Are Hot Cheetos Vegan? (No, Here’s Why) | Choosing Nutrition (2022)

Cheetos is one of the world’s most famous and tastiest snack foods. In 2019, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were considered to be the nation’s favorite snack brand. However, can someone following a vegan lifestyle enjoy this tasty snack food?

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are not vegan. The product contains cheddar cheese, milk, whey, whey protein concentrate, buttermilk, and multiple artificial colors and artificial flavors. All of these ingredients keep this product off of the vegan-approved list. The best vegan alternatives to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are Hippeas Organic Chickpea Snacks and Beanfields Bean Jalapeno Nacho Chips.

In this article, we’ll discuss the various Flamin’ Cheetos varieties, as well as healthier vegan alternatives. Let’s dig in!

Contents

  • Background
  • Why are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos not Vegan?
    • Cheddar cheese
    • Whey and whey protein concentrate
    • Buttermilk
  • Cheetos Nutritional Information by Product
    • Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
    • CHEETOS Crunchy FLAMIN’ HOT Limón Cheese Flavored Snacks
    • CHEETOS Crunchy XXTRA FLAMIN’ HOT Cheese Flavored Snacks
  • Vegan Friendly Alternatives to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
    • Hippeas Organic Chickpea Snacks – Sriracha Sunshine
    • Beanfields Bean Chips Jalapeño Nacho
    • Doritos Chili Heatwave
  • Main Takeaways
  • Related Questions
      • Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Healthy?
      • Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Gluten Free?
      • Can Hot Cheetos Cause Gut Health Issues?
    • Related Guides

Background

Cheetos, a popular brand of corn-based snack food, was first manufactured by Charles Elmer Doolin, who created Fritos. He created this cornmeal snack in 1948, in San Antonio, Texas. Doolin joined with Herman Lay, the creator of Lay’s fries, in 1961, to form the Frito-Lay company. In 1965, Pepsi-Cola merged with Frito-Lay and became the company known worldwide as PepsiCo.

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The Flamin’ Hot Cheetos product has a unique history, and if you are so inclined, you could look up the story behind it. In the recently published, Flamin’ Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man’s Rise from Janitor to Top Executive, the author, Richard Montañez, details how a once-factory worker came up with the idea for the taste behind Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. However, former employees at Frito-Lay deny that he had anything to do with it. It makes for some interesting reading.

Why are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos not Vegan?

Cheddar cheese

Cheddar cheese, which in this product, is made from milk, cheese cultures, salt and enzymes, is an ingredient which is derived from an animal source. Since a vegan diet is one where individuals do not consume any animal products, or animal ingredients, cheese is on the list of unacceptable foods for a vegan to eat.

Whey and whey protein concentrate

These are by-products of cheese production. The whey is gathered during the cheese-making process by straining off the liquid from the milk once it has curdled. Food manufacturers typically dehydrate this whey into a powder form. Whey protein is also considered to be bad for your health, because they contain no essential amino acids. Whey has also been linked with stomach pains and cramps, nausea, headache, and fatigue.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is usually made from milk, and created by souring the milk. Since milk is an animal-derived ingredient, it is safe to assume that the buttermilk ingredient in the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is not a plant-based ingredient, and therefore not vegan-friendly.

Cheetos Nutritional Information by Product

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

The Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are marketed as a “cheesy snack made from real cheese.” Along with the artificial ingredients, there is cheddar cheese, and other milk products, which makes this snack food not vegan.

Ingredients:

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  • Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil)
  • Flamin’ Hot Seasoning (Maltodextrin [Made from Corn], Salt, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Artificial Color [Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5]
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes]
  • Onion Powder
  • Whey
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Garlic Powder
  • Natural Flavor
  • Buttermilk
  • Sodium Diacetate
  • Disodium Inosinate
  • Disodium Guanylate
  • Salt

Nutritional information (per 21 pieces/28 grams):

  • Calories: 170
  • Calcium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrate: 15g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Fat: 11g
  • Saturated fat: 1.5g
  • Trans fat: 0g
  • Iron: 0.4mg
  • Fiber: Less than 1g
  • Potassium: 40mg
  • Sodium: 250mg
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Vitamin D: 0mc

Before we talk more about the other ingredients, besides milk and cheese, which make Flamin’ Hot Cheetos not acceptable for a vegan diet, let’s look at the other flavor varieties of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos available.

