Palm Oil-free Baking Guide


Holiday spoiler alert: Most store-bought desserts and baked sweets — everything from cookies and cupcakes to donuts and pies — use palm oil. So do packaged cookie doughs, pie crusts and dry cake or brownie mixes. Sadly, most bakeries also use palm oil, palm kernel Oil (PKO) and palm oil derivatives, including mono- and diglycerides, glycerin, polysorbate 80 and more. Most donuts, cookies and specialty cakes that you buy from Panera, Cheryl’s or Krispie Kreme have palm oil.

The good news is that with a bit of a time investment, you can bake your own goods and avoid palm oil all together. Truly, the best way to know that your baked goods are palm oil-free is to make them yourself. Many recipes are pretty easy to convert- shortening and margarine have palm oil, but butter does not. A basic cookie dough recipe: eggs, flour, sugars, vanilla, baking powder, butter… well, that’s pretty straight forward. This is, by far, the easiest way to ensure you’re serving dishes that align with your morals.

Wait… what’s the deal with palm oil?

Rain forests are hotspots for biodiversity and filter vast amounts of carbon and pollution. Today, rainforest area the equivalent of 300 football fields is being destroyed every hour. Not only does this kill or displace endangered animals such as tiger and orangutans, but it causes numerous problems for the climate, environment, and people living in the forest. It’s estimated that fewer than 4,000 tigers still live in the wild, as their territory disappears daily. New roads allow poachers to hunt more easily and fires and machinery kill and injure animals. Palm oil is BIG business, with nearly half of our breads, donuts, nut butters, baby formulas, make up, cereal, cookies, pet food, potato chips and shampoo containing palm oil.

By saying no to palm oil, you’re standing up to commercial interests and voting with your dollar bills. It’s supply and demand. If you and I can avoid palm oil, it’s one less acre of forest that is burned to make way for new plantations. And one more tiger that keeps its home.

Are My Purchased Baked Goods Safe?

Whether you buy pre-made treats from a grocery store, a bakery or from Costco, they will likely have palm oil. Yes, it is so easy to just grab a package of those perfectly baked, meticulously decorated delights, so we totally aren’t judging you. Donuts and cakes are other common offenders.

Here are some favorite holiday treats that almost always have palm oil: whipped cream, whipped toppings, margarine, shortening, sprinkles, cooking spray, canned frosting, almond bark, candy melts, yeast, imitation vanilla extract, peanut butter, refrigerated cookie dough and biscuits, and butterscotch, raspberry, peanut butter and white baking morsels.

That’s a long list of holiday traditions! Luckily, making things from scratch adds a level of certainty. When you swap margarine or shortening for butter or coconut oil, your recipe affects tiger habitats less. Milk or dark chocolate chips and M&M’s don’t contain palm oil. Here’s a list of palm oil-free candies that can be incorporated into your holiday baking.

Learn to read ingredients

Many times you will see in the ingredients the word “palm,” which makes it easy to avoid them. Examples include: palm oil, palm kernel oil or vegetable oil (too vague to definitively tell if it’s palm oil) and palmitate and palmitoyl. However, also learn to look for laur-, stear-, and glyc-, as they are usually made with palm oil ingredients. The challenge is that some of these ingredients could be palm OR coconut-derived, making it hard to definitively know.

A great way to know for sure is to download the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil Guide and scan your item for more information about that item. This is available for both Apple and Android devices. It’s free to download and easy to use.


These Products are Free of Palm Oil

Pilsbury Brownie Mix

  • Chocolate Fudge
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Classic Fudge
  • Purely Simple Chocolate Chunk

Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream – All Flavors!

Pepperidge Farms Chessmen cookies

Pepperidge Farms Farmhouse Thin & Crispy cookies

About Carolina Tiger Rescue

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.

Carolina Tiger Rescue

1940 Hanks Chapel Rd. Pittsboro, NC 27312 (919) 542-4684 (919) 542-4454

Wildlife should be in the Wild



  • We believe the ideal home for wildlife is in the wild.
  • We believe it is critical to conserve their native habitats.
  • We believe wild animals should not be kept as pets.
  • We believe captive breeding should ONLY be done in accordance with Species Survival plans.
  • We believe all wild animals, both captive and in their native habitats, deserve to be treated with respect and not exploited for entertainment and commercial purposes.

Visit Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Public Tours

Twilight Tours

Coming out for a tour is a great way to learn more about the animals that call Carolina Tiger Recue home. We offer many different types of tours.  Public tours are great for adults and families. Twilight tours are for adults only (18 years of age and older). Tiger Tales are a perfect option if you want to bring out really young children. Find the tour that is right for you and enjoy a walk through the sanctuary.

For all tours, tickets must be purchased in advance.

Have Fun Learning at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Field Trips

Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips link

Virtual Field Trips

Education is key to our mission.  We enjoy teaching "kids" of all ages!  Our field trips, both virtual and onsite, are ideal for groups of kids.  Our "Kid for a Day" Adult Camp provides a unique learning opportunity while allowing adults to channel their inner child.  While all of these opportunities are structured differently, in the end we want everyone to walk away knowing more about the animals we care for and what they can do to help protect them.

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NGSD at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Porcupine at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Raccoon at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Red Wolf at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Keeper Stripes

Get involved at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual Volunteering

Group volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Group Volunteering

There are so many ways to be a part of Carolina  Tiger Rescue.  Individual volunteers are able to help in many aspects of our work, including animal care, tour guides, construction, and gift shop assistance.  Work groups come from community groups, colleges, work places, and more!  It’s a great way to spend a day and it helps care for the cats.