Whenever I used to get sick on my stomach as a kid, my grandma would always give me a handful of saltine crackers.
She’d tell me that the simple, lightly salted crackers were “easy on the stomach” and would help fill me up without making me even sicker. Saltines also make for a great snack to pair with your favourite dip or toppings.
Are saltine crackers vegan, though?
For the most part, saltine crackers are 100% vegan. They’re made with a simple recipe that consists of flour, vegetable oil, salt, baking soda, and yeast.
Some saltine crackers may contain unsustainably-sourced palm oil, but that’s the only problematic ingredient you’ll ever find used in saltine crackers.
This is great news for vegans! Finally, there’s a deliciously simple cracker that allows you to get your “crunch fix” without violating your diet. Below, I’ll give you a full rundown of all of the ingredients used to make saltine crackers so you can see for yourself.
Is There Dairy In Saltine Crackers?
If you look at some of the best-selling brands of crackers in the grocery store, you’ll notice that many of them have one thing in common – dairy.
Dairy isn’t just “milk.” There are lots of dairy by-products, and not all of them are easy to recognize. Some of the most common dairy products used in crackers include:
- Skim milk
- Whey or whey protein
- Casein or sodium caseinate
- Milk solids
Thankfully, saltine crackers are dairy-free! Since the crackers aren’t flavoured with any cheese or other dairy-containing flavours, you never have to worry about any milk by-products in your saltines. They’re usually just seasoned with a bit of salt, which is 100% vegan.
This means that saltine crackers aren’t just a good choice for vegans. They’re also a good choice for lactose-intolerant dieters as well.
Thanks to the limited number of ingredients and the absence of milk derivatives, saltines tend to be very easy-going on the stomach, so they’re good for anybody suffering from a sensitive stomach.
For those who are curious, here’s how saltine crackers are made:
Do Saltine Crackers Contain Palm Oil?
Above, I mentioned that one of the main ingredients used to make saltines is vegetable oil. This is used as a baking additive to enhance the texture of the saltines and give them that perfectly flaky, crunchy consistency that everybody knows and loves.
There’s just one problem – not all vegetable oil is vegan.
In particular, I’m talking about palm oil (which is also referred to as “palm fruit oil”).
Some saltine crackers are made with palm oil or a vegetable oil blend that contains palm oil. However, not all brands contain palm oil, and there are plenty of vegan-friendly options as well.
While palm oil is 100% plant-based (it’s pressed out of the fruit/seeds of the African Palm Tree), most vegans still try to avoid it whenever possible. This is because palm oil is one of the biggest contributors to rainforest deforestation in the world.
The top palm oil-producing countries in the world, Brazil and Indonesia, have very few laws that protect the environment. As a result, palm oil farms burn down tens of thousands of acres of forest every year to make room for more palm farms.
The wholesale destruction of the rainforest harms our atmosphere by removing one of our planet’s best all-natural air filters. Deforestation is also responsible for the death of uncountable animals, many of which are already on the brink of extinction.
Are Saltine Crackers Gluten-Free?
For the most part, saltine crackers are vegan. They’re made from simple, plant-based ingredients and salt. For those who suffer from celiac disease or have an inflammatory digestive condition, though, not all plants are good.
Saltine crackers are made with enriched wheat flour, which contains a high concentration of gluten. This means that saltine crackers are NOT gluten-free and can cause an allergic reaction in anybody with a gluten sensitivity.
If you’re sensitive to gluten, then you’re better off sticking with a grain-free cracker made from coconut flour, chickpea flour, rice flour, or another alternative gluten-free baking flour.
Although it gets a bit of a bad rep, gluten isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s just a simple protein that’s found in wheat, rye, triticale, and barley. In fact, one of the most popular vegan meat substitutes is called seitan, which is made entirely from wheat gluten!
Gluten is only bad when consumed by those who are sensitive to the protein.
