Pretzels are no longer just a traditional German recipe because this sweet-salty treat has captured the taste of many from all over the world. Many would agree that it is also nutritious to eat apart from its tastiness, considering the plant-based dough.
But are pretzels vegan? Let’s find out.
What are Pretzels?
In Germany, pretzel or "brezel" is made of wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water. The original pretzel is made of vegan ingredients, topped with sesame or poppy seeds but the traditional way Germans do it is with large salt crystals.
More versions of this bread came out because of its popularity. Along with that are the additional flavors and choices are no longer just picking the soft or the hard pretzel. The recipe for pretzels is vegan from the core, just like how it was in Germany (1).
With the methods used in manufacturing companies, which are far from the traditional method, being vegan becomes questionable.
How It's Made
Hard pretzels, the same as soft pretzels, have the same original ingredients and are vegan-friendly. The difference between the two is the process. Soft pretzels are authentic pretzels and usually come with dipping sauces. When mixed, the wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water form gluten, which becomes elastic, thus the knotty form of the pretzels.
As you can see, what we mentioned is plant-based ingredients except for salt. Where you dip it next and if it is coated is a different story. Plant manufacturing also has a different process that may change the vegan part of the pretzel.
Types of Pretzels
Soft pretzels are the authentic ones since these were created first. The cooking time is shorter, and these are more like bread since it is soft after baking it. This sweet-salty flavor snack is perfect when paired with coffee or tea. You will be satisfied with the natural flavor it has, and there is no need to look for something to dip it with.
These braided twists are very enjoyable to chew. Considered more of a snack, it also contains sugar to add variety to the flavor, salty and sweet. Sometimes, these are made as dipping sticks, while others are coated with toppings. Kids enjoy nibbling at these treats, especially those that are coated with chocolates and sugar.
Are Pretzels Vegan Then?
Pretzels are vegan, based on the original ingredients, but since they became popular, the process has become commercialized. There are ingredients added to the list which are no longer vegan-friendly.
Non-vegan ingredients such as eggs, butter, and milk are common additions that enhance its flavors to create a tastier pretzel. There are milk products, and there is refined flour and sugar. Strict vegans also condemn the processing of the sweetener due to the bone char used in refining it.
Ingredients To Watch Out For
Obviously, these are non-vegan. Bread and pastry recipes often contain these animal products to add full flavor. Most bread and pastries contain these non-vegan ingredients because they change the taste into something flavorful, but it is not part of the vegan lifestyle since they are from chickens. The products added with these are very flavorful, but vegan individuals should carefully review the labels since they place the ingredients at the back anyway.
It is common to find dairy products in most bread recipes. Some are added to the dough to ensure the rich flavor and softness before being mixed and formed. Though there are vegan kinds of butter, some manufacturers use regular butter that does contain milk (including skim milk). Also, this is commonly used in baking. Not necessarily as an ingredient, but it is also used to coat sheets to avoid sticking.
Honey is another animal product, and vegans also condemn the unethical harvesting of this ingredient since many honeybees die. A common flavoring used for pretzel snacks is sweet and tasty honey. If you're making your own pretzel, you can go for maple syrup instead.
Milk & Cheese Flavorings
Milk and cheese are both dairy products that are not part of the vegan diet. These are not uncommon to a bakery pretzel as these are used as flavor enhancers to both their soft and hard pretzels. In fact, the dough from the bakery commonly has milk, even before they are formed into a twisted pretzel.
Vegan Pretzel Brands
Rold Gold Pretzels are mini pretzels that are baked which makes it a healthier snack. It contains natural ingredients with corn syrup which is added to its nutrient. Rold Gold uses wheat ingredients like the one they used with Garden Vegetable, making this a vegan pretzel brand. However, they also have products that are not vegan, such as the Garlic Parmesean Thin Crisps and Buffalo Wing Thin Crisps. They also have peanut butter-filled snacks apart from the packed pretzel.
UTZ Pretzels is one of the vegan options you can find in stores. It offers a variety of flavors, such as the Sourdough Hard Pretzels and Utz Classic Wheels Pretzels. However, these are the only vegan products you can be sure of because the other items they have are coated with non-vegan components. Others use honey wheat and peanut butter, while other manufacturers use chocolate like Snyder's Chocolate-covered Pretzels.
Unique Snacks is one of the popular pretzel brands that are very particular about their product ingredients. They bake their products called pretzels Splits where they use kosher on their hard pretzels. They also have coated pretzels, but these may contain non-vegan ingredients. There are also pretzel dips flavored as honey mustard, jalapeño, and horseradish. You just have to be very careful in reading the labels to avoid these products if you are vegan.
You can find various products from Auntie Anne's range from soft pretzels to hard pretzels and drinks to wash it all down. The dough used for the Original Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Cinnamon Sugar, Raisin and Jalapeño, and Sweet Almond contain vegan ingredients. So, are Auntie Anne's Pretzels vegan? The short answer is not all.
Yes, you can make vegan pretzels at home using the traditional pretzels ingredients and recipe. If you do not have yeast, you can use baking soda instead, which is also vegan, to make the dough rise. You can also use natural flavor or vegan butter for a richer taste.
Yes, vegan pretzels are healthy since these are part of the plant-based diet. However, one must also remember that if this is eaten out of regular consumption, that becomes unhealthy. Anything that is out of moderation is never something that brings something good.
There are a lot of vegan options if you do not want the store-bought pretzels. Create your own salty snack wherein you can be sure that these are really containing vegan ingredients. There are recipes you can find online for sourdough nibblers, cinnamon sugar, or any other crackers that are plant-based.
Being thorough is good if you only want to eat vegan products. However, if these are already mass-produced, you cannot ensure that the bakery is still making vegan-friendly pretzels. We are sure that not all pretzels are vegan, so read the labels to make the right pick.