CHEETOS Crunchy FLAMIN’ HOT Limón Cheese Flavored Snacks

Ingredients:

  • Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil)
  • Flamin’ Hot Limón Seasoning (Salt, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Artificial Color [Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5]
  • Corn Syrup Solids
  • Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
  • Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes]
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Onion Powder
  • Whey
  • Lime Juice
  • Maltodextrin [Made from Corn]
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Garlic Powder
  • Natural Flavor
  • Buttermilk
  • Sodium Diacetate
  • Disodium Inosinate
  • Disodium Guanylate

Nutritional information (per 21 pieces/28 grams):

  • Calories: 170
  • Calcium: 10mg
  • Carbohydrate: 15g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Fat: 11g
  • Saturated fat: 1.5g
  • Trans fat: 0g
  • Iron: 0.5mg
  • Fiber: Less than 1g
  • Potassium: 40mg
  • Sodium: 260mg
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Vitamin D: 0mc

CHEETOS Crunchy XXTRA FLAMIN’ HOT Cheese Flavored Snacks

Ingredients:

  • Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil)
  • Xxtra FLAMIN’ HOT® Seasoning (Salt, Maltodextrin [Made From Corn], Sugar, Yeast Extract, Monosodium Glutamate, Citric Acid, Artificial Color [Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5]
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
  • Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes]
  • Onion Powder
  • Whey
  • Natural Flavor
  • Garlic Powder
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Buttermilk
  • Corn Syrup Solids
  • Sodium Diacetate
  • Salt

Nutritional information (per 21 pieces/28 grams):

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  • Calories: 160
  • Calcium: 6mg
  • Carbohydrate: 16g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 1.5g
  • Trans fat: 0g
  • Iron: 0.5mg
  • Fiber: Less than 1g
  • Potassium: 35mg
  • Sodium: 230mg
  • Protein: 2g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Vitamin D: 0mc

Vegan Friendly Alternatives to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Hippeas Organic Chickpea Snacks – Sriracha Sunshine

Are Hot Cheetos Vegan? (No, Here’s Why) | Choosing Nutrition (1) Anything made with chickpeas is top-notch in my book, (especially chocolate chip cookies, but that’s for another article…) The Hippeas Sriracha Sunshine snacks are made with a list of natural ingredients and sound like they can pack a spicy punch!

Ingredients:

  • Organic Chickpea Flour
  • Organic Rice Flour
  • Organic Sunflower Oil
  • Organic Tapioca Starch
  • Organic Pea Hull Fiber
  • Organic Cane Sugar
  • Salt
  • Organic White Wine Vinegar Powder (Maltodextrin*, White Distilled Vinegar*)
  • Organic Chili Powder
  • Organic Garlic Powder
  • Organic Jalapeño Powder
  • Organic Rice Concentrate
  • Paprika Extract (Color)
  • Organic Yeast Extract
  • Natural Flavor
  • Organic Rosemary Extract

Nutritional information (per 28 grams):

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 0g
  • Trans fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 170mg
  • Carbohydrate: 17g
  • Dietary fiber: 3g
  • Total sugars: 2g
  • Protein: 4g

Beanfields Bean Chips Jalapeño Nacho

Are Hot Cheetos Vegan? (No, Here’s Why) | Choosing Nutrition (2) Another sure winner for being plant-based, the Beanfields Jalapeño Nacho chip is a great vegan-friendly alternative to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Take a look at these healthy ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Black Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Brown Rice
  • Safflower or Sunflower Oil
  • Seasoning Blend (Tapioca Maltodextrin, Salt, Jalapeno Pepper, Tomato Powder, Sugar, Onion Powder, Yeast Extract, Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Pepper, Natural Flavors, Paprika, Extractives of Annatto, Lactic Acid, Grill Flavor (from Sunflower Oil))

When you compare the seasoning blend ingredients of this chip to the seasoning blend in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the natural flavors and colors from those flavors make this a great alternative to the artificial ingredients in the Cheetos brand.

