The 7 Best Vegan Candy of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Enjoy sweet treats that are free of animal products

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Our Top Picks
"Certified Vegan, Organic, fair-trade, and Certified non-GMO."
"Comes in a bulk bag, with each packet costing a fraction of the normal price for a vegan candy."
"Third-party tested for purity, potency and quality."
"Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten-Free, and Kosher."
"Suitable for those following a low sugar, diabetic, or ketogenic diet."
"Made with USDA Organic peanut butter and Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate."
"Free of the top eight allergens as well as artificial dyes and high fructose corn syrup."

Enjoying candy on a vegan or plant-based diet is now easier (and more delicious) than ever before. Before the boom of vegan products and candies, some old-school sweets were accidentally vegan such as Dum Dums Lollipops, Super Bubble Bubble Gum, Sour Patch Kids, and Jujubes. On shelves today, consumers can find vegan candies that have better quality ingredients than some of the more conventional candies.

A common misconception about foods labeled as vegan is that they are healthier than nonvegan choices. The vegan label simply means that there were no animal products used in the making of the candy, such as cow’s milk, honey, beeswax, and gelatin. There are also some colors produced from insects. Vegan candy still contains sugar, and it's important to moderate consumption of sugary foods whether they are plant-based or not.

We reviewed over ten different vegan candy brands and considered ingredient quality, price, customer reviews, amount of sugar, and third-party certifications when choosing our top choices. 

Here, the best vegan candy:

Best Overall: UnReal Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Gems

UnReal candies were created by two brothers on a mission to make indulgent snacks with real ingredients. Using organic, fair-trade, certified non-GMO ingredients, this brand has exploded in popularity due to their highly transparent, quality products that don’t skimp on taste.

Made in small batches, the Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems are certified vegan. UnReal uses vegetable extracts from beets, turmeric, and carrots to naturally color the chocolate covered peanuts and uses carnauba wax instead of beeswax. Shoppers can opt for a five-ounce bag or a box of 12 individual snack packs. Individually-portioned snack packs may be better for those that need support with portion control or who are looking to have something sweet while on the go.

Good to Know

Candy is a sweet treat enjoyed by parents and kids alike but note that the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommend that added sugars make up less than 10 percent of calories per day starting at age 2. Added sugars should be avoided for those younger than 2, so save candy for a special treat for older children and adults. 

Best Budget: YumEarth Organic Sour Beans Snack Packs

YumEarth was created by families for families and offers a variety of organic, allergy-friendly sweets. Free of the top eight allergens, these sour jelly beans are also vegan, organic, and non-GMO. This budget-friendly candy comes in a bulk bag, with each packet costing a fraction of the normal price for a vegan candy.

Free from peanuts, gluten, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, and soy, these candies are safe for the classroom, soccer field, or as a party favor. Unlike traditional jelly beans, these sour beans contain no high fructose corn syrup or artificial dyes. They're colored with carrot, apple, blackcurrant, pumpkin, and radish.

Good to Know

In general, it is wise to steer away from candy and products that contain artificial colors and dyes, as they can cause unpleasant side effects like gastrointestinal distress or headaches.

Best Chocolate: Endangered Species Panther Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Bar

Narrowing down our top choice for the best vegan chocolate was a difficult task. There are many great vegan chocolate brands and products out there, but Endangered Species Panther Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Bar, 88% Cocoa, is our top pick. This bar is for the true chocolate lover. Made from pure 88 percent cocoa dark chocolate, it packs a rich chocolatey flavor.

In addition to flavor, this bar was also reviewed by ConsumerLab.com, an independent third-party testing company that examines products for purity, potency, and quality. This bar stood up to its label claims, and it was found to be within the accepted limits of cadmium, a heavy metal present in varying amounts in cocoa and cacao. This bar is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made from fair trade cocoa that can be traced back to Fairtrade farms in West Africa.

You can feel good about enjoying this bar as it only has three grams of sugar per serving, and Endangered Species gives ten percent of its net profits to save wildlife. It's a good treat all around.

Best Gummy: Wholesome Organic DelishFish

There is nothing like a yummy, gummy candy! Unfortunately, many gummy candies are made with gelatin derived from pork or cow products. Fortunately, Organic DelishFish is made with organic, vegan ingredients.

