Rita’s Italian Ice is an international chain with over six hundred locations in the United States and abroad (although most are in the U.S.). They specialize in making some incredibly good Italian ice, custard, and cream ice.
Some varieties are 100% vegan-friendly, while others are the exact opposite of vegan-friendly. Thankfully, the difference is pretty cut-and-dry and all Rita’s locations serve the same exact menu!
So, once you learn which flavors are vegan and which varieties are non-vegan, you should be able to visit any Rita’s location in the world and order your favorite vegan Italian ice without questioning yourself.
In today’s post, I’ll break down the complete menu at Rita’s Italian Ice and show you all of the vegan-friendly flavors, so you know exactly what you’re allowed to eat!
Is There Dairy In Rita’s Italian Ice?
Yes… and no.
This is where the name of the store can be a little bit confusing. Traditionally, Italian ice is simply ice, fruit, and flavored syrup.
However, Rita’s Italian Ice sells more than just your regular old-fashioned Italian ice; they also sell cream ice (kind of like sorbet) and frozen custard.
While Rita’s original Italian Ice is dairy-free, Rita’s cream ice and frozen custard both contain dairy, making them non-vegan and unsuitable for a lactose-free diet.
Thankfully, Rita’s offers plenty of dairy-free Italian ice options, so the restaurant itself is fine for vegans and lactose-intolerant individuals alike!
Doesn’t that make you want an ice-cold cup of Italian ice?
Does Rita’s Ice Have Eggs?
Rita’s original Italian ice and cream ice are both egg-free. However, Rita’s frozen custard does contain eggs.
Custard is a traditional dish that’s made by combining cream, eggs, and sugar together. This makes it a non-vegan option, as eggs are considered to be an animal by-product.
Although vegetarians can consume dairy and eggs, vegans abstain from any animal products, as the process of obtaining them involves animal cruelty.
Rita’s Allergen Menu 2023
The nice thing about major chain restaurants like Rita’s Italian Ice is that they’re all public about the ingredients and possible allergens in their food.
They clearly outline whether or not the following ingredients are used in their menu:
- Tree Nuts
None of Rita’s products contain fish or shellfish (the latter two on the list), but they’re listed anyways in order to comply with FDA and DHEC regulations.
However, many of the other allergens are present in Rita’s menu items, so it’s good to be aware of them!
Vegans, in particular, should be on the lookout for Rita’s products that contain milk and eggs, as those are the two most common non-vegan ingredients used in Rita’s cream ice and custard products.
Here is Rita’s updated allergen menu!
Rita’s Cream Ice:
As you can see, all of the cream ice contains either milk (indicated by a red ‘x) or sodium caseinate, a milk protein (indicated by the yellow cross symbol).
Rita’s Italian Ice:
Vegans are also welcome to eat Rita’s Natural Ice, which is an all-natural twist on Italian ice made with a fresh juice and plant-based syrups:
As you can see, all of the custards contain both milk and eggs, so make sure to stay away from them!
Last but not least, here is the allergen info on Rita’s toppings:
As you can see, most of the toppings are non-vegan, with the exception of:
- Pie pieces
- Chopped peanuts
- Maraschino cherries
Although gummies don’t contain milk or eggs, they do contain gelatin, a non-vegan ingredient derived from pork fat.
Rita’s Italian Ice Vegan Flavors
All of Rita’s Italian Ice Flavors are 100% vegan!
Is Rita’s Cream Ice Vegan-Friendly?
While Rita’s offers plenty of vegan-friendly Italian ice options, the other products sold by Rita’s are, sadly, non-vegan.
One of Rita’s most popular dishes is their cream ice, which is kind of like a lighter version of ice cream. It’s sold in a soft-serve style and swirls up just like soft-serve ice cream.
Unfortunately, all of Rita’s cream ice either contains milk or sodium caseinate. If you take a look at the charts above, the red ‘X’ indicates that the cream ice contains milk.
When milk isn’t present, the upside-down yellow cross indicates that sodium caseinate is still present.
What Is Sodium Caseinate?
Sodium caseinate is the chemical term for powdered milk. It’s derived from casein, one of the key proteins in milk (along with whey).
To make sodium caseinate, the raw milk casein is combined with an acid called sodium hydroxide, which dries the protein and keeps it shelf-stable, so it won’t go bad.
Sodium caseinate is used in many forms of ice cream, yogurt, and frozen dairy treats.
The Verdict – Is Rita’s Italian Ice Vegan-Friendly?
Yes! All of Rita’s Italian Ice flavors are vegan-friendly, as they contain neither dairy nor eggs. However, Rita’s other products, frozen custard and cream ice, are off-limits for vegans as they all contain dairy or eggs.
If you like Rita’s then you’ll love vegan ice cream. Keep on reading to find out the best vegan ice cream brands next!