Are Pop-Tarts Vegan? The Guide to Vegan Pop-Tarts

Can plant-based eaters enjoy these toasted breakfast sweets, or are Pop-Tarts verboten for vegans?

Blackberry toaster pastries
MSPhotographic / Getty Images

Pop-Tarts have been a staple in American breakfasts since they were invented in 1964. These toaster-ready pastries traditionally come with frosting that contains gelatin, an animal by-product, making most Pop-Tarts non-vegan.

Fortunately, a handful of entirely plant-based varieties allow vegans to indulge in this cultural phenomenon. Even vegans who don’t eat sugar can still find two Pop-Tart options—a rarity in the processed food world. 

Learn how to ensure your Pop-Tarts are free from animal products in our guide to vegan Pop-Tarts.

Why Almost All Pop-Tarts Are Not Vegan 

For Pop-Tarts and Pop-Tart Bites, the frosting turns an otherwise vegan-friendly breakfast treat into a no-go. Every frosted variety contains non-vegan gelatin. According to its parent company, Kellogg's, the gelatin in Pop-Tarts made in the United States comes from by-products of the beef industry. 

Other non-vegan ingredients—some obvious, some less so—find their way into several varieties of Pop-Tarts. Here is a list of other common ingredients that may concern both environmental vegans and ethical vegans alike.


Gelatin is made of partially hydrolyzed collagen, the primary protein found in animals' skin, bones, and connective tissues. Most gelatin manufactured today uses by-products from the beef and pork industries, but fish collagen is also common. In Pop-Tarts and many other confections, gelatin functions as a food texturizer.

Egg Whites

As products of animals, eggs are not considered vegan. However, some “veggans” make exceptions for eggs produced by backyard pet chickens or other poultry outside of the industrial food complex.


A few varieties of Pop-Tarts contain milk, and some include milk chocolate. Not all chocolate contains non-vegan dairy, but most milk chocolate does, including milk chocolate in Pop-Tarts. 


Vegans who take a “practical and possible” approach to the lifestyle often consume sugar because it’s inarguably a plant-based food. But not all sugar is processed in the same way. Beet sugar is always vegan because it doesn’t undergo the second step of refining. Cane sugar, with the exception of 100% USDA-certified organic cane sugar, is regularly tumbled with bone char, a by-product of the meat industry.

Ingredient labels that use the general term “sugar” almost certainly contain a mix of vegan beet sugar and non-vegan cane sugar, prompting some strict vegans to avoid sugar altogether. 

Soybean and Palm Oil

Although palm oil and soybean oil are plant-based foods, vegans with environmental concerns often abstain from these oils because their growth and harvest are associated with habitat destruction and deforestation in some of the world’s most important biomes. 

Natural and Artificial Flavors

On a molecular level, these two types of flavoring are indistinguishable, but according to federal regulations, artificial flavors are created in the laboratory from synthetic chemical sources, possibly including petroleum. Natural flavors can only be derived from plants, fungi, or animal products that have been heated to extract their essential compounds. In Pop-Tarts, some varieties contain a food flavoring from a milk derivative.

Food Coloring

Environmental vegans may avoid food coloring like Blue 1, Yellow 5 and 6, and Red 40 because they are derived from petroleum-based (and therefore unsustainable) sources. Caramel coloring consists only of heated sugar and water, making it vegan-friendly.

Confectioner’s Glaze

Also known as shellac, confectioner’s glaze comes from a scale insect called the lac bug. Lac bugs live in trees, and the resin they excrete operates as their home. To harvest the resin, the branches are scraped, killing up to 50,000 insects to make one kilogram of edible confectioner’s glaze.


Carmine also comes from a scale insect, the cochineal. Female cochineals have red shells that are crushed and used as food dye. Because of allergy regulations, manufacturers must disclose this animal product on food labels.

Carnauba Wax

A hard wax derived from Brazilian palm trees, carnauba is a vegan food. But this ingredient presents sustainability concerns as deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction often occur during extraction.

Did you know?

Kellogg’s, Pop-Tart’s parent company, powers over a quarter of its facilities using renewable energy, and more than 75% of all its packaging worldwide is recyclable, reusable, or compostable "through readily accessible curbside service."

Vegan Pop-Tarts

Strawberry toaster tarts
Unfrosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts are vegan. MSPhotographic / Getty Images

Even the strictest of plant-based eaters can find at least two varieties of Pop-Tarts to give them the morning sweetness they desire. All four non-frosted varieties have no animal products; two use corn syrup but no sugar, making them vegan-friendly by even the most stringent standards.

  • Unfrosted Blueberry Pop-Tarts
  • Unfrosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon (contains sugar)
  • Snickerdoodle (contains sugar)
  • Unfrosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts

Non-Vegan Pop-Tarts

Unfortunately, all of the frosted varieties of Pop-Tarts contain at least gelatin and often other animal-based ingredients. This holds true for both the standard-size Pop-Tarts and the Bites.


  • Frosted Blueberry
  • Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon
  • Frosted Cherry 
  • Frosted Chocolate Chip
  • Frosted Chocolate Fudge
  • Frosted Confetti Cupcake 
  • Frosted Cookies & Crème
  • Frosted Grape
  • Frosted Hot Fudge Sundae
  • Eggo Frosted Maple Flavor 
  • Frosted Raspberry
  • Frosted S'Mores
  • Frosted Strawberry
  • Frosted Wildlicious Wild Berry 
  • Simply Frosted Harvest Strawberry
  • Frosted Gingerbread (limited time)


Because all of the Pop-Tarts Bites are frosted, none of the varieties are vegan-friendly. (Several varieties do not include the word “frosted” in their titles, but they still contain non-vegan gelatin.) Some Bites contain other animal ingredients.

  • Brown Sugar Cinnamon
  • Frosted Blueberry
  • Frosted Chocolatey Fudge
  • Frosted Confetti Cake
  • Strawberry Banana
  • Strawberry
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Which Pop-Tart is vegan?

    The four unfrosted Pop-Tarts—blueberry, strawberry, brown sugar, and snickerdoodle—contain no animal ingredients. The brown sugar and snickerdoodle varieties contain sugar likely processed with non-vegan bone char.

  • Do all Pop-Tarts have dairy?

    Not all Pop-Tarts contain dairy, but a couple of varieties do, including those containing milk, milk chocolate, and milk-derived flavoring.

  • What Pop-Tarts have egg?

    The Frosted Cookies & Crème and S'Mores Pop-Tarts contain egg whites.

View Article Sources
  1. Kobylewski, Sarah, and Michael F. Jacobson. “Toxicology of Food Dyes.” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, vol. 18, no. 3, 2012, pp. 220–246., doi:10.1179/1077352512z.00000000034

  2. Baboo, Bangali, and D. N. Goswami. Processing, Chemistry, and Applications of Lac, Directorate of Information and Publications of Agriculture, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, 2010, p. 4.

  3. "Small Entity Compliance Guide: Declaration by Name on the Label of All Foods and Cosmetic Products That Contain Cochineal Extract and Carmine." United States Food and Drug Administration.

  4. "Renewable Electricity." Kellogg's Co.

  5. "Sustainable Packaging." Kellogg's Co.