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Are Cheetos Vegan?

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Cheetos are one of the yummiest snacks out there. It remains the ultimate party food when binge-watching your all-time favorite movies or while hanging out with friends. 

Moreover, there are many recipes today that incorporate Cheetos in their ingredients to make the dish crunchier and more flavorful. But if you’re a vegan, you may have concerns if Cheetos are actually vegan.

So, are Cheetos vegan? Unfortunately, Cheetos are not vegan. Cheetos cannot be called vegan as they contain dairy products and animal products too. They contain cheese, like rennet-derived cheese and whey, which are also non-vegan. 

In this guide, we’ll talk more about why Cheetos aren’t vegan and what substitutes you can use in place of them. 

What Are Cheetos? 

Cheetos are a type of cheese corn-puff snack that is available in the US, as well as in other parts of the world. Originally started in 1948, today both PepsiCo and Frito-Lay have their fair share in the Cheetos brand

Over the years, Cheetos has become an established snack amongst many lovers of chips and party food alike.

This is definitely because Cheetos have a very unique and flavorful cheesy flavor, unlike any other snack. They even come in spicy flavors for those who like some extra spice in their snacks. 

However, one major drawback to Cheetos is that they’re definitely not made for vegans. 

Are Cheetos Vegan? 

There are more than 20 different types of Cheetos available. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that none of these Cheetos types in the US are vegan

You may clearly see that Cheetos are not vegan due to the presence of milk and cheese in them. The cheese is rennet-derived (from the lining of an animal’s stomach) cheese which makes it non-vegan as well as non-vegetarian. 

If you’re looking for a vegan option, you should always ensure that the ingredients do not contain animal-based milk or cheese. Instead, it should contain vegan options such as soy derivatives or vegan cheese. 

Which Ingredients Are Used In Cheetos? 

As we mentioned above, Cheetos has a variety of products so the ingredients can definitely differ. But certain ingredients particularly make them unsuitable for vegans. 

For instance, if you have checked the ingredients at the back, you’ll find “Cheese Seasoning”. This cheese seasoning contains: 

  • Milk – which is a dairy product
  • Cheddar cheese – made up of cheese culture, milk, salt, and enzymes
  • Whey – which is a dairy product 

These three ingredients are the major proof that Cheetos are simply not vegan

It is safe to say that if you’re a vegan, you should try to find some vegan alternatives to Cheetos. 

Are Hot Cheetos Vegan? 

Hot Cheetos or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have become extremely popular these days because of their extra spicy flavor and crunchy texture. But, are they vegan

Again, the answer is no—they contain animal-based ingredients such as cheese and even buttermilk. 

Let’s take a look at the list of ingredients found in Hot Cheetos: 

  • Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
  • Artificial Color
  • Garlic Powder
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Flamin’ Hot Seasoning
  • Corn Syrup Solids
  • Whey
  • Onion Powder
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Enriched Corn Meal
  • Salt
  • Buttermilk
  • Citric Acid
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Yeast Extract

As you can see, there are ingredients such as whey, cheddar cheese, whey protein concentrate, and buttermilk present. The brand derives these ingredients from animals which makes Hot Cheetos non-vegan as well. 

Many other signs prove that Hot Cheetos are non-vegan, such as: 

  1. They come with a tagline, ‘Made With Real Cheese’.
  2. They have also mentioned ‘Contains Milk Ingredients’ near the ingredient list. 

So, it is best to avoid all flavors of Cheetos, including Hot Cheetos, if you have a vegan lifestyle. 

Are There Any Cheetos Products That Are Vegan? 

No, currently in the US there are no vegan Cheetos products. You won’t find any either in other countries, such as Canada or Mexico. 

Still, there is one Cheetos flavor in the UK that is entirely vegan, which is the Cheetos Twisted Flamin’ Hot. 

Let’s take a look at the ingredients used in this: 

  • Hydrolysed Soy Protein
  • Acidity Regulators
  • Garlic Powder
  • Flamin’ Hot Flavour
  • Corn (Maize)
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Flavour Enhancers
  • Soya Derivatives
  • Wheat Derivatives
  • Fructose
  • Dried Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Colors (Paprika Extract, Sulphite Ammonia Caramel)

Here, as you can see, there are no milk-based ingredients or even cheese which is a staple in almost every Cheetos product in the US. 

However, there is a disclaimer here. 

While there aren’t any ingredients that are explicitly not vegan, there is a chance that the “flavor enhancers” could contain ingredients that aren’t vegan, as the exact components aren’t specifically listed.

So, if you really want to try Cheetos, then you can easily buy this UK-based Cheetos Twisted Flamin’ Hot product online

Can You Make Vegan Cheetos At Home? 

Yes, it is definitely possible to make vegan Cheetos at home if you have the right set of ingredients. There’s also a proper method that you need to follow if you wish to make vegan Cheetos at home. 

Ingredients

You’ll need three different sets of ingredients here to make your own Cheetos, which include the dry ingredients, the wet ingredients, and the vegan alternative to cheese-based coating.

