Croissants have been around since the mid-1800s and arguably originated in Austria. They’re a popular type of bread that can either be used as a side dish, used for savory sandwiches, or even for dessert.
Today, you can find croissants at almost every breakfast restaurant in America. If you’re reading this post, now, though, you’re probably wondering, “Are croissants vegan?”
Unfortunately, croissants are not usually vegan. Traditionally, they’re made with eggs and butter, both of which are non-vegan. Additionally, some croissant recipes also contain dairy, white sugar, or honey, which also aren’t vegan.
That being said, there are some vegan croissants out there. You just have to visit a good vegan bakery or learn how to make your own vegan croissants at home. Below, I’ll show you exactly what croissants are made of and my favorite vegan croissant recipe as well!
Do Croissants Have Dairy In Them?
Croissants are known for being ultra-soft, slightly sweet, and supremely flaky. These are all attributes that milk bread is known for.
Austria is a country that’s historically been known for dairy (thanks to its fertile farmlands), so it should come as no surprise that croissants DO have dairy in them.
This is one of the main reasons why they’re so soft and sweet. It’s also one of the main reasons why croissants are non-vegan.
Do Croissants Contain Eggs?
Almost all croissant recipes call for eggs. Not only are whole eggs used in the dough but the croissants are also coated in an egg glaze prior to being baked in the oven. This means double trouble for vegans who don’t eat eggs.
Most vegan croissant recipes use vegan eggs or a vegan egg baking substitute instead. These vegan eggs don’t provide the same flavor as real eggs, but they do act as plant-based emulsifiers, holding the dough together and making for a fluffier consistency.
What Are Croissants Made Of? Ingredients Examined
Although croissants may look relatively simple, I assure you that they’re a lot more involved than most people think. Unlike most bread products, which are made from wheat, water, and salt, croissants contain several added ingredients (such as eggs and dairy) for added taste and texture.
In addition, sweetening agents are often blended into the dough to make the croissants better for pastries.
If you’ve ever been curious about what croissants are made of, keep on reading to see the full list of ingredients used to make traditional homemade croissants.
Of course, if you’re buying store-bought croissants, then there’ll be a lot more chemical additives and preservatives. This is just a general recipe that’s used as the base of almost every croissant recipe.
1) Wheat Flour
The main ingredient in croissants is wheat flour. Wheat flour is, by far, one of the most common baking additives in the world. It’s also one of the oldest baking ingredients and dates back thousands of years.
Wheat flour is just the filtered, ground-up fruit of the wheat plant. When wheat is harvested, the plant is separated from the stalk and the whole wheat is dried until most of the moisture has left. Then, the dried wheat is ground into a fine powder that’s used for baking.
Generally, bakers use one of several different types of wheat flour:
- Whole wheat flour
- All-purpose wheat flour
- Bleached wheat flour
- Enriched wheat flour
Whole wheat flour is the most organic option, as it’s the least processed. All-purpose wheat flour is the most commonly used flour by bakeries since it’s affordable and minimally processed.
Bleached flour and enriched flour (with added vitamins and minerals) are the most common types of wheat flour used for processed foods.
Depending on where you’re buying croissants from, any one of those four types of wheat flour could be used.
Wheat flour, by itself, is always vegan-friendly. It’s a pure, plant-based product that’s literally made from ground plant matter! So, you never have to worry about this ingredient if you see it in food.
In addition to flour, water is the other key component of any dough. When water is added to flour, a thick, dough-like paste form. This dough is the base of all bread, pasta, pastries, and croissants.
Water, of course, is always vegan-friendly. Humans are literally made of water, so it’s kind of an essential thing.
While some water is more ethically sourced than others, all water, at its core, is vegan.
It is worth noting, however, that the quality of the water used to make the croissant dough is important. Better tasting, higher-quality water makes for better croissants.
Just take a sip of your tap water and then compare it to a sip of your favorite spring water! The difference is like night and day.
Milk is another common ingredient that’s added to croissant recipes; especially dessert-oriented pastry croissants. Milk is often blended with water to create a smoother, flakier, milkier dough.
For example, if a croissant recipe calls for two cups of water, many bakers will use one cup of water and one cup of milk, for a total liquid content of two cups.
Unfortunately, milk is non-vegan. The commercial milk industry is incredibly cruel to cows.
To ensure that female cows are always producing milk, they’re raped and inseminated for more than what’s healthy. This results in the female cows dying far earlier than they would in the wild.
Calves are also removed from their mothers shortly after birth. This causes lots of strain for the mothers, who are used to raising their calves to adulthood in the wild. The mothers are left in high emotional stress and the baby calves are slaughtered for veal.
These are just a few reasons why the dairy industry is so evil and why vegans don’t eat any products containing dairy.
