The most important rules and principles to planning a keto-friendly menu. Follow keto etiquette to prepare a menu that your guests will enjoy. Avoid embarrassment and be an ideal host.

What keto etiquette is

Keto etiquette is the set of rules to plan a menu that is appropriate for vegan guests. Such rules include:

  • The allowed foods and ingredients.
  • How to ask about dietary restrictions.
  • How to deal with your guests’ diets.

If you are hosting, respect keto etiquette to properly plan a menu that your guests will enjoy and to avoid any embarrassments. 

If you are a guest, follow keto etiquette to politely deal with your hosts and the other guests.

rules for how to serve keto menu

Keto etiquette rules

1) Respect keto dietary restrictions in your menu

The ketogenic (keto) diet is a regimen mainly used to treat epilepsy in children. However, nowadays the keto diet has become popular as a lifestyle diet too.

The keto diet forces the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates (carbs). Thus, keto limits or avoids any food rich in carbs or similar sugar. While it is high in protein and fat.

Meat is keto

Most meat is keto. Meat is generally high in protein and fat and low in carbs. Fat meat should be preferred.

Red meat, such as beef or pork. Steak, ham, prosciutto, or bacon are ideal. White meat is appropriate too. Such as chicken, turkey, and poultry.

Fish and seafood are keto

Fish or seafood are commonly low on carbs. Thus, they are great for keto. The best fish or seafood for keto is the fatty one. Salmon, fat tuna cuts, mackerel, trout. Caviar is rich in fat and thus is ideal for keto too.

Dairy products and cheese are keto

Dairy products and cheese are keto when they are low on carbs and similar sugar. Milk and skimmed cream must be limited or avoided.

Butter and heavy milk cream are keto. Most unprocessed cheese is keto.

Rich fresh cheeses are allowed. Cottage cheese. Chevre. Goat cheese. Feta. Halloumi. Mascarpone. Mozzarella.

Semi-soft and aged cheeses are keto as long as they are low on carbs. Brie. Camembert. Manchego. Cheddar. Gruyére. Colby Jack. Parmesan. Pecorino. Provolone.

Eggs are keto, honey is not

Eggs are keto. They are rich in protein and low on carbs.

Honey is not keto. While it is a healthy food, it is also rich in carbs.

Vegetables and fruit are keto, with exceptions

Vegetables and fruit that are rich in fat are good for keto. Those that are rich in carbs must be avoided.

Berries are not ideal for keto. Strawberries. Blueberries. Raspberries. Blackberries. Grapes and bananas are rich in carbs. Thus, they must be avoided too.

Legumes, beans, and tubers are rich in carbs too. Thus, they are not keto. Peas, lentils, chickpeas, and most types of beans. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and root vegetables such as carrots.

Nuts and seeds are rich in fat. Thus, they are almost always ideal for keto diets. Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, and any types of seeds.

Fatty avocados and guacamole are perfect for keto. Other vegetables allowed for a keto diet are:

  • Tomatoes.
  • Peppers.
  • Eggplants.
  • Asparagus.
  • Broccoli.
  • Cucumber.
  • Green leaves.

Grains are not keto

Most grains are rich in carbs. Thus, they are excluded from keto diets. Rice. Pasta. Couscous. Quinoa. Amaranth. Most types of cereal. The same applies to bakery products, bread, and pizza.

Condiments could be ok for keto

Oil, salt, herbs, and spices are keto. Vinegar from wine contains carbs, thus it is not keto. Sauces that are low on fat but high on sugar or carbs are not keto. Such as ketchup, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, or honey mustard.

Sweets and desserts might not be keto

Sugary foods are not keto. Ice cream or gelato. Candy. Pies. While sweet foods that are low on sugar are allowed.

Drinks and alcohol are usually not keto

Most drinks are rich in sugar or carbs.

Alcoholic drinks are not keto. Avoid beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails. Soft drinks are high in sugar, thus you need to avoid them too. No soda, fruit juices, or smoothies.

Coffee and tea are allowed. However, they are best consumed without milk, cream, or sugar.

2) Etiquette for asking keto guests about their diet

It is perfect etiquette to ask your guests about their dietary restrictions. Even more with keto diets, which are often adjusted to each individual.

In written formal invitations, it is sufficient to ask guests to please inform the hosts about any dietary requirements. 

In informal invitations, a simple “do you follow any diet or have any dietary restriction?” works. Another option is to ask if guests avoid any food.

It is against keto etiquette to ask further questions. Such as why someone is on a keto diet. Or why someone excludes or includes a certain food. It could be due to a lifestyle choice or a serious health condition.

If you have a genuine curiosity, you may ask such questions. However, it is polite to justify your curiosity. In other words, state why you are curious about it. Be apologetic. Never judge or question the answers you get.

best menu practices to deal with keto dietary restrictions

3) Keto menu planning etiquette

Follow these key principles to deal with guests’ keto dietary restrictions.

Serve each food on its dedicated plate 

Do not serve multiple foods on the same plate. Instead, try to separate them. Assign a plate to each food or ingredient. Serve condiments and sauces separated from food.

This way you allow vegan guests to pick the foods they can eat. Or to avoid the ones they cannot eat. 

Include safe options 

Many foods are allowed in almost every diet. Such as vegetables and fruit. Plan some safe dishes that almost any guest will be able to eat. As an example, only a few people say no to a salad.

Avoid risky foods

Many foods are not allowed in many diets. Pork meat. Alcohol. Beef. Crustaceans.

If you are unsure about your guests’ diet, play safe. Avoid cooking these foods altogether. Or, at least, plan one or two dishes without them.

4) Keto guest etiquette

Guests must follow keto etiquette too. Otherwise, they risk disrespecting or annoying their host and the other guests.

Do not expect the host to guess your diet 

If you do not eat some foods, clearly state it with your host. 

It is bad etiquette to expect a change in the menu based on your needs. Instead, you may ask if there may be some keto options. Be apologetic in your requests. It is rude to do otherwise. As a guest, you do not want to sound entitled.

Be accommodating. Do not expect the host to accommodate your requests. 

Politely refuse food that you do not eat

If the host serves food that you do not eat, simply avoid it. If the host or another guest explicitly offers such food to you, politely refuse it. It is enough to say “no, thank you”. 

Provide additional detail only if someone asks you. It is good etiquette to be brief. Otherwise, do not annoy others with your dietary restrictions. You do not want to look like you chose a diet only to be interesting.

Do not impose your diet on the other guests

Never expect others to adjust to your diet. Do not expect your hosts to change their menu to accommodate your needs. Similarly, at a restaurant, do not expect the other guests to change their food order. 

keto diet etiquette mistakes

Keto etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst keto etiquette mistakes. 

  • 8/10. Not accommodating keto dietary restrictions.
  • 7/10. Imposing your diet on others.
  • 7/10. Sharing unsolicited details about your diet.
  • 6/10. Asking personal dietary questions.


  • Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss: