Sustainability made simple

Is Sriracha Vegan? It’s Complicated.

Is sriracha vegan?
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / RANAVIMS

Is sriracha vegan? It's complicated, and it all comes down to one of the main ingredients – sugar. We'll tell you everything you need to know to make sure your sriracha is vegan, and how you can make a sustainable version at home.

Sriracha is a fermented condiment with many uses. From spicing up your noodle soup or pizza, to being an ingredient in a marinade, as a base as a dipping sauce or as an alternative to ketchup. First seen on the tables of Thai and Vietnamese eateries in the 1980s, it is now a staple in many homes worldwide.

Sriracha is made of fresh chilli peppers (usually serrano, jalapeno, cayenne), garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar. That list of ingredients looks pretty vegan, right?

Unfortunately not.

Is Sriricha Vegan? Ingredients & Facts

Can sugar refined with bone char is not vegan
Can sugar refined with bone char is not vegan
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / designfoto)

Whether sriracha is vegan or not depends on exactly how the sugar was processed

Typically, sugar is made from either sugar cane, beets or coconut. No matter how sugar starts, it ends up as crystalized sucrose which is extracted from the plant. The next step in the process is what makes some sugar vegan, and some sugar not. Brown and white sugars may not be vegan due to use of bone char in the process.

Sucrose extracted from sugar cane can be processed with bone char to make it totally white. Bone char, or Black no. 3 is made by heating cattle bones at extremely high temperatures until they become a granular powder. This is then used as a decolorization filter to remove impurities and make the sugar white. Brown sugar is created by adding molasses to white sugar – which of course could have been refined with bone char beforehand. 

Many places around the world have banned the use of bone char, but it is still widely used in the US, and the source of the sugar will not always be clear on the ingredients list. 

There is some good news though!

Coconut and beet sugar are naturally white and will always be vegan. The USDA does not allow the use of bone char, so if sugar is certified organic, it will definitely be vegan, and there are plenty of vegan sugar options available. 

So is sriracha vegan? The answer is – sometimes. To make sure yours is vegan, always choose an organic brand, or one that specifically states that it is vegan.

How to Find Vegan Sriracha

Vegan sriracha makes a spicy and delicious base to any dipping sauce
Vegan sriracha makes a spicy and delicious base to any dipping sauce
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / igorovsyannykov)

The US hot sauce market is worth a staggering 2.54 billion Dollars and the 2017 industry report for hot sauce production in the US found that 16% of young Americans have a bottle of sriracha at home. Given it’s popularity, it’s no surprise that many sriracha companies have made the choice to be plant-based and cruelty-free. 

If you want to make sure the bottle of sriracha you have in the refrigerator is vegan and organic, you can try Kitchen Garden Farm Sriracha. Their sriracha is available from Amazon**.

Yellowbird Organic is based in Austin and has a range of vegan sriracha sauces which are also organic, gluten-free and without added sugars (they can also be found on Amazon**). There are even organic vegan mayo srirachas available from Amazon** for those of us who like to dip our fried potato skins

Sustainable Vegan Sriracha: A Quick Homemade Recipe

Making your own vegan sriracha ensures you know exactly what's inside the jar – plus you can reduce plastic waste.
Making your own vegan sriracha ensures you know exactly what's inside the jar – plus you can reduce plastic waste.
(Foto: Amy Mason / Utopia)

Quick Vegan Sriracha

While our love of sriracha is making our food more delicious, the millions of single use plastic bottles that the hot sauce comes in isn’t the most sustainable way that we could be flavouring our veggie burgers. Many of the brands available to buy also contain added preservatives for a longer shelf life.  

One way to make sure that your sriracha is vegan, eco friendly, and free from additives would be to make your own at home. Although sriracha is traditionally fermented, this version will give you the spicy kick that you can add to a midweek dinner such as this vegan hash. All you need is a a blender, a sterilized jar and a strainer.


Makes around 2 1/4 cups

  • 1 1/4 pound organic red jalapeno peppers
  • 1/2 pound organic seranno peppers 
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup organic, vegan, distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. organic sugar (feel free to add more or less depending on how sweet you like your sriracha)
  • 1 tbsp. salt


  1. First wash the peppers, remove the stems and roughly chop.
  2. Add the peppers, garlic, garlic powder, vinegar and water to a food processor or blender and blend well. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times to blend it all properly. Don’t worry about blending the seeds as these will strained out later.
  3. Pour the blended chilli paste in to a medium sauce pan and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer gently for 15 minutes. Stir frequently. You may want to open a window to ventilate as you do this.
  4. Stir in the sugar and salt and mix well. 
  5. Push the mixture through a strainer over a clean bowl, using the back of a spoon to really force the sriracha out. 
  6. Pour this in to a sterilized glass jar and enjoy! It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, but also freezes well.

If you need an even faster way to add a vegan kick to your meals, why not try drying fresh chillies? Simply store in a jar and use as needed in any recipe, or blitz them in a food processor before storing, so that you will always have crushed chilli flakes on hand.

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