Are Pretzels Vegan? Can you eat this soft snack [2024]

By Hannah Whittaker RD, PGDip | Oct 27, 2023

As a Dietitian who specializes in vegan and plant-based diets for families, the first questions here would be; what kind of pretzel are we talking about?

The crunchy, hard, salty snack or the plaited, warm pretzel with the chewy texture? Does it matter? Let’s find out Are Pretzels Vegan starting with a little history about these tasty snacks. 

Why are Pretzels called Pretzels?

Whether soft or hard, a pretzel is a bread-based snack that is named basically because of its shape. The German word “bretzel” means “little bracelets” – cute!

When it comes to planning your vegan diet, it’s about the ingredients, not just the shape of these beloved treats.

​So, Are pretzels vegan? The short answer is yes, pretzels are usually vegan, but there are a few things to watch out for to make sure the are no animal products contained!

The Different Types of Pretzels

So there are two types of pretzels we generally see, let’s explore more. 

Traditional Braided Soft Pretzels

Traditional pretzels (with a doughy texture) are very popular. Made from a fairly basic dough of wheat flour, yeast, warm water, and a little salt. 

They are often topped naturally with vegan-friendly ingredients such as; coarse salt, poppy or sesame seeds, or a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. So lots of vegan options are out there in the grocery store.

However, some soft pretzels might have non-vegan items in the ingredient list. You might find ingredients such as eggs, and dairy products like as butter and milk, which are often used to give the pretzel a glaze.

Also keep a look out for common non-vegan pretzel varieties like those with cheddar cheese, parmesan garlic, or honey mustard flavoring.

Crunchy Pretzels

Crunchy pretzels, unlike their soft, doughy counterparts, are often eaten as a different snacking experience, usually replacing the typical potato chips. These are generally smaller, a little drier, and have a satisfying crunch. However they still have the traditional pretzel shape that we all know and love. But are they also always vegan?

The good news is that most store-bought crunchy pretzels are also vegan. These mini pretzels are generally made from the same main ingredients as their bigger vegan soft pretzel friends. However, I would always give the ingredients a quick glance. While most crunchy pretzels are vegan-friendly, some may contain animal-based ingredients. 

Why are pretzels brown?

Pretzels are famous for their brown golden crust, but why?

Traditionally, Lye, most commonly referred to as sodium hydroxide (NaOH), is used to make pretzels. This ingredient is generally the reason for their unmistakable shiny, mahogany color.

When the dough is formed into the knot we know the pretzel is dipped in a lye bath and then baked in the oven giving them their brown color. You’ll probably spot sodium hydroxide on the ingredients list and wonder what it is. Well don’t worry, this isn’t a science experiment and the lye used is suitable for cooking.

But, if baking at home, you don’t need to use a lye bath. You can use the simple ingredients of baking soda and warm water to make a baking soda bath instead. This is where the hot water and baking soda come into play in my favorite recipes below. 

Vegan Pretzel Recipes

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at crafting your own vegan soft pretzels I’ve got just the recipe for you. 

Making homemade vegan pretzels is also a great way to get your kids involved in the cooking. 

Your whole family can enjoy the satisfaction of creating these classic treats from scratch, knowing that they are completely free from animal-derived ingredients. 

With a simple dough made from wheat flour, yeast, warm water, and a touch of salt, you’ll be on your way to crafting the perfect pretzel. 

My top 3 Vegan Pretzel Recipes

These pretzels are made with sugar, agave or maple syrup, a few cups of water, yeast, flour, baking soda, and melted vegan butter and have great reviews. 

These are a little twist on the traditional type of pretzel and are cute vegan pretzel bites – perfect for a party or after nursery/school snack. These pretzels have similar basic ingredients to the others above but use brown sugar. 

Now I love Auntie Anne’s pretzels and I couldn’t resist trying this recipe and wow, yes, they are just the same. They contain brown sugar again in the dough mix. This recipe also gives you options for making cinnamon, vegan parmesan garlic and salted pretzels. Delicious!

Are Pretzels Vegan

Little tip, you can make pretzels by hand and I know my kids like to get messy, but I always think it is a little easier with a dough hook on your stand mixer! Also remember the parchment paper as you don’t want your pretzels to stick to the tray! 

I love a warm homemade vegan pretzel straight out of the oven and like to dust mine with some cinnamon sugar. 

For a more savory option, I dip my pretzels in some vegan sour cream or just eat it warm straight from the oven. 

You can also create a Pretzel Pizza. I simply spread a little tomato puree sprinkle with vegan cheese and top with some fresh tomatoes.

Vegan Pretzel Brands

Here are some of my favorite vegan pretzel brands 

Ollys 

This company does a wide range of vegan pretzels from cheesy to sweet chili, there is definitely something for everyone. 

Salt Rock Pretzel Bites

These pretzel bites are definitely an option to try next time you’re looking for something different for the tradition. They are not only vegan but also really cute little bites for the whole family.

Hip – Cholate Salty Pretzels

These crunchy, salted pretzels are covered in oat chocolate. Yum!  

Quinn Sea Salt Pretzel Sticks

These pretzels are not only vegan but they are also gluten free! 

Why are pretzels so salty?

So, yes pretzels are vegan (most of the time) and one of the oldest snack foods but yes they can be a little salty. The reason for their saltiness is because they traditionally have salt added to the ingredients but also sea salt or coarse salt sprinkled on to top.

As a dietitian, I would always advise you to monitor your and your little ones salt intake and make sure that if you have a vegan-friendly pretzel to just check the salt contained too. I would advise pretzels as a treat and not to have every day. It’s all about balance.

Just make sure you check that you aren’t exceeding your salt intake. 

Age GroupRecommended Daily Salt Intake
Infants (0-6 months)Not recommended (breast milk or formula provides necessary sodium)
Infants (7-12 months)Less than 1g of salt per day
Children (1-3 years)2g or less of salt per day
Children (4-6 years)3g or less of salt per day
Children (7-10 years)5g or less of salt per day
Adolescents (11-18 years)6g or less of salt per day
Adults (19 years and older)6g or less of salt per day
NHS 2023

So, Are Pretzels Vegan?

So, there you have it– the pretzel verdict! Are Pretzels Vegan? Yes (most of the time). As a dietitian who’s all about plant-based diets for families, it’s crucial to know if these twisted treats fit the bill. 

Whether you’re eyeing those crunchy snacks or those soft, doughy delights, pretzels are often a popular choice and are perfectly plant-based. But, as I always say, before you start to enjoy this tasty treat just give the ingredient list a quick scan. Especially for the fancy-topped or flavored ones, be on the lookout for sneaky non-vegan ingredients like milk products, animal fats, eggs, or honey flavors. 

Now, if you’re up for a little kitchen adventure (and who isn’t from time to time?), why not try making your very own pretzels? With some basic ingredients like soft wheat flour, yeast, warm water, and a dash of salt, you can whip up a batch that’s perfect for a plant-based diet. 

Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at | info@bump2babynutrition.com | Website | + posts

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.

Credentials

  • Registered Dietitian
  • First Class Degree in Nutrition

Experience

  • Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
  • Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
  • Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition

 

 

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