Is bisto vegetarian?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is bisto vegetarian?” and will discuss the ingredients of bisto.

Is bisto vegetarian?

Yes, most varieties of bisto are vegetarian. Vegetarians may eat Bisto gravy in its original red container and most other versions. The meat-flavored Bisto Best gravy granules, Bisto chicken gravy, and Bisto turkey gravy should all be avoided by vegetarians. Because some bisto varieties contain animal products so they are not suitable for vegetarians.

Flavor enhancers are defined as a wide category of ingredients, which belong to food additives, used to enhance the sensory characteristics of a food, and especially its taste and flavor. According to research, the European food additives market was valued at almost 12,5 billion US dollars in 2018, and will show a growth rate of 5.1% annually, between 2018–2023. These economic data show the current and future market size of food additives production, which is the consequence of the wide range of food additives used by the industry (5).

What is bisto?

There were unending streams of tiresome… Well, we mean passionate and heartwarming Bisto TV commercials in the 1980s, so here is a quick explanation of what Bisto is and where it comes from for those who didn’t encounter those commercials at all!

With its initial product, a meat-flavored gravy powder, being released in 1908, Bisto has a long and famous history. Because the original Bisto product was described as “Browns, Seasons, and Thickens in One,” the name Bisto seems to be an almost acronym. Hmm. Although it wasn’t the best product name ever, the result was catchy enough.

1979 saw the introduction of granules that dissolve in hot water, and in 2004 a premium Bisto Best version of several flavors was produced. Bisto gravy granules may be found in most supermarkets and convenience shops in the United Kingdom, where they have a substantial market share of the gravy granule market (around the 70 percent mark in 2005).

Bisto is instant gravy granules. Gravy is typically applied to meat dishes as well as to vegetable and potato side dishes. Although traditionally produced using meat stock, meat fat, and thickener, gravy is widely available as a commercial dried product containing stock, yeast extract, and thickeners to which water is added before serving. In one study, gravy was used as a means of fortifying the diet of elderly individuals. Ingredients such as butter, cream and soy sauce were added to the gravy, significantly improving the nutritional quality of these individuals and reducing the risk of malnutrition (1).

Bisto is made of what?

Bisto is a gravy in a powdered form. Powders can be agglomerated by a number of techniques, particularly by wet granulation using mechanical and fluidised bed granulators, extrusion processes and compaction of dry materials using roll compactors. In some of these, granulation is used primarily to improve product safety in handling by reducing dustiness. Examples are in fine chemicals, microbiological and pharmaceutical products. With other products, a granular form is either advantageous or essential to confer good dispersion/ dissolution properties or to produce a granular form that is required for further processing. In the case of foodstuffs, granulation is used to improve product attractiveness, reduce the bulk density, improve the ease of dispersion/ dissolution and reduce the tendency to caking (4).

To give you an idea of what goes into the granules, below are the specified components for Bisto Gravy Granules – the one in the iconic red tube. Bisto’s contents vary per product.

·         Potato Starch

·         Salt

·         Wheat Flour (with added Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin)

·         Maltodextrin

·         Sugar

·         Palm Oil

·         Colour (E150c)

·         Emulsifier (E322) (contains Soya)

·         Flavorings (contain Barley)

·         Flavor Enhancers (E621, E635)

However, some of the components, such as potato starch or salt, may be of concern to vegans. On the animal welfare and environmental fronts, palm oil may be considered non-vegan. There are frequently questions about which E numbers are vegan, therefore these are the ones involved:

·         E150c- Color derived from carbohydrates known as E150c. This additive is caramel, a natural colorant. Caramel Color III [2-acetyl-4(5)-(1,2,3,4-tetrahydroxybutyl)-imidazole] has been found to cause a reduction in total white blood cell counts in rats and several other effects on the immune system of rodents. The use of the color is, however, considered safe for humans (2).

·         Monosodium glutamate -which is often made from vegetable proteins. This is a flavor enhancer. Monosodium glutamate has been suspected of provoking aggressiveness and mental disorders in children, but the results of various studies are controversial. A fall in serotonin and competition with some neurotransmitters have been suggested as possible mechanisms leading to behavioral disturbance (2). The flavoring enhancer monosodium glutamate is a known controversial food additive, which is produced commercially from a natural fermentation process using sugar and starch. Despite anecdotal reports of monosodium glutamate exacerbating asthma or triggering headaches, the JECFA of the UN FAO, the WHO and the American Medical Association (AMA) have all affirmed the safety of monosodium glutamate at normal consumption levels (3).

