Is Masa Vegan? Exploring the Vegan-Friendliness of Masa Dough

By Olivia

If you follow a vegan diet or are considering adopting one, you may be wondering if masa dough, a traditional ingredient in Mexican cuisine, is vegan-friendly. Masa dough is typically made from corn, which is a plant-based food. However, like any other food product, the specific ingredients and preparation methods can vary. Let’s delve into the details to determine whether masa dough is indeed vegan.

Masa Dough Ingredients

Most traditional masa dough recipes include just two ingredients: dried field corn and water. Field corn, also known as dent corn, is a variety of corn used primarily for livestock feed, but it is also suitable for human consumption. As both corn and water are plant-based, the core ingredients of masa dough are indeed vegan-friendly.

However, it’s essential to note that some commercial brands of masa dough may include additional ingredients to enhance flavor, texture, or shelf life. These additives can vary, so it’s crucial to read the ingredient list before purchasing a specific brand. If you want to ensure that your masa dough is vegan, opt for brands that use only corn and water.

Commonly Added Ingredients

In addition to the basic corn and water, some masa dough recipes or commercial products may include other ingredients. Here are some commonly added ingredients and their vegan status:

  • Lime (Calcium Hydroxide): Lime is often used during the nixtamalization process, where corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution. This process improves the nutritional profile and flavor of the corn. Lime itself is a vegan ingredient.
  • Salt: Salt is frequently added to enhance the taste of masa dough. Salt is a mineral that does not contain animal products, making it vegan-friendly.
  • Spices: Some masa dough recipes include spices like chili powder or cumin for added flavor. Spices are typically vegan unless they are mixed with non-vegan ingredients like dairy or animal-derived seasonings.

It’s important to read the ingredient list carefully, as some brands may add non-vegan ingredients like lard or animal-based seasonings. Opting for homemade masa dough or brands that specifically label their products as vegan is the safest way to ensure your masa dough is entirely plant-based.

Commercial Masa Dough Brands

If you prefer the convenience of store-bought masa dough, several brands cater to vegan consumers. These brands understand the requirements of a vegan diet and ensure their products contain only vegan-friendly ingredients. Some popular vegan masa dough brands include:

Bob’s Red MillYes
La PreferidaYes

*Goya masa harina is considered vegan-friendly but some of their other products may contain animal ingredients, so be sure to check the label.

By choosing these vegan-certified brands or carefully reading ingredient labels, you can enjoy the traditional flavors of masa dough without compromising your vegan lifestyle.


In conclusion, masa dough made from corn and water is generally vegan. However, some commercial brands may include additives or non-vegan ingredients. To ensure your masa dough is completely plant-based, it’s advisable to either make it from scratch using a simple recipe or choose brands that explicitly label their products as vegan. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious vegan-friendly dishes made with masa dough.