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Nutritional information (per 28 grams/6 chips):

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 6g
  • Saturated fat: 0.5g
  • Trans fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 180mg
  • Carbohydrate: 16g
  • Dietary fiber: 4g
  • Total sugars: <1g
  • Protein: 4g

In this brand of chip, you’ll also find these nutrients:

  • 2% RDA – Vitamin A
  • 4% RDA – Calcium
  • 2% RDA – Vitamin C
  • 4% RDA – Iron

Doritos Chili Heatwave

Are Hot Cheetos Vegan? (No, Here’s Why) | Choosing Nutrition (3) The Doritos Chilli Heatwave tortilla chips are also a corn-based product, but do not contain the cheddar cheese, milk, or whey ingredients like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos do.

Ingredients:

  • Corn (Maize)
  • Vegetable Oils (Corn, Sunflower, Rapeseed, in varying proportions)
  • Chilli Heatwave Flavour [Sugar, Flavourings (Contains Soya, Wheat)
  • Hydrolysed Soya Protein
  • Acidity Regulators (Sodium acetates, Citric acid, Malic acid)
  • Flavour Enhancers (Monosodium glutamate, Disodium 5′-ribonucleotides)
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Soybean
  • Wheat
  • Colour (Paprika extract)

Nutritional information (per 40 grams):

  • Calories: 199
  • Calcium: 6mg
  • Carbohydrate: 24g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 1.2g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Sodium: 54mg
  • Protein: 2.4g

Main Takeaways

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are not a vegan-friendly food. Containing milk, cheese, whey, and buttermilk ingredients, this product does not meet the standards for a diet which does not consume animal-derived foods. Considering, too, that the product contains numerous artificial ingredients, including artificial dyes for coloring which are tested on animals, these ingredients make Flamin’ Hot Cheetos a product which does not follow the “do-no-harm” standard vegans follow.

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Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Healthy?

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are a cornmeal-based snack, and provide very empty calories to one’s dietary needs. High in sodium, carbohydrates, and fat grams, each serving also adds no nutritional value to your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. The product also contains artificial colors and flavors, which have been shown to cause irritability and even tumors.

Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Gluten Free?

People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease must stay away from products containing gluten ingredients, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Those who also have gluten sensitivities or an intolerance also need to avoid such ingredients. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, while not certified to be gluten free, do not contain any gluten ingredients, so can be considered gluten-free

Can Hot Cheetos Cause Gut Health Issues?

Spicy food such as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos may cause digestive irritation or inflammation. It is best to avoid processed foods in general, particularly spicy food processed food.

  • Are Doritos Vegan?
  • Are Fritos Vegan?
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FAQs

Are Hot Cheetos Vegan? (No, Here’s Why) | Choosing Nutrition? ›

The Flamin' Hot Cheetos are marketed as a “cheesy snack made from real cheese.” Along with the artificial ingredients, there is cheddar cheese, and other milk products, which makes this snack food not vegan.

Is Hot Cheetos vegan? ›

Flamin' Hot Cheetos are listed as being a cheesy snack made from real cheese. While there are all kinds of artificial and processed ingredients in the traditional recipe, it does contain cheddar cheese and other milk products, which is the main reason why Hot Cheetos are not vegan.

Are Hot Cheetos nutritious? ›

When you want a crunchy and cheesy snack, it's tempting to head to the vending machine. Hot Cheetos are not the healthiest snack, because they contain a high amount of calories, sodium and fat, but you can work them into your eating plan as an occasional treat if you keep your portion sizes small.

Do Cheetos have any nutritional value? ›

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A single serving of regular potato chips provides 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrate, and 2 grams of protein. A single serving of Cheetos Crunchy provides 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 13 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of sugar and 2 grams of protein.

Is there beef in Cheetos? ›

No, you won't find any meat-based products inside but the cheese used in the Cheetos isn't exactly vegetarian. Cheese can be derived from two types of rennet: microbial rennet and animal-derived rennet.

