Are Skittles Vegan? The Vegan's Guide to Skittles

This candy was once off-limits to vegans. Is today’s formulation now plant-based?

Skittles candy.

Otto Greule Jr / Stringer / Getty Images

If you’re a long-time vegan, you may have been avoiding Skittles and other candies that contain gelatin—a food texturizer rendered from animals. Fortunately, you can now taste the rainbow in a variety of flavors without breaking your plant-based diet. 

Skittles no longer uses gelatin in its chewy candies. However, we can't say the same for their newer line of gummies. Learn what exactly is in those sweet bites in our guide to vegan Skittles.

Why Chewy Skittles Are Vegan 

Skittles has not contained gelatin for the last decade or so, making them vegan-friendly. The natural and artificial flavors, colors, and texturizers are all plant-based or are created synthetically in a lab. The one exception is sugar, which strict vegans evaluate based on processing. 

Sugar

Sugar comes from two sources: sugar beets and sugarcane. Beet sugar transforms from vegetable to table sugar in a single process at a single facility and is always vegan. Non-organic cane sugar is secondarily refined with animal bone char to whiten the crystals. For this reason, strict vegans avoid products containing cane sugar. 

The Skittles label simply identifies this ingredient as “sugar,” likely making it a mix of beet and cane sugar. For some vegans, that may mean Skittles don’t meet the definition of a vegan food.

Natural and Artificial Flavors

According to federal law, natural flavors are extracts derived from heating a plant, fungus, or animal product. Artificial flavors generally refer to synthetic products not made from plants, animals, or fungus. Traditionally, artificial flavors have been petroleum-derived, but recent innovations have synthesized the flavors from other existing chemical compounds.

Since Skittles are fruit-flavored, it’s safe to assume that none of these flavors contain animal products. Even the creamy flavor in Skittles Smoothies likely comes from an artificial source.

Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil

Palm oil fruit bunches on the ground at a plantation.
Palm oil fruit bunches on the ground.

Bloomberg Creative / Getty Images

Palm oil trees grow in some of the world’s most diverse forests. Environmental vegans often avoid products with palm oil because the farming and harvesting of this product is associated with wildlife habitat destruction and terrible working conditions.

Skittles’ parent company Mars has set forth a plan to source their palm oil from suppliers who respect human rights and do not contribute to deforestation.

Tapioca Dextrin

Also known as tapioca flour or tapioca starch, tapioca dextrin comes from the cassava plant (also called yuca or yucca) grown in South America, Asia, and Africa. It is a hydrolyzed starch used as a thickener, and it can also be used to coat foods with a thin film.

Citric Acid

Citric acid naturally occurs in citrus fruits like lemons and limes. This colorless, weak organic acid has a pH level between 3 and 6. It’s used in food as both a preservative and a natural flavor.

Sodium Citrate

The sodium salt of citric acid, sodium citrate gives Skittles their sour flavor. Sodium citrate is also used as a preservative. 

Colors

Most artificial colors are synthetic, meaning that they do not come from natural sources—they are petroleum-derived. This fact gives environmental vegans pause as the combustion of petroleum is a leading cause of global warming, and petroleum-based products are not sustainable in the long term.

Titanium dioxide, a metal used to whiten foods, is also listed as part of Skittles’ color. Although the FDA recognizes it as a safe food additive, a 2021 study out of the UK concluded it is no longer safe for consumption.

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax is a hard, plant-based wax derived from Brazilian palm trees. Carnauba wax meets the definition of vegan, but it has sustainability concerns. Like palm oil, extraction of the wax can cause deforestation and habitat destruction for native wildlife.

Why Skittles Gummies Are Not Vegan 

Like their old-school counterparts, Skittles gummies contain gelatin. Skittles gummies have most of the same ingredients as Skittles chewy candies, but the one that seals their non-vegan fate is gelatin. 

Gelatin

Made from the partial hydrolysis of collagen, gelatin is the primary protein in animal skin, bones, and connective tissues. Traditionally, gelatin comes from the remaining body parts of the beef and pork industries.

Did You Know?

Skittles, part of the Mars company, aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 throughout their supply chain. This commitment is in line with the most ambitious aims of the Paris Agreement and includes a 27% reduction in full value chain emissions by 2025.

Vegan Chewy Skittles Varieties

Skittles candy on top of its wrapper.
Original Skittles candies are vegan.

Yuriko Nakao / Contributor / Getty Images

If you’re not a vegan concerned about whether or not your sugar was processed with animal products, then the whole line of chewy Skittles are available for your enjoyment. 

  • Original Fruity
  • Wild Berry
  • Sour
  • Brightside
  • Tropical
  • Smoothies (Despite the “creamy” flavor, this variety contains no dairy.)

Non-Vegan Gummy Skittles Varieties

Alas, gelatin presents itself once more in Skittles, this time in Skittles gummies. Neither of the two Skittles gummies varieties is vegan-friendly.

  • Original Gummies
  • Wild Berry Gummies
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are Skittles 100% vegan?

    Technically, no. Skittles are not a certified vegan product because even the chewy varieties that don’t contain obvious animal products like gelatin still have sugar. While the source of that sugar is not disclosed, strict vegans may want to err on the side of caution.

  • Do Skittles have pork gelatin in them?

    As of around 2010, chewy Skittles no longer contain any form of gelatin. The gummy varieties introduced in 2021, however, do contain gelatin.

  • Which Skittles are not vegan?

    For vegans not concerned about the processing of sugar, all of Skittles’ chewy varieties are vegan-friendly. Skittles gummies do contain animal-derived gelatin, making them non-vegan.