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Thrive Cuisine

If you've stumbled upon this article, then you're probably looking for a new pan or piece of cookware made by Copper Chef or Red Copper. Both of their infomercials are all over the airwaves making rather bold claims about their products. In this article, we will answer two important questions: 

  • Should you believe the hype about the Copper Chef or Red Copper cookware? 
  • Which one is the better choice to pick up?

What's the Hype About?

Infomercials have a way of making everything seem awesome. The Copper Chef and Red Copper pans are no exception. It shows people doing things that you probably shouldn't do to any piece of cookware you own (unless it is cast iron of course). Things such as using a hand mixer in a nonstick pan probably isn't a great idea if you want the surface to stay intact, yet it is still part of one of the demonstrations that we've seen.

If you think that using the pan is going to be as magic as it looks on TV, then you're in for a big let down. However, if you're interesting in getting some solid nonstick pans that you plan on taking good care of, then it might be worth considering.​ We've recommended these new types of nonstick pans in the past, but want to stress that it is critical that you follow the actual instructions that come with the cookware, not just what you see on TV.

What's Great About this Cookware

From our research, both of these products tend to provide the user the ability to cook most things without any additional oil - which is a great thing. There are many similar pans like these on the market (despite the marketing messages saying they are "one of a kind"). If you follow the instructions fully and don't abuse the cookware, you should have something that's going to last a long time and perform great. Copper cookware will most likely be an upgrade to any traditional nonstick Teflon pans you may have used in the past.

What's the Difference Copper Chef and Red Copper Pans?

It's hard to fully evaluate which one is going to be better for you, as both brands have a wide range of different products and bundles available. For the sake of evaluation, let's compare one large casserole pan from Copper Chef and Red Copper.

What's Similar?

  • Both pans when used properly are going to provide you the ability to cook without any oil or fat - when used correctly.
  • Both pans are oven safe which is good for keeping things warm or putting a final roast on veggies after they've been sauteed.
  • Both have similar type coatings that are at least partially ceramic. Our experience with ceramic cookware has been great (so long as you don't abuse it).
  • Both are likely to damage or scratch if you don't use nonmetal utensils or aren't careful about how you stack your cookware.

What's Different?

  • The Copper Chef claims to be heat resistant up to 850F, while the Red Copper claims to be oven safe up to 500F.
  • The Red Copper Pan needs to be seasoned according to the instruction manual.
  • They have different sets of bonus packages of accessories available, but there's almost too many to keep track of. Copper Chef products are often bundled with their induction cook tops.

Most Common Complaints and How to Avoid Them

During our research, the found two most common complaints for the Copper Chef and Red Copper are the same: The coating doesn't hold up or peels off or that things actually stick to the pan. The problem with most negative reviews is that they rarely take into account how they used the pan. For example, according to the instruction manual of the Red Copper and the FAQ of the Copper Chef both recommend non-metal utensils. Many people fail to follow this (along with other good nonstick maintenance practices) and end up with a damaged pan.

That being said, some other practices are likely to damage these pan as well. This includes throwing them in the sink with other sharp utensils, stacking them improperly with other pots, etc. If you're careless about the use of these pans and don't follow the manufacturer recommendations that come with the products to a T, you're likely going to have some trouble.​

In addition, the Red Copper Pan  and instructions say that you should season the pan before you use it. This means rubbing it down with vegetable oil and sticking it into the oven. Users who fail to do this step are likely to find themselves with food stuck to their pan right away! 

Another thing that people might overlook from the Copper Chef instruction manual ​is that you cannot use EVOO or cooking sprays - same with the Red Copper.

Cleaning these pans (or any nonstick pans) with abrasive materials is also risky - so be sure to read the manual and see what the brand recommends for whichever unit you end up getting.It's a vicious cycle of stuck food and scrubbing once the nonstick surface gets worn down. However, if you keep their nonstick coating intact, they should be very easy to clean. 

This is by no means a comprehensive overview of the instructions for each pan or cookware piece, but we just wanted to give people an idea of what they can expect and the care that they should take while using them.​ Not doing so will likely lead to ruined pans and a lot more disappointment.

What About the Warranties?

The problem with warranties on products like these is in the fine print. Looking at the instruction manuals for both products both warranties require that you ship the product back at your expense as well as a "processing fee" of some sort.

That being said, don't expect to get a new pan without a hassle if something goes wrong. For this reason, we always recommend buying products like this from Authorized Retailers with solid return policies. It will be much easier to return a piece of cookware to a retailer than to the manufacturer directly.

Our Conclusion

Based on the amount of people happy with their pans and the relatively low cost (compared to some other kitchen appliances), we would recommend that you check either of these out. We love cooking with ceramic coated pans, but don't like over-promises and hype. Neither one of these brands are superior to the other, so pick the offer you like the best and go for it!

The post Copper Chef vs. Red Copper | In-Depth Comparison appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.

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Thrive Cuisine

Many believe gas stoves to be superior to their electric counterparts. The primary reason for this is heat control. Gas stoves allow you to adjust the heat very quickly while electric stoves take a while to heat up and cool down. Having the best pots and pans for your gas stove can enhance the cooking experience even further with superior heat distribution, heat conductivity, and easy clean-up.

**Click any of the links above to read customer reviews on Amazon or continue reading for our full comprehensive guide.

What Type of Material Do We Recommend?

Out of all of the cookware that we've tried, we've narrowed down the best materials to be Titanium and Ceramic. Both of these materials offer great heat distribution (is the exterior is well designed) and don't stick. If you've only used cheap stainless steel or nonstick cookware in the past, getting a quality titanium or ceramic cookware set is a completely new experience. Much moving from a dull knife to a sharp one, you'll wonder how you ever got by using cheap cookware in the first place. There are some downsides to this type of cookware (see below), so we've offered some alternative options as well.

Since gas stoves offer great heat control already, having the proper heat conduction on your pots and pans takes things to a whole new level. It ensures that you don't end up with hot spots and cool spots while cooking. This is especially useful if you're cooking frozen veggies in a pot or pan as we all know how annoying it can be to have ones that are fully cooked and ones that are frozen.

If you're partial to the dishwasher, having something that's dishwasher safe is going to be crucial. One thing that we noticed when making the switch was that since food never stuck to the pots and pans, we usually opted not to use the dishwasher! If the pieces are truly nonstick, one wipe with a soft sponge and towel should leave it sparkling clean and ready to be put away - even if you let things get a little crusted on.

Other Downsides to Some Non-Stick Cookware

Although we almost exclusively use ceramic and titanium in our household now, there are some downsides to it. With any pot or pan that is coated, there is always the potential to strip the coating from misuse. That being said, if your cookware tends to get beat up and you don't want to be mindful of the type of utensils you're using on it, then a solid stainless steel cookware set is going to be the best option.

Another option is cast iron or enameled cast iron. These options offer durability and versatility with the non-enameled kind being basically indestructible. Enameled options are durable as well and can do usually handle being put in the oven, but the coating has the potential to get stripped.

Our Top Pot and Pan Choices for Gas Stoves

T-fal E765SH Scratch Resistant Non-Stick Titanium

T-fal E765SH Ultimate Hard Anodized Scratch Resistant Titanium Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Anti-Warp Base Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe PFOA Free Cookware Set, 17-Piece, Gray

Because we prefer to cook with little to no oil, having nonstick cookware is a must. This non-stick titanium set from T-fal is a great option. Not only is it non-stick, but its approved for metal utensils for those who don't want to have to think about what cooking utensils they are using. Obviously using softer ones though will be the safer options to prolong the life of the cookware.

One of the more unique features of this cookware is the pre-heat circle in the middle. The circle changes to a solid red color when the pans are ready to go and adequately preheated. This makes it a lot easier to get a feel for when to throw certain foods on so they don't burn or cook unevenly from inadequate or excess heat.


  • Includes a wide variety of pots and pans to make a complete set.
  • Oven safe up to 400F - great for keeping things warm or finishing things in the oven.
  • Is dishwasher safe.
  • Silicone handles make gripping the cookware easier.
  • Has a preheating "indicator" which lets the user know when the pan is adequately heated. Takes the guesswork out of making things like pancakes.


  • Recommended for low to medium heat - need to be careful about overheating it.
  • Abuse of this cookware will lessen its ability to be non-stick.

Bialetti Red Cookware Set

Bialetti Aeternum Red 7272 10 Piece Cookware Set

If you want bare bones and durable, getting a stainless steel set is going to a great idea. Outside of cast iron, its going to be your best choice in terms of durability.

However, when it comes to convenience, ​this ceramic cookware takes the cake. As long as you don't abuse it by using metal utensils, putting it in the dishwasher, or scrubbing it with a super abrasive sponge, you should be able to enjoy the convenience of these pots and pans for a long time to come!


  • Very solidly built and provides great heat distribution.
  • Very easy to clean since its nonstick.
  • Don't have to worry about cooking with fat or oil!
  • Free of PFOA, PTFE, and Cadmium.


  • Need to be careful about not scratching it. Wood utensils are recommended as well as not using very course sponges. Please note that because very few things stick to it, there's usually not a reason to scrub it super hard!
  • Not recommended for the dishwasher.

Cuisinart Classic Nonstick 66-17N Set

Cuisinart Chef's Classic Non-Stick Hard Anodized, 17 Piece Set, Black, 66-17N

If you're just looking for some reliable nonstick cookware without all the bells and whistles then the 66-17N set my Cuisinart is probably a good choice. It comes with almost every cookware piece that you'll need and is just all around capable of handling most jobs.

It's coated with "quantium" (more info on the link below), making it nonstick and convenient just like the ceramic.


  • Sturdy and well constructed.
  • Made with a nonstick "quantanium" coating.
  • Oven safe up to 500F - glass lids up to 350F.
  • Some of the pieces may be metal friendly, but you still run the risk of damaging the coating with all coated cookware.
  • Has a steamer insert for nutrient-sparing vegetable cooking.


  • Not recommended for the dishwasher to prolong longevity.
  • Specific pieces may be approved for metal utensil use, but probably not recommended for longevity. Likely not necessary for since its nonstick to begin with.

Chef's Star Stainless Steel Set

Chef's Star Professional Grade Stainless Steel 17 Piece Pots & Pans Set - Induction Ready Cookware Set with Impact-bonded Technology

If you want bare bones and durable, getting a stainless steel set is going to a great idea. Outside of cast iron, its going to be your best choice in terms of durability. The only problem comes with the amount of oil and fat that you need to use while cooking. If the pan is not properly coated, your food is going to get stuck!

You can get around the oil by water sauteing or ​using vegetable broth to keep things lubricated while food is cooking. If you make a lot of soups or stir fries with liquid, you may not need too much oil if any at all.


  • Oven safe for up to 550F - superior to most other cookware.
  • Freezer safe so that you can store food without tupperware.
  • Includes some interesting pieces including a colander and boiler basket  - often times these are sold separately.
  • Suitable for a wide variety of other cooking surfaces besides for gas.


  • Will need to use oil to keep things from sticking.
  • Potential to get discolored if not used properly or on too high of heat. However, original finish can be restored.

The post What are the Best Pots and Pans for Gas Stoves? appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.

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Thrive Cuisine

Whether you're cooking in a cast iron skillet, brewing tea in a cast iron teapot, or even grilling up some veggies, having strong and heat resistant gloves is important. This is something that many people overlook and unfortunately find themselves with a burn or dropped pan after attempting a pick up with a thin and cheap oven mitt. Luckily, we've compiled the best oven mitts for cast iron which are also extremely useful for other high temperature activities.

Summary of Our Top Picks

Ekogrips BBQ Oven Gloves

Grill Armor Gloves

Cuisinart Heat Proof Gloves

Grill Heat Aid

HOMWE Silicone Oven Mitts

Temperature Resistance 









Sort of (excluding lining)


Sort of (excluding lining)

Extended Sleeve










Silicone and Cotton

Aramid Fiber

Silicone and Cotton

Extra Features

Easy to clean in dishwasher, extra grip design, small hanging hook

Machine washable, hanging hook, and silicone grips

Lined with cotton interior

Lined with cotton interior and silicone grips

Lined Cotton interior, silicone grips, hanging hook


What to Look for in a Top Quality Oven Mitt

If you've made the decision to invest in a pair high temperature heat resistant oven mitt the best option is to invest in something that's going to fulfill at least one of the following criteria.

  • It should be built to last a long time, this isn't going to be your cheap oven mitt that you pick up at the local dollar store.
  • It should be large enough to cover more than just your hand. If you're going to make the investment - why not get something that's appropriate for other high temperature activities such as reaching into hot water. Unfortunately, this attribute may be a trade off as some of the super high temperature gloves aren't designed to work with moisture.
  • It should make gripping easier as you don't want to drop any hot cast iron cookware as doing so can ruin your floors, or even worse, cause injury.
  • Super heat resistant gloves should be EN407 certified.

Being that a lot of these are grill gloves – they will be useful beyond just handling cast iron. Being that most of us could use some more vegetables in our life, we wanted to recommend this Grilling Vegan Cookbook for use with your new gloves!

What Does the High-End Oven Mitt Market Look Like?

The most elite brands in the oven mitt market can be divided up by two materials: Silicone and a Kevlar/Nomex/Aramid Blend. Each of these choices comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

The silicone oven mitts simply aren't going to be as heat resistant as the ones made from Kevlar/Nomex materials. However, they come with the advantage of being super "grippy" as well as waterproof. Many brands even advertise sticking the gloves right into a pot of boiling water. This means if you want to check your pasta or pull out a potato you can do it quickly and easily without clumsy utensils.

The oven mitts made from Kevlar/Nomex are going to be far more heat resistant. So much so that they are advertised to be resistant temperatures up to ​932F! The problem is that they typically aren't waterproof, so dipping your hand into a pot (like you can do with the silicone style gloves) is going to be out of the question.

More Details About Our Top Picks

As the above table illustrates, our best oven mitts (or gloves) for cast iron were the following:

  • Ekogrips BBQ Gloves
  • Grill Armor Gloves
  • Cuisinart Heat Proof Oven Mitts
  • Grill Heat Aid Gloves
  • HOMWE Silicon Oven Mitts

Let's get into a little more detail about the pros and cons of each product to help you make the best choice.

Ekogrips BBQ Gloves

Ekogrips BBQ Oven Gloves | Best Versatile Heat Resistant Grill Gloves | Lifetime Replacement | Insulated Silicone Oven Mitts For Grilling | Waterproof | Full Finger, Hand, Wrist Protection | 3 Sizes


  • Fully waterproof
  • Has hanging hooks for easy storage
  • Easy to clean
  • Company offers free size replacements
  • Extra "grippy" bumps in the gloves


  • Low heat resistant threshold compared to the others - 425F (but probably all that you would need in any normal kitchen or for handling cast iron)

The Ekogrips gloves are one of the most popular heat resistant silicone gloves on the market. The main reason why we decided to feature this glove is for the waterproof properties that it has. Being that we love cooking with vegetables, we're always steaming and boiling. Having the ability to put on a glove to take out a piece of pasta or a potato is quite convenient because the rolling water can sometimes move things around rapidly.

The heat resistant threshold was low compared to the others, but for regular kitchen tasks, it should be all that you need unless you're placing things under an extremely hot oven broiler.

Grill Armor Gloves

Grill Armor 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant Oven Gloves - EN407 Certified BBQ Gloves For Cooking, Grilling, Baking


  • Resistant up to 932F
  • Resistant to catching fire - even when exposed to an open flame.
  • Has 5 fingers for improved dexterity - makes it easy to grab different shaped pots and pans that a mitten may make difficult.
  • Silicone lining for extra grips.


  • Can't handle excess water exposure like the silicone gloves.

When it comes to heat resistance, these gloves are going to be near the top being able to withstand heat up to 932F. However, this might be excessive for the regular home cook since its rare that you'd turn your oven over 450F, but it could be good for peace of mind. That being said, if you like to light bonfires or have a fireplace, these could come in great handy as you'll have a full human hand to move the logs around.

Cuisinart Silicone Oven Mitts

Cuisinart Silicone Heat-Proof Oven Mitt with Quilted Cotton Lining, Purple


  • Has an inside cotton lining for extra comfort - easy to slip on and slip out.
  • Is manufactured in a multitude of colors
  • Heat resistant up to 450F (higher than other silicone gloves)


  • Probably only half-way good in hot water due to the cotton lining - don't want to get it wet.

The major difference between the Cuisinarts and other Silicone gloves is the cotton lining. If you've ever handled silicone, you know that it grips onto everything (including skin) and thus can be slightly uncomfortable or hard take on and off. With the cotton lining, you get extra comfort, but lose some of the waterproof ability.

Grill Heat Aid Gloves

Extreme Heat Resistant Grill Gloves: Premium Insulated & Silicone Lined Aramid Fiber Mitts for Cooking, BBQ, Grilling, Frying & Baking - Professional Indoor Outdoor Kitchen & Oven Accessories

As far as we could tell, these were just another style of the Grill Armor Gloves. Not that there's anything wrong with that, we just wanted to give you some more variety in terms of style and color! They have similar levels of heat resistance and are going to present the same cons in terms of ability to handle water.

For the pros and the cons, simply refer to the Grill Armor Gloves above.

HOMWE Silicone Quilted Oven Mitts

Silicone Oven Mitts with Quilted Cotton Lining - Professional Heat Resistant Potholder Kitchen Gloves - 1 Pair (Black) - Homwe


  • Easy to get on and off because of the lining.
  • Heat resistant up to 450F.
  • Manufactured in a wide range of colors.


