Vegan Drinks at Panera Bread – How To Know What Is Vegan

Vegan Drinks at Panera Bread – no, you did not read that wrong. No, I am not crazy. Yes, I am going to do a review of all the vegan drinks at Panera Bread. Yes, Panera Bread. That place you decide to take someone when coffee just won’t hack it, but you don’t want to splash out on a full-scale restaurant meal. If you live in Los Angeles, as I do, being invited to have a meeting or just at a meet-up at Panera means business – you are about to be broken up with or business is about to go down (there are 189 Panera Bread Locations in California alone – that’s 8% of all their stores in the Golden State – the only place that loves it, even more, is Florida which has 192 stores). Oh, and ever wondered what on earth “PANERA” means? It’s Spanish, and literally means “bread basket/bin” – throw that tidbit of knowledge down next you go and just watch your dining companion gush in disbelief. Also, why does “Breadbasket” in Spanish just sound so much better? Can you imagine it being called “Bread Basket” instead of “Panera” and having the same success? I can’t. Whilst Panera may be your go-to place for food it also has a wide selection of drinks, which begs the all-important question – what are the vegan drinks at Panera Bread?

What Drinks At Panera Are Vegan?

There are two vegan smoothies on the Panera menu. Panera also offers several coffees that can be made vegan with the substitution of almond milk. Vanilla and cinnamon coffees can be made vegan whereas caramel and chocolate coffees are not vegan. Most of the flavored drinks at Panera do contain sugar and/or natural flavors which may be an issue for strict vegans.

Vegan Drinks at Panera – Are Any Panera Smoothies Vegan?

We begin with, everyone’s favorite drink (aside from Coffee, but let’s face it, it is an addictive drug) – Smoothies. Stick some fruit in a blender, add some juice or nut-based milk and you have yourself a great smoothie. At Panera there are two smoothies on the menu that are vegan:

  • Peach & Blueberry Smoothie with Almond Milk – “peach and mango purees and white grape and passionfruit juice concentrates blended with fresh blueberries and almond milk”.
  • Green Passion Smoothie“peach and mango purees and white grape and passionfruit juice concentrates blended with fresh spinach and ice.”

The Peach & Blueberry Smoothie with Almond Milk is my personal go-to.

The remaining three smoothies on the menu (mango, strawberry & banana, and strawberry) are blended with Greek Yogurt. They are not vegan. For the positive person inside of you just think “hey, 40% of the Panera Smoothie Menu is Vegan”. Two out of five isn’t too bad for such a big chain.

Summary – Vegan Smoothies at Panera

Vegan Smoothies at PaneraNon-Vegan Smoothies at Panera (Contain Greek Yogurt)
Peach & Blueberry w/ Almond MilkMango
Green PassionStrawberry & Banana

Vegan Drinks at Panera – Is the Coffee Brew Vegan?

Vegan Drinks at Panera - Coffee Beans.

In this section, I move on to coffee drinks at Panera. First, things first. Is Panera coffee vegan? Yes, Panera coffee brew is vegan. This is if you get a black coffee or coffee base with a nut milk alternative. Coffee, for the most part, always tends to be vegan. This is because coffee comes from the Coffea Bean which is a plant. However, this is not always the case. Coffee made from Civet Cats (weasels) does exist and is not vegan. If you want to learn more about whether your coffee is vegan check out my post here – Is Coffee Vegan? How To Find Out The Truth.

If you love the coffee at Panera Bread and want to replicate Panera Bread coffee from the comfort of your own home, you can via Amazon. You can order ground dark roast Panera Bread coffee via Amazon here. If the light roast is more your cup of tea, I mean coffee, you can get a bag of Panera Bread light roast ground coffee from Amazon here. Alternatively, if you have a K-Cup coffee machine you want to make Panera Bread coffee from you can use these light roast k-cup pods from Amazon.

Syrups & Sauces at Panera

What about the Syrups and Sauces used for flavored coffee drinks at Panera? Well, currently, Panera’s Madagascan vanilla syrup and cinnamon syrup do not contain milk as an ingredient making them potentially vegan friendly (see below).

