious experimenting and creating. Keto and low carb cookbooks and blogs started popping up everywhere.
But, as you know, all that glitters is not always gold. A gorgeous photo does not always translate into a delicious, or even edible, dish.
So, where do you start?
I usually start off by searching for popular cookbooks at the library. If I try and am really pleased with the results from at least three recipes, I will usually go ahead and purchase the book. There are a few very well-known and top-selling keto cookbooks that you won’t see mentioned here, for various reasons. In some cases, they were too complicated, or they called for expensive and hard to find ingredients, or they were not at all beginner friendly. Or all of the above.
Each of the cookbooks below have a few things in common. Each author gives a background into her weight loss and/or health issues journeys. All of the books feature a tips and hints section with an overview of the keto diet itself, in addition to best practices for achieving great results from the recipes. They all contain recipes in a variety of categories (snacks, entrees, sides, salads, desserts, condiments, etc.).
All of the cookbooks provide nutritional information and, with the exception of Lauri’s Low-Carb Cookbook, they all contain beautiful full-color images.
These cookbooks are not listed in any particular order of preference; however, I begin with an oldie but goodie, because its recipes are very simple and not at all intimidating for a beginner.
In addition, click here to check out my Pinterest boards featuring great online keto recipes.
1. Lauri’s Low-Carb Cookbook by Lauri Ann Randolph
Lauri’s cookbook may be too simple for experienced cooks, but could work really well for beginners. This is a no-frills book, with really easy recipes and NO pictures.
This second edition was published in 2000 and based on the Atkins diet. A lot of keto ingredients that are commonplace today were not readily available at the time. Therefore, you will see, for example, some dessert recipes utilizing Sweet ‘n Low or Equal. However, they are easily substituted with today’s popular – and safer – keto sweeteners.
(Example: for the chocolate mousse recipe, I use 1/8 cup erythritol with about 1/16 tsp. powdered stevia in place of the Sweet ‘n Low).
Most recipes in Lauri’s Low-Carb Cookbook are simplified versions of classic dishes, sometimes just substituting high carb ingredients with low carbs.
Desserts are mainly cream based and crustless, in part because alternatives flours were not widely available at the time. This book does not contain recipes for breads, wraps or sandwiches (for example, the eggs benedict sits on tomato slices). But, again, this is one of the reasons this is a great book for beginners to get your keto feet wet and have something ready that you can eat quickly.
There are breakfast recipes like Swiss eggs, cauliflower hash browns, and breakfast squares. Easy snack recipes include chicken wings, deviled eggs, and dips. You’ll find lots of meat options (meatloaf, Cornish hens, blackened fish fillets). Lauri also includes a few vegetarian dishes, mostly featuring spaghetti squash, zucchini boats and tofu dishes.
Some of the introduction information is dated. For example, she references the Alpine Bakery in Pompano Beach to order products. They are now closed so you would have to figure out substitutions in order to recreate those particular recipes.
Again, Lauri’s Low-Carb Cookbook is old, but there are plenty of cheap, used copies available. Don’t pay full price!
Favorites: Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce; Chicken Fajitas; Chocolate Mousse
Recipes to try next: Crab Chowder; Crab Souffle; Chicken Cacciatore
Bottom line: Great starter cookbook. Basic go-to recipes (maybe too basic for some), simple and inexpensive ingredients, quick and easy meals.
2. The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen by Carolyn Ketchum
Carolyn Ketchum has a series of keto specialty cookbooks, dedicated to breakfasts, dinners, desserts, baking, soups and stews, etc. The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen is a comprehensive overview, perfect for beginners with general information about keto (including her own diabetes diagnosis), and recommendations for ingredients, cookware and equipment.
Included are recipes for all three meal categories, plus snacks, sides, breads, desserts and condiments.
With this cookbook, you can expect to become familiar with more sophisticated ingredients like alternative flours and keto sweeteners.
The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen contains beautiful photos. It also boasts three (3) recipe indexes: alphabetical, by category (with images), and by dietary restriction. All recipes include prep and cook times, serving sizes, serving suggestions, and nutritional information.
Carolyn’s blog (All Day I Dream About Food) is a very popular one, loaded with more keto recipes for any dish that you can imagine that you’d like to try.
Favorites: Slow Cooker Kielbasa and Cabbage, Easy Taco Pie (also Pico de Gallo), Molten Chocolate Cakes for Two
Recipes to try next: Basic Almond Flour Crackers, Old Bay Crab Cakes
Bottom line: The ketogenic guide is a great overview and introduction, especially for beginners. The recipes are pretty easy and appropriate for all levels. Just my opinion: skip the hamburger buns.
