Oreos are arguably one of the most popular cookies in the United States. While they do not have any animal ingredients in them, they are not as vegan as we’ve been led to believe. In this post, I explain why the original Oreos aren’t exactly vegan, as well as provide you with some alternatives that are just as delicious, a little healthier, and totally vegan friendly, including a recipe to make your own!
Are Oreos Vegan?
Oreos are known as milk’s favorite cookie. But that doesn’t mean that vegans don’t want to enjoy them with a glass of their favorite non-dairy milk. For many, they are considered a favorite vegan junk food!
You may have heard that Oreos are vegan because their ingredients do not contain animal-derived ingredients. They are not purposely made vegan, and they do not have a seal on their packaging to show they are vegan. Nor do they make any claims to be vegan.
However, many people who consider themselves vegan, enjoy Oreos without concern. While other strict vegans take up serious concerns when it comes to whether Oreos are truly considered a vegan food.
What ingredients are in Oreos?
- Unbleached Enriched Flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, monoitrate (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Folic Acid
- Palm Oil or Canola Oil
- Cocoa (Processed with Alkali)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Leavening (Baking Sod or Calcium Phosphate)
- Soy Lecithin
- Artificial Flavor
As you can see the ingredients listed are not outrightly derived from animals. However, many of these ingredients are questionably not vegan. I’ll explain more below.
Types of Oreos
Not only does Oreo make their classic chocolate cookie with cream filling, but they also have numerous specialty and seasonal flavors. Each type of cookie has it’s own unique ingredient profile, and not all contain vegan-friendly ingredients. Here is a list of the current Oreo flavors.
- Oreo Classic Cookie
- Double Stuf
- Mega Stuf
- Golden Oreos
- Golden Double Stuf
- Gluten-Free Double Stuf
- Chocolate Hazelnut
- Java Chip Flavored Creme
- Birthday Cake
- Chocolate Cream
- Dark Chocolate
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
- Peanut Butter
- Carrot Cake
- Chocolate Marshmallow
- Caramel Coconut
- Apple Cider Donut (Limited Edition)
- Halloween (Limited Edition)
- Salted Caramel Brownie (Limited Edition)
- Team USA (Limited Edition)
- NBA Dynasty Family (Limited Edition)
- S’Mores (Limited Edition)
- Brookie-O-Brownie (Limited Edition)
- Thins (Regular, Dark Chocolate Creme, Mint Creme, Latte Creme)
- Golden Thins (Golden Sandwich, Lemon Creme)
- Oreo Fudge Covered (Regular Fudge Covered, Mint Fudge Covered, Dark Chocolate Fudge Covered) All fudge covered cookies contain milk.
- OreoID, customized Oreos
Does Oreo consider their cookies vegan?
According to Oreo, their cookies are NOT VEGAN!
Here’s what they have to say, “Unfortunately, OREOid Cookies are not Kosher or Vegan. We cannot guarantee OREOid cookies are free of allergens as they will be dipped in fudge.”
With this in mind, It’s safe to say that Oreos are not vegan.
As far as allergens, they list wheat and soy.
Oreo has also explained on the FAQ page, that their products are made in facilities with milk, and therefore have cross-contact. What does it mean to have cross-contact? Cross-contact happens when a factory produces other products that contain milk. These products may come into close contact with the ingredients in Oreos, thus there could be traces of milk in the cookies themselves.
Questionable Ingredients in Oreos
While you wouldn’t think that white sugar is not vegan, many sugars that are processed in the United States are processed with bone char. Cane sugar is one such sugar that is processed with animal bone char to achieve the fine white color.
Mondelez International (Oreo’s parent company) has confirmed that bone char is used by their sugar suppliers. This makes their products not vegan.
Palm oil is a controversial ingredient. While palm oil is not made with animal products, the process and production of making palm oil are far from ethical or animal friendly.
Rainforests are deforested to make room for crops, and as a result, animals lose their homes. If you follow a vegan lifestyle, you may want to consider eliminating foods with palm oil or look for foods that use sustainable palm oil in their products.
The production of palm oil also leads to human rights concerns as they are known to exploit plantation workers and child laborers.
Palm oil should also be avoided for health reasons as well. It is high in saturated fat which can have negative effects on your cardiovascular health.
The original Oreos are not colored, however, many of their specialty, and Limited-Edition varieties use food coloring. You will find ingredients like Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2, Red 40.
While these artificial colors are not made with animal ingredients, they are tested on animals. For many vegans, this is a concern and therefore makes this ingredient not vegan.
Vegan Oreo Alternative
While traditional Oreos are questionably vegan, meaning that they don’t have any direct animal products in their ingredients. The fact that they have cross-contact with milk, are made with sugar processed with animal bone char, contain palm oil that is causing deforestation and animals to lose their homes, as well as the artificial colors in specialty Oreos that are tested on animals, makes these cookies non-vegan.
However, there is a chocolate sandwich cookie available for purchase that is vegan and uses healthier more environmentally, and animal-friendly ingredients.
Catalina Crunch Chocolate Vanilla Keto Sandwich Cookies
This Keto-friendly chocolate sandwich cookie is made with all plant-based ingredients. Right on their website, they declare that their cookies are vegan on their FAQs page.
Not only that they have no artificial ingredients, and are low in sugar. However, it should be noted that they include palm oil, but the cookie company claims that the palm oil is sustainably sourced. They come in four different flavors including chocolate vanilla, chocolate mint, peanut butter, and vanilla creme.
While there are other chocolate cream sandwich cookies on the market, the others I looked into still had questionable ingredients including cane sugar.
While Back to Nature Sandwich Cookies claim to be plant-based, they are not listed as organic, and therefore their cane sugar could be processed with bone char, so I don’t feel safe listing it as an option. In addition, they also contain palm oil, and it does not say on their website that is sustainably sourced.
Make Your Own Vegan Oreos!
If you want to have complete control over your chocolate cookies, I recommend making vegan homemade Oreo cookies! This recipe yields a crisp chocolate cookie with a vegan cream cheese filling that is better than anything you’ll buy at the store! It contains no dairy products and uses coconut oil to yield a crisp wafer. The complete recipe is at the bottom of this post.
More vegan diet tips!
For the chocolate cookie
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In small bowl whisk together the ground flax and water. Set aside for 5 minutes until it thickens and gels.
- Combine coconut oil and sugar together in a large bowl.
- Stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Add the flax egg, folding together with a spatula until combined.
- Add in the cacao powder. Stir to combine with a spatula.
- Add the flour a little at a time stirring in between until the dough forms.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of ¼ inch.
- Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies, and place on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges of the cookies are crisp around the edges, and the center is firm and set.
- Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Vegan Cream Filling
- While the cookies are cooling, prepare the cream filling.
- In a large bowl, beat together the vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt until it is smooth and fluffy.
Assemble the Cookies
- Take one chocolate cookie turn it over so that the bottom is facing up. Smear a tablespoon of cream cheese filling on top. Place another chocolate cookie on top. Enjoy!