Is Cocktail Sauce Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Cocktail sauce is perhaps the ideal name for this sauce as it combines horseradish, sweet ketchup, lemon juice, hot sauce, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. A remarkable combination of ingredients. 

Some people might also call it seafood sauce because it goes along nicely with seafood, particularly raw seafood, which would lead most people to think that it’s not vegan. 

Well, most people would be correct to assume that most cocktail sauce isn’t vegan as it generally includes Worcestershire sauce, a sauce that traditionally contains anchovies and fish sauce. 

However, there are brands that make vegan cocktail sauce, even brands that you would normally assume aren’t vegan, such as Heinz. 

In this article, I’ll explore the reason why most cocktail sauces aren’t vegan and also show you a few brands that are vegan-friendly. 

Why Most Cocktail Sauces Aren’t Vegan

cocktail sauce

So, as I’ve briefly mentioned a typical cocktail sauce recipe will include the following ingredients:

Horseradish –  Despite the name, horseradish does not contain any horse. It’s a root vegetable, much like a beet or a carrot. Both horseradish and prepared horseradish are vegan, but horseradish sauce is not vegan because it usually contains a creamier element such as heavy cream, sour cream, or mayonnaise. Fortunately, for the cocktail sauce, only horseradish is used. 

Ketchup – Ketchup is also generally suitable for vegans. Most ketchup is made from tomatoes, vinegar, salt, spices, and some kind of sweeteners such as sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Refined sugar is not always vegan, but it’s more likely to be so nowadays. 

Lemon juice – This one is pretty obvious. Fresh fruit will always be vegan unless it’s covered in dairy or honey.

Hot sauce – Most hot sauces are vegan. Brands such as Cholula, Frank’s RedHot, Tabasco, Tapatío, and most Sriracha brands are suitable for vegans. With that being, some hot sauces might also contain non-vegan ingredients such as cream, milk, or honey. Therefore, be sure to pay attention to ingredients on the label, or ask the restaurant what ingredients they’ve used to make their cocktail sauce to make sure 

Worcestershire sauce – We’ve mentioned it earlier, but it’s common for Worcestershire sauce to contain anchovies and fish sauce. You’re able to find vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce, but it’s more common for it to contain the aforementioned ingredients. 

Therefore, the primary reason why the cocktail sauce isn’t vegan, it’s because it contains Worcestershire sauce, an ingredient made from anchovies and fish sauce. 

HOWEVER, it’s still possible to find cocktail sauces that are vegan, as some brands do not contain Worcestershire sauce. 

Vegan Cocktail Sauces

The cocktail sauce that is made by Heinz doesn’t contain any Worcestershire sauce and it seems to be totally vegan. 

Its ingredients are the following:

  • Tomato Concentrate (Water, Tomato Paste)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Horseradish
  • Corn Syrup
  • Salt
  • Soybean Oil
  • Natural Flavoring (Contains Mustard)
  • Dehydrated Onions
  • Spices
  • Onion Powder
  • And Garlic Powder. 

As you can see, there are no animal ingredients in this recipe, and there are also no controversial ingredients like refined sugar, so you shouldn’t worry about it. 

St. Elmo’s cocktail sauce is also suitable for vegans, simply because it doesn’t contain any Worcestershire sauce. 

According to its listing on Amazon, it has the following ingredients:

  • Tomato Paste
  • Water
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Horseradish
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Corn Starch
  • Onion Powder
  • And Xanthan Gum.

It does contain refined sugar, a controversial ingredient, but for most vegans, it should be fine. 

Another vegan-friendly cocktail sauce is Primal Kitchen’s, which is completely organic, and the brand also claims that it’s vegan.

It contains these ingredients:

  • Organic Tomato Puree (Water, Organic Tomato Paste)
  • Organic Horseradish (Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Horseradish, Water, Salt)
  • Organic Balsamic Vinegar (Organic Wine Vinegar, Organic Concentrated Grape Must)
  • Sea Salt
  • Organic Parsley
  • Organic Tapioca Starch
  • Organic Dried Garlic
  • Organic Onion Powder
  • Organic Garlic Powder
  • And Organic Cinnamon.

The bottom line is that it’s very much possible to find vegan cocktail sauces (it’s not that hard!), but I believe you should be a bit warier about cocktail sauces actually made in restaurants, as those tend to be more questionable and more likely to not be vegan. 

Summary

Most cocktail sauces are made with Worcestershire sauce, which is generally not vegan, but it’s also possible to find vegan cocktail sauces.

A few brands that make vegan cocktail sauces are Heinz, St. Elmo’s, and Primal Kitchen. Curiously, none of these brands uses Worcestershire sauce. 

Cocktail sauces prepared in restaurants are usually not vegan, but if you want to be sure you can always ask the restaurant staff just to be sure. 

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!