Are Hot Cheetos Vegan?

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Hot Cheetos are one of the nation’s most popular snacks, but are Hot Cheetos vegan? The last thing you want is to pick up a bag of your favorite cheesy corn puffs, only to realize that they might not align with your plant-based dietary rules. 

Sometimes, foods that are listed as vegan might come from processes that come into contamination with animal by-products.

So, whether you’re new to the vegan diet or if you’re just curious about whether certain foods are plant-based or not, it’s important to understand what foods are vegan to determine who can eat them. Here is everything you need to know about whether Hot Cheetos are vegan or not!

So, Are Hot Cheetos Vegan? 

Let’s set the record straight – no, Hot Cheetos aren’t vegan. This might come as a disappointment for those who are looking to implement more of a plant-based lifestyle, because it means you won’t be able to consume the beloved snack. 

While Hot Cheetos are vegetarian (as they don’t contain any meat or fish products), they do contain cheese in the seasoning which gives them their iconic cheesy flavoring.

As vegans do not contain any form of animal by-products, including dairy, then Hot Cheetos are unfortunately off the menu. 

Here are the ingredients found in Hot Cheetos:

  • Flamin’ Hot Seasoning 
  • Enriched Corn Meal 
  • Salt
  • Vegetable Oil 

What Is In Flamin’ Hot Seasoning?

The majority of ingredients that make up Hot Cheetos (the enriched corn meal, vegetable oil, and salt) don’t contain any animal by-products at all.

However, it’s the legendary Flamin’ Hot seasoning that makes Hot Cheetos inherently non-vegan. Not only do some of the ingredients in the seasoning contain or derive from cheese, but the seasoning also consists of ingredients that contain milk. 

Here are the ingredients that make up Flamin’ Hot seasoning:

  • Artificial coloring
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Yeast extract
  • Cheddar cheese 
  • Olive oil
  • Whey
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Onion powder
  • Buttermilk 
  • Garlic powder
  • Natural flavor
  • Citric acid
  • Maltodextrin
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Disodium isonate
  • Disodium guanylate
  • Sodium diacetate

Out of the extensive ingredients list, the following contain milk or dairy products:

  • Cheddar cheese
  • Buttermilk
  • Whey
  • Whey protein concentrate

These ingredients are responsible for giving Flamin’ Hot Cheetos their distinctive cheesy flavoring. While it’s easy to tell whether something is vegan on the label (marked by a green “V” to prove that it is certified as vegan), it’s important to be aware of these ingredients. Vegans are well-versed in reading extensive ingredients lists! So, if you’re vegan or trying a plant-based diet temporarily, you’ll have to avoid Hot Cheetos. 

Are Hot Cheetos Vegetarian?

Technically, Hot Cheetos can be classified as a vegetarian snack, as they don’t contain any meat or fish in their formula.

However, if you dig a little deeper into the ingredients list, it’s not actually 100% proven that Hot Cheetos are vegetarian. 

Hot Cheetos, specifically the seasoning, contains plenty of enzymes. One of the most prevalent enzymes in cheese-based snacks is rennet, which is found in the cheese ingredient.

Rennet actually derives from the stomach lining of slaughtered nursing calves, and is taken to help curdle and solidify cheese. However, it’s not actually proven whether Hot Cheetos uses rennet as an enzyme in their recipe.

Other enzymes come from plant-based sources, so given the fact that Hot Cheetos do not specify the types of enzymes they use, it’s a bit of a gray area. 

Of course, it all comes down to personal preference. Some vegetarians might feel uncomfortable with the knowledge that Hot Cheetos might contain an enzyme that comes from slaughtered animals. Others, however, might feel more relaxed in taking the risk. 

Vegan Alternative To Hot Cheetos 

So, if vegans can’t eat Hot Cheetos, what are the best vegan-friendly alternatives that will cure your snackish cravings?

Doritos Hot Waves are probably the best dupe of Hot Cheetos that are vegan-friendly. They don’t share the same consistency or shape as the cheese puffs, but they do provide that satisfying level of spice that not all chips can replicate.

However, not all Doritos chips are vegan, so make sure to double-check the ingredients list. Pringles Sweet Chili chips are a good option for those who want to eat a 100% vegan snack. They’re not as spicy as Hot Cheetos, but they pack a nice punch and are incredibly moreish. 


So, there you have it! Unfortunately, Hot Cheetos are not vegan thanks to the inclusion of cheese and milk ingredients in the Flamin’ Hot Seasoning. However, there are some good vegan dupes that are 100% plant-based and taste similar to Hot Cheetos!

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