Are Bugles Vegan? (List of Vegan and Non-Vegan Flavors)

Bugles are a popular corn snack produced by Tom’s Snacks. They’re also produced by General Mills under a license from Toms’s Snacks.1-3

This is important because while General Mills Bugles are easier to find in the States, the Tom’s version offers some of the more obscure flavors that qualify as vegan.

A lot of vegans grew up eating the tasty snack and want to know if they can continue to do so after switching to a 100% plant-based diet.

Are they vegan? The Original Bugles are vegan, as are several flavors including both of the BBQ varieties. The Bugles themselves (minus the flavorings) are always 100% vegan, as they’re simply made of corn, oils, sugar, salt, and preservatives.

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

Vegan Bugles Flavors

Original Bugles

These contain:4

  • Degerminated Yellow Cornmeal
  • Vegetable Oil (Coconut and/or Palm Kernel Oils)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking Soda
  • BHT (for Freshness)

This one has surprisingly few ingredients for a highly processed food product.

You may have noticed the use of coconut oil. Bugles are fried in this SFA-laden oil (SFA stands for saturated fatty acid), which is why they’re significantly higher in the controversial fat source compared to other snack foods, which are typically fried in vegetable oils like soybean.

The Tom’s version contains vegetable oil (canola, corn, and/or sunflower), so they are a bit healthier. But, they’re harder to come by here in the US.

Anyway, healthy or not, the above ingredients are 100% vegan-friendly.

Hot Buffalo Bugles

Ingredients for these include:5

  • Degerminated Yellow Cornmeal
  • Vegetable Oil (Coconut and/or Palm Kernel)
  • Sugar, Salt
  • Sodium Diacetate
  • Natural Flavor
  • Spice, Paprika Extract (for Color), Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch
  • BHT for Freshness*

I sometimes get asked about BHT. It is completely vegan-friendly.

It’s produced synthetically without animal-derived precursors and is made by green algae and certain cyanobacteria.6,7


These contain:8

  • Degerminated Yellow Cornmeal
  • Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel and/or Coconut Oils)
  • Sugar, Fructose, Salt, and Spices
  • Distilled Monoglycerides*
  • Baking Soda
  • Natural Flavor (I’m assuming cinnamon)
  • BHT

*This ingredient is produced by reacting glycerol and triglycerides both of which can be sourced from both plants and animals.

But the presence of these ingredients doesn’t render a food product non-vegan by most standards, because the precursors are often sourced from vegetable fats.9

Bold BBQ

These contain:10

  • Degerminated Yellow Cornmeal
  • Vegetable Oil (Coconut and/or Palm Kernel)
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Spices, Salt
  • Distilled Monoglycerides
  • Baking Soda
  • Sugar, Fructose, Molasses, Brown Sugar
  • Paprika (for Color)
  • Tomato Powder
  • Maltodextrin, Onion Powder
  • Mustard Powder (Dried Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric)
  • Natural Smoke Flavor
  • BHT for freshness

No problems here.

Ketchup Flavor

This is a very obscure flavor, so good luck trying to find it.

It contains:11

  • Yellow Degerminated Corn Meal
  • Palm Oil
  • Sugar, Salt
  • Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Diacetate
  • Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Wheat Flour
  • Dried Tomato
  • Spices (Allspices, Clove, Cinnamon)
  • Dried Onion and Garlic
  • Paprika Extract

With ingredients like paprika extract and dried tomato, we needn’t worry about any non-vegan food coloring agents like carmine.

Hot and Spicy BBQ

This is another less common flavor exclusive to Tom’s.

These contain:12

  • Degermed Yellow Corn Meal
  • Vegetable Oil (Contains One or More of the Following Vegetable Oils: Canola, Corn, Cottonseed, Rice Bran, Safflower)
  • Sugar, Salt, Maltodextrin, Brown Sugar, Molasses
  • Spices, Monosodium Glutamate
  • Tomato Powder, Onion Powder, Extractives of Paprika
  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Yeast Extract
  • Sodium Diacetate, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate
  • Citric Acid, Malic Acid
  • Natural Flavors

Again, no problems here.

Other Potentially Vegan Flavors

Rumor has it that a few other flavors exist, or used to exist. The ones I managed to track down were no longer available.

These include Salt & Vinegar, Salsa, and Smokin’ BBQ.1

Anyway, they sound vegan enough. I’ll be keeping an eye out for them in case they pop up again so I can confirm the ingredients are vegan.

Non-Vegan Bugles Flavors


These contain:13

  • Degermed Yellow Corn Meal
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil (Coconut, Palm, Palm Kernel, Canola and/or Soybean)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Salt, Baking Soda
  • Molasses
  • Distilled Monoglycerides
  • Natural Flavor
  • Milk
  • BHT and TBHQ (for Freshness)

Real caramel is pretty much always milk-derived as the Maillard browning reaction is commonly performed on lactose. But, not all caramel-flavored products make use of millk, because other simple sugars can undergo the same reaction. Alas, these turned out to contain real milk.

