Are Cronuts healthy?

The cronut, a hybrid pastry invented in 2013 by famed chef Dominique Ansel, combines elements of a croissant and a donut. This innovative treat took the culinary world by storm, with lines wrapping around the block outside Ansel’s SoHo bakery in New York City each morning.

However, the cronut’s extreme popularity sparked an important question – is this trendy pastry actually healthy? With its deep-fried, sugar-coated exterior and creamy interior, it certainly doesn’t seem like the pinnacle of nutrition. Let’s take a deeper look at the cronut’s ingredients and nutrition facts to find out if it deserves a place in a balanced diet.

What is a Cronut?

A cronut consists of delicate, flaky croissant dough that has been fried like a donut and rolled in sugar. The classic cronut filling is a luscious cream, often flavored with fruit or chocolate. While the basic elements of a cronut are straightforward, the preparation process is quite elaborate.

First, croissant dough is rolled out thin and cut into rounds. These dough rounds are then fried in grapeseed oil at a high temperature, which yields the cronut’s signature golden-brown, crispy exterior. Once fried, cronuts are immediately coated in granulated sugar to prevent sticking. After cooling briefly, they are filled with cream using a pastry bag. Finally, cronuts receive one last dusting of powdered sugar by hand.

This multi-step cooking process results in a pastry that is delicately crunchy on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside. The contrast between these textures is part of what made the cronut such a phenomenon. Ansel’s original flavor featured vanilla cream with hints of lemon and rose, but many varieties have been created since, featuring fillings like chocolate ganache, dulce de leche, and fresh fruit jam.

While Ansel owns the trademark to the name “cronut,” imitators have spawned similar hybrid pastries, like the doissant (donut croissant) and crodough (croissant doughnut). However, none have matched the cronut in achieving the perfect marriage of donut and croissant textures.

Cronut Nutrition Facts

Let’s analyze the nutritional value of a cronut to find out if it’s a treat that should be indulged in only occasionally or if it can be enjoyed more frequently while maintaining a healthy diet.

A typical cronut weighing 85 grams contains approximately:

  • Calories: 420
  • Total Fat: 24 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 55 mg
  • Sodium: 240 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 44 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugars: 30 g
  • Protein: 4 g

Right away, we can see that the cronut is very high in calories, total fat, and sugar for its small size. Let’s analyze each of these factors more closely.


At 420 calories each, cronuts pack a heavy caloric punch. To put this in perspective, 420 calories represents 21% of a 2,000 calorie daily diet. Consuming just one cronut would use up nearly a quarter of your total recommended daily caloric intake.

Most nutrition authorities recommend limiting calorie-dense foods with little nutritional value like cronuts to occasional treats rather than everyday indulgences.


With 24 grams of total fat, cronuts derive over half their calories from fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total daily fat intake to between 25-35% of total calories, with saturated fat limited to less than 7% of total calories.

At 24 grams, the fat in one cronut exceeds these recommendations. The 4 grams of saturated fat is also considered high for a single serving. The small amount of trans fat, which should be avoided as much as possible, also detracts from the cronut’s nutritional profile.


With a whopping 30 grams of sugar, a cronut contains more sugar than the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit for added sugars for adult women (25 grams).

All this added sugar will spike blood glucose levels and provide empty calories without beneficial nutrients. The powdered sugar coating also adds minimal nutritional value beyond a quick burst of sweetness.

Other Concerns

Beyond calories, fat, and sugar, cronuts are lacking in fiber and protein, which provide important health benefits like keeping you feeling full and maintaining steady energy levels.

The high sodium content (12% of the daily limit in one cronut) is another nutritional downside worth considering.

Of course, with custom fillings, the nutrition facts of each cronut will vary slightly. A chocolate or dulce de leche filling will pack more sugar than a fruit jam, for instance. But in general, the basic cronut recipe remains high in empty calories, fat, and sugar.

Are Cronuts Vegan or Vegetarian?

