Are Graham Crackers Vegan? (Regular, Cinnamon, Chocolate, Etc.)


Are graham crackers vegan?

The graham cracker is a sweet cracker made with graham flour that’s known for having a slight cinnamon flavor.1 It’s been around since the early 1880s and is now produced on a massive scale. It’s eaten plain but is also a very popular ingredient in other foods like pie crusts.2

Is it vegan? Graham crackers tend not to be vegan, as many contain honey. However, there are a few ingredients, such as corn syrup, that are commonly used in place of honey. For this reason, there are many accidentally vegan graham crackers on the market.

Is the Texture of Graham Crackers Due to Animal Products?

Graham crackers are unique in their textural properties. Anytime a product has a unique texture, one has to wonder whether animal products are used to achieve it.

In the case of graham crackers, no animal products are needed to achieve its characteristic texture.

Bread products derive their texture from the type of flour used. Flours are classified in several different ways—for example, by their percent protein.

Despite such classifications, flours in the US tend to be identified by their common names.

Different types of flour vary based on:3

  • Specific types of wheat used
  • The blending of different combinations of flour
  • The streams that are selected during the milling process

“Graham cracker” has traditionally been a generic name for crackers made with graham flour. A whole wheat graham flour is produced by combining the coarsely ground bran and germ with the finely ground endosperm.

However, the term is now used for imitation graham crackers made with regular wheat flour.3

But, the texture is still achieved without animal products. In either case (graham flour or regular wheat flour), the grainy texture of graham crackers comes from the use of the more course parts of the grain.

Potentially Non-Vegan Ingredients in Graham Crackers

Honey

The original graham cracker recipe contained honey. The cracker was originally created by Reverend Sylvester Graham. The guy was somewhat of a vegan for his time as he denounced the use of meat and milk. It probably stemmed from health reasons as he also denounced white bread.4

He invented the initial flour used for the cracker and threw in honey with a few other ingredients to invent the “Graham Cracker” which he originally marketed under the name “Dr. Graham’s Honey Biskets.”4

I’m not saying that no self-proclaimed vegans consume honey, but it is largely considered a non-vegan ingredient.

Vegan Replacement

Again, not all graham crackers use of honey, as some make use of vegan-friendly substances in place of honey.

Molasses

Molasses or black treacle is a viscous food product—food products with a high viscosity are very thick and don’t pour out of containers quickly. It results from the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar.

Sugarcane molasses is the most common form of molasses used for sweetening and flavoring foods in the US, Canada, and elsewhere.5

Anyway, molasses 100% vegan-friendly.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is another common product used in place of honey. It’s a food syrup made from the starch content of corn and contains varying amounts of oligosaccharides (short-chains of glucose) and maltose (a disaccharide having two glucose units).6

Because it’s produced from corn and non-animal-derived enzymes, it’s considered 100% vegan.

Palm Oil

Palm oil isn’t technically a non-vegan ingredient. It’s 100% plant-derived, but its cultivation does have a negative impact on the environment, so some vegans want to avoid it.

Palm oil is popular for use in snacks because it’s a rare source of plant-based saturated fat—the type of fat that has a longer shelf-life due to being less prone to oxidation.

Vegan Replacement

Based on my own experience in scanning food labels, canola oil is probably more common in graham crackers than palm oil.

Canola oil is made by slightly heating and crushing the seed of certain cultivars of the plant family Brassicaceae.7

It’s then extracted using hexane solution.8

Then it’s refined by the use of organic acids to remove the impurities and is deodorized using steam distillation.7

So, it’s plant-derived and 100% vegan.

Sunflower oil is another common oil used in graham crackers and it’s also 100% vegan.

Commercial Vegan Graham Crackers

Keebler Graham Original Crackers

These include:9

  • Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, folic acid).
  • Sugar
  • Graham flour
  • Canola oil
  • Molasses
  • Corn syrup
  • Leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Salt
  • Soy lecithin

You’ll notice these don’t even contain palm oil, so they should be perfectly suitable for all vegans.

Are Cinnamon Graham Crackers Vegan?

The most common cinnamon graham cracker you’ll likely run into in stores is the Honey Maid, which uses… you guessed it: honey.

But, I did manage to find one by Keebler version which is vegan-friendly.

