Is McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

August 19, 2023

In today’s world, identifying whether or not a product is vegan can be a challenging task. 

This difficulty often arises from manufacturers who obscure the nature and source of their ingredients. 

Fear not, dear reader, for this article aims to uncover the truth and support you in your noble vegan journey.

Is McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce Vegan?

No, McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce is not strictly vegan.

The ingredient that raises concerns is natural flavors. Natural flavors can be derived from both plant and animal sources, and without explicit clarification from the manufacturer, it’s challenging to determine its origin.

Is McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce Cruelty-Free?

McDonald’s claims not to test on animals at all, so it’s safe to assume that this sweet and sour sauce is cruelty-free. Then again, it also claims to serve “food,” and I have my own suspicions on that score. Just kidding. Don’t mcsue me.

What Is McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce Made Of?

McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce, often paired with chicken nuggets or used as a dipping sauce for french fries, has a unique blend of ingredients:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Water
  • Apricot puree concentrate and/or peach puree concentrate
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt)
  • Salt
  • Modified food starch
  • Sherry wine powder
  • Dextrose
  • Soybean oil
  • Xanthan gum
  • Spices
  • Sodium benzoate (preservative)
  • Natural flavors
  • Garlic powder
  • Cellulose gum
  • Dried chili peppers
  • Onion powder
  • Caramel color
  • Extractives of paprika (color)

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Derived from corn, this sweetener is vegan friendly. It adds sweetness to the sauce.


A universal solvent, water is vegan and is used to achieve the desired consistency of the sauce.

Apricot Puree Concentrate and/or Peach Puree Concentrate

These fruit concentrates, derived from apricots or peaches, add a fruity flavor to the sauce. They are vegan.

Distilled Vinegar

Made by fermenting ethanol, distilled vinegar provides acidity to the sauce. It’s vegan.

Soy Sauce

A sauce made from fermented soybeans and wheat. It’s vegan and adds a salty and umami flavor.


A mineral, salt enhances the flavor of the sauce and is vegan.

Modified Food Starch

Derived from various plants, it’s used as a thickener. It’s vegan.

Sherry Wine Powder

Derived from wine, it adds flavor. Its vegan status can be ambiguous due to the wine-making process.


A sugar derived from plants, it’s vegan.

Soybean Oil

Extracted from soybeans, this oil is vegan.

Xanthan Gum

A thickening agent produced by bacteria, it’s vegan.


Derived from plants, they add flavor to the sauce. They are vegan.

Sodium Benzoate

A preservative, it’s vegan.

Natural Flavors

This is where ambiguity arises. Natural flavors can be from plant or animal sources. Without clarification, its vegan status is uncertain.

Garlic Powder

Derived from dried garlic, this ingredient is vegan.

Cellulose Gum

Derived from plant cell walls, it’s used as a thickener and is vegan.

Dried Chili Peppers

Dried chili peppers add spice to the sauce. They are vegan.

Onion Powder

Derived from dried onions, onion powder vegan.

Caramel Color

A colorant derived from caramelized sugar, it’s vegan.

Extractives of Paprika

Derived from paprika peppers, they add color and are vegan.

Vegan Alternatives to McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce

If you’re looking for vegan-friendly alternatives to McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce, there are plenty of options available:

  • Store-bought vegan sauces: Many grocery stores now offer vegan sweet and sour sauces.
  • Homemade sauces: Using ingredients like pineapple juice, brown sugar, distilled vinegar, and soy sauce, you can create a delicious sauce at home.
  • Branded alternatives: Agalima offers its own vegan-friendly sweet and sour sauce.


While McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce has many plant-based food ingredients, the inclusion of natural flavors makes its vegan status uncertain. 

For those committed to a vegan diet, it’s essential to seek clarity from manufacturers or opt for verified vegan alternatives. 

Your dedication to doing right by animals and our planet is commendable, and we hope this article aids you in making informed choices and choosing ethical food brands.