Is Marmalade Vegan? Here Is The Full Story

Marmalade is an ancient recipe, but unlike today’s orange marmalade, the ancient marmalade wasn’t made with oranges.

The word marmalade comes from the Portuguese “marmelada”, meaning “quince jam”, which curiously suggests the original marmalade was produced in the Iberian Peninsula. 

Fortunately, most marmalade is vegan-friendly because it is made from citrus fruit, sugar, and water. Some new marmalade products may contain honey, though this is less common.

In any case, do verify the labels before you purchase any marmalade.

What is Marmalade?

Homemade marmalade made with oranges.

Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from oranges, in fact, the most famous version is made using bitter Seville oranges, although marmalade can also be made using different fruits such as grapefruit, kumquat, lemon, and lime, which may also be mixed with other fruits and ingredients.

Where I’m from, in Portugal, marmalade producers often make marmalade using quince, the main ingredient used by people in Ancient Rome to make marmalade. 

The process of making marmalade involves boiling the fruit pulp, water, and sugar together. Some producers sometimes include the peel, but that’s not always the case. 

In most countries, marmalade is often served with bread products like toast or scones but it can also be used to top or fill cakes and other desserts.

Is Marmalade Vegan? 

Yes, most marmalade is suitable for vegans. After all, it’s made with fruit, sugar, and water. However, some marmalade products may contain honey, though they’re not the majority. 

Typically, the fruit, including the peel, is simmered in boiling water until soft, then cooked with sugar to thicken. The end result can be lightly textured or gelatinous with larger chunks of rind throughout. There is no need for animal ingredients in making marmalade, so it’s usually vegan.

There might be an issue with the type of sugar that is used because, in some places like North America, the sugar that is used might be refined with bone char, which is essentially carbonized cattle bones that are used to bleach sugar, giving it that white, pristine appearance. 

However, that information is particularly hard to find because it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and on top of that, manufacturers might use a mixed pool of suppliers, making it impossible to trace the sugar back to its source. 

Here is a quick video showing how marmalade is made:

Difference Between Marmalade and Jam

Most people cannot identify the differences between marmalade and jam, particularly because they’re made in similar ways and have pretty much the same application. 

marmalade vs jam
Marmalade (left) vs Jam (right)

Marmalade is primarily made using citrus fruits and might include their peels, often chopped into small pieces, which will often give it a chunkier texture. Jam, on the other hand, might also be used with a variety of fruits, but those will not be citrus fruits. It is also essentially a mixture of fruit pureé and sugar, but fruits such as grape, blackberry, and strawberry will be the ones used. 

They are both spreads that are often served with bread products, but they can also be included in desserts, so the only difference is in the type of fruits used to make each one. 

Marmalade Varieties

Having been born and raised in Portugal, the variety of marmalade I ate the most was the one containing quince, in fact, I’ve done marmalade myself (with some help, of course).

homemade marmelade
Quinces on the left and the marmalade on the right.

The end result was quite good, but with a slightly darker texture than most marmalades sold in the supermarket or grocery store.

With that being said, it seems the most popular variety of marmalade is made with oranges, particularly Seville oranges, although Valencia, navel, and other similar oranges are also quite popular. 

Grapefruit and kumquat marmalade can also be found, and lemon and lime also seem to be available, though they’re not as high in demand. Most marmalades will be made with only citrus fruits, but others will also contain alternative ingredients such as rhubarb, lavender, and ginger.

You might also be able to find marmalade that isn’t made with citrus fruits, but those variations aren’t marmalade in the traditional sense of the word. Jam is probably a better-fitting word. 


Marmalade, as I’ve covered, is generally suitable for vegans. No other ingredients are used, aside from fruit, sugar, and water, though you still need to be wary about certain formulations, as they might contain honey.

Some manufacturers might use sugar that is refined with bone char, but if that’s a big problem for you, my suggestion would be to ask the manufacturers before purchasing the marmalade and find a brand/company that sources sugar from suppliers that use vegan-friendly alternatives to bone char. 

I don’t think most vegans are very concerned about bone char, but if you’re not one of them, I would contact different brands and pick the vegan-friendly one. 

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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