Yes, pork rinds are keto-friendly and used widely by people on low-carb diets. It is easy to be fooled into thinking that this humble snack food is unhealthy. Though they are crisp like chips (and are typically found in the same aisle), pork rinds share very little else in common with those high-carb options.
In fact, unflavored pork rinds are one of the few zero carb snacks you’ll find on keto. Plus, they can be used as a keto-friendly substitute for cereal, tortilla chips, breadcrumbs, and breading (for fried chicken, onion rings, and more).
To learn how and why pork rinds are great for keto (as well as how to replace them with pork-free alternatives), let’s take a closer look at the following topics:
What Are Pork Rinds?
Technically, “pork rind” is the culinary term for the skin of a pig. However, it is more commonly used to refer to the fried crispy snack, which looks more like puffed rice crackers than pigskin.
You may also come across different variations of pork rinds throughout the world, as well as different names for the fried pig skin (such as pork scratchings and pork cracklings).
For the purposes of this article, we will be using the term “pork rinds” to refer to the fried crispy snack that consists of only two ingredients: pork skins and salt.
Pork Rind Nutrition: Carb, Fat, and Protein Content
While the nutrient breakdown of pork rinds may differ depending on the brand, they are usually extremely similar.
According to the USDA, a one-cup (30g) portion of plain pork rinds contains:
- Calories: 163
- Fat: 9.4 g
- Carbohydrate: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Net Carbs; 0 g
- Protein: 18.4 g
Overall, this equates to 0% carbs, ~45% protein, and ~52% fat, making it a great source of protein and fat for the keto diet. (If you’re curious about the nutrition info for BBQ, spicy, or other flavored pork rinds, scroll down to the “what to buy” section.)
Why Are Pork Rinds Keto-Friendly?
Being a zero-carb food, pork rinds are a perfect addition to the keto diet (especially when you learn how to use them as a replacement for high-carb breadcrumbs, cereal, and flour).
However, as with everything you eat, it is important to be mindful of how much you consume. Since pork rinds are relatively high in protein and calories, it is possible to overeat them to the point that the excess protein impairs ketosis and the extra calories are stored as fat.
That being said, you’re more likely to find them so filling that they are hard to overeat. In fact, this is one of the many benefits of having pork rinds on keto.
Are Pork Rinds Healthy? A Keto Snack with Benefits
Since they are made of fried pig skin, pork rinds sound like the epitome of an unhealthy snack. However, they are far healthier than anything else you’ll find in the snack aisle. This is because they provide us with these three science-backed benefits:
- Packed with protein. Getting enough protein on keto is the key to maintaining muscle mass and curbing cravings. Over time, this helps us lose more fat and look leaner without continually having to fight against hunger pangs.
- Filled with healthy fats. Most of the fat found in pork rinds comes from oleic acid, which is the same health-promoting monounsaturated fat found in olive oil and avocados.
- A natural source of collagen. Collagen powder has exploded onto the supplement scene over the past few years, providing us with a host of science-backed benefits. What these supplement companies won’t tell you, however, is that you can get all of the same benefits from eating pork rinds, chicken skin, or gelatinous bone broth.
Overall, as long as you don’t overindulge on pork rinds, they are among the healthiest keto-friendly snacks you can have.
Even if you’re not on keto, pork rinds are a much better option than other common snacks (like potato chips, cheese puffs, pretzels, and candies). They can also be used as a healthy alternative for breadcrumbs, breading, and all-purpose flour as well.
The Best Uses For Pork Rinds
Pork rinds are often found in keto recipes that transform high-carb favorites into keto-friendly classics.
To give you a better idea of their versatility, here are some of the most common uses of this keto ingredient:
- Breadcrumbs. Simply crush your pork rinds, and use them as a keto-friendly breadcrumb replacement (perfect for keto meatballs). Or, you can grind together with other keto ingredients to make a delicious low-carb breading.
- The breading on onion rings, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, Chinese-inspired chicken dishes, and even chicken parmesan can all be made keto-friendly by using low-carb flours and ground pork rinds instead of carb ridden flours.
- Flour substitute. You may also find ground pork rinds used as a part of a keto-friendly flour mix for bread and buns. In fact, this is exactly what we did with our low-carb pancake sandwich.
- Crunchy topping. If you want to add more fat, flavor, and crunch to your meal, simply crush up some pork rinds and garnish your meal with it (perfect for keto casseroles).
- Keto cereal. Pork rinds can be fashioned into a low-carb, protein-packed breakfast cereal as well. To learn how, check out our salted caramel cereal recipe in the next section.
- Keto-friendly nachos and crackers. Do you miss having chips with your favorite dip? Try having pork rinds instead. (Just make sure your dip is keto-friendly as well.)
- A ready-to-eat keto snack. Pork rinds are a widely available option that you can usually find when you are on-the-go. As always, double-check the label to ensure you are getting a zero-carb snack that promotes ketosis.
- Microwave popcorn replacement. Skip the high-carb popcorn and look for microwaveable pork rinds. With the extra crunch and flavor they provide, you may never crave popcorn again.
