One of the most essential ingredients at any vegan cookout is hamburger buns. Obviously, I know you guys aren’t out here eating meat… But even the best-tasting plant-based burgers still need a good bun!
The only question is, “Are hamburger buns vegan?”
Hamburger buns are generally vegan. They’re basically just sliced bread rolls, which are usually vegan-friendly. Most hamburger buns are made from simple ingredients like wheat, vegetable oil, salt, yeast, and baking soda. That being said, some brands may contain non-vegan ingredients.
To ensure that the hamburger buns you’re looking at are vegan-safe, it’s always a good idea to check the ingredients list! Below, I’ll show you which ingredients to look out for and give you a full breakdown of the most common ingredients used to make hamburger rolls.
Are you ready for the grillin’ season?
Are Buns Usually Vegan?
Hamburger buns really aren’t all that special. The only thing that makes buns any different from regular old-fashioned sliced bread is that they’re circular and designed to match the circular shape of a hamburger patty. Other than that, they’re just plain bread rolls!
As such, most hamburger buns (and hotdog buns) are usually vegan.
When I’m in a pinch and I don’t have time to go to the grocery store, sometimes I even use my favourite vegan bread in place of a bun. Sure, it doesn’t look quite as pretty; but it tastes just as good!
Watch Out For Non-Vegan Additives In Hamburger Buns
Just because most hamburger buns are vegan, though, doesn’t mean that all hamburger buns are. Just like any other bread product, there will always be vegan and non-vegan versions, designed to cater to a variety of different diets and culinary tastes.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the most common non-vegan additives you’ll need to look out for when shopping for vegan hamburger buns:
|Non-Vegan Ingredients In Hamburger Buns||Why They’re Problematic|
|Dairy||Dairy is one of the most common non-vegan additives you’ll find in hamburger buns. Milk and cream are often added to bread rolls and buns to give them a softer texture and sweeter taste. Those aren’t the only milk derivatives that you need to be on the lookout for, though. Some home-style recipes also use butter, which is a dairy product made from cream and salt. I’ve also seen whey powder used in some recipes to create a softer texture. This milk protein is derived from milk during the cheese-making process and is non-vegan.|
|Eggs||It’s not quite as common to find eggs used in hamburger bun recipes, but I do see it from time to time. Eggs are often used as emulsifiers and help to create a stronger dough recipe. Sometimes, egg yolk is also used to coat the outside of the bun to give it a crispy texture. The commercial egg industry is very exploitative and cruel to chickens, so vegans avoid any and all products with eggs.|
|Refined Sugar||Thanks to the fast-food industry, many people now expect their hamburger buns to taste sweet. Unfortunately, this means that it’s common to find refined white sugar (listed as just “sugar”) used in many bun recipes. Refined sugar is a problematic ingredient because it’s refined using bone char filters, which contain charred animal bones from slaughtered cattle and pigs.|
|Honey||Although some think of honey as a natural, ethical sweetener, this is not the case. Honey is obtained through the exploitation of honey bees, who need the honey to feed their colonies and survive the cold winters when there’s no nectar to consume. Some commercial beekeeping groups also slaughter their colonies whenever they see reduced honey production levels, which is cruel and unnecessary.|
|Palm Oil||Palm oil is another common non-vegan ingredient that you’ll find in some hamburger buns. While palm oil is technically “plant-based,” the commercial palm oil industry is very destructive to the environment. The palms are grown almost exclusively in tropical rainforest environments, such as Brazil and Indonesia. Here, commercial farms burn down huge swaths of rainforest every year to make room for more crops. This robs the world of our natural air filtration system and is responsible for the death of untold numbers of animals.|
In short, watch out for:
- Refined Sugar
- Palm Oil
Thankfully, these are all relatively easy ingredients to identify. Just make sure that you’re following best practices and reading your ingredients labels before you buy any new foods!
What Kind of Buns Are Vegan?
There are many different types of hamburger buns on the market, including:
- White Buns
- Wheat Buns
- Whole-Grain Buns
- Honey-Wheat Buns
- Potato Buns
- Hawaiian Rolls
- Brioche Buns
- … and more!
Most of these buns are (or can be) vegan-friendly. However, you should always avoid brioche buns and Hawaiian rolls/buns since they always contain at least one form of dairy and often eggs as well.
The honey-wheat buns should also be avoided, as they contain honey, which isn’t vegan.
Are Hamburger Buns Gluten-Free?
Gluten is a hot-button topic that’s garnered just as much attention as the vegan diet over the past few years. This is because a growing number of individuals are developing a sensitivity to gluten.
Gluten is a small protein that’s found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale grains. Some oats also contain gluten as well.
Gluten, by itself, is actually a healthy source of vegan protein. However, some people have a disease or allergy that can be triggered by even small amounts of gluten.
Depending upon the sensitivity level of the individual, a small bite of bread can cause severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and swelling, and can be potentially life-threatening.
Most hamburger buns are NOT gluten-free, as they’re made with some type of wheat. However, there are special gluten-free buns that you can purchase.
Gluten-free hamburger buns are made with gluten-free flour, such as coconut, potato, or rice flour, and don’t contain any added wheat gluten.
