Are Fortune Cookies Vegan?


Are fortune cookies vegan?

As a vegan, a tasty, crispy treat will be coming into your life in the near future. Also, be warned because a dubious fortune cookie will be posing as a vegan while containing egg products. How’s that for a vague prophecy?

Fortune cookies are sugary and crisp cookies made from sugar, flour, and other ingredients that contain a slip of paper with an aphorism on the inside. Most folks grew up eating the tasty treats and want to know if they have to give them up upon switching to a vegan diet.

Are they vegan? From reading 30 different brands and not finding one with animal products, I can say that fortune cookies tend to be vegan. However, given that fortune cookies are a type of wafer cookie, it is possible that you will encounter fortune cookies that are non-vegan.

What we’ll do here is go over specific non-vegan ingredients that could potentially be found in fortune cookies, and then list a few brands that are known to be suitable for vegan consumption.

Why Most Fortune Cookies Are Considered Vegan

Fortune cookies are made principally from plant-based ingredients—namely, sugar, flour, vanilla, and sesame seed oil.1 And of course paper, with a proverb, prediction, or life-altering insight.

While still warm, the cookies are folded around small strips of paper with “fortunes” printed on them. The cooling process makes the cookie turn hard and crisp so that the only way to get the “fortune” is to crack the cookie open.2

They are often served as a dessert with a typically non-vegan meal, but the cookies themselves are usually completely vegan-friendly.

Of all of the labels I’ve scanned, I’ve found most to contain flour, sugar, hydrogenated plant oils, leaveners (e.g. sodium bicarbonate), and various preservatives—all of which are vegan.

The one exception, and only for some vegans, might be palm oil. This particular plant oil is mired in controversy within the vegan community due to its effects on the environment.3,4

Its cultivation requires large areas of land to be cleared which threatens endangered species and contributes to rising greenhouse gas emissions.5-7

But, palm oil isn’t always used in fortune cookies. And it isn’t considered a non-vegan ingredient by community-wide standards. Some vegans do want to avoid the stuff, so it’s something to keep in mind, especially if you’re a particularly eco-conscious vegan.

Non-Vegan Products Potentially Present in Fortune Cookies

Milk Products

I personally haven’t found any fortune cookies to contain milk products. But, we just covered vanilla wafers and their vegan status in an article you can check out here. If you read that article, you know that most all contain milk in one form or another.

Why is that relevant? Well, fortune cookies are a type of wafer. Wafers are a type of thin/flat, sweet, dry and crispy cookie. They’re commonly consumed with ice cream.8 In fact, the traditional ice cream cone is a type of wafer.

Keep in mind that wafers can also be crackers. The bread served with wine by many Christian denominations during communion is a type of wafer.9 But, we’re referring to cookie wafers in this article.

Anyway, vanilla wafers and ice cream cones are both examples of wafers that tend to contain milk derivatives.10,11

It seems most snack foods contain milk in some form. Milk itself is a beverage, but it tends to be used for its various properties in processed snack foods.12

Some wafer cookies use butter, which is, of course, made from milk. Any foodstuff containing actual butter (not margarine or shortening) is dairy-based to some extent. Butter has a high-fat content so it imparts a desirable flavor and mouthfeel.

Whey and casein are examples of other milk-derived ingredients common in wafers and other cookies. They help emulsify/stabilize ingredients and provide a nice brown color to the end product.

Anyway, since milk is so common in other wafer cookies, you can expect to encounter it in some fortune cookies.

Egg

Then, there’s egg to contend with. Like milk, I haven’t seen egg in any fortune cookies thus far, but there are no doubt hundreds if not thousands of fortune cookies on the market/in restaurants, so it would be surprising if none contained egg.

Egg is another common ingredient in wafer cookies. Nabisco Nilla Wafers didn’t contain any egg, but several of the off-brand generic vanilla wafers contained egg in one form or another. For example, Kinnikinnick vanilla wafers contained egg white.13

Egg contributes a number of useful properties to bread products and other baked goods and thus is likely to be present in some fortune cookies. So, it’s something to look out for when scanning labels of fortune cookie ingredients for vegan-friendliness.

Commercial Vegan Fortune Cookies

So, now that we know fortune cookies tend to be vegan, here are a few that check out as 100% vegan.

Twin Dragon Chinese Style Fortune Cookies

Ingredients include:14

  • Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Canola oil
  • Vanilla
  • Flavor
  • Salt
  • Baking soda

La Choy Fortune Cookies, 3 Ounce

Ingredients for these include:15

  • Bleached wheat flour
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean and cottonseed oils)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Artificial flavor
  • Yellow 5 and yellow 6

Hawaii Candy Fortune Cookie

Ingredients include:16

  • Enriched unbleached wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin)
  • Sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Natural food coloring

That wraps it up for fortune cookies. Thanks for reading.

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

References

  1. Fortune Cookies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortune_cookie
  2. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 491). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  3. Clay, Jason (2004). World Agriculture and the Environment. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-55963-370-3.
  4. “Palm oil: Cooking the Climate”. Greenpeace. 8 November 2007. Archived from the original on 10 April 2010.
  5. “Palm oil threatening endangered species” (PDF). Center for Science in the Public Interest. May 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 September 2012.
  6. Foster, Joanna M. (1 May 2012). “A Grim Portrait of Palm Oil Emissions”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013.
  7. Yui, Sahoko; Yeh, Sonia (1 December 2013). “Land use change emissions from oil palm expansion in Pará, Brazil depend on proper policy enforcement on deforested lands”. Environmental Research Letters. 8 (4): 044031. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/044031. ISSN 1748-9326.
  8. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 23). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  9. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 11). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  10. Nabisco Nilla Wafers. https://www.nutritionix.com/i/nabisco/mini-nilla-wafers/51d2fe12cc9bff111580eeaa
  11. Great Value Classic Dipped Ice Cream Cones, 8 Count, 36 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Value-Classic-Dipped-Ice-Cream-Cones-8-Count-36-oz/154587710
  12. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 211). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  13. Vanilla Wafers. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Vanilla-Wafers/49252576
  14. Twin Dragon Fortune Cookies, Chinese Style. https://www.fooducate.com/product/Twin%20Dragon%20Fortune%20Cookies%20Chinese%20Style/54C081F6-EAF1-0349-41DC-BD5EBA267D17
  15. La Choy Fortune Cookies, 3 Ounce. https://allergeninside.com/foods/ingredients/044300125957/La-Choy-Fortune-Cookies
  16. Hawaii Candy Fortune Cookie, 3 Ounce. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Hawaii-Candy-Fortune-Cookie-3-Oz/157958355

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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