A how-to guide for navigating vegan-friendly salsa brands
Vegans, rejoice—not only is salsa low-calorie, fat-free, and chock-full of nutrients, but almost all commercially-prepared salsas are also vegan!
Because most salsas are composed of just a few whole foods like onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos, it’s easy for salsa to be vegan-friendly.
But what about guacamole, tortilla chips, and other salsa accompaniments? And what should you consider when evaluating whether a particular salsa brand is vegan? Below, we break down everything there is to know about fitting salsa into a vegan diet.
Vegan Salsa Brands
Whether you like chunky or saucy, pico or tomatillo, some of the most popular vegan salsas include:
Kirkland Signature Organic Salsa (available at Costco). This organic salsa has a mild spice level and comes in a party-friendly two-pack.
Member’s Mark Fresh Salsa (available at Sam’s Club). This fresh-tasting salsa is also available in a 48-ounce jar to satisfy all your salsa cravings. For cilantro lovers, Member’s Mark also makes a fresh cilantro salsa!
Trader Joe’s Chunky Salsa (available at Trader Joe’s). This thick, hearty salsa has just the right amount of spice.
Pace Chunky Salsa, Medium (available at most grocery stores). Another chunky salsa crowd-pleaser, Pace’s budget-friendly salsa is 100% vegan.
Simple Truth Organic Medium Salsa Verde (available at Kroger-brand stores). This creamy salsa verde has a mild, green flavor perfect for dipping chips or topping spicy meals.
Checking to Ensure Salsa is Vegan
For a product to be vegan-certified, it must not contain any of the following:
- Animal byproducts
- Eggs or egg products
- Milk or milk products
- Honey or honeybee products
- Insects or insect products (like silk or dyes)
- Sugar filtered with bone char
Vegan products also must not be processed with any animal products or byproducts.
If you’re not sure whether a particular brand of salsa is vegan, here are a few things to look out for:
- White sugar. This sugar is often processed with bone char, which is what gives it its whiteness.
- Smoke flavoring. Depending on the brand (and many labels are deliberately vague in what “smoke flavoring” includes), it may contain meat flavoring or animal byproducts.
- Carmine. This bright red food coloring—made from cochineal beetles—is often used to color food, textiles, and cosmetics. Vegan-friendly salsa derives its red color from fresh tomatoes, not insects!
- Honey. Though most salsas are naturally vegan, those that aren’t often include honey as a sweetener.
The more whole foods that are listed on a salsa’s label, the greater the likelihood that it’s vegan. And when in doubt, look for salsas that are expressly vegan-certified!
Which Salsa Accompaniments Are Also Vegan?
Now that you’ve ensured your preferred salsa brand is vegan, what about the rest of your meal?
Most tortilla chips are naturally vegan—like salsa, they contain just a few simple ingredients. Both homemade and commercial tortilla chips are made from tortillas, which include cornmeal (or flour), water, oil, and seasonings.
Complications arise when these chips are fried in animal fat instead of vegetable oil or sprayed with flavoring, which can often include buttermilk or cheese flavors. Also beware artificially-colored tortilla chips, which can contain animal-derived food dyes.
Vegetables for dipping
If you’d like to switch it up from tortilla chips, consider slicing some of these veggies for a healthy vegan snack:
- Bell pepper strips
- Thinly-sliced cucumber
- Kohlrabi slices
- Celery sticks
You can also slice and make “chips” out of kale, beets, or any other cylindrical vegetable.
Made from avocados, onions or garlic, lime juice, and tomatoes, homemade guacamole is another vegan-friendly condiment.
But if you’re purchasing commercial guacamole, beware of certain preservatives that may not be vegan. Because avocado turns brown quickly, commercial guacamoles must rely on a variety of preservatives to keep it looking and tasting fresh for weeks before opening. Some guacamoles don’t even have avocado as the primary ingredient!
Common non-vegan guacamole ingredients include:
- Eggs (used as a stabilizer)
- Artificial coloring
- Dry milk
- Whey (a milk byproduct)
- Sodium caseinate (another milk byproduct)
If purchasing salsa from a store, read the label carefully and choose those with shorter shelf lives—this usually means more fresh ingredients.
Now that you know what to look for (and what to avoid) in your salsa selection journey, it’s time to get snacking!
- Learn about the health benefits of eating salsa
- Use these tips to pair the right salsa with your dish
- Discover creative, chip-free ways to eat salsa