  • Not going to be ideal for water immersion compared to an all silicon glove.

The HOMWE qulited oven mitts are similar to the Cuisinart ones, but with a little extra lining. Because the inside is lined with cotton, they are easy to get on and get off. We also thought the design was pretty neat and unique. Finally, they are easy to clean by throwing them into the washer machine, but all of these gloves are pretty easy to clean so that doesn't give it much of an advantage.

At the end of the day, all of these gloves are great picks for handling any sort of cast iron cookware. If you deal with temperatures above 450 you'll probably want to go with one of the super heat resistant ones, but if you don't then we'd suggest the silicone. Either way

The post Best Oven Mitts for Cast Iron | Heat Resistant for Safe Handling appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.

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Thrive Cuisine

Is Hot Chocolate/Hot Cocoa Vegan?

ANSWER: From our research we found that there are many hot chocolate brands that aren't vegan, but there are also plenty that are!

There's a reason that hot cocoa brings up warm memories of childhood. This classic chocolatey beverage makes everyone feel good, and there's a type of hot cocoa for everyone. Veganism is no reason to leave this drink behind - you just need to find the right product for you. Just omit the marshmallows, unless of course you were going to get some vegan ones!

Vegan Hot Chocolate Brands Available Online

Because a lot of different products can be considered hot cocoa mixes, we decided to keep it simple. We haven't included any straight cocoa or cacao powders in this list, both because they are almost always vegan and because they aren't a true hot cocoa mix. The only exception is the Ghirardelli cocoa powder, because it's massively popular as a hot cocoa mix and we felt it shouldn't be left off the list. 


Moonstruck is a popular brand on the market that makes simple, tasty hot chocolate mixes. Their packaging is cute, and they also do a range of chocolate blocks. They have three mixes, all of which are vegan: ClassicMayan (which is flavored with almond and cinnamon), and Dark.



Starbucks has a couple of hot cocoa mixes, both of which are accidentally vegan. Because they’re accidentally vegan, you’ll need to make sure that the ingredients haven’t changed when you go to buy these products. Their two vegan options are the Mocha Powder and the Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa.

Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Four Sigmatic

For healthy options, there’s Four Sigmatic. The products from this company are less indulgent hot cocoas than healthy, before-bed drinks that are made with mushrooms (yes, mushrooms) to help reduce stress, prevent headaches, and relax you. They’re labelled vegan, so if you’re looking for a way to de-stress and you love chocolate, give the Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix – either with Reishi or with Cordyceps – a go. 

Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix with Reishi


Lakanto is another brand that offers a healthier alternative to hot cocoa. Their Drinking Chocolate is vegan, probiotic, zero calorie, sugar free, and made with monkfruit as a sweetener instead of stevia – so if you don’t like the taste of stevia, this is a great alternative. 

Drinking Chocolate


German brand Suchard offers Kakao Express, which is a classic cacao mix that is listed as vegan. 

Kakao Express


As mentioned, this list has one pure cocoa powder: Ghirardelli, which makes chocolate blocks and high quality cocoa powders. One of these poweders, the Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa Powder, is a popular favorite. It’s described as being rich and full of chocolate flavor, but not sweet; when making your own hot cocoa, you can add sweetener if you would like. 

Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa Powder

Brands Likely In Stores 

There are a couple of brands to look out for in stores. Most are accidentally vegan, so make sure you check the ingredients every time you buy - they can change. Use any of the store locators below to see if you can find them near you!

Ghirardelli is the obvious choice. Their numerous accidentally vegan options can be found at plenty of stores, including Walmart and Target.

If you're on the west coast, look out for Cacoco, which has an assortment of hot cocoa mixes ​ that are often vegan. Cacoco is found in natural health stores and in Whole Foods.

NibMor does a range of hot cocoa mixes, which are almost all vegan. They can be found at various stores across the country.​

There are undoubtedly plenty more accidentally vegan options - read the back of some labels and you're sure to find something you love.​ If all else fails, you can pick up some plain cocoa powder or chocolate bar and melt them into some plant milks!

What Ingredients to Look Out For?

There is only one main ingredient that you need to look out for, and that is common in many cocoa mixes: milk. This can be found under myriad of different names, including 'whey', 'milk powder', and the vague 'dairy ingredients'. Most countries require allergens to be listed at the bottom of the ingredients list, so it's quick to look here to see if there's any milk present. However, you should always look over the ingredients just to be sure.

Other additives may not be vegan. Niacin, which is listed in many hot cocoa mixes, can be sourced from non-vegan products. However, given that there's only a slim possibility that it is non-vegan, and it's such a small component of most mixes, we recommend that you don't worry too much about it. It's better to be 99.9% vegan than 0% vegan, after all - don't sweat the small stuff.​ To read more about trace ingredients, please refer to our article on sugar.

The post Is Hot Chocolate Vegan? The Best Vegan Hot Chocolate Brands! appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.

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Is Ramen Vegan?

Many of the most popular ramen brands are not vegan because they contain products from the animals they are flavored with such as chicken and beef. However, the noodles themselves don't contain any animal products. There are even several meat "flavored" ramen brands that are still 100% vegan!

What is Ramen Exactly?

Ramen is a staple in a lot of places, including Japan and college dorms. Traditionally it is dressed up with ingredients like poached eggs (not vegan) and fresh vegetables. The cheaper Western versions be eaten as-is, with the included flavor sachet only, to keep your meal cheap and simple. As stated above, these sachets most likely contain animal products if they are the typical "chicken" or "beef" flavor, but not to worry, we've listed some alternatives below.

There’s no need to give up this easy food option just because you’ve gone vegan; as a vegan, I’ve consistently found delicious instant ramen options at my local Asian supermarket. You don’t need to look for specifically vegan brands; just pick up the closest vegetarian flavor, read the ingredients, and make sure it doesn’t have any seafood or egg in it (those are the main things to look out for with the vegetarian labeled ones).

If you don’t have an Asian supermarket near you, you can either shop online or search your local supermarket for vegan ramen options.

Best Vegan Ramen Brands You Can Buy Online

There are a few ramen products that you can buy online that are listed as vegan, whether or not the brand makes exclusively vegan ramens. There are few brands that make specifically vegan ramen, probably because these are fairly easy to find on the market anyway. However, Dr McDougall's brand is one of the exceptions. It's worth double checking the brands that don't advertise as vegan, as their ingredient statements can change at any time.

Dr McDougall's Vegan Ramen

Dr McDougall’s offers a massive range of vegan foods that are easy to eat and prepare. They have at least two vegan ramens on offer, both in cups: the Chicken Ramen and the Miso Ramen.

Dr. McDougall's Right Foods Ramen Chicken Soup with Noodles, 1.8-Ounce (Pack of 6)

Lotus Foods Ramen

Lotus Foods has plenty of ramen options, in a lot of different flavors. They have Millet and Brown Rice RamenForbidden Rice Ramen, which is made of black rice, Jade Pearl Rice RamenBuckwheat Mushroom Rice Ramen Purple Potato and Brown Rice Ramen, and Wakame and Brown Rice Ramen.

Much of their packaging even says Vegan on the front or the back which means they are doing something right! Their ingredient statements also tend to be pretty clean and preservative free.

Lotus Foods Rice Ramen Noodles, Millet and Brown Rice with Miso Soup, 2.8 oz, 10 Count

Koyo Ramen

Koyo is one of the best brands for vegan ramen, with every product we looked at being vegan. They offer Asian Vegetable RamenGarlic Pepper RamenTofu Miso RamenMushroom Ramen Lemongrass Ginger Ramen Garlic and Pepper RamenSeaweed Ramen, and Soba Ramen, among others. There’s plenty to find here.

The noodles are also organic, and much like the Lotus brand, have very clean ingredient statements.

Koyo Asian Vegetable Dry Ramen - 2.1 oz

Nongshim Ramen Noodles

Nongshim, which is a well-known Asian food brand, has a couple of vegan products on Amazon. They aren’t listed vegan, so you’ll need to check the ingredients again if you decide to buy them and you need to determine whether some of the potentially non-vegan ingredients (for instance, the added niacin and mononitrate in these products) are important enough to you to not buy it. Here at Thrive Cuisine, we don’t sweat the small stuff – there’s only a possibility that these items may come from non-vegan sources, and since they make up such a small part of the final product, we don’t think it’s worth fussing over. Nongshim’s Soon Veggie Noodle Soup (here or here) and Kimchi Noodle Soup are both vegan.

Nongshim Soon Veggie Noodle Soup, 3.95 Ounce (Pack of 20)

Paldo Bowl Noodle Soup

Paldo is another popular Asian food brand on Amazon, and like Nongshim it has some ingredients that are potentially non-vegan. However, like Nongshim there are no ingredients that aren’t overtly non-vegan. These Jjajangmen Chajang Noodles, this Kimchi Bowl Noodle Soup, these Premium Jjajang Noodles, and this Teumsae Ramen are all vegan.

We were actually surprised about the Kimchi noodles as Kimchi has been known to contain anchovies. See our full article on Kimchi here.

Paldo Kimchi Noodle Soup, 3.03-Ounce Cup (Pack of 12)

Brands You Can Buy In-Store

A lot of ramen is accidentally vegan, especially in Asian supermarkets – you just have to look at the ingredients. Most Asian brands will list fish/crustaceans/eggs in the allergens section pretty faithfully, and those are the things you should look out for most – meat can sometimes sneak in there, but much more rarely if it is not overtly labeled with a meat flavor.

Dr McDougall’s is a brand that is definitely vegan and can be found at most Whole Foods. A lot of the other brands are probably going to be smaller Asian ones.

Top Ramen (one of the biggest brands out there) has Oriental and Chili flavors which both appear to be vegan based on their website.​

Unfortunately, we couldn't say the same for ​the Maruchan Oriental Flavor which had beef extract on their ingredient list.

Making Your Own at Home

Vegan ramen is really easy to make at home, whether you want to keep it simple or dress it up. Add whatever other foods you want, flavor it however you like, and you’ve got a delicious and filling meal. This recipe is a great way to dress ramen up.

Cheap Lazy Vegan is a great channel to follow if you’re new to veganism – and she even uses a brand on this list! (Nongshim’s Soon Veggie Noodle Soup). As well as adding vegetables for extra micronutrients and phytochemicals. She also adds soft tofu to give it a silken texture and some sesame seeds and seaweed to make it even more delicious.

How do you make your vegan ramen? Let us know in the comment section below!​

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Soy has quickly gone from a relatively unknown in Western culture to a highly debated and controversial food. Of course, soy has not been embraced by communities who have been advocating against grain and legume consumption for decades. Even people who eat predominately plant-based diets will campaign against this humble legume. The question is: are these harsh criticisms warranted or does the scientific literature say otherwise?

Introduction on Soy

A flurry of blog posts, most without any or with limited sources from scientific literature, has emerged attempting to prove once and for all how dangerous soy consumption is for human health.

Claims can range anywhere from “soy causes breast cancer and increases estrogen levels” to “phytates in soy leeches nutrients from your body”.

In this post, we will closely examine common objections against soy. We will explore the truths many online resources got right and the falsehoods that many got wrong.

We will dive deep into the actual scientific research behind soy consumption and ultimately be able to conclude soy, when consumed in any reasonable amount, protects against disease and promotes overall health.

**Please note that this article is about whole-foods plant based sources of soy, not soy additives in processed foods.

Debunking Anti-Soy Claims

Soy Allergies


  • Soy is the least common of all food allergens.
  • You're much more likely to be allergic to fish, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, or peanuts.

To start, yes there are some people who shouldn’t eat soy. Some people do have allergies to soy, but it is actually the least common of all the main allergens.

A national survey found that 1 in 2,000 people have a soy allergy. For comparison, this is 40 times less likely than dairy, and 10 times less than fish, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, or peanuts. [1]

What About GMO Soy?


  • Majority of GMO soy grown is for the purpose of feeding animals.
  • Consuming factory farmed (and even pasture-raised animals in some cases) means you're consuming GMO soy second-hand.
  • The immediate danger comes in the pesticides being sprayed on the soy. Genetic modification needs to be tested long-term and should be labeled.
  • Buying organic soy products is the easiest way to avoid the dangers of GMO soy.

Concerning GMOs, there certainly has not been enough testing done on the long-term effects of these foods, and they should be, at-best, labelled so each consumer has the right to know what they’re eating.

The main issue with GMO soy may not necessarily be the modification, but the actual Roundup being sprayed in large doses on these crops. This substance has been proven to product toxic and hormonal effects at even lower concentrations than what’s used on crops.[2]

Organic or conventional Non-Gmo soy has no Roundup of course, and less pesticide residues overall than GMO-soy. [3]

More Details on GMO Soy by NutritionFacts.org

If you’ve been avoiding soy because you think it’s either unhealthy, GMO, or similar, there is an unfortunate dilemma. 90% of the soy production in the world goes to animal feed and given to cows, chickens, and pigs.  If you’re eating any of these animals and fearful of the dangers of soy, you’re still consuming it second-hand. [4]

The main soy used for for humans manufacturers use Non-GMO soy, but we recommend buying organic soy products just to be safe.

Is Soy Environmentally Destructive?


  • Most soy is grown to feed animals for slaughter, not humans.
  • Livestock systems are far more unsustainable than growing soy to feed humans.
  • By consuming factory farmed animal products, you're indirectly consuming GMO-soy in much greater quantities.
  • Grass-fed animal products may still be fed soy/grain and are much more unsustainable.
  • Organic soy products are an environmentally safe option.

Soy gets a lot of flak for being a crop that is environmentally destructive. However, the brunt of this issue falls upon consumers of animal products and the animal agriculture industry, not soy itself. As stated above, the majority of GMO soy is grown for the sole purpose of feeding animals.

Of course, there are the grass-fed free, range animal options, which may not be fed with soy. Even "grass-fed" options, though, may be fed grain during a portion of the year during the end of their lives to fatten them up before slaughter . It’s also completely unsustainable for the environment. Livestock systems already cover 45% of the earth’s total landmass and cattle ranching is responsible for 91% of Amazonian rainforest destruction. [5][6]

These are huge numbers, and our limited land resources will only decrease as the demand for grass-fed meat increases. One grass-fed cow takes 9 acres of land to raise, whereas a grain-fed cow takes 3 acres. We simply don’t have enough land for everyone to eat grass-fed animals. [7]

With the majority of GMO-soy feed going to animals and the already massive occupancy of land used for animal agriculture, trying to avoid GMO-soy while still consuming animal products is quite counter-intuitive. By consuming most factory farmed animals, you're consuming GMO-soy indirectly and in much greater quantities. Not to mention you are increasing demand for this GMO soy, which leads to more destructive land-clearing.

Again, the healthiest, more environmentally friendly, and less cruel option would be to purchase organic soy products, which are by law non-GMO. However, many people still have concerns over some of the actual proteins and chemicals inside soy.

What About Lectins?


  • Lectins aren't only in soy, but present in many of foods.
  • Separating lectins from their original food source isn't a viable way to study them for human consumption.
  • Cooking lectins removes any negative consequences they may have.
  • "High lectin" legume based diets are staples for the longest living populations and are undoubtably associated with positive health outcomes. 

Another main talking-point against soy is the fact they are high in lectins. Lectins are proteins present in plants, dairy, yeast, eggs, and seafood. They can bind to other molecules, notably sugar and carbohydrate molecules, that are present both in foods, and in the membranes of our cells.

A case made by anti-grain authorities is that binding of lectins from plant foods to our cells is a major cause of ill health and nutrition malabsorption. They claim high-lectin foods like beans, grains, potatoes, tomatoes, and peanuts should be avoided for this reason.

This claim doesn't add up when you look at the actual research on lectin-containing foods.

First off, experimentation on lectins is often done in high concentrations and separated from it’s actual food source. Isolating lectins make them substantially more effective to bind to our cells compared to if they were consumed in food.

Also, by simply cooking your food, most of the lectins are deactivated or bind to other substances. Even a study from 1998, which attempts to frame lectins as a serious problem in the food industry, fails to dance around the point that lectin activity for most beans is deactivated within 10 minutes of boiling. [8]

Overconsumption of lectins can cause gastrointenstinal distress, but again, simply cooking your legumes/grains will remove any chance of negative consequences.

When we look at the longest living, healthiest populations in the world, known as the Blue Zone groups, “high lectin” legumes were a staple in their diet. Most of these cultures reserved meat for use as a condiment and on special occasions. In fact, the longest living Blue Zoners actually didn’t consume any meat [9][10]

Additionally, a Journal of Nutrition review concerning whole grains found that:

“Protease inhibitors, phytic acid, phenolic acids, and saponins present in whole grain have also been suggested to lower the risk of certain cancers, such as colon cancer and breast cancer. Phytic acid, lectins, phenolic acids, amylase inhibitors, and saponins have also been shown to lower plasma glucose, insulin, and/or plasma cholesterol and TG levels” [11][12]

The fact is, most people who try to write off lectin containing foods, just because they contain lectins, while absolutely ignoring all of the positive research regarding the benefits of lectin-containing foods.

This concept is most eloquently stated by Dr. David Katz, founder of the True Health Initiative :

The idea that you should renounce many of the foods most decisively and consistently linked to good health outcomes because they contain a compound that can be called a toxin may be the most egregious example of missing the forest for the trees I’ve ever seen, and I’ve spent my career scrutinizing, and repudiating, just that variety of nonsense. For the sake of false promises dangling from one gilded tree, this is a case of burning the forest down. [13]

What About Phytates?


