Is Turron Vegan? Or Gluten-Free?

Turron is a traditional Spanish dessert that typically consists of nuts, egg whites, honey, sugar, and a number of sweet spices.

Although enjoyed most notably during the holiday season, turron is a sweet dish that can be enjoyed all throughout the year. For those with restricted diets, turron can be enjoyed as well with a few alternative ingredients. 

Given that the traditional recipe calls for egg whites and honey, turron is not vegan; however, it is gluten-free. There are vegan recipes available for turron in which the egg whites are substituted with coconut oil, molasses, or agave syrup. Without egg whites, this popular dish is fully plant-based!

The great thing about turron is that the ingredients can be customized to your personal liking. Naturally, turron is gluten-free and with a few minor substitutions for the egg whites and honey, it can easily be vegan-friendly.

The absence of the egg white does not make too much of a difference, so you are free to add and take out whatever you like to make this treat even tastier! 

What Is Turron?

Turron or turrón in Spanish is a delectably sweet treat that originated from Jijona, Spain sometime between the 15th and 16th centuries.

Since then, its original recipe has been adopted by some of the surrounding countries near Spain such as Italy and France. Some varieties can even be found in a few countries in South America. 

Italian Torrone on white plate
Italian Torrone

Turron typically consists of a traditional set of ingredients including, but not limited to:

  • Toasted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, etc.)
  • Egg whites
  • Honey
  • Sweet spices (granulated white or icing sugar and cinnamon)

If the recipe sounds pretty familiar already, it’s because a similar recipe is used to make what is known in the United States as nougat.

If you’re still not exactly sure whether or not you’ve had nougat, think of some of the popular nougat-based chocolate bars such as Snickers, Babe Ruth, Milky Way, and 3 Musketeers to name a few.

They are basically nougat covered in chocolate, although the consistency and texture of the fillings vary amongst each chocolate bar.

There are two main types of turron, hard and soft. The hard turron, or Alicante, has more of a hard, brittle texture and is in the shape of a block. It is similar to peanut brittle, and the nuts aren’t chopped as finely.

The soft turron or Jijona has a softer chewier texture and shares the same consistency of a thick nutty paste. The nuts used in this variety are chopped very finely to create the signature taste and texture. 

“There are two traditional, basic types of turrón: soft Jijona or turrón blando which is so smooth it has the consistency of peanut butter, and hard Alicante or turrón duro, which is like a thick almond nougat candy, similar to the texture of peanut brittle.”

Source: All About Turron, A Spanish Christmas Sweet

In addition to the traditional Spanish version, there are similar versions of turron found in other parts of the world such as the Philippines, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.

The turron varieties of these countries have different ingredients unique to the culture. For example, Filipino turron is not associated with a specific holiday and often consists of cashews and a sweet heavy syrup.

How Is Turron Made?

Various Turron Flavors
Various Turron Flavors

As mentioned before, there are so many ways to make turron and no particular way is necessarily right or wrong. If you want to add a little dry fruit for some natural sweetness, go for it. The same applies to chocolate, candied nuts, and anything you would possibly want in your turron.

For a little inspiration, however, here’s a simple walkthrough of how turron is traditionally made. Once you’ve gotten down the basics, you can swap out the ingredients to make it vegan-friendly or add your own unique touch.

You can also choose to make the harder version or soft version, depending on your liking.

The Alicante hard variety of turron is the most popular around the holidays in Spain. It’s sweet, crunchy, and more importantly, gluten-free!

It’s also dairy-free, making it even safer to enjoy for those with allergies to dairy. Sadly, it’s not recommended for consumption by those with nut allergies, given that nuts are the main ingredient. 

How To Make Alicante Turron

Cut turron alicante with marcona almonds
Turron Alicante

Below is a glimpse of how Alicante turron is made.

The first step to making the hard variety of turron is to slowly heat up the honey and let it remain over low heat until it starts to thicken up.

Once the honey has been heating for at least 15 minutes, you can then begin to add the sugar and let this mixture simmer for a few more minutes while stirring occasionally.

Afterward, the mixture should begin to caramelize.

Next, whip up the egg whites and add them to the caramelized mixture of sugar and honey. This step is one that requires careful mixing, as things can get sticky!

Once all ingredients are fully mixed, you can begin folding in the nuts into the mixture. You can then pour the turron into a square pan and let it bake.

Afterward, set it out to chill before cutting it into squares. For an Alicante turron recipe, visit here.

How To Make Jijona Turron

Turron Jijona Gluten Free
Turron Jijona

To make the Jijona turron, the same process will apply except you will have to ground the nuts up finely before folding them into the turron mixture.

In addition to that, the end mixture of this turron variety is often chilled in the fridge instead of baked, creating the soft, chewy texture.

For a Jijona turron recipe, visit here.

Is Turron Vegan?

As mentioned before, traditional turron is not vegan because it contains egg whites and honey. Egg whites or better yet any part of an egg is not accepted by the vegan diet, as the egg comes from the reproductive system of the animal at hand. 

The traditional belief held by vegans is that the animals laying the eggs are exploited or taken advantage of simply because of their ability to produce the eggs.

Veganism does not uphold to the standard of consuming nor wearing animals or animal products. Furthermore, honey is also included on that list of foods to abstain from.

Honey is produced by bees and is therefore considered an animal product. 

Whether or not you live by the vegan lifestyle, turron doesn’t have to be part of the “do not eat list” of foods restricted from consumption.

In fact, that’s the great thing about it, turron comes in so many varieties including vegan-friendly!

Luckily, the only thing you would need to take out in order for the turron to be classified as “vegan” is the egg white and honey. Because egg whites often provide the structure and moisture to the dishes they are added to, they will need to be substituted with an ingredient that can perform that same job if not better. 

How To Make Vegan-Friendly Turron

Some vegan recipes call for coconut oil, which provides the same moisture-rich properties of egg whites. When making substitutions, this aspect is important in order to give the turron a fine, brittle, or soft texture that isn’t too dry or will make it fall apart.

In addition to coconut oil, here are some other alternatives to egg whites and honey:

  • Molasses
  • Agave nectar/syrup
  • Mashed banana
  • Boiled flax seeds (½ cup of water to every two cups of seeds), after boiling for 3 to 5 minutes, strain the gel from the flax seeds

With these alternative ingredients, you will have a turron that is quite tasty if not tastier than the traditional version!

Chocolate Turron on black background
Chocolate Turron

If you’re interested in making your own vegan turron and nougat, visit these great recipe links below:

Vegan Chocolate Turron

Vegan Spanish Soft Nougat

Hazelnut & Cranberry Vegan Nougat

Explore More Turron & Vegan Dishes

If you want learn more about turron check out Spanish Turron – Your Ultimate Guide or other popular Spanish dishes read 21 Delicious Spanish Foods To Die For.

And for more vegan dishes, Costa Rica has some delicious offerings to add to your dinner rotation with Vegan Costa Rica: 5 Foods That Make the Country a Veggie Paradise.

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