I remember my mom used to give me a mini-bag of Fritos to take to school with me every morning to eat with my lunch. Fritos are one of the oldest chip brands in America. The delicious, thin, crispy, crunchy corn chips first hit the market in 1932 and have been a favorite ever since.
Are Fritos vegan, though?
Yes! The original Fritos chips are 100% vegan and are made using plant-based ingredients: corn, corn oil, and a bit of salt. That being said, some of the other flavors of Fritos are not vegan and may contain milk, cheese, and meat-derived flavors.
This is great news for those of you who enjoy plain old-fashioned Fritos. Personally, those were always my favorite flavor anyways (even before I went vegan)! Sadly, some of the other popular flavors, such as Honey BBQ and Chili Cheese aren’t vegan.
If you’ve been trying to figure out which flavors of Fritos are and aren’t vegan, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, I’ll break down exactly what Fritos are made of and show you which flavors are and aren’t vegan-friendly.
Let’s take a look!
What Are Fritos Made Of?
Fritos were first made and sold in 1932. Back in those days, food wasn’t made with all of the preservatives, artificial flavors, and chemicals that it’s made with today. So, the original Fritos recipe was incredibly simple: corn, corn oil, and salt.
Since Fritos merger with Lay’s (FritoLay), they’ve built one of the world’s largest chip brands:
Fun Fact: Frito means “fried” in Spanish. Fritos got their name because they were fried corn chips.
Corn is the primary ingredient used to make Fritos. Unlike tortilla chips that are made using fine-ground cornflour, Fritos are made using cornmeal.
Cornmeal is coarse-ground cornflour, which is known for having more flavor and texture. This is why Fritos have a more complex taste and taste different from tortilla chips (which are cooked the same way).
Cornmeal is 100% vegan and is a plant-based flour made from dried, ground-up corn kernels. It’s an excellent affordable source of simple carbs and is used in many vegan-friendly dishes.
To make the chips, the cornmeal is combined with a small amount of water to produce small doughy pieces. These are then dropped into a deep fryer for cooking.
2) Corn Oil
The fresh pieces of cornmeal dough are then dropped into corn oil for deep frying. Corn oil has a distinct flavor that makes it taste different from other vegetable oils, such as canola oil, sunflower oil, or olive oil.
Because of its distinct flavor, corn oil isn’t used in quite as many mainstream products. However, the flavor of the corn oil goes perfectly with corn chips! This makes Fritos a 100% corn-based food.
Let’s be honest – chips wouldn’t be chips without a bit of salt! Compared to tortilla chips and other corn chips, I will say that Fritos are known for being extra-salty. As long as you’re not eating Fritos every single day, though, this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you’re watching your sodium intake, though, Fritos also offers a Lightly Salted variety of their classic corn chips!
Are Fritos Vegan AND Gluten-Free?
Not only are Fritos vegan but they’re also gluten-free as well!
Gluten is a special type of protein that’s found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, triticale, malt, and wheat starches. It’s also the primary protein in seitan, a food that’s made from rinsing the starch out of a ball of wheat dough.
Currently, around 7% of the population is gluten-sensitive. A smaller percentage of people are also affected by celiac disease, a debilitating condition with symptoms that are triggered by gluten consumption.
Although gluten is a natural plant-based protein, some people’s bodies simply can’t handle it. Whenever they eat gluten, it triggers an allergic reaction and causes inflammation throughout the body.
For some, this can manifest in acne breakouts or indigestion. Those with more severe gluten sensitivity may experience nerve pain, extreme stomach pain, swelling, and trouble breathing.
Corn doesn’t contain any gluten, whatsoever! So, if you have celiac or just a general gluten sensitivity, then plain Fritos are an excellent choice.
Are All Fritos Vegan?
The original Fritos and the Lightly Salted original Fritos are both vegans. They both use the same three-ingredient recipe that’s been used since the 1930s!
However, not all Fritos are vegan.
For example, the Honey BBQ Fritos are made with honey, which is non-vegan. and the Chili Cheese Fritos are made using several types of milk, cheese, butter, milk protein, and meat-derived natural flavors:
Even the Fritos Flamin’ Hot flavor is non-vegan and contains dairy. Unfortunately, dairy is a common additive in chips, as it provides added texture to the surface of the chips, giving them a unique feel that makes them so “addicting” to eat.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to double-check the ingredients list, even if the flavor doesn’t sound like it would be non-vegan. Once you start reading through your ingredients lists, you’ll be surprised just how many everyday products we use contain meat and animal by-products!
Are Fritos Twists Vegan?
One of Fritos’ best-selling products is the Fritos Flavor Twists: Honey BBQ. Unfortunately, this is the only Fritos Twists flavor and it’s non-vegan due to the honey used in the recipe.
Hopefully, in the future, Fritos will create more flavors of Twists that are vegan-friendly!
Vegan Fritos Flavors
Thankfully, Fritos is a relatively simple brand. Unlike Takis (which has too many flavors to even list), Fritos offers just seven different flavor varieties.
Here’s a quick table outlining which flavors of Fritos are vegan and which are non-vegan:
|Vegan-Friendly Fritos||Non-Vegan Fritos|
|Original Fritos||Fritos Scoops! Spicy Jalapeno|
|Original Fritos, Lightly Salted||Fritos Flavor Twists, Honey BBQ|
|Fritos Scoops! Original Flavor||Original Fritos, Chili Cheese|
|Original Fritos, Flamin’ Hot|
Common Non-Vegan Ingredients In Fritos Flavored Chips
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most common non-vegan ingredients used in Fritos, so you know what to look out for the next time you’re shopping.
Buttermilk is often used to provide a sour kick to chips. For instance, it’s used in Fritos Spicy Jalapeno and Chili Cheese flavors.
Honey is used in Fritos Twists, and Honey BBQ. Although honey is a natural sweetener, it’s obtained through the exploitation of bee colonies, which often involves animal cruelty.
Cheese is one of the most common flavor additives in chips.
Sodium caseinate is a milk-based protein that’s often used to provide a smooth texture to seasonings and Fritos chips.
Animal-Derived Natural Flavors
Fritos Chili Cheese chips include natural flavors in the ingredients. Since chili is traditionally made using red meat, it’s safe to assume that the natural flavors in Fritos Chili Cheese chips come from an animal-derived source.
Can Vegans Eat Corn Chips?
Yes! Corn chips are plant-based chips that are typically made using a simple recipe that consists of corn, water, salt, and whatever cooking oil is used to fry them.
The problem is that the majority of mainstream corn chips are seasoned and flavored with non-vegan additives.
For example, Doritos are all made using a corn chip base. Most flavors of Doritos aren’t vegan, though, thanks to added dairy ingredients.
The Verdict – Are Fritos Vegan-Friendly?
If you’re looking for a delicious, salty, crunchy chip, then the original unflavored Fritos are 100% vegan! However, none of the other Fritos flavors are vegan, so it’s best to stay away from them.
If you’re looking for some great-tasting chips that you don’t have to question yourself about, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan chips next!