What Are Hamburger Buns Made Of? The Most Common Ingredients
At this point, you may be wondering what exactly hamburger buns are made of…
As I mentioned, most hamburger buns are made with just a few simple ingredients. Essentially, they’ve just glorified bread rolls that have been pre-sliced for your convenience!
As vegans, though, we can’t just go based on our assumptions. Given the number of animal-derived additives in mainstream foods, even the most seemingly vegan-friendly items can be non-vegan.
Instead, vegans need to take a closer look at their food and the not-so-obvious ingredients. So, with that in mind, I’m going to give you a full rundown of the ingredients used in Arnold Sesame Seed Buns.
These are one of the best-selling brands of hamburger buns on the market and are marketed as a more “natural” bun. So, let’s take a look at what exactly goes into making these white wheat buns…
1) Flour & Water
The main ingredients in all hamburger buns are flour and water. When combined, these two ingredients create dough. The other ingredients present in hamburger buns are very small in comparison to the amount of water and flour.
This particular brand of hamburger buns uses enriched wheat flour. This is just a simple baking powder that’s made by drying and pulverizing wheat berries into a fine powder.
This particular flour also contains a small amount of added barley flour as well, which is added for taste. The flour blend is also enriched with B vitamins and minerals to make it more nutritious.
Wheat flour is, by far, the most popular type of flour used to make hamburger buns. However, potato flour, coconut flour, barley flour, and others can also be used instead. You can even find low-carb buns made with chickpea flour, pea flour, almond flour, or other low-carb sources!
The only “problematic” ingredient in these buns is sugar (refined white sugar). Although refined sugar starts off as vegan, it goes through a refining process that’s highly questionable in the eyes of most vegans.
To turn the large cane sugar crystals into the more concentrated and “pure” white sugar crystals, the natural sugar must first be filtered through animal bone char.
Since this process literally involves dead animal remains, a growing number of vegans are choosing to boycott white sugar altogether.
For this reason, vegans try to avoid any and all products with sugar. Unfortunately, sugar is a common additive used in bread and hamburger rolls.
So, you may have to do a bit of searching to find a sugar-free hamburger bun or buns that are made with a vegan-friendly sweetener, such as coconut sugar, agave, or all-natural unrefined cane sugar.
Yeast is a key component of all bread. Yeast is a single-celled organism found all over our planet. Yeast feeds on sugars, converting them into alcohol and CO2 gas.
When yeast is added to bread dough, it begins feeding on all of the sugars and simple carbs present in the flour and sugar.
As the yeast feeds, they convert the sugar into CO2 gas, which causes the dough to rise. This creates air bubbles in the dough, which is what causes bread to become soft and fluffy.
Although yeast is technical “living,” it’s not sentient, as it doesn’t possess any form of the central nervous system. It’s even used as a common vegan seasoning in the form of nutritional yeast.
4) Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is used in almost all bread recipes. This particular recipe uses soybean oil, which is a sustainably-sourced vegetable oil that’s obtained from processing the natural fat present in soybeans. Since it’s plant-based and sustainable, soybean oil is 100% vegan.
5) Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are a very common topping used on hamburger buns. The texture blends well with other burger elements, such as tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, and other toppings. Sesame seeds are not only vegan but they’re also incredibly healthy for you as well!
Sesame seeds are a great source of all-natural unsaturated fats and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
6) Wheat Gluten
Wheat gluten is a pure protein that’s found within wheat. This concentrated protein is added to the dough recipe to make it stronger. It also adds to the protein content of the bun, making it a more wholesome and nutritious product.
Wheat gluten is 100% vegan and is often used in vegan cuisine. For example, seitan is a popular vegan meat alternative that’s made from pure wheat gluten!
7) Sea Salt
Sea salt serves two purposes in this recipe. Firstly, it’s a baking additive that helps to strengthen the dough and make for a solid oven-ready dough. Secondly, sea salt also improves the flavor of the dough, making for a better-tasting bun.
Sea salt is 100% vegan and is harvested from oceanic salt deposits!
8) Cultured Wheat Flour
Oddly enough, cultured wheat flour is used as a preservative. This all-natural preservative is made by fermenting traditional wheat flour. This fermentation process produces good bacteria, which prevent bad illness-causing bacteria from reproducing and spoiling the food.
9) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is another naturally-derived ingredient (from soy) that serves as a mild preservative in food. This ingredient is very processed, so it’s not exactly “healthy.” However, it is vegan and isn’t harmful in small amounts, so you shouldn’t worry too much about soy lecithin.
10) Grain Vinegar
Grain vinegar is a special type of vinegar that’s made by distilling grain spirits. When added to the dough, it helps to break down some of the protein and starches in the bun, creating a bun with a softer, airier texture.
11) Citric Acid
Last but not least, we have citric acid! This natural acid is found in citrus plants and other fruits. However, most of the citric acid used in processed foods today is synthetically made.
It’s usually added to food as a flavor additive but also serves as a milk preservative (which is what it’s used for here).
The Verdict – Are Hamburger Buns Vegan-Friendly?
As long as you know which ingredients to look out for (dairy, eggs, palm oil, honey, and refined sugar), you’ll find that many hamburger buns are naturally vegan-friendly! The same also goes for hotdog buns, which share a similar recipe to hamburger buns.