How To: Tasty Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives That Aren't Just Shaved Vegetables

Tasty Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives That Aren't Just Shaved Vegetables

Enough with zoodles (zucchini noodles), spaghetti squash, and carrot 'pasta' spirals. A well-prepared dish of zoodles with sauce is beautiful and tasty, but let's get real, it doesn't fill you up. If you use it as a meal replacement, then you'll be hungry about 30 minutes later.

There are hordes of people practicing carb control these days, from the keto advocate to the paleo person to the gluten-free to the regular weight watcher. If you're limiting your carbs, then there are countless delicious, healthy, and tasty dishes you can make and enjoy. But a bowl of pasta or noodles seems to be one of those things that low-carbers still crave, and although spaghetti squash is good every once in a while, it doesn't really fill that void.

Here are some of our favorite low-carb pasta and noodle dishes that taste great and actually fill you up.

1. Mung Bean Noodles

These are excellent for slow carb, gluten-free, and paleo eaters. They do have some carbs, but unlike regular boxed pasta, they also have a good protein and fiber content to balance it out.

You can make these from mung bean powder, which is traditionally used to make Korean mung bean "jello."

Image by Naomi Imatome-Yun/Food Hacks


  • ¼ cup mung bean powder (might be described as green bean jelly, mung bean jelly, mung bean starch, or green bean powder at your local Asian grocery)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1¾ cups of water

How to Make Mung Bean Noodles:

  1. Combine the mung bean starch powder with water in a soup pot. Mix with a fork.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir with a whisk while waiting to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high heat as soon as it starts to bubble, and cook for another 15 minutes.
  4. The mung bean "jello" is ready to be taken off the heat when it is thick and bubbly.
  5. Pour it into a baking pan or casserole dish.
  6. After it has cooled down to room temp, put the pan into the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
  7. The mung bean will solidify into a jello-like consistency, although a little more sturdy than jello.
  8. Remove from the refrigerator and cut into strips (for noodles) or into rectangles or squares (for pasta).
Images by Naomi Imatome-Yun/Food Hacks

Mung bean "jello" (or noodles) have very little taste by themselves, so it's up to you to flavor it. Use in an Asian stir-fry in place of regular flour-based noodles, as the noodles in cold salads, or toss briefly with pasta sauce and cheese.

If you don't want to make these at home yourself, try this fettucini made out of edamame and mung beans.

2. Shirataki Noodles

These are sometimes marketed in America as "miracle noodles" or "no calorie noodles," but Shirataki noodles are Japanese noodles made out of konjac yams. Like the mung bean jelly above, konjac jelly is common in Asia. But they've recently become popular with low-carb and Western dieters because the noodles are naturally low-calorie, low-carb, and gluten-free.

Image via Merci-Mama

Shirataki noodles have a slightly rubbery texture, so I don't find them to be a good replacement in Italian dishes. But they are excellent in Asian-flavored dishes like peanut noodles, stir-fries, noodle soups, and salads with ginger-soy dressings.

Shirataki Noodle Tips:

  • You need to rinse them well as they have a slightly funky smell out of the package.
  • Once they're rinsed well, they are basically flavorless and don't smell like anything.
  • For more substantial noodle dishes, you can also get tofu shirataki noodles which are also low-carb but have more protein.
  • I've tested dishes over the years with a few different brands, and I have used Nasoya, House Foods, and Miracle Noodles with good results.
Image via Amazon
  • Although these are super low-calorie, they are surprisingly filling. Experts say that the glucomannan fiber in the konjac yam is what makes the noodles filling and healthy.
  • A similar alternative low-carb noodle is kelp noodles, but I find them less filling. They are, however, a good option for those on a raw food diet.

3. Low-Carb Garlic Gnocchi

If you want a pasta replacement for Italian pasta and you are low-carb but not low-fat, then make these cute gnocchi by The Primitive Palate at home. You only need two ingredients, shredded mozzarella and egg yolks, to make this super low-carb pasta that tastes awesome with Italian sauces and seasonings.

Image via Primitive Palate

4. Black Bean Spaghetti

These high-protein noodles are only made of black beans and water, and have a great consistency for Western pasta dishes. They do have some carbs from the beans, but they're also vegan, gluten-free, and high in nutrition. They are similar to whole wheat pasta in taste and texture, and go well with creamy sauces, marinara sauces, and even South Asian curries.

A gorgeous recipe for salmon with black bean pasta from Cooking LSL. Image via Cooking LSL

Looking for More Low-Carb Inspiration?

We have a ton of creative low-carb recipes, including stuffed spaghetti squash, a great tutorial video on how to make cauliflower pizza crust, and the Barefoot Contessa's zucchini au gratin.

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1 Comment

Thanks for the great ideas!

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