Are Rice Cakes Keto Friendly? Chef Shows 10 Low Carb Rice Cakes, Alternatives

Keto (Low Carb) | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 7 June 2024

In a room, a person dressed in black clothes contemplates the keto-friendliness of rice cakes as they spread chocolate filling onto one rice cake with both hands, while another piece sits on a white plate in front of them.

To address whether rice cakes are suitable for a keto diet, a chef has evaluated the best low-carb rice cakes based on flavor and texture, and has also explored various alternatives on the market.9

Rice cakes have been popular for a long time, especially in the fitness industry. Acting as a low-calorie, voluminous food, dieters typically go to rice cakes as a way to satiate cravings.

But regardless of that, you may still wonder if rice cakes are low-carb and, thus, keto-friendly.

Are Rice Cakes Fit Into a Keto Diet? Are Rice Cakes Low Carb?

In general, clinical ketogenic diets tend to restrict carbohydrate intake between 20 and 50 grams so rice cakes can fit in on a keto diet, but it’s cutting it close.1 This means that for those dieters who are more restrictive, 20 grams of any carbohydrate can knock them out of ketosis and depending on the rice cake, only a few or one could be eaten.

What these numbers mean is that yes, in general, rice cakes can fit into the keto diet but only in small portions.

While they don’t typically include much fiber, which can normally play a huge role on keto dieters due to the limited amount of net carbs they can consume, it’s clear that eating a rice cake or two is not likely to knock a person out of ketosis.

How Many Net Carbs Do Rice Cakes Have?

Considering keto has been one of the top trending diets for years now, this is a question that isn’t discussed enough.

A white table has five plain rice cakes on top of that are also white in color and there's a bowl of cream cheese at the top and a cup of seven bright red strawberries at the bottom.

Source: annastories via Canva.com6

Net carbohydrates are equivalent to the total weight of carbohydrates minus dietary fiber. For example, if there are 20 grams of carbs in a piece of bread, but 10 grams of fiber, there are 10 net carbs.

Luckily for those on keto, the average rice cake has 7 or 8 net carbohydrates, but some brands, as seen below, offer larger cakes that may contain up to 15 grams of net carbs.

Since this falls far within the range of 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates, eating one or two rice cakes on keto shouldn’t be a big concern. For those wondering if rice cakes are keto-friendly, the answer is yes. However, they should be eaten judiciously; too many rice cakes at once can easily knock a person out of ketosis.

Rice Cake Macronutrients & Calories

To begin discussing the nutritional value of rice cakes, take a look at what the top three rice cake brands’ ‘Lightly Salted’ variants tally up nutritionally:

Quaker Oats Nutritional Info

  • Serving size: 1 cake (9g)
  • Calories: 35
  • Total Carbs: 7g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Net Carbs: 7g
  • Protein: <1g
  • Fats: 0g

Lundberg Nutritional Info

  • Serving size: 1 cake (18.5g)
  • Calories: 70
  • Total Carbs: 16g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Net Carbs: 15g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fats: 0.5g

Fit&Active Nutritional Info

  • Serving size: 1 cake (10g)
  • Calories: 40
  • Total Carbs: 8g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Net Carbs: 8g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fats: 0g

The main thing to note here is that adjusting for weight discrepancies, all of these rice cakes have very similar macronutrient profiles, so if the nutritional value of a rice cake brand is a concern, don’t be too worried; nearly all rice cakes are voluminous with low calories, so if a person is looking to do a heavy 1000 calorie deficit on a cut, these could be a fantastic food choice.

The only other thing to note is that for someone who has been on the keto diet for an extended period of time, it may make sense to consume a higher amount of carbs, potentially through rice cakes, for a short period of time.

Long-term ketosis combined with fasting has the potential to cause ketoacidosis (a condition where the body produces too many ketones, leading to confusion and nausea), so make sure to consult a physician before getting too ingrained in the keto diet.2

Overall, rice cakes are a low calorie snack that’s actually quite healthy, but when it comes to overall nutrition and keto, it’s important to note that they’re made with puffed rice which is less nutritious because it has a strong negative impact on the antioxidant content of the rice.3

This is something a person should be aware of if they plan on getting most of their carbs from rice cakes; it may technically be rice, but the health benefits are extremely limited compared to what they normally are.

