Whether it's summertime and grilling season is in full swing or a craving has you hunched over the stove in the middle of winter, there's nothing quite like a juicy, topping-loaded burger.
If you're keeping a close eye on carbs, though (ahem, keto dieters), fresh-off-the-grill (or skillet...) burgers suddenly become tricky to navigate. Lucky for you, the current anti-carb crusade means you have plenty of delicious, low-carb hamburger buns to sandwich your patty between these days.
Nope, you're totally not doomed to eating your burger with a knife and fork and ending up with toppings and condiments all over your plate. Foodies are more creative than ever with fun veggie bun swaps, and low-carb alternatives are pretty much taking over the bread aisle.
"Even if you’re not a low-carb diet devotee, swapping a traditional white flour hamburger bun—which has 140 calories and 26 grams of carbs—for a veggie-based alternative cuts calories and boosts nutrition," says nutritionist Eliza Savage, RD, of Middleberg Nutrition in New York City. "Plus, it will also keep you fuller longer due to higher fiber content."
Another reason to get creative with your definition of "bun" or try one of the latest low-carb alternatives? "People generally feel better when they reduce highly-processed, carbohydrate-rich foods and eat a cleaner diet filled with fiber-rich vegetables and satisfying proteins and fats," Savage adds.
Whether you're trying to go strictly low-carb or just want to be more mindful about your burger accessories, these low-carb hamburger buns will help make every bite even better.
It's one of the more obvious bun substitutes (and a popular order option at fast-food chains like Five Guys and In-And-Out Burger). Iceberg lettuce tends to be best for lettuce wraps, but Savage says you can really use any type, including romaine, butter, Boston, and green leaf lettuce.
Per serving: 15 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 2 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein
"I love grilling these on an outdoor grill, grill pan, or even a George Foreman," says Savage. "Portobellos pack extra protein and hold together well."
Per serving: 35 calories, 2.7 g fat (0 g saturated), 5.37 g carbs, 2.73 g sugar, 2.7 g fiber, 3.98 g protein
Give your meal a Hawaiian spin by sandwiching your burger between two pineapple slices.
"Pineapple is a great source of vitamin C," says Savage. "If you are using grilled pineapple slices to wrap a beef burger, you will boost your ability to absorb the iron in the burger."
Per serving (2 slices): 80 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 17 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein
"Grilled eggplant can add a ton of taste to a burger, but be sure to slice them thick enough so that they don’t get too slimy and fall apart easily," says Savage.
Think that eggplant tastes bitter? Sprinkle your slices with salt and let them sit for about an hour, says Savage. Prior to grilling, wipe or rinse the salt off.
Per serving: 100 calories, 8 g fat (0 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein
"This is one of my favorites!" says Savage. "You get the vitamin C to boost the iron absorption of your beef burger, uber-filling fiber, and delicious flavor all in one."
Short on time? Throw the slices in your toaster.
Per serving (2 slices): 38 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 9 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 0.5 g protein