Is Natural Butter Flavor Vegan? (Does It Have Dairy?)


You’ll see natural butter flavor mostly in baked goods like muffins and cakes.

Considering it’s supposed to be used when butter isn’t an option, that suggests that it might be vegan-friendly.

What Is Natural Butter Flavor?

While it depends on the brand, most natural butter flavor seems to contain:

Alcohol, water & natural flavors

For example, this butter extract on Amazon is made of:

  • Water
  • Propylene glycol (alcohol)
  • Natural flavor.”

Alcohol (not that kind of alcohol) and water are both vegan of course, but natural flavor is a question mark.

The term “natural flavors” is an umbrella term for flavoring ingredients derived from plants and animals. Some natural flavors are vegan, but some aren’t.


Whether or not natural butter flavor is vegan usually depends on whether or not the natural flavors in it are vegan.

How to Tell if Natural Butter Flavor is Vegan

From what I’ve seen, some brands are vegan, and some are not.

  • Some brands like The Spice House specifically states that their product is vegan friendly
  • McCormick’s sells a variation of butter flavor that has derivatives from milk

In most cases, you’ll just see the ingredient on an ingredients label, and won’t know the brand.

You’ll have to contact the manufacturer of whatever food you’re buying and ask if it’s vegan or not.

It’s a pain, but there’s no other way.

Is Natural Butter Flavor Dairy Free?

For the natural butter flavors that aren’t vegan, that means there’s a non-vegan ingredient in the “natural flavors” most of the time.

Typically, this is a flavoring ingredient derived from dairy. So while some natural butter flavor products are dairy free, many are not.

What If It Says “May Contain Milk”?

Some ingredient labels will say if the product may contain milk or not. This depends on the type of product and where you live.

If you see this warning, it’s typically a good sign thaQt the product does not contain milk or other dairy ingredients.

The label “may contain milk” simply means that the product was made in a factory where another product that does contain milk is made. So technically there could be a miniscule amount of contamination, but it’s not likely.

These warnings are for people with allergies who could potentially have a reaction to even trace amounts of milk products.

Final Tips for Identifying Vegan Friendly Products With Natural Butter Flavor

If you see “natural butter flavor” on an ingredients list, there’s a decent chance that it’s plant-based, but far from a guarantee.

I would advise looking for other indicators on the product’s label:

  • Does it say “contains milk” at the end of the ingredients list? If so, obviously the product is not vegan.
  • If it only says “may contain milk”, that’s actually a good sign that the natural butter flavor is plant-based.
  • Look for vegan certification logos (note that “plant-based” labels don’t necessarily mean vegan).

In most cases, you’ll need to track down the manufacturer of the natural butter flavor to be certain, which unfortunately is difficult.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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