It’s impossible to go anywhere in Paris without stumbling across another aromatic sheet pan of freshly baked croissants, beckoning from open bakery windows. Such an obvious choice seems inevitable—but wait! What are croissants made of in the first place? Are croissants vegan? Here’s everything you need to know about these delectable French pastries including recipes and the best brands to try.
Pastry chefs train their whole lives to perfect the impossible array of golden, shattering crispiness in each coiled croissant masterpiece. This laminated dough has a lot in common with puff pastry, rising to even greater heights with a more tender interior thanks to the addition of yeast. Decadent, rich, yet dangerously easy to eat, skillfully made croissants are true edible works of art.
The short answer is: they can be! But croissants aren’t traditionally (or typically) vegan.
The French love affair with butter is no secret. The cuisine is practically synonymous with it, churning out more dairy-rich baked goods, pan sauces, and beyond than any other western country.
Unfortunately, that also means that conventional croissants are not vegan. They can contain anywhere between 35 to 55% butter by weight—outranking all other components with ease. Especially in their homeland, any croissant that isn’t specifically, clearly marked as vegan will not be.
Happily, that’s not the end of the story!
The remaining ingredients are standard staples for any sort of bread: flour, water, yeast, salt, and a touch of sugar. Now that there’s an abundance of options for plant-based butter, it’s a snap to convert even the most antiquated croissant recipes to make them completely dairy-free. A growing number of independent bakeries across the globe are now making vegan croissants on demand.
Like any popular pastry, there are as many variations on croissants as there are days of the year. Here are the most common types of croissants you’ll find:
When croissant cravings strike and a vegan bakery is nowhere to be found, don’t panic. There are more options waiting for you at the store than you may think!
These are baked in-store every day, giving you the very freshest option available in mainstream markets. If you get lucky, occasionally you can find the unbaked dough in the freezer section to defrost and cook at will.
This takes on an unconventional form as a sliced loaf of bread, complete with all the flaky layers you crave. It’s the perfect foundation for building decadent avocado toast or custard-like French toast, too.
More like moon-shaped layered biscuits than true croissants, they don’t come close to a flaky bakery-style pastry, but they can absolutely work in a pinch. Find them in the refrigerated section near the dairy alternatives, packaged in a convenient little tube.
Long a favorite “accidentally vegan” product, these refrigerated tubes of crescent roll pastry dough can be easily found at grocery stores nationwide. Though thicker and fluffier than the genuine article, it’s a reliable staple that makes a great base for other recipes as well. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are used to make vegan “Pigs in a Blanket” and our Halloween Mummy Dogs.
Whether you’re in the United States or meandering the streets of Paris, there are hundreds of bakeries all around the world that make vegan croissants. And they are getting easier to find all the time! You can even find croissants at online vegan bakeries that can ship to your door.
Here are just a few fantastic bakeries that carry vegan croissants:
Technique is everything when it comes to making croissants. It starts with two separate components, the dough itself and the “butter” block, which get folded together again and again, rolled thinner and thinner to form that matrix of gossamer, flaky layers. This is what defines a laminated pastry and is essential for making perfect croissants.
If this is your first attempt, don’t be daunted. Here are some tips to make it much smoother rolling: