Pasta Pasta

Paleo Pasta: Healthy Low-Carb Swaps for Noodles

Most pastas and noodles contain gluten. However, even gluten-free pasta is a starchy food that can leave you with a high-carb hangover. That’s why I make my own paleo pasta, using low-carb vegetable noodles in place of wheat, tapioca, and rice noodles. One cup of wheat pasta contains 43 grams of carbohydrates, and one cup of rice pasta contains 44 grams of carbs. My vegetable noodles are not only lower in carbs, they’re easier to make, and healthier too!

I’ve been strictly grain-free since 2001, and over the years have tested all kinds of vegetable noodles. Below you will find a collection of my favorite low-carb noodle alternatives. Now you too can replace high-carb foods full of empty calories with tasty super food vegetable noodles that satisfy any craving!

1. Zucchini Noodles or Zoodles

What are zoodles? They are noodles made from zucchini. How do you make zoodles? You can use a spiralizer or a julienne slicer. The great thing about a spiralizer is that you can make a variety of noodle shapes from it. The downside is that it takes up storage space in your kitchen cabinets. Alternatively, you can make zoodles using a julienne slicer which is the size of a carrot peeler, and can be stored in a drawer. It’s that small. The downside of the julienne peeler? It only makes one size and type of noodle –spaghetti. You can eat zucchini noodles raw or sauted. Take a look at my How to Make Zucchini Noodles post for more detailed information on zoodles!

Zoodles are incredible in my Chicken Soup and every bit as good with marinara sauce and my quick and easy Meatballs recipe.

One cup of zoodles contains 7 grams of carbs.

2. Spaghetti Squash Noodles

Spaghetti squash noodles are made from cooked spaghetti squash. I have a fabulous tutorial called How to Cook Spaghetti Squash to get you started with this tasty noodle. These paleo noodles are perfect with a meat based marinara and incredible in Asian dishes such as the Pad Thai recipe in my New York Times best selling cookbook, Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry. Spaghetti squash noodles are higher in carbohydrates than zoodles, however, they’re far lower in carbs than regular pasta noodles, and packed with healthy nutrients like vitamin A.

One cup of spaghetti squash noodles contains 10 grams of carbs.

3. Kelp Noodles

I love using this seaweed based noodle in Asian inspired dishes such as my Sesame Noodles. Kelp noodles are a seaweed based noodle that is high in iodine, very low in calories, and high in fiber. Kelp noodles come in a package and you can buy them at many health food stores. If you like your noodles crunchy no preparation required. If you like a softer noodle with less crunch, check out my Kelp Noodles tutorial.

One cup of kelp noodles contains 8 grams of carbs.

4. Cucumber Noodles

Cucumber noodles are the lowest carb noodles listed here. Cucumber noodles are fantastic in Asian food dishes. We love serving cucumber noodles with my Sesame Sauce, and homemade Gomasio, for a fabulously healthy Chinese takeout type dish! Like zoodles, you can prepare cucumber noodles using a julienne slicer or a spirilizer. If you get bored of cucumber noodles you can use daikon to make noodles instead. Daikon nooodles are deliciously crunchy and slightly spicy, since daikon is a form of radish. One cup of daikon noodles contains 4 grams of carbs.

One cup of cucumber noodles contains 4 grams of carbs.

5. Celery Root Noodles

Celery root makes a great noodle. My boys like celery root noodles sauteed in butter and sprinkled with cheese. Celery root root noodles are also amazing stir fried with a bit of olive oil and salt. Alternatively, you can use parsnip to make noodles. Parsnip noodles are far higher in carbs than celery root noodles, but still lower carb than regular pasta, plus, they’re a real food. One cup of parsnip noodles contains 24 grams of carbs.

One cup of celery root noodles contains 9 grams of carbs.

I hope you love these low-carb pasta noodle alternatives as much as we do! All of these vegetable noodles are Whole30 compliant. In our house, we eat them all year round because they’re not just healthy, they’re so easy to make, and delicious too!

What’s your favorite vegetable noodle?


  1. Brenda says

    Hi Elana,
    I just wanted to say that it would be helpful if you posted the nutritional information with your recipes.
    Thank you!

