Donuts have been around since the mid-1800s and have been interpreted by several different world cultures.
American donuts are known for their iconic ring shape and are available in hundreds of different flavors and varieties. Some are stuffed with jelly and cream while others are plain and only lightly sweetened.
The real question you’re all wondering, though, is “Are donuts vegan?”
Unfortunately, traditional donuts are not vegan. In addition to flour, most donut recipes call for milk, butter, eggs, and white sugar, none of which are vegan. The donuts are often fried in palm oil, which is another non-vegan ingredient.
Although most donuts aren’t vegan, the good news is that they can be! Vegan-friendly donut shops are popping up all across the U.S. in major cities to cater to the increasing demand for vegan-inclusive products.
You can also find some simple vegan donut recipes online that are easy to cook at home.
In today’s post, I’m going to explain everything you ever wanted to know about donuts.
I’ll give you a full breakdown of all of the main ingredients used in donuts, explain what’s different about vegan donuts, and answer a few of the most commonly asked questions on the topic.
What’s Not Vegan About Donuts?
Sadly, almost everything about donuts is non-vegan…
Since donuts were first marketed and sold in the U.S., they’ve been made using a sweet pastry dough that’s made with flour, eggs, sugar, milk, and butter.
In fact, the only vegan ingredient in traditional donuts is the all-purpose flour, which is plant-based and comes from ground wheat.
Other than that, everything is non-vegan, including some of the cooking oil that donuts are traditionally fried in!
Are Krispy Kreme Donuts Vegan?
Interestingly, Krispy Kreme Donuts just released several new flavors of vegan donuts! These donuts can be purchased at your local Krispy Kreme donut shop and several vegan grocers. Krispy Kreme’s new vegan donut flavors are:
- Fudge Brownie Bliss
- Apple Crumble
- Caramel Chocolate Delight
Sadly, Krispy Kreme’s new vegan donut flavors are only available in U.K.-based stores. The concept is relatively new, so the company is still trying to see how the feedback is and iron out any complaints.
It’s still great news for the vegan community, though!
If the new flavors are successful in the U.K, then they’ll undoubtedly make their way to American Krispy Kremes.
Until then, you’ll just have to sit tight and make your own homemade vegan donuts or visit your local vegan-friendly donut shop.
Are Dunkin Donuts Vegan?
Dunkin Donuts is arguably the largest donut chain in the United States. As their motto goes, “America runs on Dunkin.”
Unfortunately, vegans cannot run on Dunkin, as the company does not offer any vegan donuts at this time. Pretty much the only vegan-friendly food offered by Dunkin Donuts are the plain bagels, without cream cheese.
What Are Donuts Made Of?
Above, I mentioned the main ingredients that donuts are made of. This same basic pastry dough recipe is used for a most donut or donut-style desserts around the world.
Whether you’re looking at American donuts, French beignets, Italian bomboloni, or German Berliners, they all use a similar recipe made from flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and butter.
Below, I’ll break down each of these ingredients, so you can better understand why most doughnuts aren’t vegan.
1) Wheat Flour
Wheat flour is the base of all donut dough. Most donut recipes call for simple all-purpose baking flour, which is made by crushing and filtering dried wheat into a fine powder.
Wheat flour is 100% plant-based and is also the base used for vegan donuts. So don’t write flour off as a non-vegan ingredient!
2) Baking Powder
Baking powder is a vegan-friendly ingredient and is made from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and a mild acid.
Baking powder is used as a leavening agent and is designed to prevent the donuts from rising too much while cooking. Most pastry dough is designed to rise a bit and is light and fluffy.
However, donuts are supposed to be thick and dense, which is why baking powder is used.
Shortening is just a fancy baker’s term for butter. Specifically, shortening refers to any type of fat that’s solid at room temperature. By this definition, most animal fat is shortening.
Butter is the most common shortening ingredient used in baking and is made using milk fat from cows.
Without sugar, donuts would taste more like bread than pastry! So, it’s a pretty important ingredient. However, most of the sugar used to make donuts is not vegan-friendly.
While pure cane sugar is 100% vegan, most processed white sugar is filtered through animal bone char, which makes it a non-vegan product.
