Are you wondering if your favorite brand of pretzels is vegan? When it comes to buying items prepared or packaged snacks, it can be confusing to identify if what you are buying fits into your vegan diet. Let’s break down how to know if pretzels are vegan.
Pretzels have a reputation as a healthier snack food since they are baked in the oven rather than fried like potato chips and many other snacks.
Today, pretzels come in a wide variety of flavors and styles to fit many different diets. You can even find gluten-free options in the store these days.
Since they are higher in carbs, this salty snack works great paired with healthy dips such as avocado hummus and vegan buffalo blue cheese dip. Make a vegan cheese sauce, nacho cheese sauce, or hot mustard to dip in your vegan soft pretzel.
What’s a pretzel?
The history of the original pretzel goes back to the 7th century and the Romans, making it one of the oldest snack foods. The name pretzel comes from Germany and the first commercial pretzels were made in the late 1800s in Pennsylvania.
Pretzels are made with a basic yeast dough though the ingredients vary somewhat, especially with store-bought brands.
In general, the main ingredients for the dough includes wheat or rye flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and butter or vegetable oils that are rolled out and traditionally tied into a knot and baked in the oven.
Today, you can find pretzels in the store in a variety of different pretzel shapes including knots, sticks, and more. Traditional pretzels are formed into knots.
Pretzels or pretzel rolls are dipped into or brushed with a special solution made from lye, washing soda, or baking soda which gives the outside of the pretzel its distinct texture and appearance.
At home, most recipes use a baking soda bath since the other ingredients are less safe to work with in the home.
There are two types of pretzels, hard and soft. They are super similar when it comes to the ingredients with a few subtle differences. Let's talk about each of them.
When I think of soft pretzels it makes me think of German Oktoberfest, carnivals and sporting events, or the food carts in New York City.
Soft pretzels are most usually larger in size with large flaky crystals of salt. Its texture is chewy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
Most commonly they are served with mustard but sometimes with a cheddar cheese dip or chocolate sauce. They can also be dipped in other ingredients such as sugar, cinnamon, icing or glaze, and seeds or nuts.
Recipes for soft pretzels often include butter so you will need to check labels or ask for the ingredient list to determine if they are vegan.
Soft pretzels have a short shelf life and are best eaten soon after cooking though they may last for a few days longer. However, as they sit they do tend to harden up.
The birthplace of this crispy snack is the United States but today they are a popular snack food around the world. Hard pretzels come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
They are usually made with wheat flour, yeast, oil, sugar or corn syrup, and salt but the ingredients may vary and sometimes contain animal ingredients.
Non-vegan ingredients in pretzels
Here are the most common ingredients you will find in pretzels that may be problematic if you are eating a vegan diet.
Butter or dairy: Many soft pretzels contain butter but there are even some hard pretzel brands that contain butter. Also, some recipes use dairy products (milk) instead of water to add moisture to the dough. This ingredient is more likely to appear in a traditional German pretzel or soft pretzels.
Cheese: Cheese can be baked into the dough of soft pretzels or used in the flavor-coating added to hard pretzels. This may vary by brand or bakery which means asking questions and checking labels is key.
Eggs: More often found in homemade recipes, eggs can be added to pretzel dough to give them a richer color.
Popular vegan pretzels brands
The good news is that there are plenty of vegan options when it comes to buying pretzels in your local grocery store.
The basic ingredients in most of these brands are the same and for the most part vegan. However, it gets more tricky when you start to look at the flavored pretzels.
Let’s look at some of the most popular pretzel brands to see which are vegan and which are not.
Hard pretzel brands
All the traditional pretzel snacks under the Rold Gold brand are vegan. However, the honey wheat twists and cheddar varieties both contain non-vegan ingredients.
Snyder carries an extensive line of pretzel products including pretzel bites, knots, and sticks.
The traditional line containing rods, braided pretzels, sourdough hard pretzels, and snaps are all vegan except for the Butter Snaps which are made with butter.
They also offer quite a variety of flavored pretzels that use butter or dairy in their ingredients which makes these options non-vegan. A quick glance at the ingredient list is all it takes to see which are off-limits
Their traditional flavors are all vegan but watch out for honey wheat, seasoned varieties, and butter flavored pretzels which all contain milk, dairy, or other animal products.
Snack Factory Pretzel Thins
These flattened pretzels are perfect for dipping! Many of the varieties are vegan but some are not. You can enjoy the plain-flavored, garlic vegetable, cinnamon sugar, everything, and the one with sesame seeds.
Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Pretzels
This brand of pretzel contains milk products and isn't vegan.
Soft warm pretzels are a bit more varied in their ingredients. You may find your safest bet is to make them at home with a vegan pretzel recipe.
At home, you can also duplicate some of the flavored varieties such as brushing the tops with maple syrup instead of honey or using melted vegan butter as a dip, or spread over the top of a warm pretzel.
The Pretzel Company
These pretzels are manufactured by a traditional old-style pretzel bakery in Pennsylvania. They are made with butter which makes them non-vegan.
This brand offers a traditional soft pretzel that is made with vegan ingredients but all their flavored or stuffed products contain non-vegan ingredients.
Order one of these flavors, cinnamon sugar, jalapeño, original, raisin, or sweet almond but be sure to ask for your pretzel fresh without butter for a vegan pretzel.
The butter is added after they are cooked so the actual pretzel is vegan.
Are any gluten-free pretzels also vegan?
Some vegan brands for gluten-free hard pretzels include FitJoy, Quinn, From the Ground Up, and Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps. Most of the Snyder's of Hanover gluten-free varieties are also vegan.
Although it's hard to find gluten-free soft pretzels that are also vegan as many brands contain eggs and/or dairy, The Greater Knead does offer gluten-free, vegan soft pretzel nuggets.
Vegan pretzels definitely exist and are widely available but the short answer is that not every single pretzel is vegan. However, most non-vegan ingredients are easy to identify.
The key when it comes to vegan snack foods is checking the nutrition facts and ingredient labels and asking lots of questions because some pretzels definitely contain animal products and ingredients that aren’t vegan.
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