Sweetened with Wholesome! Brand Fair Trade Organic Cane Sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, these gummy fishes are also free of all artificial colors and flavors. In addition to being vegan and free of potentially harmful artificial colors and flavors, this sweet treat is Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten-Free, and Kosher.

Although this product is made with better ingredients, it is important to be aware that a serving of seven fish contains 30 grams of sugar, so it is best to consume these as mindfully as possible.

Best Low Sugar: Evolved Chocolate Coconut Butter Keto Cups

With the popularity of low-carb and ketogenic diets, there are plenty of low sugar or zero sugar candies to choose from these days. The important thing to consider when choosing an ideal low sugar candy is the type of sweetener used. EVOLVED Chocolate Coconut Butter Keto Cups are sweetened with monk fruit, a sweetener is 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar and contributes sweetness to foods and beverages without adding calories.

Suitable for those following a low sugar, diabetic, or ketogenic diet, these coconut-filled cups contain 10 grams of fat, 1 gram of net carbs, and no added sugar. Each cup has cacao on the outside and lightly sweetened coconut butter with MCT oil on the inside. Evolve’s cacao is Rainforest Alliance Certified, and the cups are Certified Organic, paleo, and vegan-friendly.

Best Peanut Butter Cups: Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Justin's Organic Dark chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are made with USDA Organic peanut butter and Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate. The Rainforest Alliance certification seal means that the certified product or ingredient was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental.

One pack contains two certified gluten-free, kosher, and of course, vegan peanut butter cups. One serving includes both cups and contains 4 grams of plant-based protein and 16 grams of sugar. For your convenience, the cups come in individual packages with one serving or bulk bags with 12 cups.

Best Lollipop: YumEarth Organic Lollipops

YumEarth’s organic lollipops are not only vegan: they're also free of the top eight allergens as well as artificial dyes and high fructose corn syrup. One lollipop contains four grams of sugar which is equivalent to one teaspoon or one pack of sugar and the serving size is listed as two lollipops.

The lollipops come in various interesting flavors, such as strawberry smash, googly grape, very very cherry, perfectly peach, razzmatazz berry, mango tango, pomegranate pucker, and wet-face watermelon.

A special bonus: these lollipops contain Vitamin C, which can support a healthy immune system.

Final Verdict

UnReal Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems (view at Amazon) are our top pick among vegan candy because of their focus on quality ingredients. Using vegetable extracts for coloring and organic, non-GMO ingredients, these certified vegan candies are a great choice for plant-based shoppers and omnivores alike.

What to Look for in a Vegan Candy

Ingredients:

Select a vegan candy made without artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Artificial colors can make candies look more appealing, but artificial food coloring and dyes may be harmful, especially for children. In addition, just because a candy is labeled as vegan does not mean it is free of other ingredients that may be problematic for those with allergies or food sensitivities. Always look at the product packaging to ensure you know exactly what is in the vegan candy. Many vegan products have a "vegan" label on the packaging to help you easily identify that all ingredients are vegan.

Labels:

Third-party certifications such as certified vegan, certified non-GMO, USDA organic, kosher, and fair trade allow shoppers to feel confident about their product choices. Whether you follow a specific dietary pattern for health or moral reasons, certifications save time and energy when shopping and deciding between a myriad of different products.

Sugar:

Just because a candy contains a special label does not mean it is healthier than conventional products. Candy is still candy; however, some products are made with better ingredients than others. Vegan candy still contains sugar, and it should be moderated and enjoyed mindfully.

What Experts Say

"Candy should be considered an indulgence—not a snack—and should be consumed moderately and with mindfulness. It's easy to reach for candy—even 'healthier' vegan candy— to boost energy quickly, but at the end of the day it's still candy."—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian, Sydney Greene takes food recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted by her against product reviews and third-party testing websites. These are products she would not only feel comfortable recommending to her clients, but she would snack on them herself if craving something sweet.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. USDA. USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

  2. Rainforest Alliance. What Does "Rainforest Alliance Certified" Mean? Published October 28, 2020.

  3. Nigg JT, Lewis K, Edinger T, Falk M. Meta-analysis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, restriction diet, and synthetic food color additivesJ Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012;51(1):86-97.e8. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2011.10.015

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