Is Doritos vegan? ›

Doritos mild and hot salsa are both completely vegan friendly, with no mention of being made in the same milk handling factory. So even the most stringent vegan can still have Doritos dip. Just stay away from Nacho Cheese and Cool Sour Cream and Chives, for obvious reasons!

Can Hot Cheetos turn poop red? ›

Because the spicy snack contains a lot of red food dye, it can turn the stools of people who eat large quantities red or orange. Parents and kids may mistakenly assume that it is a sign of blood in the stool, leading to panicked trip to the hospital.

How many Cheetos is too many? ›

The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than three portions of cheese per day, which each serving capped at 42 grams of cheese.

Are Cheetos good for weight loss? ›

Researchers say picking aerated foods - for instance, Cheetos Puffs - over more dense foods, like crunchy Cheetos, results in a lower caloric intake. “Well, it looks like you could stand to lose about 25 pounds,” says the doctor. So much for those late-night trips to the fridge.

How many hot Cheetos should you eat? ›

Particularly, the coating of Flamin' Hot Cheetos could be the cause, possibly changing the stomach's pH, according to Dr. Robert Glatter, who spoke with ABC News. Moderation will be your best friend when it comes to eating these little pieces of heaven, so maybe stick to one small bag, not a giant one.

What makes Flamin Hot Cheetos so addictive? ›

Medical professionals have compared it to "mild opiate addiction". The burning sensation we get from the peppers in Hot Cheetos causes a release of natural opioids (endorphins) in our bodies. It makes us feel good (at least until the opiate is gone) and then we feel the need to eat more.

Are Skittles vegan? ›

The natural and artificial flavorings, colorings, thickeners, sweeteners, and other ingredients used to make Skittles are either made synthetically or derived from plants. This means, by definition of veganism, the standard varieties of Skittles are suitable for a vegan diet.

Are Goldfish vegan? ›

Goldfish are not suitable for vegans. Unfortunately, Goldfish crackers are not suitable for vegan as all of the flavors contain at least one milk derivative, which is saddening since the remaining ingredients are considered plant-based.

Do Hot Cheetos have pork? ›

No, they are not! In fact, they openly state that many of their cheese-flavored crisps contain pork enzymes. So, if you're avoiding pork products, then stay away from cheesy crisps.

Do Flamin Hot Cheetos have dairy? ›

1 answer. It contains milk ingredients.

Are Chester's Flamin Hot fries vegan? ›

Ferrous - Coloring - May be derived from animal source. Milk - Not vegan if derived from an animal. Check the ingredients. Riboflavin - May contain milk.
...
Chester's, Flamin' Hot Fries Corn & Potato Snack.
Nutrition LabelAs sold for 100 g / 100 mlAs sold per serving (28 g (33 PIECES | ABOUT))
Fiber3.6 (g)1.01 (g)
Proteins7.14 (g)2 (g)
Salt2.54 (g)0.711 (g)
15 more rows

Does Cheetos Flamin Hot have pork? ›

Cheetos Flamin' Hot flavored crisps are a cornmeal snack flavored with spices and cheese, which may contain enzymes derived from pork. The manufacturer Cheetos Flamin' Hot does not include this flavor on its list of pork-free products, so they most likely contain pork.

Are Cheetos Flamin Hot vegetarian? ›

Flamin' Hot Twisted Cheetos are labelled as vegetarian, so we know that the flavourings do not contain any meat.

Videos

1. 11 BEST SUSTAINABLE VEGAN SNACKS
(VEGAN LIFE)
2. Chef AJ: On Tips & Tricks for Quick, Nutritious & Delicious Vegan cooking, her Story, Hustle & Gains
(Beverley Joseph)
3. Hormone Health On A Plant-Based Diet w/ Dr. Gemma Newman | Rich Roll Podcast
(Rich Roll)
4. Why Did I eat Raw fruits & Vegetables for 90 Days | #TheGeeCode
(Gee Bryant)
5. Dietitian Reacts to Michelle Choi Living Alone Diaries (Is this ENOUGH FOR ONE?!)
(Abbey Sharp)
6. "Losing weight on a vegan diet or why you're not losing weight on a vegan diet" by Alex Louise
(Plant-based health professionals UK)

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