It contains:10

  • Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, folic acid).
  • Sugar
  • Graham Flour
  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate)
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Dextrose
  • Soy Lecithin

Are Chocolate Graham Crackers Vegan?

Unfortunately, Keebler doesn’t seem to have any chocolate graham crackers at the time.

Best Vegan Alternatives

Chocolate Teddy Grahams

One of the best vegan replacements are chocolate Teddy Grahams.

These contain:11

  • Graham flour (whole grain wheat flour)
  • Enriched unbleached flour (wheat flour, vitamin B3, reduced iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and folic acid.
  • Sugar
  • Canola oil
  • Cocoa
  • Cocoa processed with alkali
  • Dextrose
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Maltodextrin
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Natural flavor (contains barley)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Chocolate
  • Artificial flavor
Annie’s Chocolate Bunny Grahams

These contain:12

  • Organic wheat flour
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Organic expeller-pressed sunflower oil
  • Organic invert cane syrup
  • Organic whole wheat flour (graham flour)
  • Organic cocoa powder
  • Organic semi-sweet chocolate chips (organic cane sugar, organic unsweetened chocolate, organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla extract)
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Natural flavor
  • Baking soda
  • Sea salt
  • Mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) to protect flavor

Are Graham Cracker Pie Crusts Vegan?

Graham cracker pie crust is an alternative piecrust—a crust that’s used in place of traditional pie crust. Alternative pie crusts include crusts made from graham flour, cereal flakes, and cookies (Oreos, etc.).

Once pulverized, crisp cookies and crackers make for the best pie crust alternatives.13

So, graham crackers are a favorite for this application. The crumbs are made into a cohesive mass upon mixing with a bit of sugar and fat.

It’s then shaped by laying plastic wrap over the top of the crumbs (to prevent the crumbs from sticking to your hands) at which point it’s pressed against the sides of the pie pan.

It’s then baked or left unbaked, per the recipe instructions.14

Commercial graham cracker crust is made with a few extra ingredients and additives, and all tend to be vegan.

Commercial Vegan Graham Cracker Pie Crust

These are easy to find, but here’s an example.

This particular product contains palm oil, but there should be others on the market with canola or sunflower oil.

Ingredients for Keebler Ready Crust Pie Graham Crust include:15

  • Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and folic acid).
  • Palm and palm kernel oil with TBHQ for freshness
  • SUGAR
  • Graham flour
  • Corn syrup
  • Molasses
  • Salt
  • Leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate).
  • Malt extract
  • Soy lecithin

That’s it for graham crackers. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following articles:

References

  1. “Homemade Graham Crackers” https://www.hodgsonmill.com/blogs/blog/homemade-graham-crackers
  2. Krapp, Kristine (1997). How Products are Made. Gale. pp. 181–182.
  3. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 373). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  4. Homemade Graham Crackers. Hodgson Mill – https://www.hodgsonmill.com/blogs/blog/homemade-graham-crackers
  5. Molasses. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molasses
  6. Corn Syrup. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_syrup
  7. “Steps in Oil and Meal Processing”. Canola Council of Canada. https://www.canolacouncil.org/oil-and-meal/what-is-canola/how-canola-is-processed/steps-in-oil-and-meal-processing/
  8. Crosby, Guy (2017). “Ask the Expert: Concerns about canola oil”. The Nutrition Source. Harvard University School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/04/13/ask-the-expert-concerns-about-canola-oil/
  9. Keebler Graham Original Crackers, 15 Oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Keebler-Graham-Original-Crackers-15-Oz/11045779
  10. Keebler Cinnamon Graham Crackers. https://www.kroger.com/p/keebler-cinnamon-graham-crackers/0003010003111
  11. Chocolate Teddy Grahams. https://www.nutritionix.com/i/teddy-grahams/teddy-grahams-chocolate/51d2f91dcc9bff111580ccff
  12. Organic Chocolate Bunny Grahams. https://www.annies.com/products/snacks/chocolate-bunny-grahams
  13. Dodge AJ. Stylish tarts from a quick crust. Fine Cooking 68:50, 2005.
  14. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 509). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  15. (3 Pack) Keebler Ready Crust Pie Crust, Graham, 6 Oz. http://smartlabel.kelloggs.com/Product/Index/00078913170288

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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