Baked goods can be rather a fraught issue for vegans, especially if you’re fairly strict about your vegan eating habits. What looks like a simple combination of grains, leavening agents and other plant-based substances can often be revealed to contain multiple non-vegan ingredients. Butter, milk, eggs, animal fats and other non-vegan ingredients can all sneak into baked goods, as can ingredients that are not cruelty-free. Fortunately, many of your favorite baked foods can easily be made vegan-friendly with a few simple substitutions. Manufacturers are starting to catch onto this, making it easier to find vegan versions of familiar foods.
Are English muffins vegan? They can be made vegan. Traditionally, the recipe for English muffins used to call for animal ingredients such as milk and butter. These can easily be replaced with plant-based substitutes. Some brands of English muffin are now vegan, although strict vegans will need to check the ingredients carefully.
You’ve arrived at this website because you’re looking for answers. You might be a long-time vegan looking for new items to add to their shopping list, or someone who’s recently become a vegan and is trying to find out which foods are compatible with their new lifestyle. Perhaps you have a family member who’s a vegan and you want to know what to serve them.
- Are English muffins vegan?
- What non-vegan ingredients might English muffins contain?
- Which brands should you look for if you want vegan English muffins?
Keep reading to find out more about vegan English muffins.
Are English Muffins Vegan?
English muffins are one of those foods that can very easily be made vegan, even if they weren’t originally. Traditional versions of the recipe for English muffins call for all sorts of non-vegan ingredients. Butter features in a lot of older recipes, as do milk and buttermilk. The really old-school cookbooks often call for lard (processed animal fat). In many mass-produced English muffins, you’ll find ingredients like dried milk and lactic acid. Luckily, none of these are necessary. You can make a delicious English muffin using entirely plant-based ingredients.
English muffins are a type of yeast bread, requiring that you add a leavening agent to make them rise. Those on a yeast-free, as well as a vegan diet, can switch out the yeast for alternatives, although it can be a little tricky to get the right texture.
English muffins are usually made with wheat flour as a principle ingredient. The gluten in the wheat flour gives the muffins a chewy texture and stops them from falling apart once they’re baked. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, as many health-conscious vegans are, you will need to find an alternative to wheat flour. You can buy gluten-free vegan English muffins at specialist stores. You can also make them at home, using gum or other gluten replacer.
Another key ingredient for a good English muffin is cornmeal. Traditionally, this is mixed into the muffins before they are baked. It’s also used to dust the Without this slightly gritty flour, the muffins will not have the right texture. Another ingredient is malted barley. Malted barley just means barley that has been allowed to sprout just a little before being ground up for flour, giving it a sweeter taste and producing enzymes that are important in the cooking process.
Making English muffins also involves a sugar of some sort to activate the yeast. What and how much will depend on the kind of yeast being used. You will notice that many commercially produced muffins include sugar on the list of ingredients; this is not just for flavor. Yeast needs something to work with in order to produce the carbon dioxide bubbles that give the muffins their puffy texture. Some yeasts are fine with flour alone but a lot of commercially used dried yeasts need a sugar solution to kick-start the rising process. As most vegans are aware, not all sugar is cruelty-free due to the use of bone char in the sugar cane refining process. If this is a concern for you, you will need to know what sort of sugar is used.
Some commercially produced English muffins use other slightly dubious additives, too. These include enzymes, Xanthan gum and monoglycerides. While not necessarily non-vegan, they may be produced using animal products. If you’re concerned about the provenance of these ambiguous substances, though, it’s easy to avoid them altogether.
The fat in English muffins is very easily replaced with vegetable oils, which are not only cruelty-free but healthier. In short, while English muffins aren’t always vegan, it’s not difficult to make them so.
Are English muffins healthy?
Many vegans are health-conscious people who have adopted the vegan lifestyle as an aid to well-being. If you’re a health-conscious vegan, you might be eyeing some of those ingredients rather suspiciously. As we’ve already seen, English muffins usually contain wheat flour (with all the gluten that entails).
