Are Oreos Vegan? The Vegan's Guide to Oreo Cookies

America’s most dunkable cookies used to contain lard. Can vegans now enjoy them?

Oreos stacked on table, one half with cream facing front

Lumpang Moonmuang / EyeEm / Getty Images

Oreo cookies consist of chocolate wafers and a sweet layer of cream in between. Fortunately for vegans, that middle layer is not made of real dairy cream. In fact, for practical and possible vegans, almost all non-dipped Oreo cookies pass the vegan junk food test.  

However, Oreos still contain a handful of vegan-questionable ingredients, and at the top of that list is sugar. Before you dip an Oreo in a glass of non-dairy milk, learn what to look out for on the label in our guide to vegan Oreos. 

Why Most Oreo Cookies Are Vegan 

While Oreos have always been dairy-free, they were not suitable for vegans until 1997, when lard was removed from the formulation. These days, plant-based oils take the place of animal fat.

That said, Oreos still include ingredients that are not clearly labeled as vegan. Be sure to read the label of each package to see if your variety contains any less-common, non-vegan ingredients.

Sugar

All varieties of Oreos contain sugar, a likely mix of beet and cane sugar. Vegan beet sugar becomes table sugar in a single process at a single refinery. Non-organic cane sugar is transferred to a secondary facility and processed with animal bone char to whiten the crystals. For some strict plant-based eaters, this disqualifies any sugar that does not specify its vegan status.

Some Oreos also contain invert sugar—table sugar that has had the bonds between the glucose and fructose molecules broken through a chemical reaction known as hydrolysis. Invert sugar often appears in candies and cookies thanks to its water solubility and smooth texture. 

Thickeners

Thickeners provide texture in baked goods. Oreos contain tapioca (derived from the cassava plant) and xanthan gum (a common food additive made from corn fermented with bacteria). 

Canola and Palm Oils

High-fat oils like canola (made from rapeseeds) and palm give Oreos their creamy mouthfeel. However, these oils face sustainability concerns. 

Palm oil trees grow in some of the world’s most biodiverse forests. Environmentally conscious vegans often avoid products with palm oil because of its association with wildlife habitat destruction.

Artificial and Natural Flavor

According to federal law, artificial flavors refer to products not made from animals, plants, or fungi.  Inversely, natural flavors are derived from plants, fungi, and animals. Because some Oreos are cream flavored, it’s impossible to know from the label alone if the natural flavors have been derived from animal products. 

Vegans who have adopted a practical and possible approach don’t concern themselves with the origin of natural flavors. However, stricter vegans may avoid added flavors altogether to ensure a purely plant-based diet.

Carnauba Wax

A hard, plant-based wax derived from Brazilian palm trees, carnauba wax extraction can cause habitat destruction as well as deforestation.

Propylene Glycol Monostearate

Used as an emulsifier since the 1960s, propylene glycol often appears in non-dairy desserts because it gives confections a proper texture. Environmental vegans often avoid this petroleum derivative because of sustainability concerns, but new tech presents opportunities for plant-based options in the near future.

Polyglycerol Polyricinoleic Acid

Glycerols are fatty acids generally obtained from plant (soybean or palm oil) and animal (beef or mutton tallow) sources. They can also be produced from synthetics. This common food additive helps reduce viscosity in chocolate. 

Most vegans don’t question the sources of these food additives, but for other vegans, Oreos that contain this acid are not considered animal-product free.

Food Coloring

From caramel color to titanium dioxide, Oreo cookies contain a variety of food colors. These are generally derived from petroleum, the burning and extraction of which is a leading cause of global warming. For this reason, environmental vegans often abstain from food coloring.

Soy Lethicin

Soy lecithin is a common, plant-based food additive and emulsifier that helps provide texture to Oreos. Lethicin can also come from non-vegan eggs.

Yeast

Neither plant nor animal, yeast are single-celled members of the fungi family. They are generally included in a vegan diet and play a role in leavening bread and fermenting beer and wine.