The classic cronut contains both milk and eggs, so it is not suitable for vegans or lactose-intolerant individuals. However, it is possible to modify the recipe to create vegan cronuts.

Rather than using croissant dough, which relies on butter, the dough can be made with plant-based margarines or oils. Non-dairy milks and eggs substitutes like flax eggs, chia seeds, or ener-g egg replacer can stand in place of the dairy ingredients.

Fillings also need to be made dairy-free, so coconut, almond, oat, or soy milk can be used in custards and creams. There are also many recipes for vegan chocolate ganache using coconut oil or coconut butter.

With these simple substitutions, cronuts can certainly be enjoyed by those following plant-based diets or avoiding dairy. The egg-free and dairy-free version may have slightly less richness, but can still mimic the classic taste and texture quite well.

Cronuts made with a vegan recipe are vegetarian, but traditional cronuts with dairy products are not considered vegetarian. So for vegetarians, it’s best to inquire about the ingredients before indulging, or stick to vegan bakeries to guarantee a vegetarian treat.

Are Cronuts Gluten-Free?

Authentic cronuts made with croissant dough contain wheat flour and are therefore not gluten-free. However, there are many gluten-free cronut recipes available using alternate flours.

Some combinations used in gluten-free cronut recipes include:

  • Almond flour + tapioca flour
  • Brown rice flour + potato starch
  • Chickpea flour + sorghum flour

Binding agents like xanthan gum or psyllium husk are often added to help mimic the elasticity of gluten and yield lighter, fluffier gluten-free dough.

The cronut shape can also be achieved by frying gluten-free donut batter rather than rolling out gluten-free croissant dough. This shortcuts the layering process that requires gluten development.

While gluten-free cronuts will have a different texture than their traditional counterparts, they can still achieve a pleasant crisp exterior and tender interior when made with the right combination of flours. Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can still enjoy a cronut-like treat.

Do Cronuts Have Dairy?

The classic cronut recipe contains two sources of dairy – butter in the croissant dough layers and milk or cream in the filling. So traditional cronuts are not dairy-free.

However, as mentioned for vegan cronuts, it is possible to substitute the butter and milk to make dairy-free cronuts. Some good dairy alternatives include:

  • Vegan butter or vegetable oil for the dough
  • Coconut milk or nut milk for fillings
  • Vegan cream cheese or cashew cream for frostings

With these simple swaps, those avoiding dairy for health or personal reasons can still enjoy the cronut experience. When ordered at a bakery, just be sure to inquire about dairy-free options. Some bakeries may have one or two cronut flavors made dairy-free.

Do Cronuts Have Yeast?

Authentic cronuts start with a laminated yeast dough similar to what is used to make croissants. So traditional cronut recipes do contain yeast, which helps the dough rise and develop its signature flaky layers.

The yeast ferments and produces carbon dioxide bubbles that get trapped between the butter and dough layers. When baked, these air pockets expand and separate the layers, creating the croissant crust. This layering effect is harder to achieve without yeast.

However, there are some “yeast-free cronut” recipes that use chemical leaveners like baking powder instead to make the dough rise. These may have a more cake-like texture than traditional cronuts. For those avoiding yeast for dietary reasons, yeast-free versions can provide a comparable treat.

Are Cronuts Fried or Baked?

Authentic cronuts are always fried, not baked. The frying process at high heat is what gives them their distinctive outer crunch and inner tenderness.

Baking alone cannot achieve the delicate fried texture of a cronut. During frying, the outer dough layers bubble up and become crisp and golden brown, while the inside steams gently and remains soft and moist. Frying also gives cronuts their distinctive shape as the dough puffs up around the edges.

Some “healthier” cronut copycat recipes suggest baking instead of frying. However, the texture will be quite different – more akin to a denser, chewier croissant. So for the true cronut experience, frying is a must.

Calories in a Cronut

As noted in the nutrition facts earlier, a typical cronut contains around 420 calories. However, this can vary slightly depending on the exact size and filling.