After the puffed rice, there may be salt layered on top of basic rice cakes. Some flavored cakes may also have some combination of sugar, fructose, maltodextrin to bind, and ‘natural flavor’ to give it a unique flavor.

Most people on ketosis should note that rice cakes including these ingredients may knock them out of ketosis without them realizing it. Similarly, people who aren’t aware of how calorically dense rice cakes truly are may lead to them giving up on weight loss.

Do Rice Crackers Contain Few Carbs & Are Rice Cakes Suitable for a Keto Diet?

Unfortunately, while rice crackers and rice cakes are both made with rice, rice crackers are not low-carb. While a person could technically have a few rice crackers, that would simply not be worth purchasing them.

This is especially true considering the macros for an average serving of rice crackers:

Calories110
Total Carbs26g
Fiber2g
Net Carbs24g
Protein2g
Fats0g

When a ½ cup serving has 24 grams of net carbs, it is difficult to rationalize eating rice crackers on the keto diet. According to the chef, it is also difficult to say how much processing rice crackers go through, so straying away from them makes sense.

It is also worth noting that out of all types of rice – cooked rice, rice cakes, puffed rice, rice crackers – rice crackers contain significantly more inorganic arsenic, a poison, than any other type of rice, meaning eating rice crackers may be exposing oneself to inadvertent risk.4

Top 15 Low Carb Rice Cakes for Keto Dieters

Now that a comprehensive understanding of what keto rice cakes offer nutritionally has been garnered, it is time to take a look at the chef’s breakdown of the 15 top keto rice cakes on the market.

Lundberg – Cinnamon Toast Rice Cakes – 18 Net Carbs

Lundberg’s Cinnamon Toast Rice Cakes are huge and flavor-dense, made with all organic or natural ingredients, making it great for people who want some sugary flavor without bad side effects.

However, they skirt the boundary for those who wonder whether rice cakes are keto due to 18g of net carbs per cake.

  • Calories: 90
  • Carbs: 19g
  • Net Carbs: 18g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0.5g

Lundberg – Organic Brown Rice Cakes (Lightly Salted) – 15 Net Carbs

One of the main things preventing Lundberg’s Lightly Salted Rice Cakes from being the best of the best is their size; at nearly double the weight per serving, the number of carbohydrates may be a bit close to comfort per rice cake.

  • Calories: 70
  • Carbs: 16g
  • Net Carbs: 15g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0.5g

Lundberg – Organic Brown Rice Cakes (Salt-Free) – 13 Net Carbs

Yet again, Lundberg’s rice cakes prove they are the king of texture. Extremely fluffy and crunchy, their Salt-Free variant is best for those who want no additives or just a vessel to load toppings on.

  • Calories: 60
  • Carbs: 14g
  • Net Carbs: 13g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0.5g

Quaker Oats – Chocolate Crunch Rice Cakes – 12 Net Carbs

Three rice cakes are stacked on top of each other and each is lopsided and covered in a thin layer of chocolate.

Source: seramo via Canva.com7

A bit more artificial tasting than the previous cake on the list but still tasty, Quaker Oats’ Chocolate Crunch Rice Cakes taste like what they describe but have quite a few ingredients, so be wary if you prefer to avoid lots of additives.

  • Calories: 60
  • Carbs: 12g
  • Net Carbs: 12g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 1g

Fit&Active – Caramel Corn Rice Cakes – 11 Net Carbs

The Fit&Active Caramel Corn Rice Cakes have a good balance of flavoring, texture, and nutritional value to offer a solid option for those who want a sweet rice cake.

  • Calories: 50
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Net Carbs: 11g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0g

Quaker Oats – Apple Cinnamon Rice Cakes- 11 Net Carbs

Like other Quaker Oats Rice Cakes, their Apple Cinnamon variant can taste a bit artificial to some, but the texture and unique flavor make it a shoo-in for this list.