However, Panera’s bittersweet chocolate sauce, chocolate drizzle, caramel syrup, and caramel drizzle contain condensed milk. These are not vegan.

It is worth noting that even though the vanilla and cinnamon do not contain condensed milk they do contain sugar and natural flavors. This could be an issue for strict vegans. This is because non-organic cane sugar can be processed with bone char here in the US.

Also, Natural Flavors (which I covered in detail in my blogs Is Cream Soda Vegan? Unlock All You Need To Know and Is Root Beer Vegan? Unlock The Hidden Root Cause) can be derived from animal or plant sources. This means there is always a chance that natural flavors are not technically vegan.

Natural flavors and cane sugar are present in SO many foods and drinks products that it can be hard to avoid as a vegan. What your stance is will be a completely personal decision. Some vegans are comfortable with this whereas others are not. If you are comfortable with sugar and natural flavors, then you can enjoy vanilla and cinnamon-flavored coffees at Panera (but not chocolate or caramel).

Summary – Syrups & Sauces at Panera

Vegan-Friendly Syrups & SaucesNon-Vegan Friendly Syrups & Sauces
Madagascan VanillaChocolate Sauce
CinnamonChocolate Drizzle
Caramel Syrup
Caramel Drizzle

Vegan Drinks at Panera – Does Panera Have Almond Milk?

Before we go through the individual menu items let’s deal with the burning question on everyone’s minds (thank you Google ‘related searches). Can you guess what it is?

“Does Panera Have Almond Milk?”

Panera has almond milk available at all locations. Soy is also available at select locations. Feeling disappointed that Panera doesn’t have a large selection of dairy-free milk? Well, I have some news to cheer you up – Panera may only have almond milk at locations, but there is no additional charge. I repeat there is no additional charge for almond milk.

Yes, Panera is one of the few locations where being vegan isn’t going to cost you more. Hallelujah – do a happy dance.

As a vegan, you will be super accustomed to having to pay extra for your coffee virtually everywhere to get cruelty-free plant-based milk. On this blog I have written posts on Starbucks (How To Actually Order Vegan Starbucks Drinks), Dunkin’ (Vegan Drinks At Dunkin’ – How To Actually Order Vegan), Coffee Bean (Vegan Drinks At Coffee Bean – How To Order Vegan), and Dutch Bros (Which Dutch Bros Drinks Are Vegan? The Complete Guide) and they ALL charge extra for plant-based milk. A big thank you to Panera for not charging extra – let’s hope some more big chains follow suit.

Vegan Drinks at Panera - Panera Coffee Cup

Vegan Coffee Drinks at Panera

In this final section, I break down all the coffee drinks at Panera. As I mentioned above if you want to know whether coffee is vegan (it isn’t always) read my blog Is Coffee Vegan? How To Find Out The Truth).

I have decided to divide the drinks into three buckets:

  1. Vegan (this may involve substitutions to make it vegan such as almond milk in place of dairy milk);
  2. Dairy Free but contains natural flavors and/or sugar. As explained above some vegans are comfortable with natural flavors and sugar whereas some strict vegans are not; and
  3. Not vegan and cannot be made vegan.

Vegan and Dairy Free Coffee Drinks at Panera

All you need to know is in the table below. In summary, the coffee drinks to really avoid at Panera are any with the words “chocolate or caramel” in the name.

Vegan Panera Coffee DrinksDairy-Free Panera Coffe Drinks by Contains Natural Flavors and/or SugarsNon-Vegan Panera Coffee Drinks
100% Columbian Dark Roast Coffee – iced or hotHazelnut Coffee – Contains Natural FlavorsFrozen Caramel Cold Brew – cold brew mix, caramel syrup, and caramel drizzle all contain dairy.
Cafe Blend Light RoastMadagascan Vanilla Almond Cold Brew – made with unsweetened almond milk. The Vanilla contains sugar and natural flavors.Frozen Chocolate Cold Brew – cold brew mix, bittersweet chocolate sauce, and chocolate drizzle all contain dairy.
Decaf CoffeeCinnamon Crunch Latte – order with almond milk and hold the whipped cream. Contains sugar and natural flavors. Chocolate Latte – the bittersweet chocolate sauce and the chocolate drizzle both contain dairy.
Cold Brew CoffeeMadagascan Vanilla Latte – order with almond milk and hold the whipped cream. Contains natural flavors and sugar.Caramel Latte – the caramel syrup and drizzle both contain dairy.
Cafe Latte – substitute dairy milk for almond milkIced Cinnamon Crunch Latte – order with almond milk and hold the whipped cream. Contains natural flavors and sugar.Iced Caramel Latte – the caramel syrup and drizzle contain dairy.
Cappuccino – substitute dairy milk for almond milkIced Madagascan Vanilla Latte – order with almond milk and hold the whipped cream. Contains natural flavors and sugar.Iced Chocolate Latte – the bittersweet chocolate sauce and chocolate drizzle contain dairy.
Iced Cafe Latte – substitute dairy milk for almond milk

