Are Soft Pretzels Vegan?

A pretzel is a form of bread product made from dough that is traditionally formed into a twisted knot, although pretzel comes in a variety of shapes in modern times.

This article is filled with pretzels made from yeast dough— not the thin, crunchy, unleavened kind that you buy in your bags.

Are they vegan, huh? Soft pretzels may be vegan when there is no butter glaze as well as the dough does not contain milk derivatives. I’m going to cover some of the popular soft pretzels here, so you don’t have to do your homework yourself.

Non-Vegan Ingredients Common in Soft Pretzels


Suppliers need only change the composition of the yeast dough they use to make breadsticks and pretzels.

The distinction between pretzels (and breadsticks) and other baked goods is that they are covered with a nice coating of butter and/or salt.

To guarantee that you do not eat butter, you will need to order the pretzels without butter or make sure that the “butter” brushed on top of the pretzels is actually margarine.

Luckily for vegans, margarine is a preference for use in packaged bread products. Margarine seemed to be made of oil that was partly hydrogenated to produce trans fatty acids, but today it’s much healthier.

Partially hydrogenated oil is still being used, but the final product is generally low in trans fat.

Instead, manufacturers are now making heavy use of emulsifiers in order to be able to combine water with oil to soften it.

As you’ll see, Auntie Anne uses real butter, and if you like their pretzels, you’re going to have to forgo the buttery spread.

Other Milk Products

The food industry extracts milk products for use in processed foods for a variety of reasons.

It is very prevalent for milk proteins to be introduced to processed foods in order to improve their nutritional value.

Caseinates (the most abundant protein in milk) helps to emulsify and stabilize foods, while other milk proteins, such as whey, assist in gelling and texture.

The natural sugar found in milk, lactose, also undergoes a browning reaction and thus contributes to the color of the baked goods.

Generally speaking, milk is often used in processed foods to enhance protein content, add moisture, and contribute to emulsification, foaming, flavoring, nutrition, and texture.


The egg will creep on you in virtually any food product, and pretzels are no exception.

The egg is not common practice in bread because wheat flour has its binder — gluten. Eggs are, therefore, rarely needed for their binding potential.

Nevertheless, the fact that flour includes gluten does not deter farmers from throwing eggs into the mixture from time to time.

In fact, the traditional bagel recipe (another yeast bread product) used egg white, although it is less widespread these days.

So, this is something to look out for.

Vegan-Friendly Soft Pretzels

Standard Pretzels (No Flavor)

Or a buttery pretzel with no chocolate. It should be made from flour, water, active dry yeast, oil, and some salt. So, there are no problems.

However, again, you’re going to have to say that you don’t want any butter.

This is from the website of Auntie Anne, for example:

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

These may be vegan, depending on how the producers require the sugar to confirm. Butter or egg wash can also be used, but margarine is also very common. Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzels are milk and egg-free.

Raisin Pretzels

Raisins can also be added to the sugar and cinnamon range but are often used as the only extra ingredient (i.e., ingredients other than the normal flour, yeast, etc.). Anyway, raisins are actually sundried grapes, so they’re perfectly suited for vegans.

Jalapeno Pretzels

I was a little surprised to find that most of the pretzel manufacturers are selling vegan-friendly jalapeno pretzels. I’m surprised to say that most jalapeno-flavored snacks (like chips, etc.) come with milk ingredients. But the pretzels I have come across, which have been flavored with jalapenos, appear to be vegan.

Non-Vegan Soft Pretzels

The list of non-vegan pretzels is about as long as the above list.

Cheesy Pretzels

Cheese takes many forms alongside pretzels. Sometimes it is sprayed on top and afterward toasted like a cheesy crust.

Certain times, a cheesy dip is served with a pretzel rather than mustard, etc. Clearly, this is an easy fix — just don’t eat dip or order a particular kind of dip.

Several pretzels come with roasted garlic and parmesan, so you’re going to want to stay away from them.

Sour Cream and Onion Pretzels

Those who are new to the topic, sourcream is always non-vegan — if it’s real sourcream, that’s right. These are often microbial cultures and MSNF (nonfat milk solids). Anyway, it’s a common flavor, and it’s always out of bounds.

Meat-Based Pretzels (Pepperoni Pretzels and Pretzel Dogs, Etc.)

This one goes without saying, but ensure the taste you want doesn’t come with meat. It is much easier to avoid if the company has meat (‘pepperoni’ or whatever you have) in the name, but the meat is often classified as ‘Italian Pretzel’ or ‘Southwest Pretzel. ‘

Breakfast Sandwiches with Pretzel Buns

Earlier, we discussed how eggs could often be applied to bread products as an ingredient that contributes to different useful functions.

Well, the egg emerges in breakfast sandwiches, too.

Again, it’s not a question if the egg is in the name of the pretzel, but any “breakfast sandwich” probably contains at least an egg, if not meat.

This is about the vegan status of soft pretzels. Thank you so much for reading.

You may also want to read the following related articles:


  1. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 431). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  2. Chandan R. Dairy-Based Ingredients. Eagen Press, 1997.
  3. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 429). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  4. Anton M, and G Gandemer. Composition, solubility, and emulsifying properties of granules and plasma of egg yolk. Journal of Food Science 62(3):484–487, 1997.
  5. Pretzels.
  6. Food Allergens and Sensitivities for Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Products.


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