What Are Saltine Crackers Made Of? Ingredients Analyzed
Now that you know a little bit more about saltine crackers, you may be wondering what exactly they’re made of…
As I mentioned, saltines are made with a relatively simple, no-frills recipe. They’ve been around since 1876, long before the advent of processed foods, chemicals, and hidden meat derivatives.
The best-selling brand of saltines on the market is Nabisco’s Premium Saltine Crackers. So, to give you the most accurate representation of saltines, I’ll be giving you a full breakdown of the ingredients used in this brand.
Some of the ingredients may vary, depending on the brand. However, most saltines share the same base recipe. Here’s the shortlist of the ingredients, for reference:
Now, I’ll take a brief minute to go through the list and clear up any confusion you may have about any of the ingredients!
1) Unbleached Enriched Flour
The first ingredient is unbleached (which is good) enriched flour. This is just plain old-fashioned all-purpose wheat flour that’s been enriched with added vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, and B vitamins.
These additives are all vegan-friendly and are part of a healthy diet. They’re simply added to make the food more nutritious.
Wheat flour is always vegan, as it’s a purely plant-based product. It’s made by drying and grinding the fruit of the wheat plant into a fine powder, which is used as a carbohydrate base for bread, crackers, cake, and everything in between.
2) Canola Oil
Canola oil is the primary form of vegetable oil used in Nabisco’s Premium Saltine Crackers and is used by many other brands of saltine crackers as well.
Canola oil is a plant-based oil that’s obtained by cold-pressing the natural oil from canola seeds, which are dropped by the pretty, yellow-coloured canola flower.
Canola fields are typically grown in open plateaus and don’t contribute to deforestation and animal endangerment. As such, canola oil is 100% vegan!
3) Palm Oil
Unfortunately, this particular brand of saltines also uses palm oil. As I mentioned above, palm oil is generally regarded as non-vegan due to the irresponsibility of the industry, as a whole.
While some palm oil is vegan (organic palm oil), this brand uses a non-organic, non-vegan variety of palm oil.
Don’t worry, though, there are other companies that offer palm oil-free saltine crackers!
4) Sea Salt
Sea salt is used as the main seasoning and flavour additive. A bit of fresh sea salt is sprinkled on top of every saltine. Many brands also offer low-sodium saltine crackers as well, for those who suffer from high blood pressure or who are trying to watch their sodium intake.
While sea salt is used as a seasoning, regular iodized salt is used in the saltine cracker dough. Salt is typically added to the dough to strengthen it. The dough reacts with the salt, forming tighter bonds, which is desirable when you’re making any type of firm, crunchy cracker.
6) Malted Barley Flour
In addition to wheat flour, this brand of saltines is also made with malted barley flour. Like wheat flour, barley flour is 100% vegan and plant-based. This brand of saltines uses barley flour to create a more complex flavour that differentiates these saltines from the competition.
7) Baking Soda
Baking soda is used in a number of different baked goods and wheat products. It’s the common term for sodium bicarbonate, which is an all-natural compound made up of sodium and carbon.
It simply helps the dough rise and creates small air pockets in the crackers, giving them a stronger “crunch factor.”
Last but not “yeast” (see what I did there?), we have yeast. Yeast is a simple single-cell organism that’s used in most bread recipes.
When yeast is added to the dough, it feeds on the sugars in the dough, releasing CO2 gas. This, in turn, causes the dough to rise, adding to its texture and consistency.
Yeast is always vegan. In fact, nutritional yeast (deactivated yeast) is one of my favourite vegan seasonings!
The Verdict – Are Saltine Crackers Vegan-Friendly?
Other than the occasional bit of palm oil used by some brands, the majority of saltine crackers on the market are vegan-friendly. They’re made from simple, plant-based ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about any dairy, eggs, gelatin, or other animal-derived additives. /
Saltines are definitely a simpler snack. However, if you’re looking for a vegan snack that’s got a bit more of a flavorful kick, then I suggest checking out my post on the best vegan chips next!