Dry Ingredients

  • ¾ cup of cornmeal
  • ¼ cup of sorghum flour
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ¼ cup of potato starch (or use arrowroot, tapioca, or cornstarch)
  • 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • ¾ teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • ¼ cup of superfine brown rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Wet Ingredients

  • ½ cup of ice-cold water
  • 3 tablespoons of vegan butter

For Cheese-Based Vegan Coating 

  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon of onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons of nutritional and blended yeast

Steps

Once you have all the ingredients ready with you, you can start the process of making homemade vegan Cheetos! Here’s what you’ll need to do: 

  1. Mix The Dry Ingredients: The first step is to mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. 
  2. Add Butter To Dry Ingredients: To the dry ingredients, add some vegan butter. Using a fork cut and mix the butter such that you get a crumbly mixture. Then, begin to form the dough by adding ice-cold water slowly until the consistency becomes sticky and pipable. 
  3. Setting Up Your Oven: You need to set your oven’s temperature to 375°F. Then, take your baking tray and line it with parchment paper.
  4. Piping The Dough: Pour the dough into a piping bag and pipe it onto the baking tray. Then, put it in the oven and let the vegan Cheetos bake for around 12-15 minutes. Take out the tray and let them cool. 
  5. Coat The Cheese: Coat each Cheetos with olive oil. Then, put the oil-coated Cheetos in a plastic bag, add the vegan cheese seasoning, and shake the bag!
  6. Bake Again: Place the cheese-coated Cheetos on a baking tray again and let them bake for around 5 more minutes

Take them out and enjoy your hot, crispy, and vegan Cheetos right at your home!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve looked at Cheetos and seen how they don’t line up with a vegan diet, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

What are some vegan alternatives for Cheetos? 

Don’t feel bad if you can’t have Cheetos if you’re vegan! After all, there are many vegan alternatives to Cheetos present today. 

Peatos’ Fiery Hot snack is one of the closest ones to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos today. It is extremely crunchy, spicy, flavorful, and somewhat resembles Cheetos too

Keep in mind that while it doesn’t exactly taste like Cheetos, it is a great alternative if you’re a vegan. 

There are no dairy products present inside Peatos’ snacks which makes it the best vegan alternative to Cheetos today!

If you absolutely love cheese and want to go for non-spicy vegan Cheetos, then opt for Hippeas’ Vegan White Cheddar.

We highly recommend this alternative as it is very light and crunchy too! The ingredients used are vegan

It consists mainly of chickpeas. The cheesy flavor in these puffs is due to the presence of vegan white cheddar. This makes it taste very similar to Cheetos cheese puffs! 

Along with being vegan, it is also organic, gluten-free, and kosher.

Are Cheetos vegetarian?

Cheetos are non-vegan but did you know they are also not vegetarian? No, you won’t find any meat-based products inside but the cheese used in the Cheetos isn’t exactly vegetarian. 

Cheese can be derived from two types of rennet: microbial rennet and animal-derived rennet. The first one is vegetarian while the latter is non-vegetarian.

It is because animal-derived rennet is from the intestines of animals. 

Now, the cheese used in Cheetos is animal-derived rennet which makes it unsuitable for not just vegans but vegetarians as well. Cheetos also contains whey which is also animal-derived

So, if you’re a vegetarian, you may have to avoid Cheetos due to the presence of non-vegetarian cheese inside it. 

Are Cheetos gluten-free?

If you have a gluten allergy, then here’s good news for you: Cheetos in the US is entirely gluten-free! They are even listed as a gluten-free snack on the Frito-Lay website. 

It is because gluten is typically found in wheat-based products. Cheetos puffs contain corn-based ingredients such as cornmeal which makes them gluten-free and safe for your consumption!

Are Cheetos kosher? 

No, Cheetos are not essentially Kosher. If you check the Frito-Lay website for the list of certified Kosher products, you won’t find any Cheetos products or flavors listed there. 

It could be because the rennet-based cheese used in Cheetos isn’t derived from animals slaughtered and processed as per the Kosher law. 

What other chips and snacks are vegan?

If you’re fine with something that is different from Cheetos, then we highly recommend trying out the below vegan-based chips!

1. Taco Bell Tortilla Chips 

Taco Bell is one of the most famous vegan-friendly chains today. In fact, they have even released purely vegan Tortilla chips. 

You can get three flavors here—Classic, Mild, and Fire. So, this one’s surely a crunchy treat if you want to shift from Cheetos! 

2. Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos

So what if you can’t have Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? You can always go for Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos which are extremely flavorful with the right amount of spice as well as crunch. 

You can even make vegan nachos with these Doritos for a stuffed snack!

4. Tostitos Scoops

Tostitos Scoops are certainly a unique kind of snack with their shape and flavor. However, the best part is that they are entirely vegan and a good option if you want to step away from Cheetos. 

As they’re scoops, you can easily have them with any dips of your choice!

Final Thoughts 

It is unfortunate that something as delicious as Cheetos simply doesn’t come in vegan flavors. 

Every Cheetos packet contains some kind of dairy-based ingredient such as cheese seasoning or even buttermilk.

Moreover, the cheese used is not just non-vegan but also non-vegetarian as it is derived from the stomach lining of animals. 

So, Cheetos are neither vegan nor vegetarian

However, don’t despair! We have covered a lot of Cheetos alternatives as well as vegan chips that can fulfill your hunger moods easily. Simply shift to those and find your favorite vegan snack!

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