Is sourdough bread vegan? Here’s what you need to know

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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2023)

Sourdough bread has become a popular choice for many vegans looking for a delicious and animal-friendly alternative – and it’s not hard to see why. Sourdough has a unique tangy flavor that comes from the natural fermentation process of its ingredients. Its simplicity makes it a perfect choice for those following a plant-based diet.

Sourdough bread on board

While most sourdough bread is considered vegan-friendly, there can be exceptions. Some bakers may add non-vegan ingredients, such as dairy, honey, or eggs, to enrich the bread’s flavor or texture. Always make sure to check the ingredient list before purchasing sourdough bread to ensure it aligns with your dietary preferences.

Table of Contents

Is Sourdough Bread Vegan?

When it comes to the basics, sourdough bread is indeed vegan. The simple composition of flour, water, and salt, combined with a natural yeast starter, results in a dough that is free from animal products. However, it’s important to be aware of potential non-vegan additions and choose the right type of sourdough bread to meet your vegan preferences.

Common Non-Vegan Ingredients in Bread

While traditional sourdough bread is vegan-friendly, be cautious of breads that incorporate non-vegan ingredients. Some common non-vegan ingredients in bread may include:

  • Milk or milk powder: used to improve the texture and taste of the bread
  • Eggs: added to increase the protein content and enhance the bread’s structure
  • Honey: used as a natural sweetener and preservative
  • Lecithin: often derived from eggs or soy and used as an emulsifier

To avoid these non-vegan additives, it’s essential to read the ingredients list on store-bought sourdough bread or ask your local bakery for details on their ingredients.

Vegan Sourdough Bread

  1. Choose traditional sourdough: By opting for bread made with the authentic fermented mixture of flour, water, and wild yeast, you reduce the chances of encountering non-vegan additives.
  2. Check the ingredients: Look out for any unexpected non-vegan additives like milk, honey, or eggs when buying or eating sourdough bread.
  3. Make it yourself: Homemade sourdough bread enables you to control the ingredients, ensuring a 100% vegan outcome. With just flour, water, salt, and a homemade sourdough starter, you can easily create a delicious and vegan sourdough bread.

By following these recommendations and keeping an eye on ingredient lists, you can enjoy vegan sourdough bread without compromising your dietary choices.

Essential Ingredients of Sourdough Bread

Flour and Water

The foundation of sourdough bread lies in its simple mix of flour and water. You can find various types of flour such as whole wheat, spelt, or rye, which can all be utilized to create unique variations of sourdough. Combining flour with water creates a paste-like substance that serves as the base for your dough. Making sure the flours you use are entirely plant-based ensures that your sourdough remains vegan friendly.

I use Heritage Bread Blend from Sunrise Flour Mill (use this link for 10% off!). Sunrise is a small, local flour mill (I drive there to get my flour!) that uses organic heritage wheat. This means it is organic, pre-1950’s wheat, before wheat was genetically modified for larger yields and resisting pests, etc. MANY gluten-free reviewers claim that they have little to no gluten sensitivity when using this flour!


Salt is a key ingredient in sourdough bread, enhancing the taste and strengthening the dough structure. When incorporating salt into your recipe, be sure to use only the recommended amount, as too much can hinder the fermentation process and affect the outcome of your bread.

I use Redmond Real Sea Salt (Natural, Unrefined, Gluten Free, 26 Ounce)

Yeast and Sourdough Starter

The characteristic tangy flavor of sourdough bread comes from the fermentation process driven by yeast and lactobacillus present in the sourdough starter. The yeast, which belongs to the fungi family, and lactobacillus, despite its name, are not dairy derivatives and are considered vegan.

A sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water that has been fermented over time, allowing beneficial microorganisms to develop and multiply.

I also use Sunrise Flour Mill’s 100+ year old Sourdough Starter, which is one of the best yeasts I’ve used! (use this link for 10% off)

Sourdough starter

Traditional Sourdough Bread Recipe



  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter and warm water.
  2. Add the bread flour and salt to the bowl and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let sit for 45 min.
  4. Stretch and fold the dough, once each hour, over the next 4 hours.
  5. Cover with a cloth. Let it rise for 4-6 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
  6. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) and place a Dutch oven inside to heat up.
  7. Once the dough has risen, carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and place the dough inside. Sprinkle with a few drops of water.
  8. Cover the Dutch oven with an oven-safe lid and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  10. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a wire rack for at least one hour before slicing and serving.

Enjoy your delicious homemade sourdough bread!

What Other Breads varieties are Vegan?

When exploring different types of bread, you’ll find that some varieties are typically vegan, while others might contain non-vegan ingredients. It’s essential to be aware of these differences when choosing bread as part of your vegan diet.

Vegan Bread Varieties:

  • Pita: This flatbread is made from wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast. Pita bread is vegan-friendly and versatile, suitable for various dishes like falafel sandwiches or as a snack with hummus.
  • Focaccia: An Italian bread flavored with olive oil, salt, and herbs. Focaccia is generally vegan, but double-check the ingredient list as some recipes might include cheese or milk.
  • Ciabatta: This chewy Italian bread is prepared with wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast. Ciabatta is typically vegan, but always check for added milk or other dairy products.

Non-Vegan Bread Varieties:

  • Challah: A Jewish braided bread made with eggs, giving it a rich, tender texture. Challah is not suitable for vegans because of the egg content.
  • Naan: This fluffy Indian flatbread often contains yogurt or milk to make it soft and tender. Some naan bread recipes might also call for ghee (clarified butter) in its preparation, making it non-vegan.

Bread Varieties That May Vary:

  • Rye and Sourdough: These bread types can be both vegan and non-vegan. Their basic ingredients include flour, water, and salt, but some recipes might add honey, milk, or butter. Make sure to check the ingredient list.
  • Baguette and French Bread: These classic bread types can be vegan, as they traditionally contain wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt. However, some variations might include milk or butter to enhance flavor or texture, so always check the ingredients.

Moreover, be cautious with sandwich bread, white bread, and bagels, as they often contain additives and preservatives. These varieties might have non-vegan ingredients like milk, egg, or honey. When in doubt, review the ingredient list or seek out brands that cater to vegan diets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sourdough bread dairy free?

Yes, traditionally made sourdough bread is dairy free. It is made using only flour, water, salt, and a vegan sourdough starter that contains natural yeasts. This makes the bread suitable for vegans and those looking for dairy-free options.

What ingredients in sourdough bread could be non-vegan?

While traditional sourdough bread is vegan, it’s important to be aware that certain variations may contain non-vegan ingredients. These can include butter, milk, or eggs, which are sometimes added to create different flavors or textures. Be sure to check the ingredients list or ask the baker if you are uncertain about a specific sourdough bread.

Are there any vegan-friendly sourdough bread brands?

Yes, there are vegan-friendly sourdough bread brands available. When purchasing sourdough bread from a store, look for breads labeled as vegan or check the ingredients list to ensure it contains only flour, water, salt, and a vegan sourdough starter. Many artisan bakeries and local bread shops also offer traditionally made sourdough bread that is vegan. Just be sure to confirm with the staff that the bread you’re interested in is vegan-friendly.

Key Takeaways

  • Sourdough bread is generally vegan-friendly due to its simple ingredients and fermentation process
  • Be mindful of potential non-vegan additives like dairy, honey, or eggs, which could be used by some bakers
  • Always check the ingredient list to confirm the bread’s suitability for a vegan diet

Enjoy your Sourdough!

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