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Do you want to make delicious keto (low carb) bread using a bread machine? You’re in the right place!
Keto bread is notoriously difficult to get right – the bread won’t rise properly, it tastes “eggy” or it doesn’t taste like regular bread, and it doesn’t toast properly. What gives?! No worries, we’re here to help.
This is a beginner’s guide to baking keto bread. The guide is meant for people with relatively little experience working with keto bread and who will be using their bread machine to bake, but we hope that traditional oven users and even those with some experience working with keto bread will also benefit from some of this information.
Here’s a look at the things we’re going to cover in this article:
- What is keto bread?
- What is a keto diet?
- Getting familiar with keto bread ingredients.
- Delicious keto bread recipes.
- How to make keto bread that doesn’t taste “eggy”.
- How to toast keto bread.
What is keto bread?
Keto bread simply refers to bread that’s suitable for the keto (short for ketogenic) diet. It differs from traditional bread – which is high in carbohydrates – because of its low carbohydrate content. For a variety of health (e.g. treatment for epilepsy) and lifestyle (e.g. weight loss) reasons, people may choose to follow a keto diet which is a low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, and high-fat diet.
Our bodies rely on three types of macronutrients for energy: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In a typical American diet, the main source of energy is carbohydrates. But in a keto diet, the main source of energy is fat. The breakdown would be something like this: 60-70% fat, 20-30% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.
A keto diet forces your body to burn fat for energy. To some extent, your body still naturally produces and runs on glucose, which is what carbohydrates get turned into, but now instead it produces and runs primarily on ketones, which is what your body produces from the fat you eat as well as stored fat.
Since fat is so satisfying, people tend to eat less calories than needed to maintain their current body weight. And since they’re eating at a shortage, and the body taps into stored fat for fuel, weight loss occurs. That’s why many people tout the keto diet as a way to lose weight.
Typical Keto Bread Ingredients
The three types of carbohydrates found in food are sugar, fiber, and starch.
As you may imagine, it would be difficult to make bread and other baked goods for a keto diet because most of them contain sugar (cookies and cakes), fiber (wholewheat bread), starch (bread and pizza), or all of the above!
Note: fiber (unlike starch and sugar) is a type of carbohydrate that does not get turned into glucose, so it’s actually not something you have to limit in a keto diet!
What you need to use when baking for a keto diet are ingredients that are low in carbohydrates. Here are some of the most common ones:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture food database, almond flour has about 20 grams of carbohydrates per 100 gram servings. To put this into perspective, all-purpose flour has roughly 77 grams of carbohydrates per 100 gram servings. Almond flour has a lot less carbs!
Almond flour is not cheap, but it has a wonderful flavor and is one of the most popular flours used in keto baking. Given its gluten-free properties it’s also used a great deal in gluten-free baking.
Keto baking will use both almond flour and almond meal, which are two slightly different things. Almond flour is made from almonds without their skin, whereas almond meal is made from almonds with their skin on, hence the darker color.
Coconut flour will usually be combined with almond flour in keto baking, though in lesser quantities. It has a higher carbohydrate content than almond flour (60 grams vs. 20 grams), as well as a higher fiber content than almond flour (30 grams vs. 7 grams).
Coconut flour is typically blended in smaller amounts with almond flour for flavor and texture. Like almond flour, coconut flour is naturally gluten-free.
But here’s the tricky thing with using coconut flour: due to its high fiber content, it absorbs a lot of liquid and causes bread to be dry and dense. To counter this, many recipes that use coconut flour will add lots of eggs in effort to moisten, soften, and hold the bread together. But what you tend to end up with is bread with an “eggy” taste. So what can you do? We’ll talk more on this later…but first let’s continue getting to know the ingredients.
Flaxseed meal is simply a powdered form of flaxseed, which has about 30 grams of carbohydrates and roughly the same amount of fiber per 100 gram servings. So just like coconut flour, flaxseed meal is high in fiber. It’s also gluten-free.
The great thing about flaxseed meal is that it costs much less than almond flour – sometimes half the amount. For frequent bakers, this could mean significant savings when choosing to use flaxseed meal over almond flour.
Vital Wheat Gluten
Wheat gluten is a substance that’s made by washing – yes, washing, with water – wheat flour dough. The idea is to remove all the starch. Basically you would knead the dough under water until the water turns from cloudy to clear, or when all or most of the starch is squeezed out. (Reminder: starch is a carb that we want to avoid in a keto diet.)
What’s left is an elastic mass that’s cooked before eaten. Although it doesn’t sound appetizing, with some seasoning it’s actually delicious and a very popular dish (called seitan) among vegetarians in Southeast and East Asia because of its wonderful texture and resemblance to meat.
Vital wheat gluten – one of the common ingredients in keto baking – is the powdered form of wheat gluten. Typically, it’s used to add elasticity to recipes that are low in gluten, like, you guessed it, keto breads! As you already know from above, almond flour, coconut flour, and flaxseed meal do not have gluten. Vital wheat gluten is used to improve the volume and texture of keto breads.
Not to be mistaken with oat flour, which is made by grounding whole oats into powder, oat fiber is made by grinding oat hulls. Oat flour is a source of carbohydrate – it has almost the same carbohydrate content as all-purpose flour. So you don’t want to confuse the two! Oat fiber, on the other hand, is basically all fiber and zero calories.
People add oat fiber to their smoothies, foods, drinks, etc. to get an extra boost of fiber in their diet. Its zero calorie makeup, of course, is what we’re looking for in low-carb baking.