  • Calories: 50
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Net Carbs: 11g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0g

Quaker Oats – Caramel Corn Rice Cakes – 11 Net Carbs

Quaker’s Caramel Corn Rice Cakes have a fantastic flavor profile without too many ingredients, and the texture backs it up nicely.

  • Calories: 50
  • Carbs: 11
  • Net Carbs: 11
  • Protein: 0.5
  • Fat: 0

Kroger – Caramel Rice Cakes – 11 Net Carbs

One of the most sugary-tasting options on this list, Kroger’s Caramel Rice Cakes have a good texture but are best suited for those weaning off of a high-sugar diet.

  • Calories: 50
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Net Carbs: 11g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0g

Fit&Active – Lightly Salted Rice Cakes – 8 Net Carbs

Offering a fantastic bang for the buck, the Fit&Active Lightly Salted Rice Cakes are of slightly lower quality than other brands, but at a much cheaper price point, are perfect for those looking to include rice cakes in their diet.

  • Calories: 40
  • Carbs: 8g
  • Net Carbs: 8g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0g

Quaker Oats – White Cheddar Rice Cakes – 8 Net Carbs

One of the least artificial-tasting flavors on the list, the White Cheddar Rice Cakes from Quaker Oats are extremely tasty, and perfect for those who want a standalone rice cake.

  • Calories: 45
  • Carbs: 8g
  • Net Carbs: 8g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 1g

Kroger – Low Sodium Rice Cakes Rice Cakes – 8 Net Carbs

With only 15mg of sodium, Kroger’s Low Sodium Rice Cakes have just a tiny bit of salt and a decent enough texture to squeak their way onto this list.

  • Calories: 40
  • Carbs: 8g
  • Net Carbs: 8g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0g

Quaker Oats – Garden Tomato & Basil Rice Cakes – 8 Net Carbs

Quaker’s Garden Tomato & Basil Rice Cakes are extremely tasty and have an alright texture; be aware that their ingredient list totals 20 ingredients. For rice cakes, this may be a bit excessive.

  • Calories: 50
  • Carbs: 8g
  • Net Carbs: 8g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 2g

Quaker Oats – Lightly Salted Rice Cakes – 7 Net Carbs

Crunchy and very lightly salted, this Quaker Oats offering is hard to pass up as being one of the best on the market.

  • Calories: 35
  • Carbs: 7g
  • Net Carbs: 7g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0g

Quaker Oats – Salt Free Rice Cakes – 7 Net Carbs

Similar to Lundberg’s Salt-Free Rice Cakes, Quaker Oats’ Salt Free offering is only made of puffed brown rice, making it perfect for people who want to top their rice cakes; this is arguably one of the best low carb rice cakes on the market.

  • Calories: 35
  • Carbs: 7g
  • Net Carbs: 7g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0g

Quaker Oats – Buttered Popcorn Rice Cakes – 7 Net Carbs

Surprisingly, Quaker’s Buttered Popcorn Rice Cakes only has four ingredients: brown rice, corn, salt, and a natural flavor, making them quite unobtrusive for digestion. These are good for people who want a bit of flavor without too much sugar.

  • Calories: 35
  • Carbs: 7g
  • Net Carbs: 7g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0g

Most Flavorful Low Carb Rice Cake Brands

There are three main rice cake brands out there other than bigger store brands like Kroger: Quaker Oats, Lundberg, and Fit&Active.

Quaker Oats – Winner

Quaker Oats is the king of rice cakes, for good reason. Their standard, salt-free rice cakes are solely made with rice, no oils, and the rice is 100% whole grain. They offer the widest variety of flavors by far, including:

  1. Salt Free
  2. Apple Cinnamon
  3. Butter Popcorn
  4. Caramel Corn
  5. Chocolate
  6. Lightly Salted
  7. White Cheddar
  8. Tomato & Basil
  9. Everything (Bagel)

The majority of these flavors have the right balance of sweetness and salt, making them ideal for those who just want something to snack on.

