Pringles are famous for their smooth texture, unique shape, and for having a world-renowned crunch.
After going vegan, I discovered that many of my favorite chips and snacks weren’t quite as vegan as I originally thought, though. So with that being said, are Pringles vegan?
It depends on the flavor. The original flavor and lightly-salted flavor of Pringles are vegan and contain no animal-derived ingredients.
However, most of the other Pringles flavors are not vegan, as they contain animal-derived ingredients like whey protein, buttermilk, cheese, and natural meat flavors.
Personally, I always liked the original flavor of Pringles the best, so this isn’t really an issue for me. However, this news may come as a disappointment to vegans who grew up eating Pringles flavors like pizza, BBQ, honey mustard, and others.
Below, I’ll break down the main ingredients in the original Pringles recipe and explain why they’re vegan.
Then, I’ll show you a table outlining both the vegan and non-vegan flavors of Pringles and show you some of the primary non-vegan ingredients that are problematic. Are you ready to get your crunch on?
Pringles first hit the market in 1967 and were the result of an eleven-year-long research and development process. Pretty crazy, right? But those eleven years of testing and research resulted in one of America’s most iconic snacks.
Pringles are so iconic that their taste, flavor, texture, and packaging have barely changed over the course of over fifty years!
The feature that I enjoy most about Pringles is the way that the shape of the chip contours to the natural shape of your tongue.
When you place a Pringle on your tongue, it activates all of the taste buds in your mouth and gives you a delicious flavor that satisfies your entire palette.
We’re not here to talk about the shape of Pringles, though. We’re here to talk about ingredients; namely – which ingredients are and aren’t vegan.
I’ll start by breaking down the main ingredients in Pringles, to show you why the original flavor and the lightly salted flavor are 100% vegan!
In the 1950s and 60s, potato chips were all the rage in America. Small potato crisps could be found in stores and were a common side to sandwiches and other lunch-style meals.
Pringles were created as a refreshing new version of potato chips. Aside from Prinlges’ revolutionary design, they used the same dehydrated potato base as an average potato chip.
Therefore, dehydrated potatoes are the main ingredient in Pringles. As it turns out, they’re also 100% vegan!
The potatoes are farmed, sliced, and dried to remove all of their water content. This reduces their weight, vastly extends their shelf life, and is the first step to turning them into potato chips.
Pringles adds a combination of yellow corn flour (which is where the distinctive yellow color comes from) and rice flour to the dehydrated potatoes.
This flour mixture is what creates that lovely light-and-crispy texture that Pringles are so well known for and makes them different from the average potato chip that’s more crunchy and less crispy.
Both corn flour and rice flour are vegan ingredients that are simply derived from grinding corn kernels and grains of rice. These two flours are commonly used in vegan bread and other vegan cooking applications.
Wheat starch is another proprietary ingredient in Pringles. It helps the flour and dehydrated potatoes bind to each other and helps give them a smooth texture.
Simply put, wheat starch is just an extra-processed version of wheat flour that has little to no nutritional value. It’s mostly used to provide texture and help ingredients bind.
That being said, wheat starch is vegan-friendly, as no animal-based ingredients are used in its manufacturing and processing.
As the name implies, vegetable oil is 100% plant-based. Specifically, Pringles uses a combination of the following types of vegetable oil:
- Cottonseed oil.
- Soybean oil.
- Corn oil.
- Sunflower oil.
The vegetable oil in Pringles comes from the fact that they’re lightly fried in vegetable oil. If you’re interesting in learning more about the process of how Pringles are made, check out this awesome video courtesy of the Food Network:
Salt is the final basic ingredient used to create Pringles. It’s a simple vegan ingredient that used to add flavor to the would-be bland potato crisps.
If you get the original flavor of Pringles, you’ll find that they have a moderately salty flavor. If you opt for the lightly salted flavor of Pringles, you’ll find that they only have a slightly salty flavor.
Palm oil is a common substitute or additive to vegetable oil. While palm oil is 100% plant-based, most vegans consider consuming palm oil to be against vegan ethics.
This is because the majority of non-organic palm oil comes from the South American rainforests, where thousands of acres of forest are burned down every year to accommodate the demand for more palm oil.
Thankfully, Pringles are not made with palm oil.
The deforestation of South American rainforests is incredibly detrimental to our planet, as the trees help to filter our environmental air and combat the release of harmful greenhouse gasses.
Additionally, rainforest deforestation is responsible for killing and/or displacing hundreds of thousands of animals (many of which are endangered) and indigenous Amazonian tribes alike.
Earlier, I mentioned that the original flavor and lightly salted flavor of Pringles are vegan-friendly. They’re made with a simple vegan recipe including:
- Corn and wheat flour
- Wheat starch
- Vegetable oil
Unfortunately, though, almost all of the other flavored varieties of Pringles are not vegan. Popular Pringles flavors like Memphis BBQ, Pizza, and even the Fire Roasted Jalapeno Flavor all contain one or more non-vegan ingredients.
Here’s a quick table showing you some of the most popular vegan and non-vegan flavors of Pringles:
|Vegan Pringles Flavors||Non-Vegan Pringles Flavors|
|Original||Sour cream & onion|
|Low-fat original||Fire roasted jalapeno|
|Lightly salted original||Sweet & tangy BBQ|
|Wavy applewood smoked cheddar|
|Screamin’ dill pickle|
So, if the original Pringles are vegan-friendly, just what makes the other flavors of Pringles not-so-vegan? Let’s take a look…
When most people think of whey, they tend to think of the whey protein used by bodybuilders and athletes. In regards to food manufacturing, though, whey is added to help improve the texture, increase overall yield, and add to the flavor.
Unfortunately, whey is a dairy product. It’s a by-product of cheese making, which comes directly from cow’s milk. After seeing a documentary on the dark side of the dairy industry, I vowed never to consume dairy again. In fact, it’s part of what started my vegan journey!
Cheese is added to Pringles flavors like Pizza to provide a cheesy blast of flavor. Of course, cheese is a dairy product. Even in its powdered form, it’s still non-vegan.
Put simply, buttermilk is fermented milk. The only reason it’s safe to consume in the first place is thanks to chemical additives that neutralize all of the bad bacteria.
It’s often added to food to create a sour flavor profile. In the case of Pringles, it’s part of what gives cheesy flavors like Cheddar Cheese and Pizza their strong cheese flavor.
Like buttermilk, cream is a dairy product that’s added to Pringles to improve the taste and texture.
Honey is found in some of the sweeter varieties of Pringles, such as the Sweet & Tangy BBQ and Memphis BBQ. While not all BBQ sauce recipes contain honey, there are many that do. Pringles clearly uses a BBQ recipe that does contain honey.
For those who are unaware, honey is considered an animal product. Bees spend their lives harvesting pollen and turning it into honey for their colony.
The honey is used to feed their young and get them through the winter months. By taking away a primary food source for the colony, we make bees dependent on us for artificial, sugar-derived foods.
Certain flavors of Pringles contain “natural flavoring” that undoubtedly contains meat-derived flavors. For example, the Pizza flavor contains a natural flavoring designed to replicate the taste of pepperoni.
So, long story short, if you have a hankering for some Pringles, feel free to enjoy the Original or Lightly-Salted flavors of Pringles. They’re 100% vegan and don’t contain any palm oil or animal-derived ingredients.
Just make sure to avoid all of the other flavors, which contain dairy products, honey, or meat-derived flavors.
For more great tips on vegan snacking, be sure to check out the best vegan snack blog on the internet!