Are Pillsbury Biscuits Vegan?

Most commercial brands don’t put a lot of emphasis on making plant-based products, which is why we are often left hoping that they have accidentally made a vegan range. Today, we’re answering the question, are Pillsbury biscuits vegan? The answer is, it depends.

Some flavors could be, but not to a strict vegan. However, this does mean that there are some that every vegan will want to avoid. Let’s take a closer look.

Pillsbury Biscuits Ingredients

These biscuits come in three sizes: Grands, Grands Jr., and a value pack. Veganism also seems to come in different sizes these days, with different interpretations resulting in people having a different take on what they should and should not consume. 

Let’s start by taking a look at the ingredients in the Pillsbury Biscuits Grands Southern Homestyle Original flavor:

ENRICHED FLOUR BLEACHED (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, FERROUS SULFATE, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, PALM AND SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PALM KERNEL OIL, BAKING POWDER (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE). CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: DEXTROSE, SALT, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, XANTHAN GUM.

These are not strictly vegan, although some may say they are fine. The two main reasons to question their vegan status are down to the following ingredients:

Sugar 

One of the ingredients that can get overlooked, but not from a vegan viewpoint. Because a lot of sugar processed in the US is decolorized with bone char, there is a chance that this is not vegan.

Bone char is made from the charred bones of cattle and is used to bleach sugar so it is a more desirable white. It can be hard to tell which brands use this as they do not have to disclose such information. 

When asked directly, a lot of companies will say that it can be difficult to say if their sugar is processed with bone char because they use multiple suppliers.

Palm Oil

Palm Oil is estimated to be responsible for up to 8% of the deforestation in the world between 1990 and 2008. Such a dramatic impact on the environment has displaced animals from their natural habitat which raises questions of ethics that many vegans cannot ignore.

The palm oil itself is not animal-derived, but the severity of what is happening to the animals means many vegans avoid palm oil.

How Are Pilsbury Biscuits Made?

The warnings on the label give a good indication as to how these are made from a vegan perspective. You may have seen some brands use similar terms to ‘may contain traces of milk’ or ‘made in a facility that processes milk’ on their labels. 

This means there’s a chance of cross-contamination between ingredients, so your snack could have small amounts of milk product in there.

It is good to know this from both an allergen perspective, as well as a vegan. Many will choose to ignore this if the ingredients are still vegan, but others won’t be so lenient.

On the nutritional information label, Pillsbury Biscuits adds that the original biscuits ‘may contain milk ingredients.’

Non-Vegan Pillsbury Biscuits

Flaky Layers Honey Butter

The ingredients list states that they are again made with palm oil and potentially questionable sugar, but it is the fact that their allergen information states that it contains milk ingredients. The other ingredients are as follows:

ENRICHED FLOUR BLEACHED (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, FERROUS SULFATE, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, SUGAR, SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL, BAKING POWDER (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA). CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, DEXTROSE, FRACTIONATED PALM OIL, SALT, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, XANTHAN GUM, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SUCRALOSE, PRESERVATIVES (TBHQ, CITRIC ACID), ANNATTO EXTRACT, AND BETA CAROTENE (FOR COLOR).

Pillsbury Southern Homestyle Butter Tastin Biscuits have a similar ingredient profile, and butter to make it non-vegan.

Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits With Icing 

The icing is topped with chocolate chips that are non-vegan because they are made with butter. There is also modified whey which is made from milk. The full ingredient profile reads:

Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Sugar, Palm and Soybean Oil, Semisweet Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter), Wheat Starch. Contains 2% or Less of Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate), Palm Kernel Oil, Salt, Modified Whey, Corn Syrup Solids, Xanthan Gum, Monoglycerides, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Polysorbate 60, Sucralose, Calcium Chloride.

Pillsbury Buttermilk Frozen Biscuits

With the inclusion of butter, cream, buttermilk, whey, and nonfat milk, these are about as non-vegan as you can get. They are different from the ‘Southern Home Style’ version that we examined at the start. The ingredients are as follows:

ENRICHED FLOUR BLEACHED (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, FERROUS SULFATE, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, SOYBEAN OIL, BAKING POWDER (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE), HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL. CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SUGAR, SALT, BUTTERMILK, DATEM, WHEAT PROTEIN ISOLATE, PECTIN, DEXTROSE, CREAM, UNSALTED BUTTER, WHEY, NATURAL FLAVOR, XANTHAN GUM, NONFAT MILK, DISODIUM PHOSPHATE, CITRIC ACID, ENZYMES.

Vegan Alternatives

The strict vegans may not get on with the original recipe, so here are a couple of alternative options:

Annie’s Organic Flaky Biscuits

Another vegan option, the organic ingredients include palm oil meaning its source was not part of any deforestation. 

The ingredients read as follows:

Organic Wheat Flour, Water, Organic Palm Oil, Organic Cane Sugar, Baking Powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda), Sea Salt, Organic Expeller-Pressed Canola, and Sunflower Oils, Xanthan Gum, Organic Wheat Starch, Natural Flavor.

Immaculate Organic Flaky Biscuits

Proving once again that organic is always a good start, these are an excellent vegan-friendly biscuit alternative.

The nutritional information says they may contain milk ingredients, most likely from the risk of cross-contamination. 

Organic Wheat Flour, Water, Organic Palm Oil, Organic Cane Sugar, Baking Powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda), Sea Salt, Organic Expeller-Pressed Canola, and Sunflower Oils, Xanthan Gum, Organic Wheat Starch, Natural Flavor.

Final Word

Most of their products contain milk ingredients which takes them off the vegan table, but the Pillsbury Biscuits Grands Southern Homestyle Original flavor is what many would describe as ‘accidentally vegan.’

Of course, the strict vegans out there will not wish to consume them based on palm oil and the potential that the sugar contains bone char. 

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