Nacho Cheese

Ingredients for this variety include:14

  • Degermed Yellow Corn Meal
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sugar, Salt
  • Maltodextrin
  • Whey Powder
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Buttermilk Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Dried Garlic, Tomato Powder, Spices, Dried Onion
  • Dried Cheddar Cheese (Cheese Cultures, Milk, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Dextrose
  • Citric Acid
  • Dried Enzyme Modified Romano Cheese (Made from Cow’s Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)
  • Color (Paprika Extract, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Annatto Extract, and Turmeric Extract)
  • Enzyme Modified Butter
  • Disodium Phosphate
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor
  • Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate
  • Nonfat Dry Milk
  • Butter (Cream, Salt)
  • Freshness Preserved by BHT

Milk and dairy derivatives serve a number of useful functions in food processing. The industry separates milk out into its various components for use in processed food. This particular flavor makes use of about every milk derivative known to man.

Interestingly, not all cheese flavored snack foods contain real cheese or milk products of any kind and various yeast and bacterial cultures can often suffice on their own to impart a cheesy flavor. Unfortunately, that can‘t be said about this particular flavor.


These contain:15

  • Degermed Yellow Corn Meal
  • Vegetable Oil (Coconut Oil and/or Palm Kernel)
  • Sugar, Maltodextrin, Salt
  • Dried Buttermilk
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Monoglycerides
  • Baking Soda
  • Citric Acid
  • Whey Protein
  • Onion Powder, Parsley
  • Disodium Guanylate and Inosinate
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor
  • Freshness Preserved by BHT

Buttermilk is pretty common in ranch-flavored snacks. Like regular dried milk, it provides a nice smooth mouthfeel, but also imparts a tangy flavor. It’s a standard ingredient in ranch dressing, so I wasn’t surprised to see it here.

Whey is a dairy protein—it’s the second most abundant protein in milk.16

It is not found in the plant kingdom, so it’s always considered non-vegan.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

These contain:17

  • Degermed Yellow Corn Meal
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sugar
  • Peanut Butter (Peanuts, Sugar, Monoglycerides, Salt)
  • Palm Kernel Oil
  • Cocoa
  • Fructose
  • Cocoa Processed with Alkali
  • Distilled Monoglycerides
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Whole Milk Solids
  • Baking Soda
  • Soybean Oil
  • Cornstarch
  • Natural Flavor
  • Freshness Preserved by BHT, TBHQ, and Citric Acid

Unlike several of the flavors listed so far, this one only has one ingredient keeping it off the menu for vegans: whole milk solids.

Whole milk solids is another name for powdered whole milk—i.e. whole milk with the water removed. It contains all of the protein and fat content of regular whole milk.

It’s used here to provide a milk chocolate flavor. While chocolate doesn’t always require milk, chocolate-flavored snacks tend to contain dairy in one form or another. At least in my experience.

Other Non-Vegan Flavors

These I have not run across personally. But, but they do exist according to Wikipedia. Or, at least, they did exist at one point or another and could resurface at any time.

These flavors include:1

  • Sour Cream & Onion
  • Chile Cheese
  • Southwest Ranch
  • Sweet and Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Sweet and Salty Caramel
  • Cheddar
  • Cookies and Cream
  • Jalapeño Cheddar

Some of these flavors are, or were, exclusive to Tom’s (not General Mills), which could account for why they’re less common.

That’s it for the vegan status of Bugles. Thanks for reading.

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


  1. Bugles.
  2. 50 Years For the Bugles Brand. Global Communications- General Mills –
  3. Surprising Facts About Your Favorite Snack Food Brands The Meal –
  5. Hot Buffalo Bugles.
  6. Babu B, Wu JT (December 2008). “Production of Natural Butylated Hydroxytoluene as an Antioxidant by Freshwater Phytoplankton” (PDF). Journal of Phycology. 44 (6): 1447–1454.
  7. Jiang G, Lin S, Wen L, Jiang Y, Zhao M, Chen F, Prasad KN, Duan X, Yang B (15 January 2013). “Identification of a novel phenolic compound in litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) pericarp and bioactivity evaluation”. Food Chemistry. 136 (2): 563–8.
  8. Bugles™ Snack Mix Churro 3 oz.
  9. Nelson, D. L.; Cox, M. M. (2000). Lehninger, Principles of Biochemistry (3rd ed.). New York: Worth Publishing. ISBN 1-57259-153-6.
  10. Bugles Bold BBQ.
  11. Bugles Ketchup Flavor.
  12. Hot and Spicy BBQ.
  13. Caramel Bugles Ingredients.
  14. Bugles Nacho Cheese Flavor Crispy Corn Snacks, 14.5 oz.
  15. Bugles Ranch Flavor Crispy Corn Snacks, 7.5 oz Bag.
  16. Anna Haug, et al. Bovine milk in human nutrition – a review. Lipids Health Dis. 2007; 6: 25.
  17. Bugles Ingredients, Chocolate Peanut Butter.