  2. Sharon Freeman says

    Hi, Elana: Turnips are also a good substitute for pasta. They are small, round, and firm and fit beautifully on my spiralizer. One small turnip has only 8 grams of carbs and 2.2 grams of fiber, resulting in just 5.8 net carbs. I prefer root veggies for pasta substitutes as they are more like al dente pasta and hold up to sauces.

  3. Lauren Deegan says

    I would like to give Kelp noodles a go but I don’t know of any recipes for them. Could you share some?

    • Elana says

      Hi Laureen, yes, if you click the green text above that says “Sesame Noodles” you will be taken to that recipe.

  4. Pam says

    Thanks so much for your great healthy food ideas, Elana! I often make “noodles” using thinly sliced cabbage. I cut the cabbage about the thickness of fettuchini noodles and saute it in a bit of avocado or olive oil. They are delicious with tomato sauce and italian seasoned chicken for a paleo version of chicken parmigiana.

  5. Kitty says

    I’m trying to cut back my carbs (mainly because I keep developing dessert recipes!) so this post was very helpful. Thanks!

  6. Sue says

    We do lots of zoodles in Italian dishes. We love spaghetti squash noodles in casseroles. We’ve been trying rutabaga noodles in an Asian style salad. I was just thinking about cucumber noodles with a peanut-style sauce (though I sub almond butter), and was wondering how the spiralizer would manage a softer veg. Thanks for the nudge!

    • Elana says

      Hi Angelica, I prefer the other noodles listed above as they are lower in carbs, but everyone is different with varying dietary needs and goals :-)

  7. Sally Bell, Healthy Bitez Kosher says

    Thanks so much for these great noodle ideas! I do food demonstrations and education in a food pantry and many of our clients are diabetic. I am really interested in finding low carb recipes. I love your combo of cucumber noodles with Asian flavorings. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  8. Corina says

    I love the versatility of the aforementioned noodles but really love using Shirataki Asian noodles. They are made with a root vegetable, and are sometimes called “yam noodles”. They are all insoluble fiber so pretty much no calories (but be aware that you are also adding no nutrients to your dish). Super easy and inexpensive (I get mine at an Asian megamarket for as cheap as 99 cents for the single serve packet). They don’t break down no matter how long you cook then and absorb flavors very well. These are my go to noodle for Pho!

  9. Bethany @ athletic avocado says

    spiralized veggies do wonders in my household! They make me so much more full than regular pasta for much less calories!

  10. Maria says

    I love my zoodles, sweet potato noodles, and spaghetti squash too. I don’t miss regular pasta at all. I have used English cucumbers to make Greek salad. There are so many variations out on the Internet now, it’s wonderful for those of us who want to avoid regular pasta.

  11. Michelle L R says

    Hi Elana,

    Thank you for this lovely post on veggie noodles:) Can you please let me know what celery root noodles are and how they are made. I’m not trying to be funny , I am intrigued by this and I would really like to try them, (they don’t look like the actual root from the celery bulb)

    Kindest regards,


    • Elana says

      Hi Michelle, celery root noodles are made using celery root which you can find in most health food stores. Simply cut the rough outer skin off the root, place it in a spirilizer and you will have gorgeous noodles. They will need to be sauteed. They’re delicious!

      • Michelle says

        Hi and thank you Elana & Tara,

        I live in Australia and the people working in the health food stores I know, just look at me puzzled when I say ‘celery root’; however, I can easily get my hands on celeriac. I shall try the paleo cafe…I’m sure they will know:) Thank you again.

        Michelle L R

  12. Jenny says

    I have tried a few, they were all yucky. I wish I liked them, but I am a pasta snob, I guess. I also have no known negative effects from gluten free grains. Are there recipes for grain free pasta that are not shredded or spiraled vegetables that you have? I would like to go grain free just to see if it helps, but I am not a happy lady without pasta in my life, so I know I couldn’t do it forever unless I have an acceptable substitute.

    • Elana says

      Hi Jenny, thanks for sharing your concerns. I love these grain-free vegetable pastas, but I love vegetables in general. I’m also following a low-carb diet so these are perfect for me, as opposed to high-carb gluten-free pastas. Remember, everyone is different and has varying dietary needs. I present here those that work for me, but they’re not best for everyone for a variety of reasons, some of which you mention.

