Are Skittles Vegan? What You Need To Know About The Popular Sweets

Skittles are one of the most beloved candy treats in the world. With their vibrant colors and fruity flavors, they have been enjoyed by people of all ages for decades. However, for those following a vegan diet, the question often arises, “Are Skittles vegan?” In this article, we will delve into the ingredients of Skittles and explore the evolution of their composition over the years. We will also discuss the presence of gelatin, red food coloring, and palm kernel oil in Skittles, as well as provide some vegan alternatives for those who choose to avoid these ingredients. So let's dig in and find out if Skittles meet the criteria to be considered vegan-friendly.


As a vegan, it is important to thoroughly examine any product before consuming it to ensure that it aligns with your dietary choices and principles. Skittles, being a popular candy, are often a subject of scrutiny among those following a vegan lifestyle. While Skittles are generally considered to be vegan, there are a few ingredients and considerations that vegans should be aware of.

Are Skittles Vegan?

The short answer is yes, Skittles are generally considered vegan. However, it is vital to check the label of the specific pack you are considering purchasing or consuming, as ingredients can vary between different flavors and regions. Skittles do not contain any animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin, which is commonly found in gummy candies and can be derived from animal bones or skin. Skittles also do not contain any dairy or egg-derived ingredients, making them suitable for those following a vegan diet.

Ingredients of Skittles

Skittles are made with a variety of ingredients to achieve their fruity taste and texture. The primary ingredients of Skittles include sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, fruit juice concentrates, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, and colors. Let's take a closer look at some of the key ingredients and their impact on the vegan status of Skittles.


Sugar is the main ingredient in Skittles, and while some sugars may undergo a refining process that involves the use of bone char, it is highly unlikely that Skittles contain bone char-treated sugar. Most commercial sugars, including those used in Skittles, are derived from sugar beets or cane, which do not typically utilize bone char during processing. However, if the use of bone char in sugar processing concerns you, you can opt for organic or vegan-certified sugar options.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is another ingredient present in Skittles. It is a sweetener derived from corn starch and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. However, it is important to note that some vegans choose to avoid corn syrup due to concerns about its impact on health or its production methods. If you prefer to avoid corn syrup, you can consider looking for alternative candies that use different sweeteners.

Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil

One ingredient in Skittles that some vegans may take issue with is hydrogenated palm kernel oil. Palm oil and its derivatives, including palm kernel oil, are controversial due to their impact on deforestation, habitat destruction, and the loss of wildlife, particularly orangutans. While hydrogenated palm kernel oil does not contain any animal-derived ingredients, some vegans choose to avoid it because of the environmental concerns associated with its production. If you are concerned about the use of palm oil and its derivatives, there are vegan candies available that use alternative oils or fats.

Fruit Juice Concentrates

Skittles derive their fruity flavors from fruit juice concentrates. These concentrated juices are usually sourced from various fruits and contribute to the distinctive taste of each flavor. Fruit juice concentrates are typically vegan-friendly, as they are extracted from fruits without the need for animal-derived ingredients. However, it is essential to check the list of flavors used in Skittles, as some artificial fruit flavors may not be vegan-friendly.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a common ingredient found in many candies, including Skittles. It is a natural acid derived from fruits like lemons and limes and is used as a flavor enhancer and preservative. Citric acid is generally considered vegan, as it does not involve animal-derived ingredients or processes. However, as with any ingredient, it is always a good idea to verify its source to ensure it aligns with your vegan principles.

Natural and Artificial Flavors

Skittles contain both natural and artificial flavors to achieve their distinct taste profiles. Natural flavors are derived from plant or animal sources, while artificial flavors are synthetically created to mimic specific tastes. Unfortunately, the specific sources of natural flavors are often not disclosed on ingredient labels. Therefore, it can be challenging to determine whether they are vegan-friendly or not. It is always advisable to contact the manufacturer directly for more information.


The vibrant colors that make Skittles so visually appealing are achieved using a combination of natural and artificial colors. While natural colors are typically derived from plant or mineral sources and are generally considered vegan, artificial colors can vary in their vegan status. Some artificial colors may be made from animal-derived ingredients or undergo processes involving animals. Again, it is advisable to contact the manufacturer for detailed information regarding the sources and processes involved in creating the colors used in Skittles.

Evolution of Skittles Composition

It is interesting to note that Skittles have evolved over the years, both in terms of their composition and the concerns surrounding their vegan status. Let's take a look at the changes that have occurred to better understand the current state of Skittles.

Gelatin in Skittles Explained

In the past, Skittles did contain gelatin, an animal-derived ingredient commonly found in gummy candies. Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling animal bones, cartilage, and skin. However, in 2010, the Skittles brand announced that they had removed gelatin from their ingredient list, making them suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Red Food Coloring in Skittles Explained

Until 2015, Skittles also contained a red food coloring known as carmine or cochineal extract. Carmine is derived from crushed cochineal insects, which are native to Central and South America. The use of carmine in food products can be a concern for vegans, as it involves exploiting insects for their coloring properties. In response to consumer feedback, Skittles made the decision to replace carmine with an alternative red food coloring made from beetles.

The Inclusion of Palm Kernel Oil in Skittles

While Skittles are generally considered vegan due to the absence of gelatin and other direct animal-derived ingredients, the inclusion of hydrogenated palm kernel oil raises concerns for some vegans. Palm oil and its derivatives are often associated with deforestation, habitat destruction, and the displacement of indigenous communities and wildlife. The production of palm oil has been linked to the loss of habitats for orangutans and other endangered species.

Vegan Alternatives to Skittles

If you are looking for vegan alternatives to Skittles, there are several options available. Many brands offer fruit-flavored candies that are vegan-friendly and provide a similar taste experience. Some popular vegan candy brands include Unreal, Surf Sweets, YumEarth, and SmartSweets. These brands offer a variety of fruit-flavored treats that are free from animal-derived ingredients and suitable for vegans.

If you are specifically looking for a candy with a similar texture to Skittles, you may consider trying vegan gummy candies made with fruit pectin or agar-agar instead of gelatin. These plant-based alternatives offer a similar chewy texture without the need for animal-derived ingredients.

Being informed about vegan alternatives can make it easier to navigate the candy aisle and find delicious treats that align with your dietary choices and beliefs.


In conclusion, Skittles are generally considered vegan-friendly due to the absence of gelatin or other direct animal-derived ingredients. However, it is important to verify the specific ingredients and potential sources of natural and artificial flavors and colors used in Skittles, as they may vary between flavors and countries. Additionally, the inclusion of hydrogenated palm kernel oil in Skittles may give pause to some vegans due to environmental concerns associated with palm oil production. For those looking for vegan alternatives, several brands offer fruit-flavored candies that are free from animal-derived ingredients. As always, it is advisable to thoroughly read labels and contact manufacturers directly for more information to ensure that the products you choose align with your vegan lifestyle.

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