Why Some Oreos Are Not Vegan

Chocolate covered Oreos on a tray

Azlin Nur Bakarudin / EyeEm / Getty Images

Dipped Oreo cookies contain dairy, making them off-limits for plant-based eaters. Other varieties contain eggs and a lesser-known animal product: confectioner’s glaze. Be sure to read the label of each product to avoid accidentally consuming these ingredients. 

Dairy

Some varieties of Oreos contain several kinds of animal-derived dairy products including dairy product solids, whey, skim milk, and cream. 

Eggs

Eggs are animal products that nearly all vegans agree don’t meet the definition of plant-based. A small number of people known as veggans include backyard eggs in their otherwise animal-product-free diet. 

Confectioner’s Glaze

Confectioner’s glaze gives foods a glossy top coat. It comes from the lac insect that excretes a resin onto the trees in which the insects reside. Best estimates believe it takes about 50,000 lac bugs to produce 1 kg. of edible shellac, and lac are often killed during harvesting.

Did You Know?

Mondelez International, parent company of Oreos,  announced in 2021 that their entire supply chain would reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Types of Vegan Oreos

Close up of a vanilla sandwich cookie on a weathered wood surface.
Golden Oreos are vegan-friendly by most plant-based eater standards.

Amy Stocklein Images / Getty Images

Many Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies contain no obvious animal products. If you're not concerned with the processing of sugar or the origin of the added flavors, dip away!

  • Cookie Classics and Flavors  (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, Double Stuf, Mega Stuf, Golden, Golden Double Stuf, Golden Lemon, Toffee Crunch, Chocolate Hazelnut Flavored Creme, Java Chip Flavored Creme, Mint Flavored Creme, Birthday Cake Flavored Creme, Chocolate Creme, Dark Chocolate Creme, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, Peanut Butter, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Marshmallow, Caramel Coconut, Flavored Creme, Ultimate Chocolate Flavor Creme, 110th Birthday Chocolate Confetti Cake, Gluten-Free Double Stuf)
  • Thins (Thins, Thins Extra Stuf, Dark Chocolate Flavored Creme, Mint Flavored Creme, Latte Flavored Creme, Golden, Golden Lemon Flavored Creme)

Non-Vegan Oreo Varieties

Generally speaking, if your Oreos have been dipped, you can put them back on the shelf. Oreo also offers several dairy-based frozen desserts, none of which are vegan-friendly. 

  • Cakesters
  • Dipped (Fudge Covered, Fudge Covered Mint Creme, Dark Chocolate Fudge Covered, OREOid Cookies, Fudge Covered & White Fudge Covered Holiday Cookies)
  • Bites Dipped ( Fudge Dipped, Fudge Dipped Mint Flavored Creme, White Fudge Dipped, Fudge Dipped Latte Flavored Creme)
  • Frozen Dairy Desserts (Sandwiches, Bars, Dessert, Dessert Cups, Dessert Cones, Oreo & Chips Ahoy Dessert)
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are Oreos dairy-free?

    Almost all Oreo cookies Classics, Flavors, and Thins are dairy-free. If the Oreos have been dipped, however, they contain dairy.

  • Is the sugar in Oreos vegan?

    Probably not. Since the food label only indicates “sugar,” Oreos likely contain a mix of vegan beet sugar and non-vegan refined cane sugar. While most vegans still consider this acceptable, stricter vegans will want to abstain.

  • Are Golden Oreos vegan?

    By most practical and possible definitions, yes—Golden Oreos are vegan as they contain no obvious non-vegan ingredients. But they, like all the other varieties, contain sugar that was likely, at least in part, to have been processed with animal bone char.

  • Which Oreos are not vegan?

    Generally speaking, dipped Oreo cookies are the most likely variety to contain animal products, but a few other varieties also contain non-vegan ingredients. Be sure to read the label to ensure a plant-based treat.