Keto Recipes With Pork Rinds
Now that you know what’s possible with pork rinds, let’s learn how to use them with the following keto recipes:
The Best Turkey Meatballs
Pork rinds are one of the key ingredients behind what makes these meatballs so good.
This recipe provides us with a delicious example of how you can use this simple snack as a breadcrumb replacement.
Keto Onion Rings
A picture is worth a thousand words — and in this case, you can see why pork rinds make a great keto breading.
Not only do these onion rings look the part, but the crunch and flavor are much more satisfying than their high-carb counterpart.
Low Carb Pancake Sandwich
When you grind them up into a fine texture, pork rinds make an excellent flour replacement for keto as well.
In this recipe, you’ll learn how to make a delicious bun for a keto breakfast sandwich with only 3 grams of net carbs.
Salted Caramel Pork Rind Cereal
If you’re craving a sweet treat but can’t afford the excess carbs, this pork rind cereal will hit the spot.
Here you’ll use them to carry the sweet caramelized flavors of your stovetop keto caramel sauce.
Pork Rinds and Dip
When you’re not sure what to make, you can always make a quick keto dip with pork rind chips. For some inspiration, check out this list of delicious dip recipes you can fashion into a complete low-carb meal or a shareable appetizer:
What Pork Rinds to Buy for Keto (and What to Look Out For)
The best pork rinds for keto eating (regardless of the brand) will be the plain, unflavored variety. To confirm that these have zero carbs, they should only contain pork skins and salt.
The cheapest, most-widely available zero-carb pork rinds you’ll find are Utz Original Pork Rinds and Mac’s Original Fried Pork Skins. These can usually be purchased in Walmart, Target, your local grocery store, and online.
For a higher quality pork product made from pasture-raised pigs, look for the brand 4505 or Epic instead. They tend to be more expensive and harder to find, but they are a healthier option for us, the animals, and the environment.
If you prefer flavored pork rinds, make sure to read the ingredients label carefully. Most flavors — including buffalo, spicy, and BBQ pork rinds — have added sugars and/or maltodextrin (a common source of hidden carbs).
Despite this, they will often claim to have zero carbs per serving. How is this possible?
Due to nutrition labeling regulations, the food producers can list their product as having zero grams of carbs as long it contains less than 0.5 g of carbs per serving.
In other words, if your pork rinds have sugar and/or maltodextrin on the ingredient list, it is best to assume it contains closer to 0.5 grams of net carbs per serving rather than zero.
(Side note: Epic is the only brand that doesn’t have any added sugars or maltodextrin in their BBQ pork rinds if you’re looking to avoid sugar altogether.)
How Many Pork Rinds Can You Have On Keto?
As mentioned above, it is possible to overeat pork rinds to the point that you impair your keto progress. To find out how much is too much for you, we must figure out how much of each macronutrient (i.e., fat, protein, and carbs) you should aim to eat daily.
The two simplest ways to do this are by:
- Plugging your info into our keto calculator and tracking your meals and snacks from there.
- Using our keto meal planning app, which automatically tailors your meals to your macronutrient goals and food preferences.
In general, once you know your macronutrient needs and how much you are eating, you’ll be able to figure out how many servings of pork rinds you can fit in your keto diet without slowing your progress.
Keto-friendly Substitutes for Pork Rinds: From Chips to Pork-free Breadcrumbs
If you prefer to avoid pork-based products for any reason, there are several pork rind alternatives you can use for keto:
- Cheese crisps — You can use them as a chip replacement or blend them to make breadcrumbs or breading. Feel free to pick up a bag of your favorite cheese crisps or Make them yourself with this recipe.
- Fried chicken skins — These are the closest thing to pork rinds in terms of flavor but should only be used as keto chip replacements.
- Keto crackers and tortilla chips — A great keto-friendly alternative for high-carb chips and pork rinds. To make them yourself, check out the following recipes: Keto Tortilla Chips, Pesto Keto Crackers, and Low Carb Chia Seed Crackers.
- Almond meal — The slightly gritty texture of almond meal makes it the perfect pork rind replacement for keto breading.
- Dry grated parmesan and almond meal breading — Alternatively, If you aren’t following a recipe, you can also make a quick keto-friendly breading by mixing half dry parmesan powder with half almond meal.
- Vegetarian keto cereal — Skip the pork rind cereal, and make vegetarian-friendly granola cereal for breakfast instead.
Key Takeaways: Pork Rinds and Your Keto Diet
Pork rinds are one of the best all-around keto foods. Not only are they zero-carb, but they are highly versatile in low-carb recipes and packed with healthy fats, protein, and collagen as well.
Whether you eat them as is or use them as a replacement for breadcrumbs, breading, flour, cereal, or chips, pork rinds will provide the perfect flavor, texture, and macros for your keto diet.
However, as with everything you eat, it is crucial to be mindful of how much fat, protein, and carbs you need to achieve the results you want.
The easiest way to make sure you are on the right track is by using our keto meal planning app. It will provide you with an eating plan personalized to your goals and preferences, so all you’ll have to do is make your meals and enjoy them.