Funyuns first hit store shelves in 1969 and were a massive hit in the early-70s. Although they’re not as popular as they once were, they’re still widely available at grocery and convenience stores around America.
When it comes to any type of chips, vegans should always be on the lookout for animal-derived ingredients, as they’re very common in processed foods.
So, are Funyuns vegan?
Unfortunately, Funyuns are NOT vegan. Funyuns contain buttermilk powder that gives the onion-flavored chips a slightly more sour flavor. They’re also not very healthy either and are loaded with sugar, MSG, and several different oils that are packed full of trans fats.
I’ll admit, I’ve only eaten Funyuns on one or two occasions in my life when they were offered to me. I’ve never been a huge fan of onions, so they simply didn’t appeal to me all that much.
However, I’ve had several of my readers email me with questions about Funyuns over the past month, so I figured I’d make a post for everybody to see!
Below, I’ll answer some of the top vegan-related questions about Funyuns I’ve received. Then, I’ll give you a full rundown of all of the ingredients in Funyuns, so you can see why they’re neither vegan or healthy.
Are you ready to learn more about this fried onion snack?
Can Vegans Eat Funyuns?
At first glance, Funyuns seem vegan enough. They’re simple fried corn chips that are seasoned with garlic and onion flavors. However, a closer look at the ingredients reveals that the seemingly friendly chips aren’t as innocent as they appear.
Funyuns not only contain buttermilk powder (a dairy product) but they also contain refined white sugar. White sugar is filtered through bone char, a process that makes it non-vegan.
So, in short, Funyuns are not a vegan-friendly snack. If you’re looking for a similar great-tasting corn chip, then I suggest trying the original Fritos, as they’re 100% vegan and are made from corn and corn oil.
Are Flamin’ Hot Funyuns Vegan?
After the success of the original Funyuns, the company released a spicy version of the onion-flavored corn chips – Flamin’ Hot Funyuns.
Like the original, though, Flamin’ Hot Funyuns are non-vegan and contain both sugar and buttermilk.
The only difference between the original Funyuns and the Flamin’ Hot Funyuns is that the latter are seasoned with an extra-hot blend of spices and seasonings.
Are Funyuns Actual Onions?
Most people think that Funyuns are actually fried onions. They look like fried onions, taste like fried onions, and have that signature crunch that many people associate with fried onions.
However, Funyuns do not contain actual onions. They’re actually a type of deep-fried corn chips that are seasoned with onion extract and flavors.
Either way, though, they still taste like onions. So if you’re not somebody who enjoys onions, then you probably won’t enjoy these much anyways.
On the other hand, if you love onions, then I recommend trying this awesome-looking vegan onion ring recipe at home:
What Are Funyuns Made Of? A Look At The Ingredients
When I first sat down to write this post, I was astonished at how many ingredients there are in Funyuns. They look like such a simple snack. Despite this, Funyuns contains over seventeen ingredients! Take a look for yourself:
If you’re new to reading ingredients labels, then this may seem a bit confusing. So, let me take a few minutes to break down all of these ingredients, so you understand what you’re looking at!
1) Enriched Corn Meal
The main ingredient is enriched cornmeal. Cornmeal is very similar to corn flour but is slightly thicker and isn’t quite as fine. As a result, it creates a chunkier, crunchier-textured chip. This is why Funyuns have a completely different texture than Fritos (which are made with cornflour).
Cornmeal is 100% vegan and comes from corn. It’s simply dried and ground corn kernels. The dried kernels are ground into a fine powder and then filtered to remove any residual shells.
The flour mixture is then enriched with natural vitamins and minerals to give it a higher nutritional value.
2) Vegetable Oil
The corn chips are fried in one of the following vegetable oils:
- Corn oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
Sometimes, a combination of two or three of those oils is used to fry the Funyuns, depending on market availability.
All of these vegetable oils are vegan-friendly, though, so don’t worry about them if you see them used in other products. In fact, most vegetable oils are vegan!
The only vegetable oil that you need to watch out for is palm oil. This is because the palm oil industry is very destructive to the environment and is one of the main causes behind our planet’s rainforests getting burned down.
Although Funyuns are also seasoned with garlic and onion seasonings, the base of all of these seasonings is salt. Salt is either synthetically created in a lab or is harvested from oceanic salt deposits.
Either way, salt is always vegan, so it’s never an ingredient that you need to worry about.
4) Corn Starch
Corn starch is often used when it comes to fried food. In fact, regular onion rings are often coated with corn starch before they’re dropped in the fryer.
Corn starch is a fine, powdered starch that’s extracted from corn kernels. It’s basically a more processed version of cornflour. While it’s not healthy to consume in large amounts (it’s just pure empty carbs), Funyuns only use a little bit to coat the outside of the chips before they’re fried.
The result is a crispier, crunchier chip that consumers far prefer.
5) Soy Flour
Soy flour is another powder coating that the chips are coated with before frying. It works with the corn starch to bind to the chips.
Funyuns are all coated with a bit of white sugar before they’re fried. The sweetness of the sugar has a caramelizing effect and makes the onions taste sweeter and more desirable.
Unfortunately, white sugar is not vegan, as it’s filtered through animal bone char to remove its natural coloring and malt flavor.
7) Corn Flour
Corn flour is yet another flour that’s used to batter the fries before they’re fried, giving them a crispier, crunchier texture.
8) Buttermilk Powder
Buttermilk Powder is the main non-vegan ingredient in both the original and Flamin’ Hot Funyuns. Buttermilk powder is basically a dried milk powder that’s extracted from fermented buttermilk.
It’s a dairy product that’s known for its slightly sour flavor and is often used in regular onion ring batters.
Maltodextrin is a simple starch and sugar that’s used in many vegan mass builders, as it can cause rapid weight gain. It’s also used in chips and candy, as it keeps food dry and moisture-free until it’s exposed to the heat and moisture of your mouth.
10) Hydrolyzed Soy & Corn Protein
Soy and corn protein are both vegan, plant-based proteins. These are added to the outside of the Funyuns to create a thicker, more filling consistency.
11) Onion Powder
Other than salt, Funyuns are heavily coated with onion powder. This is where the chip’s signature onion flavor comes from.
Monosodium Glutamate is a highly concentrated form of salt that’s known for its rich savory flavor. When combined with the other seasonings in Funyuns, it creates a richer, more realistic flavor.
Dextrose is a simple starch that’s similar to maltodextrin. This is often added to chips and fries to create a crispier texture and add to the “crunch factor.”
14) Artificial Color
Normally, Funyuns would be a weird white color. However, they’re artificially colored with yellow food dye to give them a more realistic, onion-looking appearance.
15) Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
Hydrogenated soybean oil is packed full of trans fats and is very unhealthy. However, it is vegan and plant-based, so there’s nothing ethical to worry about here. This is used as a natural emulsifier to hold the chips together and bind the seasoning to the chips.
16) Natural Flavors & Onion Extract
Funyuns are coated with a blend of real onion extract and other natural flavors to give them a strong, realistic onion flavor. These flavors are all plant-based and vegan.
17) Gum Arabic
Gum arabic is a natural plant-derived gum that’s found in various species of gum trees. This thick substance is often used as an emulsifier or a thickening agent to give food more texture.
The Verdict – Are Funyuns Chips Vegan-Friendly?
Sadly, there are no vegan flavors of Funyuns. However, you can make your own homemade fried onions using vegan-friendly ingredients!
If you’re still looking for something savory and crunchy to satisfy your cravings, then be sure to check out my post on the best vegan chips next!