Are Donuts Vegan? Some Surprising Ingredients to Watch Out For

On Sunday mornings when I was a kid, my dad would head to the bakery to get some freshly baked pan dulce (sweet bread) and a box of warm donuts. These are still some of my favorite sweet treats.

Many people love a fresh warm donut and a cup of coffee in the morning, but for those following a vegan lifestyle, this can be a little tricky. Are donuts vegan? Donuts are typically made with flour, sugar, and yeast, but also can include animal products such as milk and eggs, which are not vegan. However, this doesn’t mean that donuts are off limits for vegans.

vegan donuts

Vegan Donuts

These days, with a wide variety of plant-based alternatives to animal ingredients, delicious vegan donuts can be made using plant-based ingredient alternatives such as:

  • non-dairy milk (almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk)
  • coconut oil
  • vegetable oil
  • vegan butter
  • coconut butter
  • egg replacers
glasses of non-dairy milk with a pile of their ingredients in front of each (oat, rice, soy, coconut, almond)

Where to Find Vegan Donuts

With plant-based lifestyles rising in popularity, many commercial and independent bakeries now offer vegan-friendly donut options. Many bakeries will have vegan donut options that are specifically labeled as such, or will easily be able to tell you which ones are. 

Of course, the BEST way to be 100% sure you’re getting a vegan donut is to visit a local vegan donut shop or bakery. If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area with a thriving vegan community, this will probably be pretty easy to do. It’s a great way to support small businesses, vegan businesses, and your community! 

When buying vegan donuts, it’s important to check the ingredient list or ask the vendor to confirm whether the product is vegan.

Not everyone knows what vegan means, especially when it comes to sweet treats. Many people still think that being vegan equals no meat, which isn’t true. By definition, vegan products (food, clothing, household goods, etc) do not contain any animal byproducts, including:

  • dairy
  • eggs
  • honey
  • traditionally refined sugar (contains bone char)
  • carmine (red #4 food coloring; derived from ground cochineal insects – gross!) 
  • gelatin (contains animal connective tissue, skin, and bones)
  • confectioner’s glaze (used to add a shiny finish to baked goods, it’s made from sticklac or bug secretions – ewww!)

If possible, the best thing to do is ask for a list of ingredients. To make this easier, I just say I have food allergies and need to make sure nothing in the ingredients will make me sick (wink, wink). For more on ingredients you would think are vegan but aren’t, check out Are Fritos Vegan? (and Other Surprisingly Vegan Foods).

A Few More Resources

Vegan Donut Recipes

With just a few simple tweaks, most traditional donut recipes can be made vegan by replacing animal ingredients with plant-based alternatives. If you enjoy baking and have a hankering for fresh, hot donuts, here are a few vegan donut recipes you can try. 

Vegan Sweet Treats Cookbooks

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