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Is Pizza Keto-Friendly?

For some people, life without pizza isn’t life worth living. So if you’re embarking on a low-carb or keto diet, we won’t be surprised if you are wondering whether you’ll still be able to enjoy pizza.

The short answer is: yes. The longer answer is: yes, but you’ll have to make some changes.

That’s because a slice of regular crust pizza contains 30 grams of carbs, which is virtually all the carbs you can eat in a single day.

Is Pizza a Keto-Friendly Food?

Other than the crust, pizza is pretty keto-friendly. Here’s a quick look at the most common ingredients of pizza outside the carb-loaded crust (scroll down for a comprehensive keto-friendly pizza topping list):
  • Cheese: A great source of fat and protein. The most common cheese is mozzarella but you can also use cheddar, Parmesan, and ricotta. 
  • Meat: The meat toppings are generally all keto (watch out for meatballs filled with breadcrumbs). Pepperoni, Italian sausage, and Canadian bacon are all popular low-carb options.
  • Vegetables: Full of vitamins and minerals, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a vegetable topping that’s not keto-friendly. Consider green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes, to name a few.
  • Pizza sauce: You’ll need to watch out for hidden sugar in the pizza sauce, but if you make your own at home, or buy a jarred brand that has no added sugar, it’s not that hard to find a keto-friendly sauce.
In other words, the crust is the biggest challenge when it comes to finding a keto-friendly pizza. 

Carbs in Pizza

The amount of carbs in pizza varies by crust type. Here are the calories and carbs for the different types of pizza below.
Type Calories (per 1 oz) Carbohydrates
Regular crust 272 33g
Thin crust 209 20g
Cauliflower crust 84 3g
Chicken crust 90 .5g

Types of Pizza Crusts

As we mentioned above, the crust is a keto diet killer. 

Regular crust, thin crust, deep dish, and even cheese-stuffed crust… all of these traditional options are off-limits on keto. 

Fortunately, as more and more consumers seek out lower-carb options, food manufacturers and restaurants have introduced low-carb crusts made with cauliflower, almond flour, coconut flour, or even chicken. Yes, a crust literally made from chicken. 

Let’s take a look at the different types of crusts and which ones are most keto-friendly.

Regular Crust

A traditional pizza crust is typically made of yeast and white flour. Although this type of pizza crust is tasty, it is one of the worst choices for a person on the keto diet.

This type of pizza crust can have up to 33g of carbs without any added sauce or cheese.

If you’re limiting your carbs to 20-50 grams per day, one slice of this type of crust will likely kick you out of ketosis.

Thin Crust

Thin crust pizza generally has fewer carbs than a traditional crust.

A typical thin crust pizza has around 20g of carbs per slice. If you’re on the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) type of keto, then you may be able to enjoy a slice of thin crust pizza on occasion. However, since it’s made with white flour, it’s not recommended. 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower is awesome for its low-carb versatility. Many keto dieters use cauliflower as a substitute for rice and mashed potatoes. It can also be used in bread, pancakes, and -- you guessed it -- pizza crusts. 

By combining ground-up cauliflower with grated cheeses and other ingredients, you can form a crust-like consistency with little to no carbs. A slice of cauliflower crust only has around 3g of carbs, which is almost nothing compared to many other types of pizza crusts. It’s about as close to carb free as you can get and probably the most popular option among low-carb and keto dieters.

Chicken Pizza Crust

Let’s say you want pizza crust with the lowest amount of carbs possible. Perhaps you even want ZERO carbs.

 You might be thinking, is that even possible?

Yes - the solution is to make your crust out of chicken. Here’s how you do it:

Combine 1 pound of ground chicken, shredded chicken, or canned chicken (well drained) with 2 eggs, and ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. You may need to add more Parmesan if the crust is too wet. Feel free to add a little salt and pepper to season the crust if you desire. Spread it out on a large pan or pizza stone to form a thin crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 400-degree oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before adding toppings and baking again until the cheese is melted.

If you don’t feel like making an actual crust, consider using zucchini or portobello mushrooms as your “crust” instead.

Zucchini Pizza

To make a zucchini pizza, slice a large zucchini in half length-wise, scoop out the center, and add in your sauce, cheese, and toppings. Then bake until the zucchini “crust” is tender and the cheese is melted. So easy and so good!

Portobello Mushroom Pizza

Similar to the zucchini boat pizza, the portobello mushroom cap serves as the pizza crust. Simply top it with sauce, cheese, and your desired toppings, and bake it in the oven. They’re small and fun to eat, on top of being keto and delicious. Consider making them for your next potluck! Now, let’s take a look at pizza sauce. It can be a source of hidden carbs if you’re not careful.

Carbs in Pizza Sauce

Sauce is non-negotiable when it comes to pizza, but be sure to pick one that contains fewer carbs. Pizza sauce generally contains more carbohydrates compared to normal pasta sauce due to its higher sugar content so it’s important to check the nutrition label.

Another option is to make your own pizza sauce so you don’t have to worry about hidden carbs. 

A typical pizza sauce includes: crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, basil, and oregano. If you want to sweeten it, try adding in a little bit of erythritol

Low-Carb Pizza Toppings

The possibilities are endless when it comes to pizza toppings. We offered a quick list at the top, but here’s a more comprehensive list of keto-friendly pizza toppings you can enjoy.

Cheese Options

  • Mozzarella (use whole vs part-skim whenever possible)
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Ricotta
  • Cheddar
  • Provolone
  • Gouda
  • Goat cheese
  • Gorgonzola
  • Asiago 
  • Feta

Meat Options

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Italian sausage
  • Ground beef
  • Canadian Bacon
  • Bacon
  • Meatballs (if they don’t contain breadcrumbs)
  • Chicken
  • Steak

Vegetable Options

  • Onions
  • Olives
  • Bell peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Eggplant
  • Jalapenos

Fruit Options

Pineapple is a popular topping on pizza, especially for Hawaiian and BBQ pizzas, but it is not recommended on a low-carb diet due to the high sugar content. 

Should You Eat Pizza on Keto?

Eating pizza on the keto diet requires a little extra effort in order to minimize the carb count. Fortunately, there are many tasty options that can replace carb-heavy pizza crusts, allowing you to enjoy pizza while still staying in ketosis. How do you get your pizza fix on keto?

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