  • Studies on human phytate consumption is drastically different than animal studies.
  • High phytate diets have been shown to be protective of bone loss in humans.
  • Phytates must be consumed in the form of whole plant foods to realize the benefits and avoid the potential pitfalls.

Phytates, another compound found in soy, have been labelled as a mineral-absorption inhibitor. These phytates can wind up supposedly causing mineral loss leading to calcium deficiency and weak bones.

The original concern about phytates on bone health actualy originated from experiments done on puppies in the 1940s. These studies were followed up by research done on rats where they were fed the equivalent of 10 loaves of bread a day.

However, actual human research suggests differently. Studies where people are put on high-phytate diets actually wound up with better bone density and stronger bones (heel, spine, hip). Phytates prevented bone dissolution similar to anti-osteoporosis drugs and women with high phytate levels in the blood had a much smaller risk of major bone fractures. [14]

Phytates for the Prevention of Osteoporosis by NutritionFacts.org

While high phytate diets may appear to be a cause for concern, the health-harming effects of this anti-nutrient

...can be manifested only when large quantities of [phytates] are consumed in combination with a [nutrient-poor] diet.

When phytates are consumed in the form of soy and whole plant foods, the result is less heart disease, diabetes, kidney stones, fractures, and possibly cancer. [15]

Phytates and Cancer by NutritionFacts.org

Soy Beans and Mortality

Blue Zones and Long Living Cultures


  • Legume consumption is one of the pillars for long living cultures.
  • Increased legume consumption (including soy) has been shown to be protective against all-cause mortality and a host of chronic diseases.

In addition to the Blue Zones study, which showed regular legume consumption as one of the pillars for the longest lived cultures [16], another study analyzed 785 partcipants aged 70 and over. Here were the results [17]:

The FHILL longitudinal study shows that a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of their ethnicity. The significance of legumes persisted even after controlling for age at enrolment (in 5-year intervals), gender, and smoking. Legumes have been associated with long-lived food cultures such as the Japanese (soy, tofu, natto, miso), the Swedes (brown beans, peas), and the Mediterranean people (lentils, chickpeas, white beans). [18]

When it comes to raw statistics, the study found that every 20g of legumes consumed daily resulted in an 8% reduction in risk of death.

Soy and Estrogenic/Breast Cancer


  • Soy has phytoestrogens which function differently compared to mammalian estrogens.
  • Phytoestrogens can be both pro-estrogenic as well as anti-estrogenic.
  • Misconceptions about hormonal impacts of soy came from research on rats who metabolize soy vastly different than humans.
  • Human studies have shown soy to prevent bone loss and breast cancer.

Another major myth about soy is it’s alleged “estrogen-mimicking” chemicals, which some claim can result in breast cancer and other hormonal issues.

This is actually misinformation with no substantial evidence to support it. It's actually quite ironic because meat and dairy contain actual animal estrogens, not plant phytoestrogens.

The truth is that phytoestrogens act different than real estrogen, and can actually be pro-estrogenic in some parts of the body, but anti-estrogenic in others. Let us examine this further:

Phytoestrogens can have simultaneously pro-estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects because there are two types of estrogen receptors: alpha and beta.

Soy phytoestrogens, such as genistein, prefer to bind to beta estrogen receptors. Beta receptor activation in the breast has an anti-estrogenic effect, which actually inhibits the growth and cancer-promoting effects of animal estrogen, can be enhance endothial function in post-menopausal women, and protect against other menopausal symptoms. [19][20][21][22]

At the same time, soy phytoestrogens can be pro-estrogenic when it comes to protecting post-menopausal women from bone loss. A robust study was done comparing soy milk consumption to progesterone cream (a common hormone therapy for post-menapausal women), and a control group.

The control group lost significant bone mineral density in their spine over the two-year study period, the progesterone group lost significantly less, and the two glasses of soy milk a day group wound up preventing bone loss and increasing bone mass. [23][24]

Pro-estrogenic and Anti-estrogenic Properties of Soy by NutritionFacts.org

This misconception that soy can contribute to breast cancer came from research on rats, who metabolize soy isoflavones (phytoestrogens) quite differently from humans, as distinctly noted in the study itself. The circulating levels of geinstein in the blood in the rats that had an increase in tumor size were 58 times greater than human levels after 1 serving of soy. [25]

When soy consumption in humans is put to the test against breast cancer, it has been shown that soy intake during childhood, adolescence, and adult life were all associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Those women who ate the most soy in their youth appear to grow up to have less than half the risk. [26]

Breast cancer rates are much higher in the USA than in Asia, where there are some of the highest soy consumption rates. But, when Asians migrate to the US and start eating a western diet, their breast cancer rates increase to average American levels. [27]

Soy and Feminizing Men


  • Phytoestrogens don't necessarily have pro-estrogenic properties 
  • Extremely high doses of soy has been shown to have some feminizing effects in a few rare cases.
  • Once these extremely high doses (3 quarts of soymilk per day) were reduced, the effects were reversed.
  • Nine clinical studies have shown no impact in circulating estrogen levels in men.

Everyone has heard about how too much soy consumption can result in feminizing effects in males, but is this claim substantiated?

A common reasoning for this is, again, the potential estrogenic affects of isoflavones in soy. As discussed earlier, phytoestrogens are quite different than the estrogens found in meat, and phytoestrogens can have anti-estrogenic properties in some circumstances.

Studies have found soy consumption in rat’s ability to produce offspring, but as mentioned earlier, rodent metabolism of soy is completely different, making these studies useless. [28]

Many have heard of how consuming too much soy can cause gynecomastia (man boobs), but the only report of this was from men consuming extremely high doses of soy, 3 quarts of soymilk a day in one instance. The feminizing effects of this extraordinary soy habit were reversed once intake was reduced. [29]

Finally, the peer-reviewed Fertility & Sterility journal concluded that after reviewing the clinical trials regarding soy intake and feminization there was:

“Essentially no evidence from nine identified clinical studies that isoflavone exposure affects circulating estrogen levels in men.” [30]

Can You Have Too Much Soy?


  • Massive amounts of soy can increase IGF-1 levels.
  • Vegan men eating huge amount of soy had the IGF-1 levels of meat eaters.
  • Stick to 5 servings a day or less of soy to reap the benefits without the downsides.

While we’ve demonstrably proven that non-GMO soy is beneficial for our health and protective against disease, can too much soy be bad?

The answer is possibly yes. IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor 1, is a growth hormone responsible for turning children into full-grown adults. But if this hormone keeps circulating in the blood, your cells should continue to divide and grow. The more IGF-1 in the bloodstream, the higher our risk for cancer. Those on a plant based diet tend to have lower IGF-1 levels.

However, studies have shown that vegan men eating huge amounts of soy, 7 to 18 cups of soy milk worth per day, for an entire year, would up with similar levels of IGF-1 in the body as meat eaters.[31]

How Much Soy is Too Much by NutritionFacts.org

To be as safe as possible, one shouldn’t consume more than 5 servings of soy a day. [32]

Conclusion on Soy

Much of the controversy around soy has been the result of misrepresentation.

GMO-Soy is certainly a problem and should be labelled properly so consumers can have freedom of choice. However, the overwhelming majority GMO-soy is fed to animals, and attempting to get meat from only grass-fed sources only poses a more unsustainable problem due to limited land resources.

The best choice for consuming soy is always organic or non-GMO.

Most of the hysteria regarding the negative health risks of soy are based on the potential dangers of certain compounds (such as lectins or phytates) in isolation, but when soy itself is studied on humans, it can be protective against bone loss, breast cancer, and overall mortality.

However, to air on the safe side, stick to no more than 5 servings daily.


  • 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17451802
  • 2. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-monsantos-roundup-pesticide-glyphosate-safe/
  • 3. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-gmos-safe-the-case-of-roundup-ready-soy/
  • 4. http://anhinternational.org/2010/04/21/europeans-consuming-gm-animal-feed-unknowingly/
  • 5. https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3.pdf
  • 6. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/758171468768828889/pdf/277150PAPER0wbwp0no1022.pdf
  • 7.http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/12/pass_on_grass.html
  • 8.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/50272913_Assessment_of_Lectin_Inactivation_by_Heat_and_Digestion
  • 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24210636
  • 10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11434797
  • 11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19079919
  • 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078018/pdf/nut14101011S.pdf
  • 13. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/do-we-dare-to-eat-lectins_us_5935c6a7e4b0cca4f42d9c83
  • ​14. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-the-prevention-of-osteoporosis/
  • 15. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-the-treatment-of-cancer/
  • 16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24210636
  • 17. https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/01/17/what-do-all-the-blue-zones-have-in-common/
  • 18. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/13/2/217.pdf
  • 19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16513288
  • 20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18843590
  • 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15084758
  • 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9247129
  • 23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15309425
  • 24. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/who-shouldnt-eat-soy/
  • 25. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/5/1284.long
  • 26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19318430
  • 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8230262
  • 28. http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/189/3/565
  • 29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18558591
  • 30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378106
  • 31. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/too-much-soy-may-neutralize-plant-based-benefits/
  • 32. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-soy-is-too-much/

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Barbecue sauce is an American staple. You might know it best when it comes to barbecuing meat – brisket, ribs, and chicken all do well slathered with it – but it’s a delicious addition to any meal. We don’t consider a burger truly done without vegan barbecue sauce – whether it’s a soy burger, bean burger or something else entirely!

Luckily, most barbecue sauces tend to be vegan; it’s pretty easy to find vegan products at the supermarket. The main thing you’re going to want to look out for in these sauces is honey*, which many consider not to be vegan. Some brands also include sardines or anchovies in their barbecue sauces, but these are much more rare.

*Honey is a controversial topic within the world of veganism - don't sweat it too much if you're still trying to eliminate all other animal products from your diet.

Vegan Barbecue Sauce Brands Available Online

Since many barbecue sauces are actually already vegan, we chose some of the most popular sauces that also happen to be vegan to list here. There’s plenty to try!

Simple Girl Carolina Style BBQ Sauce is a low calorie, sugar free, diabetic-friendly sauce that’s designed for people looking for a “lighter” sauce, or those who are trying not to consume excess calories.

Simple Girl Carolina Style BBQ Sauce - 12oz - Low Calorie - Sugar-Free Diabetic/Vegan Friendly - Gluten/Fat/MSG Free - Compatible with Most Diet Plans

Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce is a classic style sauce that has a good balance of all of the typical BBQ sauce flavors: Sweet, Smoke, and Spice. Renowned for a few decades, it’s a classic sauce that you can’t go wrong with – and happens to be vegan! Even though it has Worcestershire sauce, the version they use doesn’t have any anchovies!

Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce, Original, 160 Ounce

Capital City’s Mambo Sauce is a sweet, sticky sauce ideal for marinating.

Mild Mambo Sauce -- A Washington DC Wing Sauce

One of the most popular brands of barbecue sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s, also has a vegan offering: their Original Barbecue Sauce.

Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce 2/40 Ounce

Kraft also has a couple online; their Hickory Smoke Barbecue Sauce, Original Barbecue Sauce, and Sweet Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce are all vegan and can all be found on Amazon.

Kraft Barbecue Sauce Slow-Simmered Sauce, Hickory Smoke, 17.5 Ounce

Finally, Stonewall Kitchen has two vegan options: their classic Organic Smoky Maple Barbecue Sauce, and a more unusual Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce – perfect if you’re looking for a new flavor.

Stonewall Kitchen Organic Smoky Maple Barbecue Sauce, 11 oz.

Check any of the links above to read customer reviews and check prices on Amazon.

Vegan Barbecue Sauce Brands You Can Buy In-Stores

There are few brands of specifically vegan barbecue sauce, probably because there are so many accidentally vegan options. Most common brands are primarily vegan, and it’s usually only their honey-flavored options that aren’t. You also need to look out for Worcestershire sauce on labels.

Three Common Brands You're Likely to Find

Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce is all vegan except for their Tennessee Honey sauce (which is clearly indicated on their website). Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue range is all vegan except for Honey and Honey Chipotle. Kraft is all vegan except their Sweet Honey and Mesquite Smoke options. And Stubb’s much-loved Bar-B-Q sauces are all vegan except Smoky Mesquite and Honey Pecan.

These should all be fairly easy to find at any supermarket; they’re some of the most popular sauces for omnivores, too!

What About the Sugar in Vegan BBQ Sauce?

You may have heard that some sugar may be processed with animal products. We recommend that unless you're buying your own bagged sugar at the store not to worry about this. Odds are, the manufacturer won't be able to trace it and the actual suffering caused to animals is dubious at best. To learn more about this topic, look at our post on sugar.

Making Your Own at Home

Let's face it - it's always more cost effective to make your own at home in bulk and store it for later. Plus it gives you the opportunity to use the highest quality ingredients should you so choose.

It’s pretty easy to make barbecue sauce at home as its just a matter of combining the ingredients, simmering, and waiting for the flavors to develop. The video above is a super simple vegan recipe that shows you exactly how to do so!

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ANSWER: Yes. The purpose of veganism is to cause the least amount of suffering as possible or practicable with your food choices. Animal crackers aren't real animals of course, nor do the original ones by Stauffer's contain any direct animal ingredients such as milk or eggs. However, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to confectionery and baked products including animal crackers. Full details below!

Vegan Brands of Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers with Organic Sugar*

Conventional Animal Crackers

Use any of the links above to read customer reviews on Amazon!

In the chart above, we've listed the most popular vegan brands of animal crackers. Beware of other brands with frosting and double check if they have any milk, eggs, gelatin, or any other animal products. We've separated the organic from the conventional animal crackers as some more experienced vegans may choose to avoid conventional sugar. More on sugar in the final section.

What Are Animal Cracker's Exactly?

Animal crackers are a bit of a cross between a cracker and a cookie. They are a slightly sweet, but with the texture of a cracker. As the name implies, they are shaped like animals such as horses, giraffes, bears, etc. The Original Animal Crackers by Stauffer's actually contain 13 different shapes according to their website.

What Does the Ingredient Statement Look Like for Animal Crackers?

Here's the Stauffer's Animal Cracker's ingredient statement (please note that other smaller brands might be different):


As you can see they are mainly comprised of flour, sugar, and oil. There's no milk, eggs, or anything that can be stated with 100% certainty that it was animal derived. You don't have to feel guilty about eating them, especially if you're new to veganism. Sugar is a controversial ingredient within veganism and there's a chance that if the sugar isn't organic that animal products were involved in the processing of it.

Why Mention Sugar in Animal Crackers*?

Conventional sugar is sometimes processed with animal bone char, but it is not something that you should put too much thought into, especially if you are having trouble eliminating all labeled animal products from your diet. Veganism is about maximum harm reduction and if you're in the transition phase, you don't want to make things even more confusing.

If you want to be super safe stick with the Kirkland Organic Animal Crackers or the Trader Joe's Organic Animal Crackers. You don’t have to feel guilty if you choose to do otherwise, though.

For the full scoop on sugar, check out this article.

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ANSWER:  Like many sugar-based candies, the small version of Laffy Taffy doesn't contain any blatantly labeled animal products which means that it would be considered Vegan. The big version is Laffy Taffy does however have eggs, making it not vegan. There are a few ingredients (including sugar) in the small version which could potentially involve animal products which we discuss below. However, we don't recommend stressing about trace ingredients.

Most Popular Vegan Taffy Candies

Click any of the links above to check out customer reviews on Amazon!

In the chart above, we've compiled the most popular vegan taffy candies we could find online. Many of the smaller taffy brands had egg or milk in them, but the big brands above did not. Please note that different larger versions of any of these given candies may not be vegan (besides Mambas which we found to be all vegan).

What About the Sugar in Laffy Taffy?

Here's the most up to date Laffy Taffy ingredients we could find:

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Palm Oil and Less Than 2% of Mono- and Diglycerides, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Malic Acid, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavors, blue #1, red #40, yellow #5. Contains Soy Ingredients.​

Laffy Taffy is primarily Corn Syrup and Sugar. Conventional (meaning non-organic) sugar has the capacity to be filtered with animal ingredients such as bone char. Laffy Taffy is a huge brand who most likely sources sugar from different places. This means that tracking whether or not any animal derived products (filtering materials in this case) were involved in the making of one specific candy would be nearly impossible.

The same applies to any natural colors and flavors in Laffy Taffy. Tracking their origins, especially given the different types of the candy out there would be difficult, but we believe that the same principle applies.​

We've fully detailed our position on sugar being vegan in this post.​

Laffy Taffy and the Definition of Veganism

The definition of veganism according to the Vegan Society is as follows:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The keywords in this definition is possible and practicable. While this is not an excuse to go out and eat products blatantly made from animals, veganism isn't something to be overthought, especially for someone that's new to it. Veganism is grounded in maximum harm reduction simply because 100% harm reduction is impossible

While one doesn't necessarily need to eat Laffy Taffy in order to survive it is not constructive for a new vegan to over think ingredient statements that aren't blatantly labeled with animals, especially if it means that it makes veganism too complicated for them. A more experienced vegan may opt to give up questionable products as a matter of principle, but the harm reduction to animals isn't going to be anything of impact.

Conclusion on Laffy Taffy

When it comes to sugary candy including Laffy Taffy, we've boiled it down to one rule of thumb. Check the label for any animal ingredients (including gelatin) that are clearly labeled. If they aren't, you can consider it 99.9% vegan. As you become more experienced on plant-based eating, you may want to consider avoiding anything questionable, but that's your choice.

