The answer to this question is…maybe.
It depends on who you ask, and it depends on where you live.
All the ingredients come from plant sources, which is enough to make some people say that Duncan Hines frosting is vegan, but there are a few problem ingredients that most vegans would want to avoid.
Duncan Hines Frosting In The United States
Let’s take a look at the list of ingredients on their buttercream flavor, I’ll highlight any controversial ingredients:
Sugar, Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean And Cottonseed Oils, Mono- And Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60), Water, Corn Syrup. Contains 2% Or Less Of: Corn Starch, Salt, Colored With (Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5, Red 40), Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate), Natural And Artificial Flavors, Acetic Acid, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate.
There are no clearly non-vegan ingredients, but a few that could be, and a few that many vegans avoid (despite them being technically vegan):
- Sugar (may or may not be vegan) – Plain white sugar may or may not be vegan. A great deal of sugar in North America is processed with bone char, which is made from cow bones.
- Mono- and di-glycerides (can come from plants or animals) – Some mono- and di- glycerides are vegan, but others are made with animal products and are not vegan.
- Artificial colors (technically vegan, but many avoid) – Food coloring ingredients like Yellow 5 and Red 40 (which are banned in many countries as a side note), are tested on animals.
- Natural flavors (probably vegan, but can come from animal sources) – The term “natural flavors” can cover a ton of ingredients. In my experience, they usually come from plant sources when it comes to candy, but they can come from meat/dairy as well.
None of those are conclusive, but if I had to guess, Duncan Hines frosting is likely not vegan in the United States.
Duncan Hines Frosting in Canada
We have a slightly different ingredient list up north.
You won’t find those same coloring ingredients in Canada, but we still have our own potential problem ingredients.
Let’s take a look at the list of ingredients on their buttercream flavor in Canada:
Sugar, water, palm oil, glucose syrup, canola oil, cornstarch, salt, colour, potassium sorbate, natural and artificial flavor, sodium phosphate, citric acid, sodium citrate, mono- & di-glycerides, polysorbate 60, sodium stearoyl-lactylate.
Again, we have 3 of the same issues:
- Natural flavors
- Mono- & di-glycerides
See the above section for explanations about why they may or may not be vegan.
We also introduce another controversial ingredient: palm oil.
Whether or not palm oil is vegan is the subject of much debate. After a great deal of research and thought, I personally believe that palm oil is technically vegan, however, I still avoid it for ethical reasons.
If you haven’t read much about palm oil, I encourage you to read that post I just linked and give it some serious thought before deciding one way or another.
Regardless of the palm oil, Duncan Hines frosting is still probably not vegan in Canada.
Verdict: Duncan Hines Frosting is Probably Not Vegan
No matter where you live, Duncan Hines contains multiple ingredients that may or may not be vegan.
I would wager that it isn’t vegan friendly, so if you want to be on the safe side, avoid it.