Today we’re looking at whether waffle cones are vegan. Most folks probably know that the average waffle—real waffle—is non-vegan due to the presence of egg. But what about waffle cones? After all, they do have a different texture.
Are they vegan? Traditional waffle cones (i.e. made fresh in scoop shops) are typically non-vegan. However, the more processed kind sold in stores are often accidentally vegan—it depends on the manufacturer. The most common non-vegan ingredients include eggs and dairy.
The typical sugar cone, on the other hand, although it has the texture of a waffle, tends to be vegan.
The distinction between waffle cones and other types of ice cream cones is needed because Wikipedia describes all three major types of ice cream cones (waffle, wafer, and sugar cones) as having the texture of a waffle.1
IME, this is especially true of sugar cones, because they tend to have the same waffle iron pattern.
Anyway, I’d imagine some vegan ice cream consumers inquiring about ingredients would use “waffle cone” while referring to any cone resembling a waffle.
The confusion is understandable given the origin of the ice cream cone, as all varieties share a common waffle ancestor.
The humble cone was born in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair when a vendor selling ice cream ran out of dishes and decided to create a “cup” from waffles that were being sold in a nearby stand.2
Next we’ll go over why most traditional waffle cones are non-vegan and what ingredients to look out for. Then we’ll look at any vegan-friendly waffle cones on the market. Along the way, we’ll discuss the vegan status of sugar cones and wafer cones (cake cups).
Why Most Waffle Cones Are Non-Vegan
How Do Waffle Cones Differ From Other Cones?
Waffle cones differ from other cones in that they are typically made in-store (on a waffle cone iron) using fresh ingredients.3
Unfortunately, the fresh ingredients tend to include those that are animal-derived, namely milk and eggs.
So, these cones are made with the usual ice cream cone ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, etc.) plus eggs, butter, and milk.
The former shouldn’t be surprising given that egg is what separates a waffle from similar breakfast foods. For more info, check out the article on the vegan status of waffles.
Are Sugar Cones Vegan?
This kind is similar to waffle cones—much more so than wafer cones—but are much sturdier and have a continuous edge. They’re also more highly processed.
While sugar cones often look like waffle cones at first glance, they are different in important ways. They are not made fresh, so the shelf-stability of the ingredients matters more. Hence, they contain vegetable oil or shortening, instead of butter, both of which are vegan. They’re also eggless.
Ingredients for sugar cones tend to be limited to flour, sugar or brown sugar, vegetable oil or shortening, artificial flavors, soy lecithin, oat fiber, and other additives.
Are Wafer Cones, or Cake Cups, Vegan?
These are often just referred to by manufacturers as “cake cups” or “ice cream cones” with no wafer designation. They have a cheap feel and you probably won’t find them in most mainstream scoop shops.
Fortunately, wafer cones tend to be vegan by most standards. Formulations vary, but they’re usually made with enriched flour, vegetable oils, emulsifiers (e.g. soy or sunflower lecithin), salt, baking soda, and flavorings.
For example, Keebler Ice Cream Cones contain enriched Flour (wheat flour, reduced iron, and B vitamins), cornstarch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, soy lecithin, salt, baking soda, annatto extract (for color), and vanilla extract.4
Are Waffle Bowls Vegan?
As you probably know, a waffle bowl is not a bowl you eat waffles in. Rather, it’s a bowl-shaped from waffle cone material.
Traditional waffle bowls (those made in scoop shops) are non-vegan, while the more processed varieties in stores are often accidentally vegan. Because they’re just oddly shaped waffle cones, they should be expected to share the vegan status of regular waffle cones.
After a bit of research that seems to be the case. For more info, check out the Joy Waffle Bowls discussed below.
Watch Out for Dipped Waffle and Sugar Cones
Keep in mind that in your search for a vegan-friendly waffle cone you may very well come across waffle cones that are made of 100% plant-based ingredients… until they’re dipped in dairy-containing chocolate.
That’s right, the cone itself might be vegan, but the chocolate coating—typically along the upper edge or rim of the cone—may be non-vegan.
Also, you’ll want to watch out for chocolate inside the bottom of the cone, which can easily slide in under the radar. While the chocolate along the edge—often topped with colorful sprinkles—is easy to spot, sometimes cone makers put chocolate inside the cone at the very bottom, to help keep any melted ice cream from seeping through.
Are Ben and Jerry’s Waffle Cones Vegan? What About Their Sugar Cones?
If you’re an ice-cream lover, and I imagine you are if you’re reading this, you probably know by now that Ben and Jerry’s has several vegan-friendly options on offer as far as ice cream goes.
But, what about their ice cream cones? After a bit of research, I found the answer to be more complicated than I anticipated.
In short, are they vegan? Ben and Jerry’s waffle cones are non-vegan. Like most traditional waffle cones, they contain animal products. However, their sugar cones are vegan. The company stresses that while their sugar cones lack animal products, they are not certified vegan.
