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?


55 responses to “Paleo Pasta: Healthy Low-Carb Swaps for Noodles”

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

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

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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!

    • 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 :-)

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

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

  8. 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.

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