Are Ritz Crackers Vegan? The Vegan's Guide to Ritz Crackers

Ritz carries both vegan and non-vegan crackers. Know the difference before you bite in.

Round salted cracker cookies in wooden bowl putting on linen and wooden background.

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Ritz Crackers have brought an air of sophistication to snacking for nearly 90 years. Released at the height of the Great Depression, these buttery, toasty treats gave Americans a sense of luxury at a bargain price.

Despite their buttery flavor, many Ritz Crackers are vegan. However, some varieties of Ritz contain dairy products, including butter, cheese, and whey. Discover what’s inside of each of those golden scalloped discs to keep your snacking vegan and classy.

Why Some Ritz Crackers Are Vegan 

Because their buttery flavor comes from artificial sources, many Ritz Crackers meet vegan food standards. These varieties don’t contain dairy, honey, or other non-vegan ingredients. Particular vegans, however, still express concern over other Ritz Cracker ingredients.

Sugar

While a little more than half of U.S. sugar comes from beets, the remaining percentage comes from sugar cane processed with animal bone char to whiten the crystals.

Because it’s next to impossible to tell the source of sugar in processed foods, some strict vegans avoid sugar altogether. But most vegans accept sugar as a plant-based food.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a vegan-friendly, naturally occurring bacteria that, contrary to its name, does not contain lactose (but can be cultivated on it). Most lactic acid is grown on vegetables like beets and corn.

Yeast Extract

Neither plant nor animal, yeast are microscopic fungi generally considered vegan. When these single-celled organisms are heated, they produce an umami flavor. Many vegan foods include yeast extract to provide that savory, meaty taste.

Why Most Ritz Crackers Are Not Vegan 

Around 60% of the available Ritz Cracker varieties do contain non-vegan ingredients, notably those boasting cheese as part or all of the flavor. The Originals Honey Wheat is likewise not vegan. Some unexpected varieties of Ritz also contain various dairy ingredients including milk and its many derivatives,

Milk

Milk is a nutrient-dense liquid produced primarily from cows, goats, and sheep. It is then pasteurized and homogenized for human consumption. Milk is also processed into cheeses, butter, creams, and additives, including whey and lactose.

In the U.S., when nearly all milkfat is removed from whole milk, it becomes skim milk (also known as nonfat or fat-free milk). Regular milk, otherwise known as 2%, leaves slightly more fat.

Cheese

Cheese is made by adding acid and enzymes to milk. The enzymes can be both vegan and non-vegan. The additives then coagulate the milkfat and the protein to create cheese.

Cheddar, parmesan, and gouda cheeses appear in various Ritz flavors.

Butter

Butter is a non-vegan dairy product made from churning the protein and the fat of dairy cream. This spreadable yellow paste contains about 80% butterfat.

Sour Cream

Add lactic acid to dairy cream, and it will naturally sour and thicken, producing a semi-firm non-vegan substance. 

Whey

A common additive in baked goods, whey is a by-product of the cheese industry. When non-vegan milk is coagulated and strained, the remaining liquid is whey. 

Lactose

This milk sugar comes from non-vegan whey. After the whey is filtered for proteins, the remaining liquid evaporates, leaving the lactose to crystalize

Buttermilk

Commercially produced dairy milk becomes buttermilk when injected with a bacterial culture that ferments the lactose, creating a thicker texture and slightly sour taste.

Honey

A lightning rod in the vegan community, honey is a sweet substance produced by bees. Many vegans view honey (and its co-product, beeswax) in the same way they see dairy and the cattle industry: Because both substances come from animals, they do not consume them.

Vegan Ritz Crackers

Lucky for vegans, all but one of the Ritz Cracker Originals flavors are vegan-friendly. Several varieties of the Crisp & Thins and the Toasted Chips would make upscale snacks on any vegan cheese tray.

The full-size peanut butter Cracker Sandwiches and the Seasonal snowflake crackers do not contain any animal products, but the company confirmed they are made on shared equipment. For this reason, a milk allergy warning appears on these two otherwise vegan varieties.

  • Originals (Original, Roasted Vegetable, Garlic Butter, Reduced Fat, Everything, Whole Wheat, Hint of Salt)
  • Crisp & Thins (Salt & Vinegar, Barbecue, Tabasco)
  • Toasted Chips (Multigrain, Pita)
  • Cracker Sandwiches (Peanut Butter)
  • Seasonal (Snowflake)

Non-Vegan Ritz Crackers

An easy way to determine if your box of Ritz is vegan is to check the nutrition label. The common non-vegan ingredients in Ritz will be clearly listed; nearly all will come with a milk allergy warning. 

The one exception is Honey Wheat Originals, and true to its name, it contains non-vegan honey.

  • Originals (Honey Wheat)
  • Crisp & Thins (Original Creamy Onion & Sea Salt, Cream Cheese & Onion, Cheddar, Jalapeño Cheddar) 
  • Fresh Stacks (Original, Whole Wheat)
  • Bits (Peanut Butter, Cheese)
  • Toasted Chips (Original, Cheddar, Sour Cream & Onion, Veggie)
  • Cracker Sandwiches (Cheese)
  • Seasonal (Fudge)
  • Cheese Crispers (Four Cheese & Herb, Cheddar)
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Do Ritz Crackers contain dairy?

    Some varieties of Ritz do contain non-vegan dairy, and the nutrition labels make that clear. There are two exceptions: The peanut butter Cracker Sandwiches and the Seasonal snowflake crackers are vegan but are made on equipment shared with milk products. They are labeled with allergen warnings.

  • Are Ritz Hint of Salt Crackers vegan?

    Yes, Ritz Hint of Salt Crackers are indeed vegan, along with many other varieties of Ritz.