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The original idea for this low carb keto sushi without rice came from a friend of mine. Her entire family is gluten-free and low carb, plus she’s an incredible cook, and she allowed me to share it with all of you!
But what about regular sushi: is sushi keto friendly, or worth avoiding altogether? Let’s talk about carbs in sushi and keto friendly sushi options to enjoy at home or when dining out. Then, try other keto Asian dishes like egg roll in a bowl, keto orange chicken, or cauliflower fried rice!
Why You’ll Love This Keto Sushi Recipe
- Light and fresh taste, with the same flavors as regular sushi
- Crunchy veggies with tender fish
- No sticky rice or sushi mat needed
- Easy to customize with your favorite basic fillings
- Satisfies cravings in just 15 minutes
- 2g net carbs per serving
- Naturally gluten-free
Is Sushi Keto Friendly?
Most traditional types of sushi are not keto, as most of them are made with rice (and carbs in rice are too high for the keto diet). The fish and seafood have high nutrition value and a great source of omega 3s, but the rice is an issue. Fortunately, there are still plenty of keto sushi options available that avoid rice altogether — without sacrificing flavor.
Is Sushi Rice Keto Friendly?
Sorry, sushi rice isn’t keto. It contains too many carbs for keto diet macros.
Low Carb Sushi Ingredients
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for keto sushi, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Smoked Salmon – Also known as lox, this is one of the easiest fish to find for keto sushi, and since it’s “cooked”, I was able to serve this for my kids. But any raw sushi grade fish will work. (A salmon avocado roll, made with raw sushi grade salmon, has always been my favorite kind.)
- Low Carb Vegetables – Including red bell pepper, cucumber, and avocado. For more ideas, see this keto vegetables list or scroll down to see best restaurant options.
- Seaweed Snacks – These are small, thin sheets of seaweed you can find at most grocery stores. You can also use a full sheet of seaweed cut into smaller pieces with kitchen shears.
- Water – Used to seal the seaweed and hold the no rice sushi together.
VARIATION: Want sushi with keto sushi rice as opposed to no rice?
Try the bacon wrapped keto sushi in my Easy Keto Carboholics Cookbook, which uses cauliflower rice as a substitute and wraps the sushi in bacon. It’s amazing!
How To Make Keto Sushi Without Rice
This section shows how to make low carb sushi rolls, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Cut. Put vegetables into thin matchstick pieces. Cut salmon and avocado into slightly wider pieces, with the same length. (You will need 20 pieces of each.)
- Arrange. Arrange five seaweed snacks and a single layer on a cutting board. Wet your finger with water, and moisten the short end of each sheet. Place sushi filling ingredients on the opposite side. (Do not roll yet.) Repeat for the remaining sheets.
- Roll. Turn to the first sheet. Roll, and press the edge to seal. Place seam side down on a plate. Repeat with the remaining sheets.
Riceless sushi tastes best right after rolling it (otherwise, the seaweed gets too soft from the moisture in the veggies). If you don’t plan on serving very many rolls, store vegetables, fish (or make smoked salmon salad with the leftovers), avocado, and seaweed snacks separately and assemble just before serving. Avocado will brown after prolonged storage, so squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top or avoid slicing it altogether until you’re ready to serve.
How Many Carbs In Sushi?
This keto sushi recipe has just 2 grams net carbs per serving (4 pieces). But does sushi have carbs if it’s the regular kind? It depends on the variety you order, but these varieties of sushi contain a high number of carbs because they have rice:
- Nigiri sushi – Toppings, including raw fish, served over sushi rice
- Maki – Rice and other fillings wrapped in a nori sheet
- Uramaki – Fillings wrapped in a nori sheet and then wrapped in a layer of rice
- Temaki – Fillings and rice hand rolled into a seaweed cone
(Find carb counts for select popular sushi items below.)
The only types of sushi that are naturally keto friendly are:
- Sashimi – Contains plain sliced fish (which is 0 grams of carbohydrate, both net and total).
- Naruto – Uses thin, rolled cucumber instead of rice. They are also naturally low in calories and high in fiber.
How Many Carbs In A Sushi Roll?
Carbs in sushi rolls vary slightly depending on their fillings. A 6-piece tuna roll with rice and raw tuna, for example, contains 27.5 grams total carbs and 26.2 grams net carbs [*].
How Many Carbs In One Piece Of Sushi?
Carbs in a single piece of sushi will be lower, but still quite high in carbs to be very keto friendly. One piece of a tuna roll contains 4.6 grams total carbs and 4.4 grams net carbs [*].
How Many Carbs In California Roll Sushi?