Finally, because candies don't really contain any nutritional value, we recommend sticking as close to whole foods plant based as possible!

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ANSWER: Yes, but with a few caveats. We found many different formulations of sprinkles during our research so it is hard to pin sprinkles down to one ingredient list. Sprinkles containing "confectioners glaze" have the potential to contain insects, so that is an ingredient to be wary of. There's more you might want to know about sprinkles and veganism though - and we've compiled that below!

What Vegan Brands of Sprinkles Do you Recommend?

If you want to be 100% sure that you're getting the sprinkles that caused the least amount of suffering possible, getting organic sprinkles is a great choice. This is because organic sugar isn't processed the same way as conventional and doesn't have the potential to have animal products anywhere in the supply chain. A brand we recommend is Let's Do Organic.

Check out Let's Do Organic Sprinkelz online!

What Are Sprinkles Exactly?

Sprinkles are little candies, usually all black or rainbow, that are used on top of cookies and desserts. They're mainly for decoration, texture, and sweetness and wouldn't really be ideal to eat all on your own. They're pretty much 100% nutritionally void, being primary composed of sugar and oil. All this aside, sprinkles are adored by many people across the world and are almost a symbol of celebration - certainly a fun food!

What To Look Out for In Sprinkles

There are a few things that you should be on the look out for when it comes to sprinkles and a few other details to be aware of. Some red flag ingredients to keep an eye out for going to be:

  • Confectioners Glaze
  • Gelatin

The sugar, coloring, and flavors in sprinkles have the potential to have animal products somewhere in the production process, but we don't recommend that you get caught up on it. Tracing the origins of all these products in a given sprinkle brand  would be extremely difficult and the reduction on suffering for animals wouldn't account for much. This is why many vegan experts recommend not focusing on trace ingredients.

Our article on sugar goes more in-depth into this topic of sugar and trace ingredients should you be interest.

Should Vegans Stress Out About Sprinkles?

If you have the option of buying vegan sprinkles than we're obviously going to recommend that you do so. However, if one of your relatives made vegan cupcakes especially for you and may have used non-vegan sprinkles by accident, declining to eat them because they aren't vegan may do more harm than good for the animals. Doing this will make veganism seem complex and not easy to follow. In this example, the person went out of their way to make something vegan and shooting them down in this fashion may discourage them from trying it in the future.

Conclusion on Sprinkles

If you're a vegan do your best to avoid sprinkles with confectioners glaze and other animal products such as gelatin. Don't stress too much about other dubious trace ingredients like sugar, colors, and flavors, but simply do the best you can. Veganism isn't about perfection and you're better off being 99.9% vegan than 0%.

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ANSWER: Worcestershire sauce in its original form isn't vegan because it contains anchovies or anchovy paste. Worcestershire sauce has a complex flavor profile and lots of different ingredients, but it is mainly just this one that is the culprit. The good news is that there are plenty of vegan substitutes that taste just like the real thing and it is super easy to make your own if you're so inclined.

What Vegan Brands of Worcestershire Sauce Do you Recommend?

There are two main Worcestershire sauces that we recommend for Vegans which we've listed below. They taste pretty much exactly the same, and since Worcestershire sauce is usually a small part of a recipe, you're unlikely to notice any difference!

Our Favorite Vegan Worcestershire Sauces

Click any of the links above to check our customer reviews on Amazon!

What is Worcestershire Sauce Exactly?

Hard to define flavor-wise because it is so complex, Worcestershire sauce was created by two chemists from Worcester which is how it got its name. The names of these chemists were John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins. If those names look familiar it is because they created the company Lea & Perrin's  which is one of the best known and best selling Worcestershire sauces on the market.

What Does a Worcestershire Sauce Ingredient Statement Look Like?

We've taken the ingredients from the original Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce and displayed it below. It's not simply about the ingredients in this sauce, but the aging of the ingredients which allows the flavors to develop.

Ingredients: Distilled White Vinegar, Molasses, Sugar, Water, Salt, Onions, Anchovies, Garlic, Cloves, Tamarind Extract, Natural Flavorings, Chili Pepper Extract

As you can see, anchovies are a staple in one of the biggest brand out there.

The Wizard's makes an organic and delicious Worcestershire sauce that is definitely worth trying. Annie's is another brand that makes pretty much the same thing. Either or are going to be great choices for replacing non-veg worcestershire sauce. We've linked to them above so be sure to check them out!

Here's the ingredient statement for Annie's:

Water, *Apple Cider Vinegar, *Molasses, *Soy Sauce (Water, *Soybean, Salt, *Wheat, *Alcohol), *Cane Sugar, *Tamarind, Sea Salt, *Cornstarch, Xanthan Gum, *Garlic, *Onion, *Clove, *Chili Pepper. *Organic Ingredients.

Make Your Own at Home!

Although a bit of a lengthy process, you can certainly make your own at home! Remember, the flavor comes from aging so instant gratification isn't going to be possible.

If you've got an immediate hankering, your best bet would be to purchase a pre-made sauce to hold you over while you wait for your homemade batch to age. Just our two cents! Enjoy!

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ANSWER: Some Bisquick products are indeed Vegan, however there are variations of it that definitely aren't. For example, they have a Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix which contains both milk and eggs placing it in the non-vegan category. Also, given that the instructions may call for eggs or milk, you'll have to make some easy vegan substitutes when using Bisquick. We've compiled the vegan products and the non-vegan products in the chart below:

What Kind of Bisquick Products Are Vegan?

Given that there are many forms of Bisquick on the market we've made a convenient list of vegan and non-vegan Bisquicks based on the information from their website. Because ingredient statements change, we recommend checking their ingredient statements for milk and eggs just to make sure.

List of Vegan Bisquick Products

Non-Vegan Bisquick Products:

  • Bisquick Complete Cheese Garlic Butter Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Complete Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Complete Honey Butter Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Complete Three Cheese Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Simply Buttermilk with Whole Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix
  • Bisquick Shake and Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix

*Use any of the links above to read customer reviews and check prices on Amazon.

All of the non-vegan products contain either eggs, milk, and/or honey (which is a bit more controversial). Here's an example of what a vegan ingredient statement of Bisquick looks like compared to a non-vegan one.

​Vegan Ingredient Statement (original Bisquick)

Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), Dextrose, Salt.

Non-Vegan Ingredient Statement (Buttermilk Shake and Pour)

Enriched Flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Sugar, Leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium acid pyrophosphate), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Defatted Soy Flour, Dried Egg Whites, Dextrose, Tricalcium Phosphate, Buttermilk , Salt, Soy Lecithin.

How Do I Replace Eggs and Milk in Biquick?

Milk: Milk should be an easier replacement given that there are plenty of plant based milks on the market. Given that soy milk has the highest protein content (most similar to dairy milk) it is going to be the go to replacement. However, almond and coconut milks will also perform for pancakes.

Eggs: While there are many egg replacers on the market that will work, making a flax egg is going to be your cheapest. To make 1 egg, simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, mix thoroughly, and let is rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. You'll also get other benefits including more fiber in your pancakes!

Quick Disclaimer on Bisquick and Other Products

When it comes to a non-whole food with many minor ingredients, it is nearly impossible to trace whether some of them may be animal derived such as Folic Acid. That being said, they are such low percentage the harm to animals from consuming them in these products is virtually nil. If you're transitioning to veganism, we highly recommend to not overthink these things - just avoid foods blatantly labeled with animal products.

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ANSWER: Yes! Sriracha sauce is typically going to be vegan. Most chili pastes in any sort of Asian cuisine are a combination of chili peppers, sugar, vinegar and spices. There are a few things you might want to know about Srirachi's vegan status, though so read on!

What is Sriracha Exactly?

Sriracha sauce, mainly recognized as the stuff with the rooster on it is a spicy and semi-sweet chili-pepper based sauce that originated in Thailand. It got its name because it was first spotted in restaurants in a Taiwanese city named Si Racha. With its growing popularity, many people in the West are replacing ketchup with Sriracha sauce on foods that you would never expect.

What Brands of Sriracha Do you Recommend?

Taste wise, all brands of Sriracha are going to be pretty similar, so there's none that you can really go wrong with. All organic brands will give you the opportunity to avoid preservatives and you'll know for sure that the sugar wasn't processed with any animal products*. Here's what we recommend, though:

If you want to check out the Organic Sriracha go with Simply Natural brand.

If you want to stick with the conventional go with the Classic Huy Fong Sriracha

What Does the Ingredient Statement Look Like?

The most well known brand of Sriracha by Hoy Fong has the following ingredient statement:

Ingredients: Chili, Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Distilled Vinegar, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulfite as Preservatives, and Xanthan Gum.​

There are also organic Sriracha brands out there with much cleaner ingredient statements and no preservatives.  A typical ingredient statement usually looks something like this:

Ingredients: Organic red jalapeno pepper puree, water, organic red bell pepper puree, organic sugar, organic white vinegar, organic garlic puree, salt, organic garlic, powdered organic habanero peppers, xanthan gum.

What About the Sugar in Sriracha?

​It's true that some sugar in the supply chain isn't 100% vegan due to the processing methods. However, given the complexity of the food supply, we don't recommend worrying about this for products with added sugar, like Sriracha sauce. If you want to be 100% safe you can go with an Organic Sriracha, but it is your choice.

Being vegan shouldn't be burdensome or complex - so  stressing over dubious or trace ingredients can be counterproductive. See our full position on sugar here.

Vegan Recipes with Sriracha

Sriracha gives you the opportunity to add unique and complex flavors to veggies which is always a good thing. From noodle dishes, to burgers, or for straight up dipping any veggies, sriracha is awesome! Check out some of our favorites below:

Enjoy folks!

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ANSWER: Yes - most of it. The majority of boxed pastas by Barilla are Vegan as they only contain Semolina Wheat Flour. However, not all of their pasta products are vegan given that they contain eggs or milk. We went ahead and broke down Barilla's entire product line below so that vegans can learn and shop for Barilla pasta more easily!

A Quick Note About Eggs

Many Barilla Pastas are labeled that they may contain eggs. This means that some of the processing equipment that the pastas was made on is shared with that of products that contain eggs. Likely Barilla is just doing this as an extra allergen precaution. No eggs are actually added to the pasta unless it is specifically in the ingredient statement.

Worrying about potential trace ingredients isn't necessary to be vegan, so unless you're allergic to eggs don't worry about it.

Barilla Pastas by Vegan Status

List of Vegan Barilla Pastas Available Online

Vegan Barilla Pastas

Non-Vegan Pastas

  • Barilla Collezione Tortellini**
  • Barilla Protein Plus

Click any of the links above to be redirected to shop for these pastas on Amazon!

Given their wide range of products we decided to break down their entire line below so you can quickly identify which ones are vegan. All ingredient statements pulled from their website.

Barilla Pasta Classic Blue Box

This classic pasta is completely vegan. The ingredient statement is typical of any generic pasta you might find on the shelf. What flour with fortified vitamins.


Ready Pasta

The Ready Pasta is simply the classic with added olive oil and salt that's been precooked. The final product is sold in a pouch, ready to go in only a few minutes. For those on the run, luckily its also vegan.



There are various different shapes of the Collezione pasta. Most of them are just the same ingredients as the Classic Blue box. This pasta is great because its shaped in ways that allow for an enhanced texture experience and better sauce absorption.

*Please note that the stuffed Tortellini versions of this pasta aren't vegan as they contain cheese.

Whole Grain

The whole grain pasta is simply made from Whole Wheat Flour no other ingredients. Whole Grain Flour doesn't need to be fortified by regulations, hence why there aren't any vitamins and minerals like with the regular pasta.

Protein Plus

As mentioned earlier, this is one brand of Barilla that's definitely not Vegan. Egg whites made their way into the formulation, probably to hit a certain protein threshold. Had they held the eggs, this would have been an awesome pasta to try!



Pronto pastas are meant to be cooked in just a pan without needing to go through the entire process of boiling water. You would think that they would have needed to add all sorts of crazy ingredients to achieve this, but nope! This line of pastas has the same ingredients as the Classic Blue Box. They are able to achieve different cooking times and methods by the way that the pasta is shaped and cut rather than by changing the recipe or formulation.

White Fiber

The White Fiber pasta line is simply the classic formulation with resistant corn starch added in. This allows the pasta to maintain the typical taste and texture and still have approximetly three times the fiber. The ingredient statement reads:



There's three different kind of the veggie pasta and they're all vegan! The formula is simply the classic with added vegetable powders. We're including the Rotini below but the others have some different vegetable powder blends.



The organic pastas are all vegan! Just typical flours and added vitamins:


Academia Barilla

The organic pastas are all vegan! Just typical flours and added vitamins. Bon Appetite!

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ANSWER: Some of US versions we found of Takis we found were Vegan while some weren't (covered below). However, the ingredient statements for all of their products were not available on the manufacturer's website so we don't want to say this with 100% certainty in case ingredient statements have changed. In addition, there may be some things you want to look for on your Takis label which will help you identify if its Vegan as well as some other things you might want to know about Takis.

What is Takis Exactly?

Takis are a corn based crispy snack that is gaining in popularity across the world. There are around six different flavors of Takis - all Tex Mex or Mexican in flavor profile such as Salsa Brava. They're known for being hot, spicy, and having complex flavor profiles.

Vegan Takis Flavors

The following Takis flavors don't contain any animal products from our research:

What Does a Typical Takis Ingredient Statement Look Like?

Again, we couldn't locate the full ingredient statement on the manufacturer's website, but we were able to find some on Fooducate.com. The Fuego version has the following ingredient statement:

Ingredients: corn flour, hydrogenated soybean and/or canola and/or palm and/or sunflower oil, seasoning [salt, sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, soybean protein, yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, maltodextrin, sodium diacetate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, artificial colors (fd&c red no. 40 lake, fd&c yellow no.6 lake), onion powder, chile extract, sodium inosinate and silicon dioxide (no more than 2% as anticaking agent)] and antioxidants (bht and/or tbhq and/or propylene glycol and/or bha).

As you probably gathered, Takis probably aren't the healthiest of foods, being mostly empty calories with little to no nutrition. However, that's not what this article is about.

The fact that they used ​yeast dictates that they were trying to give this version a slight cheesy flavor, but didn't want to use real cheese for whatever reason. This is a common practice for vegans, we always use Nutritional Yeast to make homemade hard cheese and cheese sauces.

Vegan buyer beware, though - not all Takis are dairy free and some even contain eggs - the Salsa Fajita for example:

Ingredients: Corn Masa Flour (Processed With Lime), Soybean and/Or Palm and/Or Canola Oil, Seasoning [Maltodextrin, Iodized Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Starch, Chili Pepper (Chile), Citric Acid, Artificial and Natural Flavor (Soy, Milk, Egg), Onion Powder, Canola Oil, Garlic Powder, Spices, Artificial Colors (Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake and Blue 1 Lake), Dextrose, Tricalcium Phosphate, Yeast, Sugar, Gum Arabic, Xylose].​

What Kind of Takis Might Not Be Vegan?

Aside from the ones that we've found - all other versions of Takis contained animal products this includes:

  • Xplosion
  • Crunchy Fajitas
  • Guacamole

Be sure to check the ingredients on the bag  for milk or eggs - which should be labeled in the allergen statement or in clearly marked within the ingredient statement.

What About All the Trace Ingredients?

We're not going to lie, with all of the trace ingredients in Takis, there lies the possibility that animals were involved at some point in the entire food supply chain. However, many top vegan organizations don't recommend worrying about trace ingredients (as their harm to animals is dubious at best) and neither do we unless there is clearly another option available.

Our article on sugar delves further into this position.​

Are Takis Healthy?

At Thrive Cuisine, we only recommend Whole Foods Plant Based lifestyles for ideal health. Takis are very clearly removed from a whole food source (even the Vegan ones), so we recommend consuming them in great moderation if at all.

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ANSWER: If you're trying to transition to veganism, the simple answer is yes - sugar is vegan as it doesn't contain any animal products. If you've been vegan a long time, the brand of sugar maybe something you want to consider, since the possibility exists that the sugar was processed using animal product based filters. We've covered all the nitty gritty details of this topic below.  

Again, if you're new to veganism and are having trouble with the basic transition of eliminating all labeled animal products then don't let all this information guilt you or stress you out, unless you're personally buying sugar in bagged form.

What's Not Vegan About Sugar?

Simply put, bone char may be used as a whitening filter for certain refined sugars. The reasoning behind this is because companies believed that having a pure, white, and clean sugar product was superior in the eyes of the consumer. This is what made them adopt a process of whitening in the first place and it just so happened that bone char was an effective and economical way to do this.

It is easy to identify non-vegan bagged sugars in a store environment, but products that contain sugar are going to be extremely difficult to trace unless stated. For this reason, we recommend that people buy 100% vegan sugar if buying it bagged, but don't stress about it otherwise. Tracing the sugar in a restaurant meal or packaged food can be near impossible and not really necessary. 

For most, this adds an extra level of neurosis to being vegan, which isn't necessary.

What Kind of Sugar is 100% Vegan?

Readily Available Bagged Vegan Sugar

Here are examples of beet sugar and organic cane sugar  you can buy online.

The sure fire way to avoid sugar processed with bone char is by getting organic sugar. According to USDA regulations, organic sugar cannot be processed with bone char. Being that organic sugar tends to minimally processed as well, you can see the difference in color and structure when buying it.

