Are bagels vegan? As with so many bakery products, most people assume yes, but actually, that’s not always the case.
Today we examine what ingredients to look out for and hunt down a list of vegan bagels so you can enjoy them!
- Ingredients to watch out for
- Make your own bagels
- Which brands are vegan?
- Which coffee shops have vegan bagels?
NB: Always double-check the ingredient label as manufacturers may change ingredients at any time. This is a particularly good idea for people who might not be vegan but may have egg or dairy allergies.
Ingredients to watch out for
Good news, a regular basic bagel is, in theory, usually a vegan bagel – or it should be. A plain bagel is usually made with simple ingredients like flour, malt, salt, sugar, water, and yeast, and can also have a sprinkle of poppy seeds or sesame seeds on top.
However many store-bought brands also contain preservatives and other animal products such as whey (a common ingredient in premade bakery products that have been mass-produced).
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to find out whether a store-bought bagel contains eggs or dairy products nowadays. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 requires certain labeling of foodstuffs that contain major food allergens. Milk and egg are two of the eight major allergens and as such all ingredient labels must be labeled in one of two ways. Either:
- The allergen food source must be declared in brackets after the ingredient, e.g. casein isolate (milk), albumin (egg), and so on, or:
- There must be a section close to the ingredients selection labeled “Contains” which then lists food allergens, for example “Contains Egg, Milk, and Wheat”.
In short, allergy labeling has made it easier now for you to ascertain whether a product such as a bagel is suitable for the vegan diet or not. Of course, aside from egg and milk, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for non-vegan ingredients such as honey or white sugar where bone char from animal bones was used in making it.
These are some of the non-vegan items you might need to keep an eye out for when getting ready to enjoy what you hope is a vegan bagel:
- L-Cysteine (normally derived from animal hair or feathers)
- Sodium Caseinate
Much like when investigating my favorite tortilla chip brand (are Doritos vegan?), I was surprised to find out that there are also a few additives and preservatives that are not clearly vegan or not, as they can be derived from either animal or plant-based sources – you’ll have to use your own judgment when it comes to these additives:
- Diacetyl Tartaric Ester of Monoglyceride (DATEM)
- Monoglycerides and diglycerides
- E920 (can be produced from either human hair or animal hair and feathers)
If you’re getting some fresh bagels from a bakery and they look suspiciously shiny, you’ll also need to check whether an egg wash has been used on them.
Now that you’ve learned how to identify whether a bagel is vegan or not, you just need to be mindful of your vegan bagel toppings. If you’re out and about and want a bagel sandwich, some easy go-to vegan options are a classic bagel with smashed avocado, hummus, vegan cream cheese (such as Kite Hill), or peanut butter as a base.
Certified vegan bagels
Something else to keep in mind is that there are some certified vegan bagels available in the US, although if a bagel is not certified that doesn’t mean that it’s not vegan – simply that the company hasn’t applied for vegan certification. You can save yourself a little time by checking for a vegan stamp first before examining the ingredients list and any “Contains” warnings.
Some vegan guides warn against bleached flours, alleging they contain bone char, however, this has since been debunked.
Make your own bagels
Of course, if you have the time and inclination, one of the easiest ways to ensure your bagels are vegan is to make them yourself! It’s fun, cheaper and you can stick whatever vegan toppings you want on them. As an added plus homemade bagels usually freeze beautifully for up to three months so you could make up a big batch and then every day could be a bagel day!
You can stick with regular bagels or make different types of bagels (we love the pumpkin cinnamon crunch bagels below) and they will all be vegan.
Convinced? Then scroll down and choose which one of these beautiful vegan bagel recipes you’re going to make. Don’t have the time or hate baking (or maybe it’s just summer and hot enough already in your kitchen)? No worries, scroll down further to see which store-bought bagel brands are vegan in the next section.
Which store brands are vegan?
The following are all the store-bought bagels I’ve been able to identify – nonetheless, manufacturers can change ingredients at any moment so while I recommend that you gravitate towards these popular brands, double-check the ingredient list to be on the safe side.
It’s not an exhaustive list but it is an up-to-date one (as of January 2022), so do let me know in the comments if you find any other vegan brands.
- Alvarado Arnold Bread
- Cobblestone Bread Co.
- Dave’s Killer Bread
- Deland (all except Cinnamon and Raisin, and Gluten-Free Millet)
- Kinnikinnick Foods
- Nature’s Own
- Northern Bakehouse
- Rudi’s Bakery
- Sara Lee (all flavors apart from the Soft and Smooth varieties)
- Silver Hills
- Simply Nature
- Thomas’ bagels (as well as thins and minis) – blueberry, cinnamon swirl, everything and plain bagels
- Trader Joe’s – Plain and Wholewheat
- Western Bagel (all except Egg, Orginal Bagelettes Wheat and Wholewheat)
Which coffee shops have vegan bagels?
If you’re out and about and get the vegan bagel munchies, or have run out of tasty bagels at home and need a fix there and then, you can head to these places and rest assured that your bagel will be vegan.
Note that I’m talking about the actual bagels themselves being vegan, not the toppings, so you’ll still need to apply some vegan logic when it comes to how to fill your bagel sandwich.
- Dunkin’ Donuts – the Cinnamon Raisin, Everything, Garlic, Onion, Plain, Poppy Seed, Salt, and Sesame bagels here are vegan.
- Einstein Bros – the bagel buns themselves are all vegan apart from the Asiago Cheese, Cheesy Hashbrown, Cinnamon Sugar, Green Chile, Jalapeno Cheddar, Six-Cheese, and Spinach Florentine bagels. For vegan spreads try hummus, peanut butter, jelly, salsa, or mustard.
- Noahs – all of the bagel buns at Noah’s are vegan except for the Asiago, Cinnamon Sugar, Good Egg, and Challah Roll bagels.
- Starbucks – the Cinnamon, Everything, Plain, and Sprouted Grain bagels are vegan. Combine with avocado spread for the perfect vegan bagel on the run.
- The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – all of their bagels are vegan apart from the cheddar jalapeño flavor.
- Panera bread – the Blueberry, Everything, Plain, and Sesame bagels are all vegan.
I hope you found this post helpful. If you know of any more vegan bagel brands or restaurants/cafes that serve vegan bagels, drop me a line from the contact section or leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to add it.