Some specialty flavors may be even higher in calories, like those filled with chocolate or dulce de leche. Garnishes like chocolate drizzle or candied bacon on top can also drive up the calorie count.

On the lower end, a mini cronut may contain 200-300 calories, making it a bit less indulgent. But in general, a medium to large sized cronut will average 350-450 calories due to its high fat and sugar content.

Nutrition Comparison to Other Pastries

How does the cronut compare nutritionally to other popular bakery treats? Here is a nutrition comparison to similar portion sizes of other pastries:

Pastry Calories Total Fat Carbs Protein
Cronut (85g) 420 24g 44g 4g
Croissant (86g) 330 20g 32g 6g
Glazed donut (85g) 270 14g 35g 3g
Apple fritter (105g) 390 18g 53g 4g
Cinnamon roll (100g) 420 13g 65g 5g

Compared to other pastries, the cronut is generally high in calories, fat, and refined carbohydrates like sugar and white flour. It wins over the apple fritter in terms of fat, but otherwise exceeds most other treats in its calorie density. The high fat and sugar content packed into its small size are what make the cronut more of an indulgence requiring moderation.

Are Cronuts Healthy?

Based on its nutritional profile, the cronut should be considered an occasional treat rather than an everyday breakfast item. Its high amount of empty calories, fat, and added sugar make it hard to justify as part of a balanced diet. There are certainly healthier ways to satisfy a sweet tooth or bakery craving.

However, eaten in moderation, the cronut likely will not do significant harm as part of an overall healthy diet. As an occasional indulgence, its combination of flavors and textures can be an enjoyable sensory experience. Just don’t make a daily habit out of cronut-eating, as the calories, fat, and sugar can add up quickly. Limiting yourself to a cronut every week or two is a good guideline.

When enjoyed in moderation by an active person with no dietary restrictions, the beloved cronut can be part of a healthy lifestyle. But more frequent cronut-eating may lead to unwanted weight gain and other adverse health effects. As a high-calorie treat with minimal nutrition, it’s best saved for special occasion breakfasts rather than weekday mornings.

Healthier Cronut Alternatives

For those trying to reduce empty calories, fat, or sugar, there are a few healthier ways to get the cronut experience:

  • Mini cronut: Opt for a miniature version with fewer calories.
  • Baked cronut: Try a baked recipe with less oil.
  • Vegan cronut: Dairy-free versions often have less saturated fat.
  • Gluten-free cronut: May use flours with more nutrients.
  • Fruit-filled cronut: Fresh fruit provides natural sweetness.

You can also scale back the sugar topping by choosing a cronut dusted with powdered sugar rather than glazed or drizzled in chocolate.

Homemade cronuts can also allow you to modify the recipe to your dietary needs, experimenting with alternate flours or sweeteners. Just keep portions small and enjoy them as occasional treats.

With some creative tweaks, it’s possible to have a healthier version of the beloved cronut that reduces damage to your diet and waistline. But nutrition experts agree even healthier versions are still best enjoyed in moderation.


The cronut’s explosion in popularity sparked understandable curiosity about whether this unique pastry could be part of a balanced diet or was better left to special occasion indulgences. Upon analysis, its high calorie, fat, and sugar content relative to its small serving size make cronuts hard to justify as a regular breakfast choice. The lack of protein, fiber, and other nutrients also detract from any potential health benefits. Compared to similar pastries, cronuts tend to be one of the more calorie-dense options.

However, an occasional cronut enjoyed alongside an otherwise varied, well-balanced diet is unlikely to cause harm. Customers with certain dietary restrictions or preferences may be able to find or modify cronuts to better suit their needs as well. But for optimal health, most nutrition experts recommend limiting intake to no more than one or two cronuts per month as a special treat. Moderating portion size and frequency is key to incorporating indulgent foods like the cronut into an overall healthy lifestyle. So feel free to enjoy this innovative pastry now and then, but don’t let it replace more wholesome daily breakfast choices.

Leave a Comment