Lundberg – Runner-up

Lundberg is a close second. While they are superior to Quaker Oats in quality, making all of their rice cakes with organic brown rice, they have significantly fewer choices because their rice cakes are larger, so it is hard to say that Lundberg has the best low carb rice cakes.

Regardless, the flavors they do have are delicious on what are probably the best-textured rice cakes on the market. These include:

  1. Salted Caramel
  2. Cinnamon Toast
  3. Lightly Salted
  4. Honey Nut
  5. Kettle Corn
  6. Salt-Free

Fit&Active – Best Budget Rice Cakes

Last but not least on this ranking is Fit&Active. With minimal processing and coming in at the cheapest price on this list, this rice cake offering from Aldi is good, but not as good as others on this list.

That doesn’t mean they’re bad by any means- they are, indeed, third on this list. They simply lack flavor variety, which makes it difficult to rank them any more highly. The flavors they come in are well-balanced and require minimal additives to make, including:

  1. Lightly Salted
  2. Caramel Corn

These are best for those on a budget, want to get in a calorie deficit without exercise, and still want some kind of rice cake in their diet.

Rice Cake Snack Ideas

Rice cakes can be tasty on their own, especially ones that come with special flavorings like apple cinnamon or caramel. But a lot of people would prefer a plain or lightly salted rice cake because it has minimal ingredients, allowing them to have a bit more control over what they are putting in their body.

Two pieces of rice cakes, one of them has a peanut butter spread on it, and in the background are a bunch of boiled peanuts, all placed on top of a shiny wooden surface.

Source: MSPhotographic via Canva.com8

For these people, there are quite a few toppings for rice cakes to make them even better:

  • Avocado
  • Cream cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Guacamole
  • Deli meat
  • Hummus

Using a combination of these ingredients and a few others can even lead to delicious rice cake combinations like:

  • Hummus with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes
  • Peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Cream cheese and smoked salmon

Using healthy fats like peanut butter and avocado on a rice cake can be a good way to not only stay in ketosis, but also increase satiety levels, one of the most important weight loss rules.

All of these snacks would be perfect for someone trying to stay in ketosis, but note that the peanut butter and banana rice cake may be best to avoid to not spike blood sugar.

Low Carb Rice Cake Alternatives & Substitutes

Lundberg, the runner-up on this list for the most flavorful low carb rice cakes, has some fantastic non-traditional rice cake offerings perfect for beginners who are just starting to diet.

  • Organic Thin Stackers: Similar to their other products, these are made with puffed brown rice with a bit of salt. They differ from standard cakes in their form; these are about the same thickness as one but are square-shaped, arguably better for loading with toppings. There are a few flavor variations: Lightly Salted, Basil & Thyme, Salt-Free, and Cracked Black Pepper.
  • Organic Rice Cake Minis: These ‘cakes’ are just puffed rice chips in the shape of a hexagon. They offer a similar texture to standard rice cakes, but are a lot smaller, coming in various flavors like Apple Pie, Buffalo Ranch, Sea Salt, and even Ginger Seaweed.
  • Organic Sea Salt Rice Chips: Similar to the rice cake minis, the Sea Salt Rice Chips are chip-sized, but that is where the similarities end. These are triangles made with parboiled rice and a few extra ingredients like rice and corn flour to get the proper texture. For those who don’t mind a bit of extra processing, available flavors include Fiesta Lime, Santa Fe Barbecue, and Sesame Seaweed.

The next three items also come from Lundberg but are made with different types of grains, a unique spin on rice cakes that few other brands are tapping into.