Since sugar is one of the carbohydrates we want to avoid in low-carb baking, we need to use sugar substitutes. Having said that, unless you are baking sweets that need to be a lot sweeter than regular bread, we don’t see any problem with using “traditional” sugars like granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. for your average loaf of bread. The amount of sugar used will be trivial to the overall caloric count – if it contributes any – and the sugar is mainly there so that the yeast has something to feed on.
But if you’re baking sweets, you’ll want to use sweeteners other than sugar. So what are these sweeteners? There are lots – too many to cover, but let’s go over some of the common ones used in keto baking.
Sugar substitutes are basically divided into two types: artificial and plant-derived.
The five main artificial sweeteners in the US are saccharin (which you may know by their trade name Sweet’n Low), acesulfame (Nutrinova), aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), neotame (NutraSweet), and sucralose (Splenda).
Plant-derived sugar substitutes are things like stevia and erythritol. A lot of keto recipes use stevia and erythritol in particular, so they seem to be the popular choice among keto bakers.
Stevia comes from the leaves of a plant. It can be found in liquid or powdered form. It is very sweet so a little bit goes a long way, and it is also known to have a bitter aftertaste. Erythritol comes from corn or sugarcane. It can be found in granulated or powdered form. It is only about 60 to 70% as sweet as table sugar, so greater amounts would be needed to achieve the same level of sweetness as table sugar. It is known to have a minty flavor. Very often in keto baking, stevia and erythritol are used together to balance each other’s flavor profiles.
A note on health: we’re not scientists or doctors, so we can’t tell you how sugar substitutes affect your health. What we can tell you is that there is a lot of controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners. The jury is still out on what effect large amounts of these chemicals will have on you over many years. (We never use artificial sweeteners because we have health concerns and we don’t like how they taste.) At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any standout concerns with plant-derived sugar substitutes, so people seem to like them more and the idea that they come naturally from plants.
In our opinion, neither sugar nor sugar substitutes can be considered “healthy” for you. We think that consuming natural sugar (honey, maple syrup, etc.) or plant-derived sweeteners in moderation is best, and what’s even better than that is to follow a no-added-sugar lifestyle as much as possible. Which means whenever you crave something sweet, eat a fruit!
Keto Bread Recipes
Alright, now that you’re familiar with the ingredients let’s move on to recipes, which is probably why many of you are here! The first keto bread recipe we want to introduce is a slight modification of Diedre’s low-carb bread recipe. If you want to learn her recipe and see how she makes it, watch her YouTube video.
First Keto Bread Recipe
1 cup of warm (not hot) water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup of flaxseed meal
1/2 cup of oat fiber
1-1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum (this is for elasticity)
2 tablespoons of room temperature butter
1 teaspoon of honey
1 tablespoon of instant yeast
If you’re wondering, she uses the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 bread machine (which is a top-rated machine bound to make any bread taste good), but this recipe should work just the same on the “basic” setting of your bread machine. If you haven’t got a machine yet and value quality above anything else, consider a Zojirushi. Always remember to add wet ingredients first, dry ingredients next, and yeast last!
We took out the erythritol sweetener (4 tablespoons) from Diedre’s recipe because there’s already honey, and we found that the recipe works just the same. Should you add it? Completely up to you. Try everything and see what you get! You could probably reduce the amount too if you don’t want to omit it completely.
There’s one ingredient up there that you may or may not be familiar with, which is xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is a binder for recipes without gluten, so it’s often used in gluten-free baking. Since there’s already vital wheat gluten in the recipe, you could probably do without xanthan gum too. Again, feel free to experiment.
The second keto bread recipe we want to share is one that uses coconut and almond flour as the main flours, and instead of vital wheat gluten, it uses egg whites to bind the bread. Below the recipe, we address how it’s possible to make the bread not taste “eggy”.
Second Keto Bread Recipe
1 cup of warm (not hot) water
1 cup of egg whites
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
5 drops of liquid stevia
2 cups of almond flour
3/4 cup of coconut flour
2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
5 tablespoons of room temperature butter
1 teaspoon of honey
2 teaspoons of instant yeast
Like with the first recipe, you can attempt to omit the sweetener if you want.
With this recipe you may be wondering: that’s a lot of eggs. Wouldn’t my bread taste like eggs? Here’s the trick: apple cider vinegar. We found that adding apple cider vinegar to the recipe helped make the bread less “eggy”. In fact, we hear from other bakers that stevia also helps reduce the “eggy” flavor, so you may not want to leave it out after all! Also, we’re using egg whites in this recipe, which would have a milder taste than if we were to use whole eggs.
How to Toast Keto Bread
The final thing we promised to address in this guide is how to toast keto bread.
You should have no problems toasting the bread from the recipes above using your toaster, but if the toaster’s not cooperating, don’t bother with it and grab your handy cooking pan instead. Place some butter in the pan and once it’s melted, lay your bread slices on top to toast.
You can also whip up a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with your pan. As soon as one side of your slices turn golden brown, flip them over and lay some cheese on top of one slice, then close with the other (toasted side down). Use a grill press to apply pressure on the sandwich. When the bottom turns golden brown, flip the sandwich so that the other side can toast too. It’s done as soon as your cheese is melted and your sandwich is golden brown and crispy throughout!
Well, that’s a wrap! We hope you found this guide to keto baking useful. It took us quite some time to learn how to make keto bread that tastes and chews like regular bread, but we’re quite impressed with the recipes above. We hope they’ll turn out great for you. And we hope we put some sense into some of the typical ingredients used in keto baking, because we know how odd something like “vital wheat gluten” sounds. Is that another name for pixie dust? 🙂 By knowing what each ingredient is, you can adjust the recipes to your liking. Well, until next time!