Long story short, sriracha may or may not be vegan.
It depends on how strict of a vegan you are.
To understand why, we need to look at the ingredients in the original Huy Fong Sriracha sauce.
Sriracha Sauce Ingredients
Here are its the ingredients in the “real” Huy Fong sriracha:
- Chili – Clearly vegan.
- Sugar – Some sugar is vegan, and some is not. It depends on whether or not it was processed with bone char (from cow bones). More on this below.
- Garlic – Vegan.
- Salt – Vegan.
- Distilled vinegar – Vegan.
- Potassium sorbate – Made synthetically without any animal products, so it’s vegan-friendly.
- Sodium bisulfite – Another synthetic ingredient that can be derived from baking soda.
- Xanthan gum – Xanthan gum is typically vegan, it’s made by fermenting bacteria.
Most of those are clearly vegan, but the sugar raises questions for me.
Why Some Sugar Isn’t Vegan
I’ve written a detailed post on whether or not sugar is vegan. Read that for a closer look at the issue.
The main conclusion is that a significant chunk of sugar in North America is made using bone char and isn’t vegan. While the branding might suggest otherwise, sriracha sauce is made by Huy Fong Foods, a California manufacturer.
That being said, some vegans don’t think it’s practical to avoid sugar, and don’t worry about this. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Unfortunately, when only “sugar” is listed on the ingredients list, we have no way of knowing if it’s vegan or not.
It’s up to you if you’re okay with taking that risk.
The original Sriracha sauce may or may not be vegan-friendly. depending on the sugar used. For vegans who aren’t worried about consuming sugar filtered with bone char, they will have no issues with Huy Fond Sriracha sauce.
What About Other Sriracha Sauces?
If you’re buying a “sriracha” sauce that is made by a different company, it may or may not be vegan.
These sauces often have similar, but different ingredients. Common non-vegan additions are fish sauce and shrimp paste.
Carefully check the ingredients of any close alternatives before buying.