·         E635- Ribonucleotides derived from animals or fish. This is a flavor enhancer related to the umami flavor, the same as sodium glutamate. The nucleotides are naturally occuring in animal foods, and fish is an important source of this additive. Vegetables are poor sources, while some mushrooms are good sources (2).

·         E322- seems to be synthesized from soya rather than an animal source of lecithin. The primary role of lecithin, an emulsifier, is to allow flavors and oils to be dispersed throughout a food product. Lecithin in general is an approved food additive FDA approved for use as an emulsifier in margarine, chocolate, and bakery products. Commercially, it is predominantly extracted from soya beans (2).

How to tell if Bisto gravy is suitable for vegetarians or not?

Bisto gravy types that are acceptable for vegetarians are marked with a vegetarian label on the package. For vegetarians, the Bisto versions labeled “vegetarian” are a good option since they include no non-vegan components like milk or eggs.

If you’re a staunch vegan who’s concerned about cross-contamination, you should know that the manufacturing process for vegetarian Bisto gravy may include the use of milk products. So, even though many vegans would consider Bisto safe to consume, it cannot be considered vegan.

Do any of the Bisto products include animal products?

Many Bisto goods sold in the United Kingdom do not include any animal products, as previously stated. Listed below are the Bisto items that are suitable for vegetarians and do not include dairy ingredients.

·         Bisto Gravy Granules Beef

·         The Original Gravy Powder

·         Bisto Favorite Gravy Granules

·         Bisto Best Caramelized Onion Gravy

·         Bisto Onion Gravy Granules

·         Bisto Southern Style Gravy Granules

·         Bisto Vegetable Gravy Granules

·         Bisto Best Vegetable Gravy

Bisto  Parsley Sauce Mix and Bisto White Sauce Mix, for example, are both categorized as vegetarian, however, they include dairy ingredients, so be aware of this. Bisto goods that don’t include any animal products, like these, are protected against cross-contamination and contact with these. Thus, even the most relaxed vegans would not be able to use these items.

Bisto Turkey Gravy Granules, for example, comprises turkey powder and chicken powder, which may not be ideal for vegetarians. We don’t know precisely what this is made of, but we presume it’s crushed up and dried animal bits.

Vegetarian Gravy Granules: Bisto’s replacements are here!

You can get vegan gravy granules for your favorite vegan pie or even for your vegan Christmas meal, and they’re all delicious. Even though you could create your vegan gravy, if you’re short on time, here are some excellent choices that will save you time and effort.

Marigold Vegan Bouillon Powder- Instantly dissolving, a vegetarian-friendly powdered stock with an excellent flavor

Free & Easy Gluten-Free Vegetable Gravy- This gravy is smooth and flavorful, but it takes some getting used to.

Kallo Organic Garlic & Herb Stock Cubes- Vegan stock cubes don’t get much better than this one. It’s a great complement to vegan meat substitutes.

 Tideford Organic Vegan Gravy with Red Miso- This vegan gravy alternative is fresh, chilled, and has a distinct umami flavor thanks to the use of miso.

Other FAQs about Vegetarian that you may be interested in.

Is calcimax vegetarian?

Is caldikind plus vegetarian?

Is Celin 500 vegetarian?

Did vegetarians eat onions?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is bisto vegetarian?” and discussed the ingredients of bisto.


  1. Tsikritzi, Roussa, et al. The effect of nutrient fortification of sauces on product stability, sensory properties, and subsequent liking by older adults. J Food Sci, 2015, 80, S1100-S1110.
  2. Branen, A. Larry, et al., eds. Food additives. CRC Press, 2001.
  3. Awuchi, Chinaza Godswill, et al. Food Additives and Food Preservatives for Domestic and Industrial Food Applications. J Anim Health, 2020, 2, 1-16.
  4. Knight, P. C. Structuring agglomerated products for improved performance. Powder technol, 2001, 119, 14-25.
  5. Vasilaki, Athanasia, et al. Recent insights in flavor-enhancers: Definition, mechanism of action, taste-enhancing ingredients, analytical techniques and the potential of utilization. Crit rev food sci nutr, 2021, 1-17.