3. The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook by Maya Kramph
This cookbook contains a getting started guide, information on stocking your pantry, and a sample meal plan.
The guide to fathead dough – its variations and how to work with it – is worth the price alone! Fathead dough? Made mostly from mozzarella and cream cheese, coconut flour or almond flour, and eggs, you can use Maya’s variations for pizza crusts, bagel, bread sticks and other recipes found in this cookbook.
The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook contains beautiful images and all recipes include serving sizes, tips and variations, and nutritional information. The introduction also includes a basic overview of the keto diet and a sample meal plan.
Maya is also a popular blogger, and her gluten-free and low carb recipes use 10 ingredients or less. Check out her blog, The Wholesome Yum.
Favorites: Fathead Dough (guide!); Chicken Quesadillas, Italian Garlic Bread Sticks
Recipes to try next: Salted Pecan Fat Bombs, Homemade Sugar-Free Maple Syrup
Bottom line: This cookbook is appropriate for all levels. If you even think you’re going to miss eating bread, it’s worth perfecting the fathead dough variations right away. Read the guide carefully as the instructions for dough variations can be a little confusing.
4. Keto for Life by Mellissa Sevigny
One of the things I really love about this book is the section on fermented foods. I often make my own kefir and cultured vegetables and I plan to try her Cultured Red Onion Relish to add to my collection.
Sevigny also includes a section of vegetarian dishes. Looking for a pasta alternative? Try the cream cheese noodles. Unlike many keto recipes that use a lot of heavy cream, Mellissa often opts for almond milk.
And, possibly best of all, Keto For Life devotes an entire chapter to keto cocktails: martinis, mojitos, a margarita and more!! She provides a simple syrup recipe. I have yet to try any of the cocktail recipes, but I could use a nice margarita on the rocks right soon.
Mellissa’s blog, I Breathe, I’m Hungry, contains recipes that are mostly keto, low carb and gluten-free. However, there are some Paleo recipes, which may mean a higher carb count. Thankfully, the recipes are well-categorized by diet to help you find what you’re looking for.
But this cookbook, Keto for Life, is ALL keto.
At some point, I plan to try Mellissa’s new cookbook, Squeaky Clean Keto. Thirty (30) days with no grains, dairy, alcohol, sweeteners, or nuts. As one reviewer put it, “Whole 30 Meets Keto”. She has a page dedicated to the Squeaky Clean Keto Challenge and there’s a Facebook group.
Favorites: Cacao Coconut Granola, Spicy Jicama Fries, Parmesan Crisps
Recipes to try next: Chicken-Fried Steak with Sour Cream Gravy; Pecan Shortbread Cookies; Cultured Red Onion Relish; Margarita
Bottom line: Over 160 recipes, and so many of them call to me! I’ll be working my way through this cookbook for a while.
5. Southern Keto by Natasha Newton
If you’ve been missing ribs, biscuits with sausage gravy, fried chicken, hushpuppies, potato salad or (chocolate) pecan pie, this may just be the keto cookbook for you. Delicious recipes for all of these foods are in there.
There are keto drop biscuit recipes all over the internet, but the variation found in Southern Keto, with sharp cheddar and garlic powder, is my favorite.
You’ll also find recipes for hearty soups like gumbo, chili, and cheeseburger soup, along with great salads.
The Memphis-Style Ribs don’t require any sauce; oil, Newton’s Tennessee Dry Rub and a slow oven is all that’s needed.
Natasha outlines her background in the opening pages; her struggles with weight, food addiction and Crohn’s disease. She also provides a keto shopping guide and cooking tips and hints, along with sample menus according to the occasion (fish fry, bridal shower, Thanksgiving, etc.). Her website is Keto is Life.
Favorites: Drop Biscuits, One-Bowl Butter Cookies, Fried Cabbage & Bacon
Recipes to try next: Grain-Free Granola, Cheesy Sausage Balls
Bottom line: Southern Keto is a wonderful reminder, especially for beginners, that you don’t have to abandon your favorite foods. A little keto imagination is all that’s needed. Even though the skillet cornbread got rave reviews on Amazon, it was a huge disappointment for me, especially after I dropped $12+ on a bottle of corn extract!
These are some of my favorite keto and low carb cookbooks. What do you recommend?