Eggs are a critical component of most traditional croissant recipes. When added to croissant dough, eggs do two things:
- They strengthen the dough.
- They provide flavor to the croissants.
- They act as a glaze for added texture.
Although they’re soft, croissants are definitely a bit thicker than your average slice of bread. This is partly due to the added protein and fat from the whole eggs used in the recipe.
Of course, the eggs aren’t just functional. They also improve the taste of the dough, making it more wholesome and filling. This is one of the reasons why croissants are such a common breakfast food.
Last but not least, the raw, rolled croissants are coated in egg glaze before being pushed into the oven. This egg glaze creates a crispy, flaky, and shiny texture on the outside of the croissant. That’s why croissants are so shiny!
Like eggs, butter is another non-vegan ingredient that’s added to croissants. Butter is added for flavor, texture, and flakiness.
For example, butter adds fat to the dough, which makes it a lot softer than it would otherwise be. If salted butter is used, it can also add to the flavor of the croissants.
Last but not least, all of the butter contributes to the flakiness of the croissants by trapping air bubbles in the dough.
Sadly, butter is a dairy product that’s made from milk, cream, and salt. Vegan croissants typically use vegetable oil or a type of vegetable oil-based spread instead of butter.
Croissants (and most other dough-containing foods) all contain a bit of added salt. While salt is usually added for flavor, it’s also added to help strengthen the croissant dough as well.
When salt is added to the dough, it reacts with the water and wheat to create stronger bonds between the molecules. This, in turn, creates a slightly tougher texture and prevents the dough from crumbling and falling apart like a cracker once it’s taken out of the oven.
Don’t worry, though, salt is always vegan. Most of the salt used in today’s recipes is lab-created. However, all-natural salt such as sea salt is harvested from oceanic salt deposits.
Yeast is one of the key ingredients used for all types of bread. Yeast is a single-celled organism that feeds on sugars. When the yeast is added to the dough, the water “wakes” it up. Then the yeast begins feeding on the carbohydrates and sugars in the dough.
As the yeast processes the sugar, it releases carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. This is what causes the bubbles and allows the croissants to rise in the oven.
The way that croissant dough is layered with the yeast, is why croissants have larger air bubbles and is why they’re so flaky and delicious.
Although yeast is a living organism, it’s considered vegan because it’s closer to plants than animals in structure. In fact, one of the most popular vegan seasonings is nutritional yeast, which is just deactivated yeast.
Once deactivated, the nutritional yeast takes on a savory, cheese-like flavor, which makes it a common ingredient in vegan cheese substitutes.
8) Honey or Sugar
Honey and sugar aren’t requirements, by any means, but they are commonly added to croissant recipes. For example, white sugar is often added to dessert croissant recipes, as it makes for a sweeter-tasting croissant.
Unfortunately, white sugar is not vegan, as it’s filtered through animal bone char. Unlike raw organic cane sugar (or turbinado sugar), white sugar goes through a filtration process that removes the outer layer of malt syrup and its natural brown coloring.
Sadly, this non-vegan refining process means that refined white sugar is non-vegan.
Honey isn’t used in the croissant dough. Rather, it’s often used to glaze the outside of the croissants. After the croissants have been baked and they’re removed from the oven, warm honey is often drizzled over the outside for added flavor.
The only problem is that most vegans don’t eat honey. Most honey is the result of unnatural (and often cruel) exploitation of captive bee colonies. By consuming honey, we’re taking something that they need to feed their young.
Can You Make Vegan Croissants?
Yes! Vegan croissants are totally possible. You just have to substitute some of the non-vegan ingredients (like butter, eggs, and milk) for vegan-friendly ingredients like vegetable oil, egg substitute, and plant-based milk.
I’m not a great baker, by any means. However, I have been experimenting here and there with a couple of vegan bread recipes. I like the feeling of being more connected with my food and I like knowing that my bread is 100% preservative and chemical-free.
Here’s a super-simple vegan croissant recipe that I tried recently:
Are Croissants Healthy?
I’ll be honest, croissants aren’t very healthy. This goes for vegan croissants as well. The main ingredients are empty carbs from flour and vegetable oil (which is a low-quality fat source).
That being said, nothing is bad in moderation. The occasional breakfast croissant, when eaten as a part of a balanced diet won’t kill you!
Are Croissants Gluten-Free?
Sadly, croissants are NOT gluten-free. All croissants are made with some form of wheat flour, which is naturally very high in gluten.
The Verdict – Are Croissants Vegan-Friendly?
Traditionally, croissants are not vegan-friendly, since they’re made with dairy, butter, and eggs. So, I wouldn’t order them or purchase them at a non-vegan bakery.
However, the good news is that you can make your own vegan croissants at home or order them from a specialty vegan bakery!
If you’re looking for something a little bit more reliable for everyday meals, then check out my list of the best vegan bread brands next!