California rolls are highly popular, but sadly not keto. A 6-piece California roll contains 33.1 grams total carbs and 31.3 grams net carbs. A single piece contains 5.5 grams total carbs and 5.2 grams net carbs [*].
How Many Carbs In Sushi Rice?
Most sushi uses this kind of rice (usually seasoned with rice vinegar and sugar), but you’ll want to avoid it on keto, or if carb intake is a concern. One cup of plain sushi rice contains 36.5 grams total carbs and 34.8 grams net carbs [*].
The chart below summarizes the amount of carbs in sushi and sushi rice:
|Serving Size||Total Carbs||Net Carbs|
|Sushi roll, 6 pieces||27.5g||26.2g|
|Sushi roll, 1 piece||33.4.61g||4.4g|
|California roll, 6 pieces||33.1g||31.3g|
|California roll, 1 piece||5.5g||5.2g|
|Sushi rice, 1 cup||36.5g||34.8g|
How To Order Sushi On Keto
Homemade keto sushi rolls are great, but what if you are eating out? Given the high carbs in rice, it may seem difficult to find low carb sushi options at restaurants. If you want to know how to eat keto at a sushi bar, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid all rice – That includes brown rice and white rice. Even a few ounces of white rice can blow your macros! You can sometimes order regular sushi rolls and ask the restaurant to omit the rice. Some locations also offer rice-free rolls such as naruto maki, which is a type of cucumber roll. Other rolls, such as the Philadelphia roll, are naturally keto if rice is omitted.
- Avoid tempura breaded foods – These will be fried and contain added carbs. You may find tempura in sushi rolls (such as a shrimp tempura roll), used to fry vegetables, and even sprinkled in flakes as a garnish on sushi.
- Pay attention to soy – If you are sensitive to soy or try to avoid it on a keto or low carb diet, keep in mind that sushi restaurants offer many soy-based products even though it is naturally low in carbs (edamame, miso soup, tofu, soy sauce).
- Check ingredients and carbohydrates ahead of time – I do this for fast food on keto, too! If you have an idea of what you want to order, look at ingredients and macros before you go to the restaurant.
- Beware of added sugar or starch – Some menu items may appear healthy (such as seaweed salad, imitation crab meat, tamago, wasabi, or pickled ginger), but may contain added sugar or starches. Look for plain fresh fish and veggies to avoid these added carbs.
Best Low Carb Sushi Options At Restaurants
If you’re wondering what to order at a sushi restaurant on keto (or you’re making it at home), here are the best keto sushi options for rolls and for other popular sushi restaurant dishes.
- All unbreaded seafood and shellfish except imitation crab: Salmon, shrimp, eel, tuna, etc.
- Beef or chicken, grilled only
- Cream cheese
- Edamame (avoid if sensitive to soy)
Toppings & Garnishes
- Fish roe
- Seaweed (nori)
- Sesame seeds
- Bean sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Green onion
Sauces & Condiments
- Plain mayonnaise
- Soy sauce
When I’m ordering at a sushi restaurant, I look for naruto first, because I can usually order it without requesting any modifications. If that’s not available, ask for sashimi or nigiri with no rice and vegetables on the side. Another moderately safe option at sushi restaurants is a stir fry with garlic, oil, salt, and pepper; sauces usually contain sugar, flour, cornstarch, or some combination of these.
More Keto Sushi Recipes
If you like cutting down on sushi carbs with this riceless version, you’ll love these keto sushi-inspired recipes and restaurant favorites.
Keto Sushi Rolls Recipe
Keto Sushi Rolls Without Rice
The best low carb keto sushi recipe needs only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes! Just use this easy method for how to make sushi without rice.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Cut the red peppers and cucumbers into very narrow matchstick pieces of even length – about 1/4 in (about 1/2 cm) wide and the same length as the narrow side of a seaweed snack sheet. Cut the salmon and avocado into pieces the same length, but wider. You'll need 20 pieces of each.
Arrange a row of 5 seaweed snacks in a single layer on a cutting board. Pour some cold water in a bowl nearby. Wet your finger with water and wet the short edge of each seaweed sheet, Place one piece each of salmon, red pepper, cucumber, and avocado at the opposite edge of the first seaweed snack.
Repeat step 2 for the entire row. Once the whole row is done, roll up the first seaweed snack and press the edge to seal. (The water should have softened the edge by this point, making it easy to seal. The wet edge from the first piece will soften naturally by the time you finish adding to the last.) Place seam side down onto a plate.
Repeat steps 2-3 until you use up all your seaweed snack sheets.
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Serving size: 4 pieces
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