Another way you can avoid the bone char filtered sugar is to look for beet sugar. It should be quite easy to see as it should be labeled as such.

All of these details are laid out really well in this post by the Vegetarian Resource Group. 

What About Products Made With Sugar?

By making the choice to go vegan and eliminating your consumption of animal products, you're having an important impact on the supply chain. Your decision to not buy products with milk, for example, will send a signal to the manufacturer that they should think about changing the way that they formulate their products. 

Eating something with sugar that may have come from bone char isn't going to have a huge effect on the animal agriculture industry, and can be of more harm than good. Making a fuss over whether sugar was processed with bone char can make veganism seem more difficult than it actually is.

Eliminating products labeled with animals will have the biggest impact and sends the clearest signals to these companies.

When it comes to products that have sugar in them, e-mailing the manufacturer may get you an answer, but they also might not even know. Manufacturers of products with added sugar are likely purchase both beet sugar and cane sugar considering them to be a single ingredient. The food supply chain is big and complicated and even though being educated about it is important, it shouldn't bog down your daily life.

What To Do As a New Vegan?

Given the complexity of all this, it shouldn't make veganism complex for newcomers. In contrast, veganism should be an easy thing that people can do to eliminate the most amount of animal suffering they can. 

So here's our rules of thumb:

  • If you're buying a bag of sugar make sure it is not refined with bone char (organic cane sugar or beet sugar)
  • If you're buying a product with added sugar in it, don't worry about it.
  • Focus on making sure all labeled animal products are eliminated from your diet

Check out our Step by Step Guide to going Vegan to learn more.

Is Sugar Healthy?

Oddly enough, some vegans popular on social media have promoted added sugar as some sort of health food. However, the truth is that added sugar is simply excess empty calories without any real nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. If health is your concern, but you have a sweet tooth, getting sugar from whole foods plant based sources is going to be ideal.

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Rice is an indispensable part of Asian cuisine and has become a chief staple food the world over. Rice is cheap, filling and makes a great accompaniment to almost any meal. Using rice cookers is a foolproof way to cook restaurant quality rice, freeing up your time to get on with other tasks. Being a Korean brand - a culture where rice is a major staple - Cuckoo models are a great choice if you're looking for something in the top tier of rice machines.

Cuckoo Electric Heating Rice Cooker CR-0631F (Pink)

Build Quality











  • Versatile 
  • High quality design and build
  • Reliable
  • Doubles up as a pressure cooker
  • 1 year warranty
  • Easy to clean


  • Expensive

Our Cuckoo Rice Cooker Review: Key Features

Cuckoo is one of the leading names in rice cookers and we’ve picked one of its best selling models to see how it stacks up against other similar devices.

Cuckoo is a Korean company that manufactures state of the art rice cookers that tend to gelatinize rice more than their Japanese and Chinese counterparts. While this may be an appealing prospect for some people, it may not be for others. It all depends on the final texture you're looking for in your meals. In addition, the type of rice you use is also going to depend on the final product and how much it gelatinizes. The longer grain of rice tends to equate to less gelatinization.

cooked rice in cuckoo rice maker

Rice is a delicious addition to any meal and can be enjoyed hot or cold with any type of cuisine.

Cuckoo rice cookers tend to be a little more expensive than your average rice cooker but are a well-trusted brand thanks to their sturdy build and unusual yet attractive designs. They are top sellers in Korea, a nation whose cuisine centers around gelatinized rice that has been prepared in a rice cooker (usually a Cuckoo model).

Design and Build Quality

This Cuckoo Electric Heating Rice Cooker is one of its best sellers thanks to its relatively low cost (compared with other Cuckoo models). It comes in a unique light pink color, making it more attractive than your average rice cooker. Although “good looks” play no part in the reliability of this rice cooker, its appearance makes it a good option for people who are low on cabinet space and need to keep their machines on their counter tops (or for those of you who consider aesthetic appeal an important component in their kitchen equipment).

Besides a pink facade, this device also features a Teflon-coated inner pot and turbo cooking functions. It can also cook GABA rice and brown rice and has a wide LCD screen that allows you to easily see what you are doing. This model also features a slow cooking function and doubles up as a pressure cooker making it ideal for one-pot meals, soups and stews.

If you like your rice cookers to feature fuzzy logic, this model boasts a state of the art fuzzy logic component that acts like a “personal chef” and cooks fluffy, restaurant-quality rice every time.

Its six different cooking settings allow you to cook white and brown rice as well as other grains so if you’re looking for a device that is versatile you could do a lot worse than this one.

This model cooks up to 6 cups of rice making it a good option for smaller households. It also comes with a one-year warranty so if you decide to buy it you can rest assured that you are getting a model that is excellent value for money.

Overall this is an excellent, high-quality rice cooker and it’s easy to see why it remains one of Cuckoo’s best selling models. It is sturdy, robust and reliable and the fact that it’s easy on the eye is just an added bonus.

One of the only downsides of this device is that it does not come with a steaming tray like many other rice cookers so this is not a good model to go for if you are looking for something that also steams veggies. That being said, this makes excellent quality sushi rice that sticks together with no problems and doubles up as a slow cooker allowing you to make beans, stews, soups and other one-pot meals.

Cleaning This Model

One of the best components of this machine is that it is very easy to clean. The inner Teflon lid comes off for easy cleaning. The combination of fuzzy logic and the extended keep warm function (which lasts up to 24 hours) means that you don’t have to worry about rice burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot, which speeds up the cleaning process. If you've ever had rice that got stuck because you left it on the heat so long, you'll know that it can be super annoying to get off and potentially damaging to the unit.

It is also dishwasher safe, which is an added bonus and makes clean ups a breeze. Although the lid is detachable it is not dishwasher safe although it is easily cleaned in a kitchen sink with some warm, soapy water.


​This unit comes with a 1 year manufacturer warranty which is pretty typical for similar units in the market at this price range.

Cuckoo is one of the leading rice cooker brands in Korea, a country that owes much of its culinary legacy to rice. In short –rice is a big deal there and the fact that this brand is so trusted and reputable speaks volumes about how reliable it is.

As far as the reliability of this particular model goes, you can buy it and be sure that you’ll be spending your cash on a rice cooker that is sturdy, reliable and delivers on all technical and culinary fronts.

How Does it Compare?

This is the perfect rice cooker for households with a lot of mouths to feed or for people who want to batch cook their rice for the week.

This is an extremely robust, well-made machine that is worth every penny and comes with a one-year warranty.

It comes with an aluminum inner pot and detachable stainless steel cover that are both easy to clean. It even features an auto steam-cleaning feature that facilitates the cleaning process even further. With one push of a button, you can do the majority of your cleaning using the steam cleaner and then wash up any remaining residue by hand.

The high-tech 3D warming system means that you can keep your rice warm without it burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot. There is also a pressure cooking device, which allows you to control how much pressure you want to use when making stews, soups and other one-pot, beans and slow-cooked meals.

The lock checking device is an added safety feature that stops water from splattering onto the kitchen counter, which is one of the most common complaints people have with cheaper rice cookers.

This machine also boasts 11 cooking settings and 14 safety features. It uses fuzzy logic and has an automatic keep warm function that can keep rice warm for up to 24 hours. Besides brown, white and sushi rice, it also cooks oats and other grains. It even comes with English, Korean and Chinese voice navigation so you can choose whether you want to control it using your fingers or voice.

Like the Cuckoo Electric Heating rice cooker, this model does not come with a steaming tray although both models make excellent pressure cookers. They also make excellent rice and can also be relied on to cook delicious, one-pot meals so choosing between the two really comes down to the amount of rice (or stews/soups etc) that you need to make on a day-to-day basis.

This model comes with slightly more advanced features (like voice navigation) and therefore tends to be more pricey (prices vary*). Identifying what features are most important for you will make the process of choosing which one to go for a lot easier.

Those of you with minimal cooking needs or who are tight on cash could do a lot worse than this sleek, petite model. If you want to buy a Cuckoo rice cooker but are a little weary of the expense, this model is one of Cuckoo’s most budget-friendly options due to its smaller size and cooking capacity.

Despite its size, it still boasts all the same features that make Cuckoo such a reliable brand. It comes with a Teflon coated inner pot that can be easily removed for speedy cleanups and has a turbo cooking function that allows you to quickly cook different varieties of rice and grains with the touch of a button.

It comes with a detachable steam cap/dew dish that traps the steam as your rice cooks and four safety features such as a tight fitting lid that stops hot water and steam from splattering onto your counter.

Like the featured model, it also comes with a detachable inner lid and an auto steam cleaning system, making cleanups easy and hassle free. The inner pot is dishwasher safe to boot.

This machine comes with five cooking settings, unlike the featured model that comes with six. This allows you to easily cook glutinous rice (for sushi), white, brown, Arborio and other grains like quinoa and amaranth. Considering this device tends to be less pricey (prices vary*) than the featured model, this makes it tremendous value for money.

The preset cooking and reheat function make it ideal for busy lives and it comes with a one-year guarantee making it a great model for people on tight budgets and/or with less mouths to feed.

This is a lot bulkier than the featured model and not as aesthetically pleasing although it is as robust and reliable as one might expect from a Cuckoo rice cooker. Like the featured model it does not come with a steaming tray although (as usual) it makes a fantastic pressure cooker.

It comes with a Teflon coated inner pot that detaches for easy cleanups although it does not have a detachable lid, which makes it a bit more of a hassle if you want to give it a really thorough clean.

Despite its bulky size and appearance, this model only cooks up to six cups of rice so it is not ideal if you are tight on space and/or have many mouths to feed. Appearances aside, this is as sturdy, robust and reliable as any Cuckoo rice cooker. Besides being able to cook every variety of rice, it also doubles up as a slow cooker/pressure cooker and can cook beans, stews, soups and one-pot meals.

As with the featured model, there is a keep warm and reheat function as well as turbo cooking that gives you the option to cook your grains quickly. This is an excellent rice cooker and is built to the high quality that is typical of Cuckoo. If you’re looking for a no-frills device, then you could do worse than this model.

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Tiger is one of the leading names in rice cookers in Japan, a country that is synonymous with both technological excellence and rice. Tiger machines tend to be a little pricier than your average rice cooker but are worth every penny as they deliver in every way possible. If you're a foodie and want a high end rice cooking machine, this is an excellent choice.

Tiger Corporation JBV-A10U-W 5.5-Cup Micom Rice Cooker with Food Steamer and Slow Cooker, White

Build Quality






Ease of Cleaning





  • Budget friendly for a high end rice cooker
  • Versatile
  • Steams veggies and cooks rice simultaneously
  • Ideal for small or large households
  • Japanese design
  • Keep warm function


  • Lid doesn't detach

Our Tiger Corporation Micom Rice Cooker (JBV-A10U-W) Review: Key Features

Tiger is a Japanese company that produces some of the best-loved and most trusted rice cookers in the world. The Tiger Corporation rice cooker is one of Tiger’s more budget-friendly options, allowing you to enjoy all the perks of owning and using a Tiger rice cooker without having to splash out on one of their pricier models.

This machine features a syncro-cooking function (i.e. “tacook”) so that you can cook rice and one other dish (like steamed veggies) at the same time. The one push operation makes it super easy to use and the four cooking menu settings gives you plenty of cooking options. There is a synchrony cooking, plain rice, brown rice and slow cooking button and you can also make one-pot meals, kitchari, beans, soups and stews. Far from being limited to just rice, you can also cook other grains like oats and quinoa.

The removable pot is easy to clean and is made from high quality, BPA free non-stick coating. This machine also comes with a non-stick spatula, cooking plate, measuring cup and cookbook that helps you make the most of of the “synchrony-cooking” function.

Design and Build Quality

The multi-functional design allows you to prepare two dishes simultaneously, which you can do using Tiger’s “tacook” synchronized cooking function. This allows you to steam veggies and cook your grains at the same time. The added bonus of having a machine that can “kill two birds with one stone” means that you are not forced to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, toiling over multiple pots and pans.

The automatic cooking logic system actively monitors cooking temperatures to create perfect, restaurant quality rice at the push of a button. If you’ve ever had to throw away a burnt pot of rice in frustration, you’ll quickly realize the value of having a rice cooker that automatically does everything for you.

One of the most unique features of this rice cooker is that the cooking plate is specially designed so that the flavors from the cooking plate do not affect the flavor and texture of the rice.

The inner steam cap detaches for thorough, easy cleanups and the keep warm function lasts up to 12 hours and does not scorch or burn your rice.

The overall design and build of this rice cooker is of exceptionally high quality and the low price is an added bonus considering that Tiger rice cookers are generally rather expensive.

Depending on the size of your family, there are two different versions of this rice cooker. There is one that cooks 5.5 cups of rice, making it ideal for smaller households while the also manufactures a 10-cup version.

Is the Tiger Easy to Clean?

The detachable inner steam cap and the removable non-stick inner pot are both dishwasher safe making this a very easy machine to clean. The lid does not come off, however, it can easily be wiped down with a non-toxic kitchen wipe or a damp cloth.

rice ready for a rice machine

Rice can be served as the key component of a meal or as a tasty side dish


Tiger is one of the leading rice cooker brands in Japan and this machine is fantastic value for money considering Tiger devices are not known for being budget-friendly. Despite the lower tier price, this machine is every bit as reliable as some of Tiger’s more expensive models.

It works beautifully as a rice and grain cooker and also functions just as well as a stand-alone steamer that can steam veggies, tofu and more.

How Does it Compare?

This 10-cup microcomputer controlled rice cooker and warmer with “tacook” synchro-cooking function is sturdy and reliable and great for large families or people looking to batch cook rice. As with the featured model, this machine also allows you to cook two dishes simultaneously, which makes it super efficient at helping you get your meals ready in record time.

It has 10 computerized cooking menu settings, which makes it more versatile than the featured model. As with the Tiger Corporation Micom machine, it can be used for a variety of things besides just cooking different kinds of rice (white, basmati, long grain etc). It is also great at making oats, millet, buckwheat groats and other grains like quinoa and amaranth.

As with the featured rice cooker, this machine also comes with a specially designed cooking plate that doesn’t affect the flavor and texture of your rice. The automatic cooking logic system actively monitors cooking temperatures to create your meals so that you never have to worry about burning your rice, even if you are using the “keep warm” function.

The 1.8mm thick inner pan keeps your rice well insulated and can be used to keep your food warm once it’s finished cooking. It can also be used as a steamer to steam veggies or tofu.

The device is easy to clean and both the inner lid and steam cap are easy to remove and wash. This model includes a cooking plate and cookbook and also features a delay timer.

Depending on which version you buy, this model can cook 5.5 or 10 cups of rice and is one of Tiger’s best budget-friendly options.

It comes with a non-stick cooking pot and a keep-warm function that lasts up to 12 hours. The non-stick pot makes it easy to clean and is dishwasher safe to boot.

The inner lid doesn’t come off but can easily be wiped down with warm, soapy water or a non-toxic kitchen wipe. The extended keep warm function makes it a good choice for households with different schedules.

This device doesn’t come with lots of whistles and bells and is a good, no-nonsense rice cooker that is as reliable and sturdy as you’d expect from any Tiger device. You don’t ever have to worry about water splattering all over the counter as it cooks your rice, which can be a concern with some cheaper rice cookers.

As with the Tiger Corporation Micom device, this one also comes with a steam basket so you can steam veggies although it will not function as a steamer and rice cooker at the same time. As well as cooking perfect rice (all varieties), this device will also tackle quinoa, soups, stews and other grains.

The fact that this machine doesn’t multi-task makes the featured model better value in our opinion. If you are looking for a machine that is able to handle more than one task at a time then you may wish to opt for another model. That being said, this is a solid, well-built machine and a great option for people who want a simple, no-frills device that they can rely on to cook rice.

Like the Tiger Corporation machine, this rice cooker is manufactured in two different sizes –one that cooks 5.5 cups of rice and one that cooks 10 cups.

This machine is a much higher end unit than the featured model because it doubles up as a slow cooker and a bread maker so if you like machines that multi-task this is a great model to go for. If you are looking to maximize on kitchen equipment but want to take up as little space as possible, then look no further than this device.

Besides being able to tackle a lot of different kitchen-related tasks like making bread, cooking rice, soup, grains, beans and stews, it is also super easy to clean. Unlike the featured model, it comes with a detachable lid that makes cleanups more practical. The multilayer ceramic-coated inner pan is made from five layer metal and three layer coating, which is ideal for keeping your food well-insulated.

As its name suggests, this model doubles up as a high quality bread maker and can be used to make all kinds of artisanal breads. You can make regular wheat-based bread as well as gluten-free options like cornbread, spelt and amaranth breads with the push of a button. The bread-making component makes this an ideal option for people who want to minimize the amount of stuff they have in their kitchens.

The slow cooker works a lot like it does in the featured model and makes one-pot meals, stews, beans, lentils and soups. As with the Tiger Corporation rice cooker, it can be used to make two dishes simultaneously and comes with a steam basket that can steam your veggies as your rice cooks.

The easy-to-read LCD screen is another added bonus as it allows you to see exactly what you are doing and adjust the settings accordingly.


No matter what your needs or budget are, you simply can't go wrong with a Tiger rice machine. The company has something to offer for all needs and most budgets. It's going to be a better pick than any other common household brand typically available at your local department store, so if you want the best tasting and textured rice, we recommend making the investment!

