Are Jaffa Cakes Vegan? (We Did Some Research To Find Out)

Like one of my favorite biscuits (the Jammie Dodgers), the Jaffa Cakes are also among the most popular treats in the United Kingdom, better known for their chocolate and unique orange-flavored jam.

After doing some research to figure out whether they’re vegan, this is what I found out:

The Original Jaffa Cakes by McVitie and Price are not vegan. Even though they use orange-flavored jam for the filling and pectin as a gelling agent (rather than gelatin), they make the chocolate cover with butter oil (which contains milk), while the flour for the small-sized cakes contains whole eggs. 

However, because McVitie’s didn’t register the name “Jaffa Cakes” as a trademark, you have other biscuit manufacturers that made a similar product under the same name. 

In this article, I look into how McVitie’s make Jaffa Cakes, and I also briefly go over other “Jaffa Cakes” brands to find out if they’re vegan. Finally, I also share a vegan recipe of Jaffa Cakes you can replicate at home. 

What Goes Into Jaffa Cakes?

McVitie’s produce Jaffa Cakes in a factory in Stockport, Manchester – at over 4000 Jaffa Cakes per minute, which translates into 60 tons per day and 15,000 tons per year.

While you can find Jaffa Cakes in different forms, the most common form of Jaffa Cakes is circular and has three layers: a Genoise sponge base, a layer of orange flavored jam, and a coating of chocolate. 

The sponge bases contain sugar, flour, and eggs, and they first get cooked inside a huge oven for six minutes before being sorted into nice rows that travel to the jam section where the orange-flavored jam is perfectly added to each cake. 

After going through a cooler, the cakes are then flipped over onto melted dark chocolate, and once the chocolate gets added, the cakes are flipped once again.

Finally, they are transported through a cooling machine to get sorted for packaging. 

Jaffa Cakes Ingredients:

Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Plain Chocolate (19%) [Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Vegetable Fats (Palm Fruit, Shea Butter), Butter Oil (Milk), Cocoa Butter, Emulsifiers (Soya Lecithin, E476), Natural Flavoring], Sugar, Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Whole Egg, Water, Dextrose, Concentrated Orange Juice (8% Orange Juice Equivalent), Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Oils (Sunflower Seeds, Palm Fruit), Humectant (Glycerin), Gelling Agent (Pectin), Acid (Citric Acid), Raising Agents (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Dried Whole Egg, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrates), Natural Orange, Color (Curcumin), Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin).

Besides animal ingredients like milk and eggs, Jaffa Cakes also contain glycerine and palm oil, which also negatively impact animal lives, something I discuss below. 


It turns out that glycerin (also referred to as glycerol) can be animal or plant derived, although it can also be produced from petrochemicals. 

Plant-based glycerin is produced from soybeans, while animal-based glycerin comes from animal tallows. 

In food production, the type of glycerin manufacturers use is typically plant-based, but one can never be too sure, especially in the cosmetics and personal care industry. 

If this is something you really want to know about, your best bet is to contact the manufacturer. 

Palm Oil

Jaffa Cakes contain conventional palm oil.

Even though palm oil comes from trees, the way it’s produced is detrimental to both the environment (because of the release of greenhouse gases) and animal lives. 

According to a study by Cell, palm oil production led to the death of 100,000 Bornean orangutangs between 1999 and 2015. Because of the enormous demand for palm oil, we bulldoze entire rainforests to the ground to make space for palm trees, but in the process we destroy entire ecosystems, making it impossible for certain species of animals to survive. 

If you don’t wish to contribute further to this destruction, try to look for products that contain sustainable palm oil, which is grown more ethically. The Jammie Dodgers, for instance, have sustainable palm oil. 

Are Other Brands of ‘Jaffa Cakes’ Vegan?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, since McVitie’s did not register ‘Jaffa Cakes’ as a trademark, that provided an opening for other brands (namely supermarkets) to create their own version of Jaffa Cakes. 

The following table reveals which copycat Jaffa Cakes brands are suitable for vegans:

Brand:  Is it Vegan?
Belmont Contains Egg and Milk
Lidl  Contains Egg
Tesco Contains Pasteurized Egg
ASDA Contains Egg
Sainsbury’s Contains Egg
Waitrose Contains Egg
Morrisons Contains Egg

Unfortunately, none of the copycats are vegan-friendly, so the only option you have to eat Jaffa Cakes is to create your own version at home.

Make Vegan Jaffa Cakes At Home

This is probably the best vegan Jaffa Cakes recipe I’ve come across, and Gaz Oakley, a vegan chef and Youtuber created it so that people like you and me can indulge in old classics. 

You can choose to follow the video above, or you can check the recipe in a text format. While less visually attractive, it’s quite handy if you still need to go fetch the ingredients. 

The recipe is truly amazing, and I’m sure you’ll love it as well!

Bottom Line

Unfortunately, the Jaffa Cakes are not suitable for vegans.

Although they have a delicious layer of orange-flavored jam, the cakes and chocolate cover contain ingredients such as milk and egg. You’re also able to find other brands selling Jaffa Cakes, but they’re also made with similar ingredients. 

The good news is that you have pretty awesome Jaffa Cakes recipes online that you can easily replicate at home, so if you find yourself in the mood to cook, check the recipe I’ve shared above.