Is Sriracha Vegan? A Guide to Choosing Your Favorite Plant-Based Hot Sauce

is sriracha vegan roasted pepper sauce in pewter dish

Treehugger / Catherine Song

A popular condiment that adds spice to soups, roasted veggies, noodles, and pretty much anything else that needs a little extra kick, sriracha is a type of hot sauce made of chilis, sugar, salt, vinegar, and garlic—with somewhat of a cult following. Luckily for hot sauce lovers who follow a vegan diet, most srirachas are totally vegan.

Why Sriracha Is Usually Vegan

Although sriracha can refer to a wide range of different brands, the one most commonly associated with the name is made by Huy Fong Foods in California (the one with the green top). Huy Fong’s sriracha is made with sun-ripened chilies and garlic that’s ground into a fine paste and mixed with sugar, salt, and distilled vinegar.

However, many consider a Thailand-based company called Thaitheparos to be the original creator of sriracha. The recipe for the company’s Sriraja Panich sauce was created over 80 years ago and features fresh Thai chilies and garlic, sugar, vinegar, and sea salt.

Did You Know?

The amount of capsaicin (which determines spiciness level) in a chili pepper fruit depends on the environment where they're grown. Studies in Thailand and Bhutan have shown that chili plants cultivated at higher elevations had higher capsaicin content.

Sriracha is made using red, jalapeño chili peppers, which range from 5,000 to 25,000 Scoville "heat units" depending on the particular crop. In comparison, the tabasco pepper ranges from 100,000 to 250,000 units.

When Is Sriracha Not Vegan

There are a few factors to look for when determining whether or not your sriracha is vegan. While traditional sriracha made with the classic combination of chilis, sugar, salt, and vinegar is vegan, some specialty versions of sriracha have fish sauce or honey in them. Likewise, some ingredients—like sugar—are considered more controversial vegan additions due to bone char, which is sometimes used to process cane sugar.

In any case, it’s helpful to check the list of ingredients on the back of the bottle to ensure you’re comfortable with the vegan ingredients in your brand of sriracha. This is especially true in the case of special sriracha variations like sriracha mayo and honey sriracha.

Treehugger Tip

If you’re unsure about sriracha, there are plenty of other hot sauce options that are vegan. Cholula, for example, is vegan with only water, peppers, salt, vinegar, garlic powder, and xanthan gum as ingredients. Tabasco is also vegan, using simply distilled vinegar, tabasco peppers, and salt.

The Problem With Sugar

Some vegans consider sugar to be not vegan because a handful of refineries still use a technique called “bone char” to filter white sugar (usually with the objective of getting the color as white as possible).

Not all sugar is refined using bone char, however, and the practice is becoming less and less common in the United States as it can be more expensive to produce than other options like beet sugar.

It’s important to note that organic sugar will not incorporate bone char as it is against USDA organic regulations.

Types of Vegan Sriracha

Bowl and bottle of sriracha sauce
martiapunts / Getty Images

Look out for these vegan sriracha brands at your local grocery store or market—but be sure to check the ingredients list as some brands may change their recipes.

For vegans who consider non-organic sugar to be off limits, be sure to look for an organic version or at least one with organic sugar as an ingredient to ensure that the sugar didn’t incorporate bone char in its filtration process.

However, keep in mind that just because a sriracha uses non-organic sugar doesn't mean that particular sugar is made using bone char. For instance, Treehugger reached out to Bushwick Kitchen, the company that produces Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha (which is made with non-organic sugar), and it confirmed that its provider does not use bone char to process the sugar. Huy Fong and Sriraja Panich did not respond when we reached out to inquire about the type of sugar they use.

The following brands of sriracha sauce are considered vegan:

Types of Non-Vegan Sriracha

Fresh sriracha hot chili sauce in a bowl
MurzikNata / Getty Images

The following brands are not considered vegan due to ingredients derived from animals, such as Worcestershire sauce (which contains fermented anchovies), egg, or honey.

  • Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha & Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce (contains Worcestershire sauce)
  • Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Mayonnaise (contains egg)
  • Stonewall Kitchen Honey Sriracha Barbecue Sauce (contains honey)
  • Heinz Honeyracha (contains honey)
  • Terrapin Ridge Farms Sriracha Aioli Garnishing Squeeze (contains egg)
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How to make vegan sriracha

    Most homemade sriracha recipes call for some combination of chilis or hot peppers, garlic, sugar, salt, water, and vinegar.

    Some recipes include fermenting the chili peppers to get that classic sriracha flavor, while others can be made in a food processor in about 15 minutes.

  • How to make vegan sriracha mayo

    Most sriracha mayo brands are not vegan as they are made from eggs, but vegans can easily make their own version at home by swapping for vegan mayonnaise in a recipe.

  • Does sriracha need to be refrigerated?

    Sriracha products do not need to be refrigerated, even after they've been opened. However, it's important to make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place.

  • Is Trader Joe’s sriracha tofu vegan?

    A popular spicy version of Trader Joe’s plain firm tofu, the famous sriracha flavored baked tofu is considered vegan and made with tofu, red chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic powder, sugar, salt, spice, water, chili flakes, and cornstarch.

View Article Sources
  1. Gurung, Tulsi, et al. "Impact of Environments on the Accumulation of Capsaicinoids in Capsicum spp." American Society for Horticultural Science, vol. 46, no. 12, 2011, pp. 1576-1581., doi:10.21273/HORTSCI.46.12.1576

  2. Rohrig, Brian. "Hot Peppers: Muy Caliente!" ChemMatters, 2014, pp. 6-8.

  3. "§ 205.605 Nonagricultural (Nonorganic) Substances Allowed as Ingredients in or on Processed Products Labeled as “Organic” or “Made with Organic (Specified Ingredients or Food Group(s)).” The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, 2022.