  • Organic Thin Stackers Red Rice & Quinoa: These square-shaped rice cakes are the exact same as the above Thin Stackers, except these are made with a smooth blend of whole grain red rice, brown rice, and quinoa, offering a familiar but slightly different texture. They are only available in a Salt-Free flavor.
  • Organic Wild Rice Cakes: Similar to standard rice cakes, but different at the same time. Made with freshly milled organic brown rice and organic wild rice, these cakes offer a bit more of a heartier rice flavor, only coming in with a Lightly Salted flavor.
  • Sweet Organic Thin Stackers: Last on the list for Lundberg rice cake variants are their Sweet Organic Thin Stackers. Their base is the same as the original, but the toppings are different: Lemon Poppy Seed, Decadent Dark, and Coconut Sprinkle. The main thing to note here is that one serving or two of these decadent cakes is 18 grams of net carbs, so buying them is a bit risky.

The last three items on this list are non-rice rice cake substitutes that still fit into a keto diet.

  • Dehydrated cheese crackers: Popular brands of cheese crackers like ParmCrisps and Moon Cheese have gotten a lot of traction recently for good reason: they are perfect for keto! An average serving of dehydrated cheese crackers has 170 calories and 1 gram of net carbs. These tend to be a bit on the pricier side, though, so keep that in mind.
  • Corn cakes: Corn cakes are a solid alternative to rice cakes because they offer relatively similar macros, with four corn cakes tallying in at 65 calories at 13 grams of net carbs. They can work for a keto diet but are much less popular so flavor options are limited. Take note that newer research suggests that corn has very few nutritional benefits other than offering calories to consume, so some may consider corn cakes ‘empty calories.5
  • Cauliflower rice: Last but not least is cauliflower rice. This is not a rice cake at all, but this may be the best option of all for those who want to strictly adhere to a keto diet. Cauliflower rice is made of cauliflower, leading to it being extremely light on carbs and high on fiber. One serving comes out to 25 calories and 2 grams of net carbohydrates.

There are many alternatives to rice cakes to keep a person in ketosis. However, after discussing low carb rice cakes, the answer whether rice cakes are keto-friendly should be straightforward: yes, as long as they’re consumed in moderation.


References

1Abbasi, J. (2018). Interest in the Ketogenic Diet Grows for Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of the American Medical Association, 319, 215-217.

 
Rephrase with Ginger (Ctrl+Alt+E)
<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29340675/>

2Blanco, J. C., Khatri, A., Kifayat, A., Cho, R., & Aronow, W. S. (2019). Starvation Ketoacidosis due to the Ketogenic Diet and Prolonged Fasting – A Possibly Dangerous Diet Trend. Am J Case Rep, 20, 1728-1731. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6883983/>

3Mir, S. A., Bosco, S. J. D., Shah, M. A., & Mir, M. M. (2016). Effect of puffing on physical and antioxidant properties of brown rice. Food Chem, 191, 139-146. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26258713/>

4Sun, G.-X., Williams, P. N., Zhu, Y.-G., Deacon, C., Carey, A.-M., Raab, A., Feldmann, J., & Meharg, A. A. (2009). Survey of arsenic and its speciation in rice products such as breakfast cereals, rice crackers and Japanese rice condiments. Environment International, 35(3), 473-475. <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412008001475?casa_token=HwHIJDq2w8oAAAAA:vRnEjb5FY5i0V_EnD8wwaZEk-ffhIlrFkxZuHPKWEBaguRxVxEwnC0cLp_nIDqYbU-RKJAR5pw>

5Ai, Y., & Jane, J. (2016). Macronutrients in Corn and Human Nutrition. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 15(3), 581-598. <https://ift.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1541-4337.12192?casa_token=8wsyIYttn74AAAAA:hjWmCj_-5p9ZFm2KNrBOXtDV-zo7tHyS6s5p1gbHvPLG5HLsJKRC4VP3uaLcZb2j00FDVX-dMlELwcs>

6annastories. “Rice Cakes and Strawberries.” Canva. Accessed 13 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAD80wXeYaA-rice-cakes-and-strawberries/>

7Seramo. Canva. Accessed 13 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MADpkTgp2u8-puffed-chocolate-rice-cake/>

8MSPhotographic. Canva. Accessed 13 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MADAXjtCz-0-peanut-butter-on-rice-cakes/>

9ollinka. Canva. Accessed 13 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAC7WJ5ydqo-rice-cakes-breakfast-chocolate/>

About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.