Are Skittles Vegan

Are Skittles Vegan?

Skittles, known for their vibrant colors and fruity flavors, are a popular candy choice worldwide. If you’re vegan or considering a plant-based lifestyle, you may wonder if these candies align with your dietary choices. Understanding whether Skittles are vegan involves examining their ingredients, historical formulations, and ethical implications.

What Exactly Are Skittles?

Skittles are small, round candies with a hard sugar shell and a chewy center. Introduced in 1974, Skittles have grown in popularity, becoming a staple in the candy world. Manufactured by Mars Wrigley Confectionery, these candies come in a variety of flavors, including original fruit, sour, tropical, and wild berry. Each pack offers a burst of taste, tempting people of all ages to “taste the rainbow.”

Are Skittles Vegan?

Skittles have evolved to be vegan-friendly, having removed all animal-derived ingredients from their formula. Historically, Skittles contained gelatin, a common gelling agent made from animal bones, which was removed from the recipe around 2010. They also used carmine, a dye derived from beetles, for their red color, which was phased out by 2015.

Today, Skittles’ ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, tapioca dextrin, natural and artificial flavors, and color additives—all of which are plant-based or synthetic. However, vegans might still scrutinize Skittles due to the potential use of bone char in sugar processing and environmental concerns related to palm oil and carnauba wax production.

Ingredients in Skittles


Sugar is a primary ingredient in Skittles. While sugar itself is plant-based, its processing can raise vegan concerns. Some sugar is refined using bone char, a process involving animal bones. This method isn’t used universally, and many manufacturers now opt for vegan-friendly alternatives. However, Skittles’ ingredient list does not specify the source of its sugar, leading to uncertainty for strict vegans.

Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil

Corn syrup is another key component, providing the chewy texture of Skittles. It is entirely plant-based, making it suitable for vegans. Hydrogenated palm kernel oil, also plant-derived, is used for its stability and preservative qualities. Despite being vegan, palm oil’s environmental impact is controversial. Its production is linked to deforestation and habitat destruction, prompting ethical concerns among vegans.

Natural and Artificial Flavors

Skittles contain both natural and artificial flavors. Natural flavors can be derived from plants or animals, but in the case of Skittles, these flavors are plant-based or synthetically produced. Artificial flavors, often synthesized in labs, are designed to mimic natural tastes without using animal products. This ensures that the flavors in Skittles are vegan-friendly.

Artificial Colors

Skittles’ bright colors come from various artificial dyes, such as Red 40 and Yellow 5. These dyes are synthetically produced, meaning they are not derived from animal sources. However, some vegans might avoid them due to historical animal testing. The decision to consume these dyes depends on personal ethical views.

Other Ingredients

Other ingredients in Skittles include citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, sodium citrate, and carnauba wax. Citric acid, commonly found in citrus fruits, adds a tangy flavor. Tapioca dextrin, derived from the cassava plant, serves as a thickener. Modified corn starch improves texture, while sodium citrate enhances flavor. Carnauba wax, used for a shiny coating, is plant-based but raises sustainability issues similar to palm oil.

Historical Non-Vegan Ingredients in Skittles

Before 2010, Skittles contained gelatin, a protein derived from animal collagen. This ingredient is found in the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals, making it unsuitable for vegans. Gelatin gave Skittles their chewy texture but excluded many from enjoying the candy. Recognizing the growing demand for plant-based options, Mars Wrigley removed gelatin from Skittles in 2010. This significant change made Skittles more inclusive and accessible to vegans.

Another ingredient that previously made Skittles non-vegan was carmine, a red dye derived from crushed cochineal beetles. This pigment provided the red color in many candies, including Skittles. However, its animal origin made it unacceptable for vegans. In response to consumer demand, Mars Wrigley eliminated carmine from Skittles in 2015, replacing it with synthetic or plant-based alternatives. These changes allowed Skittles to cater to a broader audience and align more closely with vegan principles.

While these ingredients are no longer part of Skittles’ recipe, their history highlights the importance of checking labels. As the candy industry evolves, ingredient lists can change, impacting the vegan status of products. Staying informed helps ensure that your dietary choices align with your values.

Are All Varieties of Skittles Vegan?

Original Skittles

The original Skittles are considered vegan-friendly. They do not contain any animal-derived ingredients and rely on synthetic or plant-based substitutes for their flavors and colors. This makes them a safe choice for those following a vegan diet.

Sour Skittles

Sour Skittles are also vegan. They share many ingredients with the original version, including plant-based citric acid for their tart flavor. The absence of gelatin and carmine ensures that these tangy treats fit within a vegan lifestyle.

Tropical Skittles

Tropical Skittles offer a blend of exotic flavors, all derived from plant-based or synthetic ingredients. Like other varieties, they do not contain animal-derived components, making them suitable for vegans. The unique flavors provide a refreshing alternative while maintaining vegan integrity.

Wild Berry Skittles

Wild Berry Skittles are another vegan-friendly option. They feature a mix of berry flavors without the use of gelatin or carmine. The synthetic dyes and plant-based flavors ensure that these candies meet vegan standards.

Darkside Skittles

Darkside Skittles also appear to be vegan. They contain similar ingredients to other Skittles varieties, without animal-derived substances. However, it’s always wise to check the packaging, especially for limited-edition or regional variations.

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)

Do Skittles contain gelatin?

No, Skittles no longer contain gelatin. This ingredient was removed in 2010, making Skittles suitable for vegans. Gelatin, derived from animal collagen, was used to give Skittles their chewy texture but has since been replaced with plant-based or synthetic alternatives.

Are Skittles dairy-free?

Yes, Skittles are dairy-free. They do not contain any milk or milk-derived ingredients, making them safe for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, as well as vegans.

Is the sugar in Skittles vegan?

The sugar in Skittles is plant-based, but the processing method can be a concern. Some sugar is refined using bone char, an animal-derived substance. Skittles’ ingredient list does not specify the source of its sugar, so strict vegans might choose to avoid them due to this ambiguity.

Are Skittles gluten-free?

Yes, Skittles are gluten-free. They do not contain any wheat, barley, rye, or other gluten-containing ingredients. This makes them a suitable choice for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Do special editions of Skittles contain animal products?

Special or limited-edition Skittles can sometimes differ in ingredients. While most varieties remain vegan, it’s essential to check the packaging for any unfamiliar versions. Ingredients like gelatin or carmine could be reintroduced in special editions, making them non-vegan.

Wrapping Up

Skittles have come a long way in becoming more inclusive and vegan-friendly. By removing gelatin and carmine from their recipes, Mars Wrigley has made Skittles accessible to a broader audience. However, the use of sugar processed with bone char, palm oil, and carnauba wax raises ethical and environmental concerns.

Read Also: Are Tootsie Rolls Vegan?