White sugar is popular in baking, as it’s usually cheaper than organic cane sugar, and the smaller crystals dissolve quickly once blended.
Milk is a very common ingredient used in baking and is almost always present in pastry dough. Milk contains natural sugars, which make for a sweeter-tasting dough and contributes to a softer, more “bouncy” donut.
Eggs primarily act as an emulsifier in the dough. They help the dough stay together and keep the donut dough from falling apart during the cooking process.
Eggs also help round out the flavor and provide a rich, filling texture to the donuts.
7) Flavors, Jelly, Filling
While some of the flavors and jelly used in donuts are vegan-friendly, most of them are not. One of the most common toppings for donuts is confectioners glaze, which usually contains shellac.
Shellac is a resin that’s excreted by Asian lac beatles and is a common additive in both food and cosmetics.
Refined white sugar and dairy-based cream are other non-vegan ingredients that are commonly found in donut stuffing, glaze, and flavors.
Are Donuts Fried In Palm Oil?
Aside from the ingredients used to make donut dough and filling, donuts are also deep-fried in vegetable oil.
Unfortunately, most donut shops don’t always specify what type of vegetable oil they use, which can be problematic for vegans.
Vegetable oils such as soybean oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil are all vegan-friendly cooking oils. However, one of the cheapest and most widely used vegetable oils is palm oil.
Even though palm oil is technically plant-based, the industry itself contributes to rainforest destruction, threatens endangered species, and puts indigenous tribes at risk. If we, as a planet, don’t scale back our palm oil use, then we’ll be left without our most vital rainforests.
How Do Vegan Donuts Taste?
While most donuts may be off-limits for vegans, there are some pretty great-tasting vegan donut recipes that you eat instead!
Vegan donuts share the same wheat flour base as regular donuts, but use ingredients like raw cane sugar, vegan eggs, vegetable shortening, and plant-based milk in place of white sugar, real eggs, butter, and dairy.
So, how do vegan donuts taste?
The last time I was in San Francisco, I visited a small vegan-friendly bakery and ate some delicious old-fashioned style donuts (I’m not a big fan of all the extra sugary toppings), and they were delicious!
The main difference that I noticed is that vegan donuts taste a lot lighter than the traditional donuts I remember before I went vegan.
They contain a lot less fat and don’t use heavy milk, butter, and cream. As a result, they taste fluffier, lighter, and aren’t quite as filling. Other than that, though, the overall flavor is remarkably similar.
If you’re feeling creative, you can easily make your own homemade vegan donuts using simple, easy-to-find ingredients:
What Kind Of Donuts Are Vegan?
Vegan donut flavors vary a lot, depending on where you’re buying them from. While most vegan donut shops offer a few classics, I’ve also seen some really creative flavors that might not be available everywhere else.
Here are some of the best vegan donut flavors that I’ve had:
|Vegan Donut Flavors||Non-Vegan Donut Flavors|
|Old-Fashioned Vegan Donuts||Boston Creme|
|Vegan Pumpkin Spice Donuts||Classic Glazed Donuts|
|Lemon Poppy Seed Vegan Donuts||Chocolate Glazed Donuts|
|Vegan Chocolate Donuts||Caramel Glazed Donuts|
|Vegan Coffee Donuts||New York Cheesecake Donuts|
Are Vegan Donuts Healthier Than Regular Donuts?
At the end of the day, vegan donuts are still donuts. They’re a pastry and should be treated as an occasional dessert; not an everyday snack.
Vegan donuts may be a bit lower-fat than non-vegan donuts, but they still contain just as much sugar and are still a deep-fried food. As long as they’re eaten in moderation, though, you shouldn’t have to worry about it!
Conclusion – Can Vegans Eat Donuts?
Unfortunately, most of the mainstream donut shops and packaged donut brands in the U.S. are not vegan.
Since they were first invented, donuts have traditionally been made with milk, sugar, butter, and eggs, which are all non-vegan baking ingredients. If you’re lucky enough to find a vegan donut shop, though, I definitely recommend checking them out!
If you’re looking for a vegan-friendly sweet treat, though, I recommend trying out one of these delicious flavors of vegan cookies!