Beignets are a delicious dessert from France that many people call French doughnuts. These pillow-shaped pastries are popular in New Orleans and a staple at Mardis Gras celebrations.
The word beignet, the French word for “fritter,” is pronounced ben-YAY. Classic beignets are square-shaped deep-fried pastries dusted in powdered sugar. By now, you probably can’t wait to taste one and are wondering, “Are beignets vegan?”
Unfortunately, traditional beignets are not vegan because they contain milk, butter, and eggs. Beignets also contain sugar, which some strict ethical vegans avoid because of the bone char used to refine it.
The good news is that you might find vegan beignets at vegan bakeries, and you can make them yourself with vegan ingredients.
Let’s look at the ingredients in beignets and see which ones can be made vegan-friendly.
Beignet recipes vary and may include additions for different flavors like vanilla or almond extract, but the classic beignet has the same foundation ingredients:
- Granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Oil for frying
Beignets are vegetarian but not vegan because of the butter, eggs, and milk. Some recipes may call for shortening instead of butter, but the recipe would still contain eggs and milk.
You probably can’t find packaged beignets on your store’s shelves, but your local grocery store might make them and sell them in their bakery or deli department.
You also might be able to find a local bakery that sells them. Unless they specifically say the pastries are vegan, assume they’re not.
You may be able to find a beignet mix at your local store like this beignet mix from Cafe du Monde. Are beignets vegan if you make them from a boxed mix? Unless the box says it’s a vegan beignet mix, it will probably contain milk and buttermilk powder, making it unsuitable for vegans.
Vegan Egg-Free and Dairy-Free Beignets
Are beignets vegan if they don’t contain egg or dairy? Yes, many people will consider beignets that don’t have milk, butter, or eggs to be vegan because they won’t contain any animal products. However, sugar is a controversial ingredient that some strict ethical vegans avoid.
Most sugar manufacturers in the United States use bone char to whiten their sugar. Bone char is a black charcoal-like material made from burning animal bones.
None of the bone char remains in the sugar, so there are no animal products in it, but an animal by-product used during its production is enough for some vegans to say no to it.
Powdered sugar is granulated sugar that’s pulverized to a fine consistency, so bone char plays a part in its production, too. Since beignets contain plain and powdered sugar, some vegans won’t eat them even if they’re made without butter, milk, or eggs and marketed as a vegan pastry.
How to Make Vegan Beignets
Some traditional recipes are easy to convert to vegan recipes by swapping animal-derived ingredients with plant-based ones. The taste and texture won’t be exactly the same, but experimentation can help you get them as close as possible.
To turn a traditional beignet recipe into a vegan one:
- Use an equal amount of vegan butter instead of regular butter
- Use your favorite plant-based milk in an equal amount instead of cow’s milk
- Use a commercial egg replacer or flax eggs instead of chicken eggs
Commercial vegan egg replacements like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer make egg-free baking and pastry-making easy. You can also use ground flaxseed to make vegan egg replacements.
To replace one egg with a flax egg, mix one tablespoon of ground flaxseed into three tablespoons of water and let it rest for about five to ten minutes. The mixture will thicken and serve as a binder in your vegan beignets.
If you want to ensure the beignets are 100% vegan-friendly for even the strictest ethical vegans, you can also use vegan sugar brands made without bone char.
The easiest way to make vegan beignets is to find tested vegan recipes so you don’t have to make substitutions that might or might not work well. Look in vegan cookbooks or online vegan recipe sites.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you wondered, “Are beignets vegan?” you might also have questions about vegan sugar and whether these French pastries are healthy, even if you make them with vegan ingredients.
How can I ensure I’m buying vegan sugar?
Beet and coconut sugar are vegan and made without bone char. Also, USDA-certified organic sugar from any brand is vegan-friendly and not made with bone char. If you need powdered sugar but can only find vegan granulated sugar, grind it in a food processor until you achieve a powdered-sugar consistency.
What are some vegan sugar brands?
Sugar in the Raw is a vegan sugar brand made without bone char that you can probably find at your grocery store. Other vegan sugar brands include Florida Crystals and Wholesome. Many other brands will point out that their products are vegan on the label.
Can I use maple syrup, agave syrup, or artificial sweeteners instead of sugar?
You should use the same sweetener consistency the recipe calls for, whether it’s granulated or liquid, or adjust the other ingredients appropriately to maintain the correct wet-to-dry ingredient ratio. Artificial sweeteners are vegan because they don’t contain animal products, but some ethical vegans avoid them because of the animal testing used to create them.
Are beignets healthy?
Beignets, even vegan ones, are a high-calorie, low-nutrition food, but you can enjoy them as an occasional treat like any other dessert pastry.
Most of the calories come from simple carbohydrates like flour and sugar. The rest of the calories come from the fat in vegan butter and the oil used for frying.
The Bottom Line: Are Beignets Vegan?
No, traditional beignets aren’t vegan. Assume they include animal products like butter, eggs, and milk. If they’re vegan or egg and dairy-free, they still may contain sugar made with bone char.
You might find vegan beignets at vegan bakeries or restaurants. If you avoid sugar made with bone char, ask them about their sugar supplier to ensure they’re 100% vegan. You can also control the ingredients by making delicious vegan beignets at home.