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Jello has been a long time favorite of households for decades. However, it may be troubling to learn that jello is made from gelatin which is a product derived from animal parts. The good news is that there are plenty of options that have the same texture as the traditional jello that doesn't harm any animals. We've selected the available options of vegan jello brands online as well as in stores for your eating pleasure!

Vegan Jello Brands You Can Find Online

Bakol Jel Dessert is the only brand of Vegan Jello we were able to find online. It is very similar to traditional Jello in the sense that it comes in the familiar square boxes and is pre-flavored. To date, Bakol manufacturers their Jel Desserts in six flavors: Raspberry, Lemon, Strawberry, Cherry, Orange, and Unflavored. All of the flavored ones are made with natural vegan flavors and natural vegan colors such as beet powder.

Using Agar Agar to Make Your Own Jello!

Even though there are't a large amount of vegan Jello brands out there, it is rather easy to make your own at home. Agar Agar is considered to be the vegetarian version of gelatin and has been used for ages in Asian cultures.

This recipe might be a bit complex since it has two layers, but the principles of working with Agar Agar remain the same. Plus you can feel free to only do one layer of this recipe rather than two or simply use whatever kind of fruit juice you'd like.

The best part is is that Agar Agar is very easy to find online in whatever quantity you'd like. Just use the previous link to check it out!

Vegan Jello Brands You Can Find in Stores

If you're not keen to buying online and would rather buy locally we have a few options.

  • Use Bakol's store locator to find where you can buy their products near you.
  • Another brand to look for is Lieber's (although we couldn't find their website for a store locator), but they have a kosher unflavored gel that doesn't contain any gelatin. It may be located in the Kosher section.
  • Look for agar agar in health food stores or Asian super markets. It should be readily available in both.

Being Vegan doesn't have to mean that you're restricting yourself. Especially in today's day and age, there's more than likely going to be a delicious replacement. If you'd like more info, check out our Step by Step Guide to Going Vegan.

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Cooking for an army? Want to be able to see what you’re doing while you’re frying? Desperate for an all-purple kitchen? Well, come on up. The Big Boss Oil-Less Fryer is perfect for you if you’d like a large-capacity, effective cooking machine with a great range of temperature options and a host of different colors. If you’re looking for something a little different from the rest of the air fryers on the market, this is a model for you.

Reviewed Fryer: Big Boss Air Fryer

Big Boss 9065 1300-watt Oil-less Air Fryer, 16-Quart, Black

Build Quality




Ease of Cleaning


Ease of Use




Other Options Available:

This model also comes in blue, copper, purple, red, and white.


  • 16-quart capacity
  • Variable temperature control
  • Six color options
  • 60-minute timer
  • Two trays


  • No pre-programmed settings

Key Features

The Big Boss Oil-Less Air Fryer has a lot of features that set it apart from the competition; it’s a very different model in many ways from any other air fryer out there. As a result, it’s better for a specific kind of person, one who isn’t attracted to the classic air fryer design.

The most apparent difference between this model and many others is the capacity. The Big Boss has a whopping 16-quart capacity, which is substantially larger than virtually every other model on the market. If you’re finding the other models a little small – whether you’re going to be cooking for a crowd or you’re sick of your food jostling together when cooking, and so not cooking perfectly – this is a great option for you.

crispy fries air boss air fryer

Fries are easy to make healthy with an air fryer.

There are other design elements to this machine that make it super efficient at what it does. It comes with two trays that you can stack on top of one another to cook two types of food at the same time, which can save you time and allow you to make two different parts of a meal at once. It also has a glass lid, something that isn’t shared by many front-loading air fryers, so that you can see your food while it’s cooking instead of having to pause the machine to look.

The Big Boss also advertises ‘triple cooking power’. It’s said to use halogen, convection, and infrared heat to cook the food perfectly in three different ways; convection circulates air quicker for faster cooking, infrared cooks food from the inside out, and halogen heats the food surface for browning, roasting, and flavor. Whether or not this has any actionable effect on the cooking process is up for debate, but it sure sounds good.

You have a wide range of variable temperature with this device; it goes over 450°F, which is hotter than most air fryers go, and as a result can cook more things than many of them can. This is very useful if you’re planning to flash-fry something, or you need a blast of heat to seal the outside of something before cooking it longer and slower, but you don’t want to use oil.

Finally, this model comes in six different colors – some of the most on the market. This makes it super easy to integrate it into your home, or to buy a specific color as a gift for someone with specific tastes. These six colors – black, blue, grey, purple, red, and white – also can be found at different prices, so if you’re not fussy on aesthetics you can likely find a lesser price on a different color.

Big Boss Design and Build Quality

The design of this model is quite different to most other air fryers on the market. While many of them are largely upright, with a fryer basket that can be pulled out of the front of the machine, the Big Boss is a much flatter fryer with a lift-off glass lid.

This has numerous benefits over the traditional models. One is that the Big Boss is capable of holding much more food than the other models – 16 quarts, to be exact, which is one of the biggest on the market. It also means that the surface area of the frying basket is increased, so there’s greater likelihood of food being exposed to the circulating air and less chance of it being trapped underneath other foods. It also makes it very easy to access your food; the glass lid makes it easy to see exactly what’s happening in the frying basket, and you can quickly just take the lid off to adjust anything.

However, because of these features this model is also very large when it comes to countertop space. It’s less likely than the other air fryer models on the market to slot into the corner of your kitchen, and because it’s less attractive than many of them it’s less likely that you’ll want to keep it on display.

However, it should be noted that this model comes in six different colors, which is some of the most of any air fryer on the market. These colors are black, blue, grey, purple, red, and white. As a result, it’s much easier to fit this into your kitchen if you have a specific color scheme than many other models; and, since some colors are typically more affordable than others, it means you might be able to net yourself a bargain too.

Big Boss Ease of Use

This model is an analog machine, which means that it doesn’t have a digital display. Instead, like most other analog models, you change the temperature and timer by turning the dials on the top and front of the machine. This isn’t as useful as a digital interface in some ways, because it gives you much less specificity – important for recipes when you have to be very rigorous with your temperature. However, if you don’t mind an analog interface then this isn’t a massive drawback.

Because this model comes with two trays, it’s easier to use than something that may only have one frying basket. You can cook multiple foods in this machine at the same time without them ever coming into contact with one another; so if you want to cook air-fried kale crisps and regular potato crisps at the same time, you can, but be sure to cook the potatoes slow as to not burn the kale!

air fryer kale chips

If you love kale chips, they're even easier in an air fryer.

The timer on this model is 60 minutes, which is longer than most other air fryers on the market, and is useful if you’re cooking things for longer; your machine won’t automatically cut off after 30 minutes.

Cleaning the Big Boss

This machine is not advertised as being dishwasher-safe, so it’s likely that it will need to be washed manually. Depending on how many parts need to be washed, this might be an issue for you. The big glass portion likely is dishwasher safe, but it would be super obstructive to fit inside the dishwasher, so it is better to be cleaned manually.

Comparing the Big Boss to Other Models

The Farberware Air Fryer is a more classically-designed air fryer, with a standard pull-out fryer basket and much smaller capacity. It has a 30-minute timer, which is half the time of the Big Boss, and a much narrowed temperature range. Instead of six different color options, the Farberware can only be found in one as far as we could tell: black and silver. It’s hailed as being dishwasher-safe and shouldn't have any trouble fitting, which could be a massive advantage for you.

If you’re interested in a more conventional air fryer model, with a smaller countertop footprint, a smaller capacity, and dishwasher-safe parts, the Farberware is a better option for you than the Big Boss. However, if you’d like a larger-capacity machine that you can look inside while it’s cooking, with a bunch of different colors, a longer timer and a greater range of temperatures, stick with the Big Boss.

The Philips Avance XL Airfryer is a great offering from Philips, with a different range of specs that make it suitable for a very different kind of consumer to the Big Boss. Although it’s marketed as being XL, it’s nowhere near as large as the Big Boss, with only a 2.65lb capacity (although this does, admittedly, outstrip most air fryers on the market). It’s a very powerful machine, with an advertised 2100W motor (found here) that is much stronger than many on the market. It has dishwasher-safe parts and comes with a one-year warranty.

Both models have color options; but while the Big Boss has six, the Philips only comes in black and white (availability may vary). Both are advertised as having patented cooking systems; the Big Boss has three types of heating power, while the Philips’ special starfish design is supposed to circulate air better than other models of air fryer, leading to more even cooking. Neither model has pre-programmed settings, although the Philips does have a digital display, which is likely to make it both easier to use and easier to clean.

If you’re attracted to a standard air fryer design, and would like a digital display, a recipe book, and dishwasher-safe parts, the Philips is an excellent option on the market right now. If you’d like a substantially bigger machine, with more color options and a different design, the Big Boss is a better pick for you.

The Power AirFryer XL is another excellent air fryer on the market right now. It’s different from the Big Boss in many conventional ways. It has a smaller capacity – its larger model is 5.3 quarts compared to the Big Boss’s massive 16 quarts – and its variable temperature control only reaches 400°F instead of the Big Boss’s 450°F. It only has two color options – black and red – where the Big Boss has six.

However, it also differs in new ways. It comes with pre-programmed settings, which was an innovation introduced later in the development of air fryers that allows them to set their own temperature and timer settings with the push of a button. If you’re planning on cooking the same thing over and over, it’s a great idea to invest in something that’ll take all the work out of the process.

It only has a 60-day warranty, which is very short compared to most models on the market. It also has a digital interface, which the Big Boss does not have and which is likely to make it easier to use. Both models have advertised special cooking technology; the Big Boss’s is the aforementioned triple cooking system, while the Power AirFryer XL advertises a ‘rapid air technology’ that means you can roast, bake, steam, saute, and grill all in the same machine.

If you’re after a more moderately-sized machine, with pre-programmed settings to make things really easy and a digital display to make them even easier, the Power AirFryer XL may be a better option for you than the all-analog Big Boss. However, the design isn’t as useful – it doesn’t have a transparent cooking basket, for instance, so you can’t see how it’s cooking without pulling it out – and it’s not nearly as big, so your food is likely to jumble together more than in the Big Boss.

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Do you want the option of a regular sized or extra large fryer? Do you want something that can cook perfect fries at the push of a button, something with a sleek digital interface, or something that can bake a cake? The Power AirFryer brand is a good pick for you; it’s got all of these features and options making their line-up of machines more versatile than most of the competition.

Reviewed Fryer: Power Air Fryer XL

Power Air Fryer XL (5.3 QT, Black)

Build Quality




Ease of Cleaning


Ease of Use




Other options available:

This model also comes in 3.4 quarts (black and red), a deluxe 3.4-quart model that comes with an accessory kit (black and red), and a deluxe version of this 5.3-quart model with accessories (black and red).


  • 5.3-quart capacity
  • Variable temperature control
  • Two color options
  • Seven pre-programmed settings
  • Digital interface


  • 60-day warranty
  • May not clean well in dishwasher

Key Features

This model has a bunch of features that set it apart from the competition. It’s a top-tier air fryer, with all of the features of the best on the market, and as a result it’s a competitive product. One of the hallmarks of this competitiveness is the brand’s self-proclaimed “rapid air technology”, which is supposed to do much more than just air fry; it’s also claimed to roast, bake, steam, sauté, and grill the foods that you put into your fryer. As a result, it’s supposed to be a more integrated machine than some other air fryers – whether or not this is the case is yet to be seen.

It has variable temperature control, which is shared by most models on the market but absent from a select few. This allows you to control the temperature of the model, so that you can cook a wider variety of foods – foods that need to be cooked for longer at a lower temperature, for instance. Instead of just being reduced to frying food, this makes it possible to do things like bake cakes within your air fryer.

air fryer onion ring happy face

Turn onions into crispy onion rings the healthy way.

This model also comes with pre-programmed settings, a recent innovation in the air fryer market that makes them substantially easier to use. Instead of having to choose your temperature and time manually – and having to scroll through the internet for the recommended cooking times for certain foods in your model – you can simply push the button on the face of the machine and let it set the temperature and time automatically. If you’re buying your air fryer for a specific purpose – if you’re interested in making healthier fries, for instance – then it’s a great idea to pick a machine that has an inbuilt fries setting to save time and energy, rather than doing the same thing over and over every time you want fries.

This model comes in two sizes, which is massively beneficial because it means you need not subscribe to only one size. If you cook for a family, choose this larger 5.3-quiart model, which fits six portions; if you’re a solo cook or part of a couple, get the smaller 3.4-quart model. This also allows you to choose the size that fits best in your kitchen space; you don’t need to opt for a too-large machine just because you like the other specs.

Design and build quality

The Power Air Fryer XL is an attractive, sleek machine that comes in two colors: black and red. It’s tall, so it will take up less countertop space in your kitchen than some other models of air fryer, and its pull-out frying basket makes it easy to use anywhere.

This model has a digital interface, with touch buttons to change the temperature, the timer, and to choose between seven pre-programmed settings. The display shows the temperature at which the machine is running so that it can be easily changed. This model comes in two sizes – 5.3 quarts and a smaller 3.4-quart model that can be found here. No matter whether you’re serving for one or for six, the Power Air Fryer XL has a size that will work for you.

Ease of use

One of the major benefits of this model is its design, which makes it very easy to use. This model comes with seven pre-programmed settings, so it’s incredibly easy to use. Instead of having to manually set the machine to the recommended temperature and cooking time settings for that particular food, you can simply push a button and let the machine figure it out. If you’re interested in keeping your cooking time to a minimum, especially for the boring parts of the process, it’s a great idea to invest in a system like this.

The touch-screen also makes it very easy to change the temperature and timer settings if you do end up cooking something that isn’t covered by a pre-programmed setting. Donuts, for instance – like these chonut holes – have a very specific cooking time. Being able to set the time and temperature exactly through the digital display is much more efficient than analog systems, as you can be more precise with the temperature you choose.

Some models don’t even have variable temperature control, so the fact that this model does is a massive benefit when it comes to cooking a wider variety of foods.


Unfortunately this model may not clean well in the dishwasher even though it is said to be dishwasher safe, so it may be slightly harder to clean than some of the other air fryers on the market. If you’re easily put-off using your kitchen appliances because of the clean-up factor, it may be worthwhile to invest in a dishwasher-safe model instead.

We Compare the Power Air Fryer XL to Other Models:

The GoWISE 4th Generation Electric Air Fryer is a smaller (than their 5.3-quart model, anyway), but very similar model to the Power AirFryer XL. Both feature variable temperature control that reaches 400°F; both have seven pre-programmed settings, and both have an assortment of color options.

However, the GoWISE outstrips the Power AirFryer XL in two important ways: it’s dishwasher-safe, so you can clean up more easily after frying, and it has a one-year warranty (found at the manufacturer’s website here) rather than a 60-day warranty. As a result, you could probably surmise that the build quality’s going to be better and that the machine is going to last longer on average.

Seeing as both models are almost identical in design and functionality, it’s probably a better idea to go for the GoWISE model over the Power model for its longer warranty and easier clean up unless, of course, you need a model capable of creating up to six servings, in which case the Power AirFryer XL is the machine for you.

The Philips Viva Digital Airfryer is a slightly simpler version of the Power AirFryer XL, with fewer advanced features and a simpler interface. It has a moderate capacity – 1.75lbs, which is roughly the size of a bag of frozen fries – and a variable temperature control system that reaches 390°F, which is very close to the AirFryer’s 400°F. Both have digital touch-screen interfaces as well.

Where they differ is in the smaller things. The Philips has a 12-month warranty, which is substantially longer than the Power’s 60-day warranty, and it comes with a double layer rack that allows you to cook two types of food at the same time. It also comes with a free app full of recipes, which the Power AirFryer does not have.

The Power AirFryer, on the other hand, comes in two colors – black and red (linked above) – while the Philips model only comes in black. It also comes with pre-programmed settings, which make it much easier to use than the Philips model. Plus you can choose two different sizes – so if the capacity of the Philips isn’t enough for you, the Power is a great pick.

If you cook large amounts regularly, the Power AirFryer XL is a much better bet for you than the smaller Philips model; if you’re attracted to longer warranties go for the Philips instead.

The Farberware Fast-Cooking Digital Air Fryer is a large, powerful, and very efficient machine. Like the Power AirFryer XL, it has variable temperature control up to 400°F, a bunch of pre-programmed settings (six, compared to the Power’s seven), and is dishwasher-safe to boot.

Where the Power comes in two sizes and two colors, this Farberware comes at a 5L capacity and we were only able to find it in white. The warranty was unclear, both on retailers and the manufacture's website. However, given that the Power is only 60 days it would be hard for the Farberware to be worse than that given their brand reputation - may be worth contacting the manufacturer if you're considering this model.

It’s claimed to have a very fast pre-heating time, which could be helpful if you’re always in a rush or forget to pre-heat your appliances, and comes with a food separator so that you can cook two types of food at the same time.

These models are some of the most similar on the market. The differences between them come down to the color options and the food separator, so whichever option is more important to you is the option you should go for. Of course, the final purchase price will no doubt play a large role in your final decision.

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Keeping things low calorie with oil-free cooking? The Kalorik has you covered. This classically designed air fryer is easy to use and can help you reinvigorate your oil-free lifestyle; you don’t have to settle for soggy fries any more! Learn more about its key features and how it compares to the competition below:

Reviewed Fryer: Kalorik Air Fryer

Kalorik Air Fryers (Kalorik AirFryers (Kalorik Black Airfryer with Dual Layer Rack))

Build Quality




Ease of Cleaning


Ease of Use





  • 2lb capacity
  • Variable temperature control
  • Dishwasher-safe parts
  • Dual Rack
  • One-year warranty


  • No pre-programmed settings
  • One color option that we could find

Key Features

This model is a great analog air fryer that comes with many of the standard settings for models on the market. It’s an admirable worker, with a useful capacity and features that make it accessible and easy to use.