Vegan Drinks at Panera – Hot Teas and Other Hot Drinks

All teas are surely vegan as long as you avoid any dairy milk right? Well, that is about 50% correct. The main issue with teas at Panera is that some of them contain honey making them not vegan. If you love tea and want to read more about whether all tea is vegan, you can read my post – Is Tea Vegan? Time To Know The Complete Facts.

Vegan Panera Teas and Hot BeveragesNon-Vegan Panera Teas and Hot Beverages
Hot Teas (except honey ginseng)Honey Ginseng Tea
Hot Chocolate – all four ingredients (caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, milk, and whipped cream) contain dairy.
Chai Tea Latte – the chai contains honey.
Iced Chai Tea Latte – contains honey.

Vegan Drinks at Panera – Iced Teas and Lemonades

Iced Teas and Lemonades appear mostly vegan-friendly. The issue is the use of Natural Flavors and/or Sugar. If these are an issue for you, I have separated the below table into those Iced Teas and Lemonades that are vegan and those that contain Natural Flavors and Sugars.

Vegan Panera Iced Teas & LemonadesDairy-Free Panera Iced Teas & Lemonades BUT Contain Natural Flavors and/or Sugar
Iced Tea (just made from black tea)Passion Papaya Green Tea – contains sugar and natural flavors.
Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea – sugar-free. Contains “natural plum and ginger flavor” so these natural flavors must be derived from plum and ginger. Agave Lemonade – contains sugar.
Pricky pear Hisbiscus Fresca – no sugar but contains natural flavors.

Vegan Drinks at Panera – Other Drinks

Panera also offers sodas although it is not clear from the online menu what sodas are available at every location and if these change from location to location. Sodas tend to be vegan friendly – again if you want a more detailed breakdown of soda, I dedicated a whole series of posts to it. You can find them below:

Panera also offers bottles of 100% orange juice and cartons of 100% apple juice. As they are 100% juice, they are vegan. However, believe it or not, juices that aren’t 100% juice sometimes are not vegan (yep, I am not making this up). If you want to learn about juices, I broke them down in my blog piece: Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing What You Need To Know.

Vegan Drinks at Panera - Final Sip

Vegan Drinks at Panera – The Final Sip

Panera Bread, I finally know what drinks are vegan and what is not. The good news is that there are vegan options at Panera and there is even the option for two vegan smoothies. If you are a coffee fan also most of their hot drinks are vegan if you avoid the Chocolate and Caramel Syrups and any teas containing honey. The greatest takeaway is that Panera doesn’t charge extra for Almond Milk. That means if you just swap to getting your daily coffee at Panera instead of another place where you are charged and then invest the difference in the stock market, then in about 1,000 years of compounding you will be a millionaire. Amazing – it’s the little things that count.

Okay, but on a more serious note, I did some math. If you save $1 each time from not having to pay $1 extra for almond milk in your daily coffee and then invest this (at say 5% interest), you will earn $2,041.47 after 5 years.

Vegan Drinks at Panera

…now you know.

Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.

Like What You Are Reading

Like what you are reading? Want to learn more, like – is my coffee vegan? Or how about your favorite energy drink – think those are vegan? How about Kombucha or Boba (Bubble) Tea are those vegans? Find out in my other articles below:

Editorial Team

The Vegan Bev HQ Editorial Team - helping you find the best vegan drink out there!

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