Are Baked Lays Vegan? What About Poppables?


Are Baked Lays or Poppables Vegan?

Lay’s is a brand that offers a number of potato chip varieties and the kind made with dehydrated potatoes are among the most popular. Namely, Baked Lay’s and the Poppables line.

They help folks get their potato chip fix with fewer calories per serving, and some people actually prefer the texture characteristic of chips like Baked Lay’s, Pringles, Stax, and Popables, compared to standard greasy potato chips.

Are Baked Lay’s vegan? The original Baked Lay’s are vegan-friendly. As you would imagine, this line of potato chips offers several flavors. Unfortunately, each flavored variety is non-vegan due to the presence of dairy derivatives.

Are Poppables Vegan? The original Poppables are vegan, but some flavored varieties contain animal-derived ingredients, including dairy and honey. The latter may or may not be problematic, depending on how strict you are as a vegan.

What we’ll do here is list the vegan and non-vegan flavors of Baked Lay’s and Poppables along with an analysis of the ingredients.

Vegan Varieties

LAY’S Baked Original Potato Crisps

As mentioned above, these are vegan.

They simply contain:1

  • Dried Potatoes
  • Corn Starch and Dextrose
  • Corn Oil
  • Sugar, Sea Salt
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Annatto Extracts

I sometimes get asked about annatto, in terms of its vegan friendliness—probably because of the strange-sounding name.

Annatto is an orange-red substance that’s commonly used as a condiment and food coloring agent. It’s derived from achiote tree (Bixa orellana) seeds, a tree common in tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil.2

It’s usually added to food products for its color but is commonly used for its scent and aroma.3

So, it’s always plant-based and thus always suitable for vegans.

LAY’S Poppables Sea Salt Potato Snacks

This variety really isn’t too different from Baked Lay’s, they just come in a different shape, and seem to have more air incorporated into them.

These contain:4

  • Dried Potatoes
  • Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn and/or Canola Oil)
  • Potato Starch
  • Sea Salt
  • Tumeric

As you can see, this was a very short list. The list of non-vegan varieties is over twice as long.

Non-Vegan Varieties

LAY’S Baked BBQ Flavored Potato Crisps

Interestingly, these are non-vegan due to the presence of milk—not honey. I say interestingly because when BBQ-flavored snacks are non-vegan, honey is usually the culprit.

These contain:5

  • Dried Potatoes
  • Corn Starch, Maltodextrin (Made From Corn), Dextrose
  • Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil
  • Sugar, Fructose, Salt
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Garlic Powder
  • Brown Sugar, Molasses
  • Spices, Yeast, Paprika
  • Natural Flavors (Contains Milk)
  • Paprika Extracts, Annatto Extracts, Caramel Color
  • Acacia Gum

It’s not immediately obvious why milk would be used for BBQ flavored snacks. But, unfortunately, it’s pretty common.

Milk contains proteins and fat which improve texture and mouthfeel. Whey and casein proteins (the two abundant proteins in milk) both emulsify and stabilize ingredients.

The lactose content of milk provides a tangy character that can be useful for certain flavor profiles.

LAY’S Baked Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips

This should come as no surprise—although I have seen sour cream and onion-flavored snacks without actual milk products. Sometimes manufacturers get by using cultures and spices alone.

Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case, and this particular product is no exception.

These contain:6

  • Dried Potatoes
  • Corn Starch, Dextrose
  • Corn Oil
  • Sugar, Salt
  • Skim Milk
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Cultured Skim Milk
  • Onion Powder, Parsley
  • Whey (Protein)
  • Sour Cream and Cultured Sour Cream
  • Natural Flavor
  • Citric Acid
  • Annatto Extracts

As you can tell, more milk products here than you can shake a stick at.

LAY’S Poppables White Cheddar Flavored Potato Snacks

The word cheddar should always raise red flags, but I have seen white cheddar-flavored snacks that were free of dairy products.

For example, Skinny Pop has a white cheddar flavored popcorn that is 100% vegan-friendly.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case here.

These contain:7

  • Dried Potatoes
  • Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn And/or Canola Oil)
  • Potato Starch
  • Whey
  • Maltodextrin (from Corn), Dextrose
  • Salt and Sea Salt
  • Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Cheese Cultures)
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Skim Milk
  • Natural Flavor
  • Buttermilk
  • Romano Cheese (Part-Skim Cow’s Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Corn Oil
  • Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Spice
  • Lactose, Lactic Acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Milk Protein Concentrate
  • Tumeric

Whey and casein make up about 20% and 80% of the proteins in milk, respectively.8

Milk protein concentrate is the crude protein content of milk and contains both whey and casein. Skim milk powder contains milk proteins plus lactose.