It’s a 2lb capacity model, which is on the larger size for most air fryers, and as such can create 3-4 average servings. As a result, it’s great for many sizes of family; you’ll have leftovers if you’re just a couple, it’ll serve a regular family perfectly, and you can make sides for a large family within it. Depending on what you’re planning to make, you may need a smaller or larger model.

crispy happy chips made in air fryer

Get healthy happier: there's no need to give up your favorite foods with an air fryer.

The Kalorik also comes with variable temperature control, so that you can control the temperature at which the machine will run very specifically. This is helpful for many recipes, which require you to be able to set your machine to different temperatures to cook different things. Models that don’t have variable temperature control always have to run at the same level, which makes them less intuitive and useful to use. It also comes with a 30-minute timer, so you can choose just how long you’d like the machine to run for.

This machine is dishwasher-safe, so it’s super easy to clean up when you’re done.

It comes with a dual-layer rack, which means that you can cook two different kinds of food at the same time without them coming into contact – useful if you’re cooking for people with food intolerances (like these dairy & gluten-free air fryer jalapeno poppers) or if you’re putting things in that need different amounts of time to cook.

This model has a one-year warranty (which we found on the Kalorik website), which is standard for many models on the market.

Design and build quality

Kalorik is a relatively new brand on the market, but it’s already established itself as one that provides quality products at accessible prices. As such, the build quality of this model is likely to be very good.

Design-wise, it’s a fairly standard air fryer design. Like most models, it has a fryer basket that comes out of the front of the machine, which is a sleek and upright design. Like most analog models, it has two dials: one that controls temperature and one that controls the timer. These controls come at regular intervals, but it’s still a less precise system than digital systems, where the temperature and time can be set to higher levels of specificity.

It’s a sleek, attractive design that comes in only one color: black and silver. It’s more attractive than many other air fryers, with detailing effects that make it look more expensive than other models. It should be noted, however, that it’s still a plastic exterior.

This model has a 3.2-quart capacity, which is enough to hold around 2lbs of food.

Is the Kalorik Air Fryer Easy to Use?

This model has a couple of useful features that make it easy to use. It has variable temperature control up to 400°F, which means you can control exactly how hot the machine is to cook a wider variety of things than is possible in a one-temperature device. Instead of being relegated to only quick-frying food, you can do things like bake cakes in your machine too (or take a shortcut with these coffee donut holes).

It comes with a timer up to 30 minutes, so you don’t have to bother using a secondary device to control how long this model runs for.

It also comes with a dual-layer rack, which few air fryers come with, and which allows you to cook two different types of food at the same time to create a complete meal without mixing foods; useful for food intolerances or cooking different foods for different lengths of time.

Unfortunately, this model doesn’t come with any pre-programmed settings, which can make using an air fryer much quicker and more convenient, but definitely not a deal breaker.

Is the Kalorik Easy to Clean

This machine is dishwasher-safe, so instead of washing it by hand you can put it straight into your machine and go about your day; very helpful if you’re often in a rush, or if you’re put off using your kitchen appliances because of extensive cleaning regimes.

How Does the Kalorik Compare to Other Models?

The GoWISE 4th Generation Electric Air Fryer is one of the top models on the market. It has a slightly larger capacity, at 3.7 quarts, than the Kalorik’s 3.2-quart capacity. This doesn’t represent much of an actionable difference when it comes to preparing food, but it could still be something to keep in mind.

Both models have the same variable temperature range and are both dishwasher-safe. Both have 30-minute timers and one-year warranties (the GoWISE’s warranty can be found here).

The GoWISE model excels when it comes to pre-programmed settings. It has seven, whereas the Kalorik has none. This makes it much easier to use, especially if you’re planning on cooking the pre-programmed options often (includes cake!) or if you’re planning to cook things that take similar temperatures and cooking times. The GoWISE also comes in is also manufactured in different colors and sizes, while the Kalorik only comes in black as far as we could tell, so if you’d like something a bit more catered to your kitchen then it might be a good bet for you.

If you're looking to learn more about the GoWise brand of Air Fryers we did a full review on them as well.​

The Philips Airfryer is the original air fryer, and one of the best on the market. It performs admirably, and its patented starfish design – and the design of the following XL version of this same model – is designed to circulate air evenly to create fast and even cooking results.

Comparing their specs, it appears that the Kalorik is a little derivative of the Philips. Both of them are analog models, with dials to control the temperature and timer found on the front and top of their interfaces. Both of them have very similar designs, although the Philips also can be purchased in white. Both have dishwasher-safe parts and one-year warranties.

Both have similar capacities, too; the Kalorik is ever-so-much larger, at 2lbs instead of the Philips’ 1.75lbs. Neither have pre-programmed settings, so they must both be used manually, and both of them are used in the same ways.

It’s very hard to recommend one over the other, because they’re similar in almost every way; however, the Philips draws forward a little with its starfish air-circulation system and the fact that it is also manufactured in white. Whether or not these are enough to justify it over the Kalorik is up to you - the final decision will probably just come down to price.

These models are also very similar, in that they’re both analog air fryer models without any pre-programmed settings. As a result, the fryer must always be controlled manually by turning the dials on the front of the machine. Both are dishwasher-safe and even have similar capacities.

There are two differences; the BLACK+DECKER model is manufacutred in two colors, black and white, and it also has a two-year warranty, which is a year longer than the Kalorik model. These are enough to propel it to being a better investment than the Kalorik, especially the warranty; it means the machine is guaranteed to perform for double the time, which is a worthwhile feature to purchase for.

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If you’re cooking for a couple and you’d like an air fryer model that’s digital and dishwasher-safe, the Deluxe Air Fryer is an excellent offering from Nu Wave. Designed to fry just about anything, and with a handy pre-heat setting, this machine can help you make your guilty indulgences just a little bit healthier.

Reviewed Air Fryer: Nu Wave Deluxe Air Fryer

NuWave 33201 Deluxe Air Fryer, Multicolor

Build Quality




Ease of Cleaning


Ease of Use





  • 3.5-quart capacity
  • Variable temperature control
  • Pre-heat setting
  • Dishwasher-safe parts
  • Digital display
  • One-year warranty


  • One color option that we could find
  • No pre-programmed settings

Key Features

This model is a fairly standard air fryer – both in terms of design and functionality. If you’re attracted to the classic air fryer design and size, it’s a great option for you.

It’s on the smaller side of the air fryer market, at 3.5 quarts, so it’s better for cooking smaller servings or for fewer people than other air fryers on the market. This size of air fryer is designed for 2-3 people; so if you’re cooking for substantially more than that, it would be worth investing in a larger model instead. It’s hard to find models smaller, however, so if you’re cooking for fewer than 2-3 then this is still a great pick for you.

It has variable temperature control from 100-390°F, which is wider than most air fryers on the market, especially in the low end. If you’re planning on slow-frying things at lower temperatures for longer – such as if you want to cook the perfect baked potatoes in your machine – then this is a great addition. Having a greater variable temperature range opens up the ability to cook more things in your machine, and makes it more likely that you’ll be able to follow a given recipe to perfection.

The parts of this machine are dishwasher-safe, which makes it super easy to clean. It also is sleek enough, with a digital display, to make it easy to wipe the exterior. This digital display is also a great feature in terms of functionality – it’s easier to be specific when setting temperature and timer controls with a digital display, and it makes the fryer look more attractive, too.

This model comes with a one-year warranty, which is roughly standard for air fryers on the market today.

crispy air fryer potatoes

Get crispy, salty fries - with a fraction of the oil.

Design and build quality

This model has an average design, aesthetically; it’s not something that’s particularly attractive, but nor is it something you’d want to hide out of sight. It has a digital display, rather than an analog one, which is useful for setting temperature and time; however, this display is quite large and takes up most of the front of the machine. This is a classic air fryer shape, with a fryer basket that is removed from the front of the machine. It doesn’t have any transparent parts, so to check on the state of your food you must remove the entire basket and look inside; but this is standard for most air fryer models on the market.

It comes in only one color (that we could find) – black and silver – so if you’re into black kitchen appliances, it’s a good choice for you.

This model has a smaller 3.5-quart capacity, which is enough to make food for a smaller family. It should make 2-3 servings, so it’s useful if you’re making lots of side dishes. It does not, however, come with a food separator, so everything will cook together in the same container – if you’re making multiple types of food at once, they will have to cook together.

If you're looking for a bigger air fryer, the Farberware might be a good choice.​

Ease of use

As a digital model, this machine is easier to use than many analog models. It’s easy to set the temperature and time settings with a digital display and buttons, and it allows you greater specificity in setting them than you can gain from turning dials.

This model does not come with any pre-programmed settings, which many other higher-tier air fryers on the market do have these days. It’s not something that’s essential for the using of an air fryer, but it does make it a lot easier, especially if you’re making the same thing over and over (like if you're obsessed with these crispy sweet potato fries). This model is unique, however, in that it offers a pre-heat setting; so you can press that button and let the machine heat itself up without having to keep an eye on it.

When it comes to actual use, it’s as easy as any other air fryer; you just need to load your food, choose the temperature and the time, and let the machine do its work, checking on it every so often.


This machine is dishwasher-safe, so it’s easy to throw the basket into the dishwasher after you’re done and move on. The machine is very sleek and flat, too, so you can easily wipe it down if it gets dirty – as opposed to other models, where large dials and surface areas can attract dirt and grime.

The BLACK+DECKER Air Fryer is another air fryer model that has similar specs to the Nu Wave. Both have a wide variable temperature control range, both have dishwasher-safe parts, and both can be found in black (although the BLACK+DECKER is also manufactured in white). Neither have any pre-programmed settings, although the NuWave does come with a pre-heat setting that makes it easier to get going.

The BLACK+DECKER is a somewhat simpler device, though. It’s analog, so it must be controlled by using two large dials on its front rather than push-buttons and a digital display. It has a smaller capacity, at 2L, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for one of the smaller machines on the market. It also has a two-year warranty (learn more about the warranty and specs here), which is one of the longest on the air fryer market and could be seen to represent greater build quality than the NuWave model – although this is by no means an exact rule.

If you’d like a digital model, go for the NuWave; if you’re only cooking for one or two people and want a longer warranty, the BLACK+DECKER is a better pick.

The GoWISE 2nd Generation Electric Digital Air Fryer is a model that’s very similar to the NuWave for a couple of reasons. It’s a similar size, at 2.75-quart capacity, and it also has both variable temperature control and dishwasher-safe parts. Neither has any pre-programmed settings, and both have digital displays that make it both easier to use and easier to clean.

The GoWISE, however, comes from a more established air fryer brand – GoWISE produces a lot of air fryers that are known to be of great quality. It has a one-year warranty and is also manufactured in three colors: black, red, and white. As a result, it’s probably a better pick than the NuWave, which only has one advantage: its pre-heat setting, which makes it marginally easier to use.

Philips, like GoWISE, is another brand that’s well known in the air fryer world. Philips created one of the first air fryers – the Viva – and started a new type of kitchen appliance. This model, the Viva Digital, is a digital version of that first pioneer – and like the GoWISE it’s very similar to the NuWave.

Both models have smaller capacities; the Philips has a 1.75lb capacity, which the brand describes as roughly the size of a bag of frozen fries. Both have variable temperature control, and both can only be purchased in one color: black. Both have dishwasher-safe parts and digital interfaces.

However, the Philips has a few advantages over the NuWave. It has a touchscreen interface, rather than buttons. It comes with double layer rack so that you can separate different foods while they’re cooking. It also comes with a recipe book for inspiration, and access to a free app that has over 150 recipes available. This may not matter that much to you as there are tons of air fryer recipes already available online.

That being said, when it comes time to make your final decision, you're going to have to weigh these additional benefits with the final unit prices. 

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Cast iron skillets are one of the most versatile pieces of kitchen equipment out there and are durable, easy to clean and budget friendly. If that wasn’t enough, they also distribute heat more evenly than other cooking receptacles and function as indoor “grills,” making them perfect for urban dwellers who don’t have access to an outdoor space. Read our definitive cast iron skillet review to find out which one is right for you.

**Click any of the links above to read customer reviews on Amazon or continue reading for our full comprehensive guide.

Why Use a Cast Iron Skillet?

Cast iron skillets are generally used to cook steaks and other meat-based dishes but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place in the vegan kitchen as well. They are ideal for making veggie stir-fries and veggie burgers as well as searing tofu or tempeh steaks and whipping up pad Thai and Asian fried rice dishes. They are even good for heating up paninis, grilled sandwiches, Naan and other flatbreads.

If you love vegan barbeques but don’t have access to a grill because you live in an apartment, then buying a cast iron skillet can help you replicate delicious vegan BBQ flavors without having to move house. Using a cast iron pan, you can have grilled eggplant, zucchini and pineapple rings without having to shell out on a barbeque station.

pumpkin fritters cast iron skillet

While cast iron skillets are best known for cooking meat, they make wonderful veggie cooking receptacles. You can use them to cook anything from pumpkin fritters, vegan stir-fries and grilled eggplant -the options are limitless!

In fact, they are ideal for frying veggies, searing tofu/tempeh and heating up bread and tortillas. This is because they are made from non-stick material that allows you to prepare food without worrying about messy cleanups and food getting stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Cast iron pans are economically viable because they are built to last. It isn’t a coincidence that you see so many ancient models at antique fairs and flea markets. These things can stand the test of time!

Although there is a popular misconception that cast iron skillets are hard to maintain because they need to be seasoned, the truth is that most modern models come pre-seasoned, meaning you no longer have to worry about doing it yourself. Note that there are some models that require to be re-seasoned every now and then but this doesn’t take long and is easy to do.

Pre-seasoned models mean that the skillet has been coated with a thin layer of polymerized oil. This means that it has been rubbed with oil and heated repeatedly until it has been broken down into a plastic-like substance that has bonded to the surface of the metal pan. This is what gives cast iron skillets their amazing non-stick properties and allows them to go through repeated ware and tear without showing signs of aging like other varieties of pots and pans.


Cast iron skillets can be used to fry up delicious treats like fried plantains

The seasoning on cast iron pans is what makes them so hardy and resilient so make sure to buy one that comes pre-seasoned. High quality models will even take being scraped at by metal scourers and stainless steel cooking spoons without chipping or flaking.

While these amazing kitchen devices are good for frying, heating and searing, they are not ideal for boiling or simmering. This means that if you want to make tomato sauce or boil up some soup or stew, you’re better off sticking to a large pot.

What is the difference between these models?

Modern cast iron skillets rarely come pre-seasoned as this makes them high maintenance and difficult to treat.

We have chosen five of the best pre-seasoned models and taken the guesswork out of choosing the right one for you.

Most cast iron skillets have flat surfaces although there are some that come with ridged bottoms. While this is generally a key component in searing bacon, breakfast sausages and steaks, the general idea behind ridged pans is to drain the grease off your food, making it healthier to eat.

The same idea can be extended to vegetables and vegan dishes. If you want to make Pad Thai, fried rice, plantains, veggie fritters, tofu or tempeh steak but are worried about the high calorie content, a ridged pan will help drain off the oil so that your meal is lighter and less calorie dense..

We Compare These Cast Iron Skillets

Lodge L8SGP3 Cast Iron Square Grill Pan, Pre-Seasoned, 10.5-inch

The Lodge Company is one of the most trusted names in cast iron cookware and is over a century old, making them veterans in the industry. The ribbed bottom makes this pan ideal for healthy, lower fat cooking and comes pre-seasoned and ready-to-use. It is adept at retaining heat and keeping the pan well insulated so that it cooks your food evenly.

The ridges make this ideal for searing tofu and tempeh and letting the fat drain off fritters and stir-fries. The ridges also make it ideal for heating paninis, grilled sandwiches, tortillas and Nan bread, as they leave a ribbed markings on your food.

This model can be used on all cooking surfaces –from basic stovetops to campfires, grills and ovens. The black patina finish given to this cookware is made from high-grade vegetable oil that is durable and rust resistant.

This model can be used to make and heat any dish you want and is particularly good at searing tofu and tempeh and making pan-marked veggies for fajitas. It also works well for making Asian-inspired stir-fries and rice and noodle dishes.


  • Rust resistant
  • Seasoned with high quality vegetable oil
  • Leaves ribbed markings on bread and veggie dishes
  • Can be used on all different kinds of cooking surfaces
  • Easy to clean
  • Doesn't need to be re-seasoned
  • Great for health-conscious, reduced fat cooking


  • Doesn't come with a heatproof handle

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet - 12 Inch Classic Cast Iron Frying Pan with Assist Handle (Made in USA)

This flat-bottom Lodge model comes pre-seasoned and features an assist handle so that you can easily carry your pan with two hands. Cast iron skillets are extremely heavy and so having the extra handle makes it a lot easier to manage.

The flat, smooth bottom means that you can use this model in the oven to bake apple pies and other desserts while also using it to make stir-fries and heat bread on your stovetop. The seasoning is made from high-grade vegetable oil and features no synthetic chemicals. This pan is designed to become better the more times you use it.

Although this is not ribbed at the bottom, it can still be used to “barbeque” veggies and other food, although it will not leave any markings on your food. This doesn’t affect the flavor in any way and choosing between this model and a ribbed one is all about deciding whether your think you’re going to use your skillet to bake as well as to fry, sear and heat.