The majority of English muffins are not whole-grain. They tend to be made with refined flours, which are lower in dietary fiber and higher in bleaching agents. You can certainly find wholegrain English muffins but they’re less common than the kind made with white flour.
Then there are the vegetable-based oils used in English muffins. While vegetable oils are generally regarded as healthier than butter, not all of them are terribly healthy in and of themselves. Canola oil, for instance, is generally seen as less wholesome than some other oils; and all oils are fatty and high in calories.
English muffins do tend to be lower in refined sugar than the sweeter, cake-style muffins. This is a positive, although it should be borne in mind that English muffins are still very heavy on carbohydrates.
In short, while vegan English muffins are healthier than some other baked goods, they’re not completely without downsides from a health perspective. You can make your muffin healthier by being prudent in your choice of toppings. Avoid heavily sweetened, sugary jams and opt for a tasty fruit puree instead. Swap large quantities of margarine for smaller mounts of unsalted nut butter or a light vegan cream-cheese style topping. You can also add extra fibre and important vitamins by topping your muffin with sliced cucumber or other fruits and vegetables.
Which brands of English muffin are vegan?
Recommending a specific brand is always a little dicey because manufacturers often change their ingredients without warning. Today’s vegan-safe staple can be on tomorrow’s don’t-buy list. Another consideration is that while mainstream food manufacturers may produce genuinely vegan products, not all of their other products will be vegan. The more strict brand of ethical vegan may balk at spending their money with companies that use animal ingredients in their products, or that don’t do enough to avoid animal testing.
To cut a long story short, it’s generally best to get baked goods like English muffins from a local baker who specializes in vegan food. If that’s not possible, the next best thing is to seek out vegan manufacturers who offer English muffins as part of their product line.
With those caveats out of the way, here are some suggestions for vegan English muffins that you might find in the supermarket. At the time of writing, these should be fine for most vegan diets. You will need to pay careful attention to the ingredients listed on the packaging.
Aldi, the popular German supermarket chain, offers English muffins that are “accidentally” vegan. Food For Life’s English muffins are said to be a healthier option, although you will need to evaluate these claims for yourself. In any case, they use no ingredients of animal origin. In the US, Rudi’s Organic Bakery English Muffins are recommended as vegan, as are Trader Joe’s British Muffins.
You should also check out any English muffins advertised as organic or gluten-free. While these designations do not mean that a product is necessarily vegan, there is enough overlap between vegan and organic lifestyles that manufacturers often decide to maximize sales by making their organic foods vegan and vice-versa. Many health-conscious vegans ditch gluten as well, so gluten-free products may be formulated without animal ingredients or by-products. Check the ingredients to be sure.
Can I bake my own English muffins?
If you want the final say on what goes into your food, there’s nothing like home cooking and baking. Fortunately, English muffins are fairly simple to make and require no special equipment. English muffins are traditionally cooked on a stovetop but you can bake them in the oven too. Some recipes call for cooking partway on the stove and then finishing them off in the oven. If you’re planning to oven bake yours, you will need a suitable muffin pan (a cupcake pan will do at a pinch, but you’ll end up with smaller muffins and will need to reduce cooking times).
The ingredients are simple, too. You’ll need wheat flour (rice is fine if you want to avoid wheat). Use an unbleached strong white flour, or mix half white and half wholewheat. I wouldn’t recommend trying to use all wholewheat flour; in-home baking, it tends to lead to heavy and unappealing results. You’ll also need dried yeast to make the dough rise, and the all-important cornmeal for that perfect English muffin texture.
The choice of oil is up to you but I prefer one with a more neutral taste. Olive oil is fine as long as you’re planning to use savory toppings, as the distinctive taste of the may clash a little with sweet flavors. Coconut oil is a good bet, as the flavor works well with both sweet and savory fillings.
If you’re not very confident with making the dough, it’s fine to use a bread machine. I’ve had great results making muffins this way.