I suppose it is possible that a given scoop shop might be using off-brand waffle cones that don’t contain animal products. But, the cones they make in-shop are non-vegan.
The same caveat applies to the sugar cones. While the B&J sugar cones are vegan, some scoop shops might be using off-brand cones. This shouldn’t be too alarming giving that sugar cones are typically vegan by most standards regardless of the brand.
Finding the answer to whether Ben and Jerry’s waffle cones are vegan was complicated for a few reasons.
For one, while ingredients for their ice cream are listed on individual pints as well as their website, formulations for their ice cream cones are much harder to find. Maybe because they’re only sold in scoop shops and not in stores.
They used to have a page on their site that went in-depth on their ice cream cones, but nowadays, the URL just redirects to another page on the site. Not sure what’s going on there.
To find out for sure, I had to reach out to the manufacturer directly, and here was their response.
Secondly, they seem to use the term vegan sparingly, only confirming something to be vegan if it’s been certified.
They’ve stated on Twitter that their cones are not vegan, and then proceeded to list the ingredients, none of which are generally considered animal-derived.5 If I had to guess, I’d say that by saying “no” they simply meant that the cones are not certified vegan.
To be certified vegan, a product has to meet a much longer list of criteria—more than just lacking ingredients that are typically sourced from animals.6
Also, the vegan certification precludes any products made with sugar potentially processed with bone char—which rules out about 99% of the processed foods celebrated by most in the plant-based community as being vegan-friendly.
So, while the certification is the gold standard of indicating vegan-friendliness, just because something doesn’t have a vegan certification, doesn’t render it off-limits for vegans by most standards.
Finally, it seems that just because you order ice cream in their scoop shop, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be getting one of their own ice cream cones—I suppose they can sometimes use other cones depending on the scoop shop.
As mentioned above, this shouldn’t be an issue because sugar cones are typically vegan.
Are Keebler Waffle Cones Vegan?
Keebler has probably the most widely available waffle cones, so they can be found in most grocery stores.
Keebler waffle cones are vegan-friendly by most standards, as they are both dairy and egg-free. Ingredients include enriched wheat flour, high-oleic sunflower oil, sugar, salt, and soy lecithin. So, they contain basically the same ingredients as sugar cones.7
If you find yourself in a scoop shop that doesn’t make their own waffle cones, then there’s a good chance the waffle cones are vegan-friendly. You’ll have to ask the manager.
Are Baskin Robbins Waffle Cones Vegan?
It doesn’t appear that Baskin Robbins offers waffle cones in stores and supermarkets, so we’re limited to the cones used in scoop shops, which doesn’t bode well for vegans.
Sure enough, Baskin Robbins waffle cones are non-vegan. In this case, it’s due to the presence of eggs and dairy. The ingredients include wheat flour, sugar, oil, dextrose, whole egg, shortening, soy lecithin, artificial flavors, cinnamon, and whey.8
So you know, whey is a protein found only in milk, so it’s always considered non-vegan. Milk and eggs can hide behind many labels—like albumin and casein or whey, respectively. Both eggs and dairy are major allergens, so always check the allergy section of the ingredients label, usually listed in bold.
Are Joy Waffle Cones Vegan?
Joy puts out some of the most widely recognizable ice cream cones. In fact, that’s all they do from the looks of it.
Joy waffle cones and waffle bowls are vegan. Whether in cone or bowl form, they contain the same ingredients. Namely, enriched wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, vegetable oil shortening, soy lecithin, oat fiber, and artificial flavor.9
So, while they may not be vegan certified, they are free of animal products.
Are Waffle Cones Vegan? Conclusion
In sum, traditional waffle cones are non-vegan. However, a few popular brands put out processed waffle cones that do meet most standards for being accidentally vegan.
If in a scoop shop, ask if they have sugar cones, as they are typically free of animal products. I’m sure they’re out there, but I’ve yet to run across any non-vegan sugar cones.
Wafer cones, or cake cups, also tend to be vegan so they’re another potential alternative. Keep in mind, they’re probably not offered in your favorite scoop shop, but they’re probably the most widely available cones in mainstream supermarkets.
- Ice Cream Cones, Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_cream_cone
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 535). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
- Waffle Cone vs Sugar Cone: How Different Are They? https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/waffle-cone-vs-sugar-cone-how-different-are-they
- Keebler Ice Cream Cone Ingredients. https://www.keebler.com/en/sweet-treats/?keeblericecreamcones
- Ben and Jerry Twitter Response. https://twitter.com/benandjerrys/status/720092870204596225?lang=en
- Vegan Certification. https://vegan.org/certification/
- Keebler Waffle Cones Ingredients. https://www.keebler.com/en/sweet-treats/?keeblericecreamcones
- Baskin Robbins Waffle Cone Ingredients. https://fastfoodnutrition.org/baskin-robbins/waffle-cone
- Joy Waffle Cones and Waffle Bowls, Ingredients. https://www.joycone.com/food-service/cone-compare/waffle-cones