    • Jane Reinholz says

      Almond pasta…. You can buy a pasta maker that hooks to your kitchen aide mixer. Making the dough takes a little practice but it’s very delicious! You can also buy almond pasta that is frozen at the health food store. It’s very expensive though- worth trying before you invest 150. In the pasta attachment.

      • Mearced says

        If you wouldn’t mind sharing your recipe, I’d love to have it. I’m making various paleo items for a friend who is ill and she loves traditional noodles and has that pasta maker attachment on her Kitchen Aide. Thanks!

      • Tara says

        Would also love a recipe for the almond pasta. I bought a pack of the stuff at the grocery store. OMG it was fabulous.. but expensive. Would LOVE to be able to make my own!

        • Donna Knipp says


          I can’t speak for everyone but for some, cutting out grains is a way to heal inflammation in the gut. Therapeutic diets like GAP, AIP and SCD advise people with gut inflammation to cut out all grains and starches.

          And there is something about the molecular structure of these foods that makes them harder for everyone to digest. If you have a healthy digestive tract maybe they pose no problem, but if your digestion isn’t working properly then grains and potatoes can cause bloating, cramps or other problems, some quite severe.

          It’s not really a matter of being a snob or non-snob for many people. They cut out grains to try to keep from being sick.

          • Elana says

            Hi Donna, thanks for your comment! I have been 100% grain-free and potato free since 2001, and it has helped my digestive system quite a bit!

    • Annie says

      In reply to Jenny’s question: A friend introduced me to “legume pasta”, a wonderful sub when veggies won’t do. However, still be mindful of the carbs. (The high price will help with that.) Red lentil penne pasta, black bean rotini, etc. Can be purchased online and at stores like Whole Foods.

  13. Amanda Lyons says

    Hi Elana, looking forward to trying these veggie noodles. I have tried a number of recipes for baked items in many cookbooks. I’m using coconut flour. All the recipes say they make a batter but mine are also loose bit of flour. Finished product is always inedible. Is there a big difference between almond flour and coconut flour when baking, and I’m using measuring cups for fluid for the flour. Would that mAke much difference? Thanks for any help!


  14. Deborah Shields says

    I love making veggie noodles from rutabaga, turnips, big carrots, big broccoli stems, and daikon. In the summer when they are available, also kohlrabi and super big radishes.

  15. glutenfreemom says

    thank you so much for this! I never thought of cucumber or celery root! Also thank you ever so much for posting carb numbers, one of our children has type 1 diabetes so we have to count carbs with everything we eat and the online calorie counters don’t envision counting carbs for spiralized foods which are not quite the same as for solid hunks of veggies and such

    • Elana says

      Hi Gluten Free Mom, thanks for your comment! I think it’s best when counting carbs for medical reasons to weigh out food. That’s what I do when I go strictly keto, as weight is a far more accurate measurement than volume, which can vary, as you know, according to how much food is packed into a cup. I hope you and your family enjoy these paleo pasta noodles and thanks so much for stopping by!

  16. MamaCassi says

    This was so timely! Just got a zoodle/veggie noodle maker and already love zoodles, parsnips, and am curious to try cucumber!

    Before now, spaghetti squash was my go to but they have been smaller and more expensive this year so I wandered away.

    Where do you find kelp noodles? My whole foods store has them but they are $$$! I cook for 8 people so that has been prohibitive.

  17. Alayna says

    Hi Elana!
    Love that you posted this blog and are spreading the word on veggie noodles! Since I exercise heavily I love parsnip noodles and butternut squash noodles, especially in the winter! I even put them in a waffle maker sometimes to make a noodle waffle :)
    Just one question, do you buy grass fed butter from a local dairy farm or a health food store?
    All the best

  18. Joanna says

    Hi Elana,
    I am a big fan and use your blog recipes and cookbooks all the time. One of my family’s favorites is your lemon bars from your almond flour cookbook. I know you’ve re-worked some of your older recipes and I was wondering if you use something other than agave to sweeten them if you still make them now. Thanks.

    • Elana says

      Hi Joanna, so great to hear you are enjoying my cookbooks! We make the lemon bars from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook using maple syrup and they are amazing :-)

  19. Michele Palmer says

    Hello – Love this site!!!

    Thank you for this post on noodles. I have been contemplating the options myself.

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