Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

September 20, 2023

So you want to know if Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are vegan. Well, identifying vegan processed food is sometimes easier said than done.

Some of the ingredients in processed foods have funky spellings or vague names like “natural flavors.”

This article is dedicated to uncovering the truth about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and supporting you, our environmentally and ethically conscious readers, in maintaining a vegan lifestyle.

Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Vegan?

No, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are not vegan. The ingredients for this spicy snack — enriched cornmeal, hot Cheetos, and Flamin’ Hot seasoning — contain non-vegan components, such as whey protein concentrate, cheddar cheese, cheese cultures, and animal enzymes.

Cheddar cheese, milk, whey, and animal enzymes all come from animals.

Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Cruelty-Free?

As for whether Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is cruelty-free, the answer is, unfortunately, also no.

What Are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Made Of?

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is an immensely popular snack food that has taken the world by storm. These fiery red chips, known for their spicy kick, are produced by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. The unique combination of ingredients gives Flamin’ Hot Cheetos its characteristic taste, color, and crunch.

Here are the key ingredients of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos:

  • Enriched cornmeal
  • Vegetable oil
  • Maltodextrin
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Yeast extract
  • Citric acid
  • Artificial color
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salt
  • Artificial coloring (including Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Blue 1)

Enriched Cornmeal

Enriched cornmeal is a type of corn flour that has added nutrients, such as iron and B vitamins, to replace those lost during the grain-refining process. This ingredient is the main component of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, providing the snack’s signature crunch.

It originates from corn, a GMO plant widely cultivated across the world, particularly in the United States. While it is a vegan ingredient, the enrichment process often involves synthetic vitamins which some vegans may choose to avoid due to the potential involvement of animal products in their production.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos can come from a variety of sources, including corn, canola, or sunflower oil. It is used to fry the cornmeal, giving the chips a crispy texture. This ingredient is plant based and therefore vegan, but is almost assuredly GMO.


Maltodextrin is a white, starchy powder that is used as a filler or thickener. It is derived from starch, which can come from corn, wheat, potato, or rice. Maltodextrin is vegan, but it’s also probably GMO.


Salt enhances the flavor of the snack and is derived from various salt mines or seawater through evaporation. It is a vegan ingredient.


Sugar provides a hint of sweetness to balance the snack’s spiciness. Although derived from plant sources (usually sugarcane or beetroot), the refining process can involve bone char, which is an animal-derived product. Some brands use vegan-friendly refining methods, but it’s difficult to determine this for specific products like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Furthermore, a great deal of sugar is GMO, which means it contains ingredients that were tested on animals.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is a flavor enhancer that contributes to the umami taste. It is generally synthesized from bacterial fermentation and is considered vegan. This ingredient is tested on dogs.

Yeast Extract 

Yeast extract is a flavor enhancer derived from the same yeast used in bread and beer production. It is vegan.

Citric Acid

Citric acid provides a tangy flavor and is generally derived from certain mold species grown on a sugar-containing medium. It is considered vegan.

Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese is a dairy product and therefore not vegan. It provides a cheesy flavor to the seasoning.


Salt is an additional ingredient to enhance the flavor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. As mentioned earlier, it is derived from salt mines or seawater and is vegan friendly.

Artificial Coloring

Artificial coloring agents, including Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Blue 1, give Flamin’ Hot Cheetos its bright red appearance. As noted earlier, while these colors are synthetically produced, so they don’t contain animal ingredients, they have been tested on animals.

Vegan Alternatives to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

While Flamin’ Hot Cheetos might not fit into a vegan lifestyle, there are numerous delicious vegan alternatives available. These options offer the same spicy kick without compromising on your commitment to animals and the environment:

  • Spicy vegan puffs: Offering a similar kick to hot Cheetos, these snacks use vegan cheese flavor and sunflower oil. Get them from Vegan Rob’s.
  • Vegan flamin’ hot pea snacks: These provide a fiery flavor using plant-based ingredients and vegetable oil. Hippeas has a few vegan varieties of chips, including a sriracha one.
  • Vegan flamin’ hot chips: Featuring cornmeal, these chips deliver a spicy crunch without any animal products. Try the Fuego chips from Siete.


Despite their popularity and distinct flavor, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are not suitable for a vegan diet. They contain ingredients derived from animal sources, and their manufacturing process isn’t aligned with cruelty-free principles.

However, the availability of vegan alternative brands means you can still enjoy a spicy snack while staying true to your vegan commitment.

Let’s keep our food choices compassionate and planet-friendly!