If you’re looking for a model that can also be used for baking then this makes a great choice. Flat surfaces are also ideal for making pancakes, biscuits and flapjacks.


  • Rust resistant
  • Seasoned with high quality vegetable oil
  • Ideal for making pancakes
  • Can be used on all different kinds of cooking surfaces
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be used to make baked goods
  • Doesn't need to be re-seasoned


  • Doesn't come with a heatproof handle

Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Silicone Hot Handle Holder - 12.5 inch - by Utopia Kitchen

The silicone handle means that this pan is never too hot to handle and allows you to pick it up without the use of an oven mitt. This in no way compromises the pan’s ability to heat food evenly and the main body stays hot for extended periods of time.

The cast iron finish does not leech chemicals into your food and the seasoning is made from high quality soy-based oil, which allows the polymers to create an initial layer of seasoning. The flat surface makes it ideal for heating bread, making pancakes and vegan French toast as well as Asian-inspired favorites like stir-fried veggies and Pad Thai.

This is a fantastic, high-quality pan that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. The only drawback is that you must re-season the pan with oil after each use (particularly if you are washing it with water) as this helps keep it in tip-top condition.

The silicone sleeve handle can be removed, which makes this pan good for all kinds of surfaces and can be used in ovens, on stovetops, grills and campfires. Be careful if you have a glass-top stove as this may scratch it.


  • Comes with a removable silicone handle
  • Stays hot for extended periods of time
  • Heats food evenly and thoroughly
  • Can be used in the oven
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be used to make baked goods


  • Needs to be re-seasoned after every use
  • Seasoned with soy oil so not a good option if you are allergic to soy
  • Not suited to glass stovetops

Fresh Australian Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet 12.5 Inch.

Australia is a country known for its outdoorsy lifestyle and culture. That means that they know a thing or two about how to craft a high quality cast iron skillet that will deliver on all gastronomical fronts.

This is a one of the best skillets on the market for cooking all kinds of veggie burgers –from soy-based varieties to all-vegetable and walnut burger patties. It also tackles other standard fare like bread, pancakes, vegan barbecues, stir-fries and tempeh steaks.

Like most high quality cast iron skillets, this one can be used on top of grills, stove tops and even put in the oven to make baked goods. The one problem with this pan is that it is prone to rust over time, but this can be avoided if you care for it properly but scrubbing it down with water and salt and then re-seasoning it.


  • Great for making all kinds of vegan burgers
  • Stays hot for extended periods of time
  • Heats food evenly and thoroughly
  • Can be used in the oven
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be used to make baked goods


  • Needs to be re-seasoned every now and then
  • Prone to rust

Ewei's Homeware 10.5 inch Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Pan

This is an excellent, high-quality cast iron skillet with superior heat conduction that warms your food evenly and thoroughly. It is pre-seasoned with high-grade vegetable oil and no synthetic fillers or additives that could leech into your food, potentially harming your health.

The handle is sturdy and strong and comes with a hole in it so that it can be hung up or put away in a drawer or cupboard for easy storage. While this is a great pan, it is not ideal for large volumes of food or for stir-fries and vegan barbeques. Its wide, flat surface is better suited to making pancakes, warming bread, flipping veggie burgers and searing tofu steaks.

This is a great pan for preparing certain things but it is not the most versatile option out there. Having said that, it can be placed in the oven, used on stovetops and placed on top of grills but needs to be handled with a good oven mitt as the handle gets extremely hot.


  • Great for heating bread and flipping vegan burgers
  • Stays hot for extended periods of time
  • Heats food evenly and thoroughly
  • Seasoned with high quality vegetable oil
  • Easy to clean
  • Doesn't contain toxic material


  • Limited uses due to large, flat surface
  • Handle gets extremely hot


All the cast iron skillets featured here were cherry picked for their high quality and durability, however, it was the Lodge Pre-Seasoned model that came out on top. The ridged design makes it easy to clean and ideal for people wanting to watch their weight since the ridges help drain away excess oil and calories. If you are looking to buy a cast iron skillet that you can rely on, this is the perfect fit for you!

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Blenders come and go, but blending is forever. If you’ve been eyeing up a new blender, you know exactly what you want it for – the best models let you do everything that you can dream of, from crushing ice and making frozen desserts  to green smoothies to nut butters to soups. The models in this list are all capable of doing those things, but some come with extra features that elevate them above the rest. So if you’re looking for the best blenders of 2017, look no further: they’re here, and they’re ready to work.

Why are these machines the best blenders?

A great blender has a couple of key traits: powerful motors, great build quality, durability, and an excellent warranty. The top blenders have these plus a couple more: beautiful design, pre-programmed settings, and variable speed control. If you want a blender that’s going to do everything you ask of it, you need something with all of these settings – you need something that can create nut butter without a sweat, while sitting beautifully on your counter, for years and years. And you need to know that if anything should happen to your machine the company will be there to have your back. You need to be assured that you’re buying quality.

What are the differences between the models?

All of the models in this line-up have the traits of a great blender. While all have high-powered engines – it’s never going to be a top blender without that – there are other factors that go into a truly great machine.

One of the most important of these is pre-programmed settings, which are found only in top machines and make them so much easier to use than their manual counterparts. If you’re making a smoothie every morning, it saves so much time to be able to press a button and walk away, leaving the blender to do the work. If you’re constantly making soups, you don’t have to control the blend yourself. If you’re after a top machine, it should know what to do.

With that said, a top blender should also let you control it manually – to a great extent. Rather than the on-off system of lower-tier blenders, top-tier products should have variable speed control so that you can make sure your blades are running at exactly the right speed. No more guesswork. Some of the models in this list are missing this crucial function.

best blender soups easy

High Powered Blenders Make Soups Easy Without Much Chopping

Great design is also an important component. This may not seem relevant to you – who cares about what a blender looks like? – but if you consider that this machine is going to be sitting on your countertop day in, day out, it’s important to consider what it’s going to look like. In addition, some of these models are tall and bulky, so if you’re living in a smaller space they aren’t going to be able to fit in. The best models on this list are compact in size, sturdy enough to hold steady during intense blending, and attractive to boot. If you’re going to buy a blender, and you want a top pick, why shouldn’t these design elements come into it?

Warranties and build quality go hand-in-hand – if your product has great build quality, the company is likely to support it with a longer warranty. There’s a reason that top-performing brands like Vitamix have such long warranties – the company knows that they’ve built quality, and they’re willing to show it. If you’re looking for a great blender, you want something that’s going to perform for years and years of heavy use without complaining or giving out. You also want to be supported by a company that’s going to give you great service when you need it most. Keep in mind though, that there is often a trade-off between build quality and up front cost.

So what are the Best Blenders?

The Vitamix 750 is considered the “gold standard” of the Vitamix range, which itself is known as the “gold standard” of blender brands. When it comes to picking a top blender for 2017, it’s hard to go past an endorsement like that – and we have no intention of doing so.

The 750 is powerful, attractive, and reliable, with the best features on the market: a tamper (which can be useful for making things that don't need to be pulvarized like hummus, pre-programmed settings, a shorter container, and a long warranty. It’s truly a top-of-the-range machine capable of handling anything you may want to throw at it.

The only prohibitive factor about the 750 is the expense– it is typically quite expensive (prices vary), so unless you have a fair amount of money to spend on a blender, you might consider looking at some of the other models on this list.


  • Great design
  • Low-profile container
  • Variable speed control
  • Five pre-programmed cycles
  • Noise-reducing case
  • Inbuilt cleaning cycle
  • Motor cooling system
  • Tamper
  • Seven-year warranty
  • Excellent build quality


  • May not be affordable

The Designer Series Blender is a member of Blendtec’s new range of blenders, which are supposed to be an improvement on Classic models in functionality and design. The Designer Series Blender has been quoted as being a ‘Swiss army knife’ in blender design – it’s supposed to do everything you may want it to do.

It has greatly improved design over previous Blendtec models, and also features an improved airflow system to keep the motor cooler. It has the company’s signature five-sided Wildside container and six pre-programmed cycles, the most of any model on this list, including an inbuilt cleaning cycle. The interface is also attractive; unlike other models, it has a touch-screen interface that’s both attractive and easy to clean.


  • Great design
  • Low-profile Wildside container
  • Variable speed control
  • Six pre-programmed cycles
  • Made in three color options (*availability varies)
  • Inbuilt cleaning cycle
  • Cooling system
  • Seven-year warranty
  • Great build quality


  • No noise-reducing technology
  • No tamper

It's somewhat surprising to have a Hamilton Beach model in this list, because the brand has long been known for providing basic blending at very low prices – they have not typically tried to compete with Vitamix and Blendtec for power or quality.

This changes with the Professional Quiet Shield Blender. It comes with most of the great settings of higher-tier models at a normally much more affordable price point - although prices do vary. It features four pre-programmed cycles, including a self-cleaning cycle, a tamper, and a noise-reducing removable shield that makes it one of the quietest blenders on this list. It’s also an attractive design – and  is backed by 5 year limited warranty.


  • Great design
  • Low-profile container
  • Variable speed control
  • Four pre-programmed cycles
  • Noise-reducing removable shield
  • Inbuilt cleaning cycle
  • Cooling system
  • Tamper
  • Dishwasher-safe parts
  • Good build quality


  • Container has no handle

The Vitamix 6300 is another one of Vitamix’s top models. It’s a massively effective machine, and can blend through everything from nuts to ice to the smallest strawberry seeds to make sure your blend is always smooth.

Its specs are impressive, and the 6300 comes with almost everything you could want in a blender. It has a powerful motor, a beautiful design , three pre-programmed cycles, a tamper, a shorter container, and a long warranty (make sure you check with retailer as warranties my vary). It is also manufactured with a few different color options that you may be able to find. There are only two areas in which it may not be considered the top blender: it still may be fairly expensive for someone with a low budget, and it does not feature an inbuilt cleaning cycle (but that doesn't mean it can't clean itself without one). However, it may still appeal to people who don’t have quite a large enough budget to justify a more expensive unit, but still want a truly incredible blender.


  • Great design
  • Variable speed control
  • Three pre-programmed cycles
  • Four color options (*availability varies)
  • Noise-reducing case
  • Motor cooling system
  • Tamper
  • Seven-year warranty
  • Excellent build quality


  • No inbuilt cleaning cycle (but still has the capability of cleaning itself via blending power)
  • May be expensive

The Total Blender was Blendtec’s best-selling blender for many years, largely due to its many features and generally a lower price point than competitor Vitamix (*although prices can vary). The Total Blender has its primary focus on pre-programmed settings, so it’s ideal for someone who wants their blender to do most of the work.

It comes with six pre-programmed settings, the most of any blender in this list, and also has the highest horsepower. Like the other Blendtec model, it features the company’s signature Wildside container – a flat-sided, five-sided design that’s meant to create a better blending technique without the use of a tamper. However, users have reported occasional blending difficulties without a tamper especially if the mixture if really dry.  Generally speaking, a little bit of mixing the recipe between cycles should do the trick of a tamper, but some may find it to be a slight inconvenience.


  • Low-profile Wildside container
  • Variable speed control
  • Six pre-programmed settings
  • Three color options (*availability varies)
  • Good build quality


  • No noise-reduction technology
  • No inbuilt cleaning cycle

This is the only Breville model on the list, primarily because the company has rarely branched out into the high-performing blender market. The Boss is their bold step forward, and it’s a great first step.

It comes with many of the best traits of Vitamix and Blendtec models, but is supposed to be easier on your budget: five pre-programmed settings, including an inbuilt cleaning cycle, a seven-year limited manufacturer's warranty, and variable speed control. In addition, this model comes with a tamper to help you make your creations, and Breville’s great build quality.

The main way in which this model is let down is in its design – the appearance of this blender leaves much to be desired, and the container may be too small to fit under the kitchen cabinet, so you might be stuck storing it between uses.


  • Variable speed control
  • Five pre-programmed cycles
  • Inbuilt cleaning cycle
  • Tamper
  • Seven-year limited warranty
  • Good build quality


  • Poor aesthetics
  • Tall container
  • No noise-reducing technology

Everyone knows Jamba Juice, but how many people know that the brand also has an appliances range? This is the only Jamba model on this list, and it comes with a range of features that are common to many of the other blenders that we've talked about.

It does not come with any pre-programmed settings, which could be inconvenient if you’re someone who doesn’t want to stand over your blender watching it work, but it does come with a noise-blocking shield which makes it great for people who need to be considerate about their noise levels. Many users have reported that the blender is genuinely quiet, enough so that it won’t make other people up in the house. If you’re a morning smoothie person, that could be very important.


  • Good design
  • Low-profile container
  • Variable speed control
  • Removable noise-reducing shield
  • Tamper
  • Dishwasher-safe parts
  • Five-year limited warranty
  • Good build quality


  • No pre-programmed cycles
  • No inbuilt cleaning cycle

The 5300 tends to be of the cheaper models in the Vitamix range (prices vary), and as a result it comes with a reduced set of features compared to the other Vitamix models – and many of the other models in this list.

If you’re set on a Vitamix, but you don’t have the budget for one of the other models, I’d recommend this machine for you – it has all the great Vitamix basics, like excellent durability, performance, and a long warranty, and also benefits from later-stage Vitamix perks like a noise-reducing case and an inbuilt cooling system to keep the motor stable.


  • Good design
  • Low-profile container
  • Variable speed control
  • Noise-reducing case
  • Inbuilt cooling system
  • Tamper
  • Seven-year warranty
  • Excellent build quality


  • No pre-programmed settings
  • No inbuilt cleaning cycle

The Nutri Ninja Duo is one of the more interesting blenders in this line-up, because you can use both a regular blender container and single-serve blender cups on the same base. If you’re serving a single blend, this means it’s easier than ever to create it, and you don’t have to wash up a whole bunch of different containers.

Ninja is known to require a whole assortment of different accessories to create different outcomes, so whether or not this system appeals to you will determine whether you buy into it. Unlike Vitamix or Blendtec, which are all-in-one machines designed to do everything, Ninja models need you to exchange parts. This can be a plus depending on the size of smoothie you'd like to make, but it does give you a lot more parts to manage.

This model is the most stripped-back on the list, with few of the advanced features of other models. It also has the shortest warranty. Our research led us to believe that it is a 1 year warranty, but we're not 100% sure as their website didn't make it entirely clear.

As a result, it tends to be of the more affordable options – however, this does not mean that it suffers from poor build quality, as there are very few reports of failures for this model which means that it has the potential to last for just as long as the higher-tier brands.


  • Four pre-programmed settings
  • Good build quality
  • Affordable
  • Single Serve Blender Option
  • Sleek Design
  • Dishwasher Safe


  • Tall container
  • Three manual speed control buttons
  • No noise-reduction technology
  • Short warranty

The Ultima is one of Ninja’s most popular models, and for good reason. It’s one of their higher-tier blenders, which sacrifices raw affordability (prices may fluctuate) for excellent specs, great power, and variable speed control.

One of the hallmarks of the Ninja brand is their design style – rather than buying one container and one base, which is typical for the other brands on this list, Ninja sells an assortment of accessories that you must swap out to get different results. If this isn’t a problem for you, the Ultima is a great pick – it’s powerful, effective, and most likely affordable. It can also be a plus if you don't want to deal with washing a big container for smoothies.

The main downside to Ninja products is their limited warranty – unlike many of the other blenders on this list, they are typically only 12- or 24-month warranties. 


  • Variable speed control
  • Dishwasher-safe parts
  • Affordable
  • Sleek Design
  • Single Serve Blender Options


  • Tall container
  • No noise-reducing technology
  • Two-year warranty

The Wrap Up

It’s very hard to recommend a single best blender for 2017, because it depends so heavily on your budget and what you’re looking for. In the end, We could only narrow it down to three: the Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender, Black,
the Blendtec Designer Series Blender, WildSide Jar - Black, and the Hamilton Beach Professional 1500W Quiet Shield Blender with 32 oz BPA-free Jar & 4 Programs, Silver (58870).

The main difference between each of these models comes down to your budget (so you'll have to compare them at the time of purchase); they’re each an exceptional blender, powerful and reliable, with useful settings and all the bells and whistles. They’re all beautifully designed, all should fit under the kitchen cabinet, all have pre-programmed cycles and inbuilt cleaning cycles, all have variable speed control, and all make the most of long warranties.

I’m hesitant to call the 750 the best blender of the year simply because it  In terms of performance and reliability, it comes out above both of the others – but just in case it ends up being too expensive at the time of purchase, we have two back ups. It’s for that reason that I included the Blendtec and the Hamilton Beach models – both are so similar in terms of specs that it’s almost impossible to tell between them.

If a tamper’s important for you, choose the Vitamix or the Hamilton Beach. If you want sheer power and excellent design go with the Blendtec. If you’re opposed to a sound shield, or you need a handle for your container, go for a Vitamix or a Blendtec. If you’re on a budget, the Hamilton Beach may be the better option depending on current prices.

Let's not forget the Ninjas as well which are a great balance of affordability, power, and functionality.

These models are so close in so many ways that they’re all blender of the year – take your pick!

Still Can't Decide on a the best blender?

If you're still stuck and can't decide on a new blender for the new year, don't worry. We've done tons of individual reviews as well as broken down blenders by particular function. Check out some of our articles below to get even more in-depth!

The post Best Blenders of 2017 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.

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