Whey protein is just that: whey by itself. So, there’s tons of overlap with non-vegan ingredients here.

Obviously, the presence of any single animal ingredient would be enough to render the whole product non-vegan. I’m bringing this up to illustrate that it’s very unlikely that an accidentally vegan version of this flavor will ever hit the market.

If they managed to replace one problematic ingredient, we’d still have to contend with five more.

LAY’S Poppables Honey BBQ Flavored Potato Snacks

Another non-vegan BBQ variety, but in this case, we lose the flavor to a non-milk ingredient: honey.

These contain:9

  • Dried Potatoes
  • Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn, and/or Canola Oil)
  • Potato Starch
  • Sugar, Salt, and Sea Salt
  • Corn Maltodextrin
  • Spices, Yeast Extract
  • Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Garlic Powder
  • Brown Sugar, Molasses
  • Natural Flavor
  • Honey
  • Paprika Extracts
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Citric Acid
  • Purified Stevia Leaf Extract
  • Turmeric

Keep in mind that not all vegans avoid honey. Apparently, there’s a bit of a divide in the community when it comes to insect-derived ingredients.10

But, I include this flavor in the non-vegan section, because most consider it to be off-limits for vegans. I.e. there’s much more consensus on this ingredient compared to others.

LAY’S Poppables Creamy Jalapeño

Oddly, jalapeno-flavored snacks are characteristically non-vegan. Even the kind without “creamy” in the description.

I say oddly, because jalapeno is a plant, so it’s not obvious why jalapeno-flavored junk food would be characteristically non-vegan. But, it seems to be. At least, in my experience.

The ingredients for these include:11

  • Dried Potatoes
  • Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn, and/or Canola Oil)
  • Potato Starch
  • Salt, Sea Salt, Sugar
  • Buttermilk Powder
  • Yogurt Powder (Cultured Skim Milk)
  • Whey
  • Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Garlic Powder
  • Dextrose, Maltodextrin (from Corn and Potato)
  • Sour Cream (Cream, Skim Milk, Cultures)
  • Natural Flavors
  • Green Bell Pepper, Spices, Jalapeño Pepper
  • Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
  • Yeast Extract
  • Dried Red Bell Pepper
  • Cream Cheese (Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum)
  • Acacia Gum
  • Parmesan Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Skim Milk
  • Canola Oil
  • Turmeric

That’s it for the vegan status of Baked Lay’s and Poppables. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following related articles:

References

  1. Lay’s® Baked Original Potato Crisps: Lay’s. https://www.lays.com/products/lays-baked-original-potato-crisps
  2. Bixa orellana (annatto). https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/9242
  3. Annatto. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annatto
  4. Lay’s® Poppables™ Sea Salt Potato Snacks: Lay’s. https://www.lays.com/products/lays-poppables-sea-salt-potato-snacks
  5. Lay’s® Baked Bbq Flavored Potato Crisps: Lay’s. https://www.lays.com/products/lays-baked-bbq-flavored-potato-crisps
  6. Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion Baked Potato Crisps, 1.125 oz Bag. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Lay-s-Sour-Cream-Onion-Baked-Potato-Crisps-1-125-oz-Bag/129949879
  7. LAY’S® Poppables™ White Cheddar Flavored Potato Snacks. https://www.lays.com/products/lays-poppables-white-cheddar-flavored-potato-snacks
  8. Jay R. Hoffman & Michael J. Falvo (2004). “Protein – Which is best?”. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (3): 118–130.
  9. LAY’S® Poppables™ Honey BBQ Flavored Potato Snacks. https://www.lays.com/products/lays-poppables-honey-bbq-flavored-potato-snacks
  10. The Great Vegan Honey Debate. Is honey the dairy of the insect world? https://slate.com/human-interest/2008/07/why-vegans-can-t-decide-whether-they-re-allowed-to-eat-honey.html
  11. LAY’S® Poppables™ Creamy Jalapeño Flavored Potato Snacks. https://www.lays.com/products/lays-poppables-creamy-jalape-o-flavored-potato-snacks

Drew Davis

Hi! I'm Drew and this is the place where I nerd out about vegan and plant-based diets. I have a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Alabama and have taken dozens of classes in areas like organic and biochemistry, food science, medical nutrition therapy, nutritional genomics, and vegetarian diets. I'm still learning every day, and on this blog, I'll be sharing everything I discover about vegan diets as I go.

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