Okay, admit it.
You hadn’t heard of nutritional yeast until you switched over to the dark side…
The vegan side.
Nutritional yeast goes by a few other fond nicknames—
Nooch, and my personal favorite, vegan fairy dust.
But what exactly is it?
And why are vegans so obsessed with it?
We are here to answer all of your questions! At the end of this article, you are going to know more about nutritional yeast than you ever thought you would.
Here’s what we’ll cover (click to jump to that section):
- Learning about Nutritional Yeast: What It Is and Why It’s Amazing,
- Understanding Yeast: The Difference Between Brewing, Baking, and Cooking
- Buying Nutritional Yeast: Stores, Brands, and Snacks
- Using Nutritional Yeast: 25 Recipes to Indulge ALL of Your Cravings
Nutritional Yeast: What It Is and Why It's Amazing
First things first, we need to talk about what nutritional yeast actually is.
Because if you’ve seen it before—
You’ll know that it looks suspiciously like fish food.
Officially, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast from the species saccharomyces cerevisiae.
This species of yeast actually creates these three types of regularly used yeasts:
- Baker’s yeast
- Brewer’s yeast
- Nutritional yeast
We’ll be breaking down the other types of yeast for you in the next section, so don’t worry if you’re starting to scratch your head.
Nutritional yeast can be found in two forms: Fortified and Unfortified.
Unfortified nutritional yeast has not been altered and contains only natural vitamins and minerals. Fortified yeast contains vitamins to boost the nutritional content of the yeast.
A quick way to check this will be to read the ingredient list on the back.
It is most common to find fortified nutritional yeast at the store!
Nutritional yeast can be found in three different forms:
- Yellow Flakes
Nutritional yeast gets it name from—
… drumroll please…
Being so nutritious!
This cooking ingredient really packs a punch when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
Here is what nutritional yeast has to offer.
Nutritional yeast is a vegan-friendly source of protein. It contains all 9 essential amino acids that your body cannot make on its own, making it a wonderful daily staple in your diet.
Along with that, nutritional yeast is protein PACKED. Just two little tablespoons contain 8 grams of protein! It’s so delicious, we know you won’t be able to stop at two tablespoons…
Nutritional yeast offers over 100% of your recommended daily intake of B6 and B12 vitamins. These vitamins help regulate blood sugar and protect against anemia.
Since nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on top of pretty much anything, it is an easy way for vegans to avoid becoming B12 deficient.
B12 is a vitamin that does not occur naturally in plant-based or animal-based foods.
Then where does it come from?
It is actually produced by bacteria!
Since it doesn’t occur naturally, it is essential for vegans to consume fortified foods such as nutritional yeast, plant-based milks, cereals, or a supplement in order to get all of the B12 they need.
Vitamin B12 is responsible for the formation of genetic material, and missing out on this vitamin can result in anemia or issues with your neural system.
A B12 deficiency is nothing to joke about, so make sure you are hitting your recommended daily intake!
Nutritional yeast also contains trace minerals such as:
Trace minerals play an important function in keeping you healthy! They play roles in the following:
- Bone health
- Heart health
- Making hormones and enzymes
So eat up!
As if it couldn’t get any better, nutritional yeast is also rich in antioxidants! Antioxidants help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Due to this, a diet rich in antioxidants can help prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
If this wasn’t enough to convince you to start stocking up on nutritional yeast, get this:
It is also delicious.
Different Kinds of Yeast: Everything You Need to Know
Since I have you here, let's break down the 8 different types of yeast and what you need to know about them!
There are different types of yeast and they can be broken up into three categories:
We’re going to go over the types of yeast used for all three of these things so you never have to wonder again.
Everybody knows that yeast is one of the primary ingredients to make beer. There are two different kinds, and the type used makes the difference between an ale and a lager.
- Top-Fermenting Yeast: This type is used for ale. The yeast for the ale is warm and floats to the top, hence the name.
- Bottom-Fermenting Yeast: This type of yeast is used for lager. The yeast in this is cold and sinks to the bottom during fermentation.
Baker’s yeast also comes from the same species that nutritional yeast does, saccharomyces cerevisiae. Here are the different types of baker’s yeast, commonly used to make bread and bakery products:
- Active Dry Yeast: This type of yeast is commonly used in baking and requires the yeast to be activated by warm liquid prior to use.
- Fresh, Cake or Compressed Yeast: Yes, this type is often called all three different names. This yeast is sold as a block of live yeast cells. It needs to be refrigerated and has a shelf life of about 2 weeks, which might make it more difficult to find in stores.
- Liquid Yeast: This form contains the live yeast cultures, water, and carbohydrate (often flour.) These elements keep the yeast alive and in a more pure form than dry yeast.
- Instant Yeast: This type is also known as fast rising or fast acting yeast. This type of yeast can be added to dry ingredients immediately, instead of being activated by water.
There are two types of cooking yeast that can be used for their distinct flavor and vitamin profiles.
- Nutritional Yeast: This yeast is deactivated, which means it can be eaten in larger quantities. It is known for its nutty and cheesy flavor, (stay tuned for more on this…)
- Yeast Extract: This type of nutritional yeast form often comes in a paste and is known for its umami flavor profile. Actress Emily Blunt loves this so much she travels with the popular Marmite brand!
Buying Nutritional Yeast: Stores, Brands, and Snacks
Now that you could write the book on nutritional yeast, let's talk about where to buy it.
Where to Shop
Now that you’ve learned about nooch, you won’t be able to stop seeing it all around you.
Nutritional yeast can be found at health food stores and chain grocery stores alike. The tricky part can be hunting it down.
Instead of spending hours in the baking aisle like I did, (Hey, I make the mistakes so you don’t have to…)
Do yourself a favor and head on over to the spices section! It will be sold in a bag or in a plastic shaker container depending on the brand.
Here are some popular stores that sell nutritional yeast:
- Trader Joe’s
- Whole Foods
- The Vitamin Shoppe
And of course, you can always buy nutritional yeast online!
Brands You Can Buy
If you just learned about nutritional yeast, you might be shocked to learn about how many different brands you have to choose from.
Here are some of my tried and true favorites:
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Anthony’s Goods
- Red Star
- Simply Organic
- Trader Joe’s
You probably already have one or two of these brands in your kitchen, so it will be easy to expand your pantry.
If you are chomping at the bit to try foods with yeast seasoning, look no further.
Here are some mouthwatering snacks you can buy today:
- Cassava Root Chips from Thrive Market
- Lesser Evil Puffs - Crunchy No Cheese Cheesiness from Walmart
- Popcorn from Pop Zero
- Lentil Chips from Enjoy Life Foods
Using Nutritional Yeast: 25 Recipes to Indulge ALL of Your Cravings
Nutritional yeast should be given an academy award for its role in vegan dishes.
It is most known for its part as a vegan cheese substitute.
Vegan chefs have been using this fairy dust to completely transform recipes, and I’m ready to share them with you.
Hard Cheese Recipes
These hard cheese recipes will help you make a vegan charcuterie board that will make your instagram shine!
- This Sunflower Cheddar Cheese recipe by Nest and Glow is fresh and creamy
- Parmesan is an absolute classic for salads and pastas. Try this recipe The Veggie Society.
- For something with a quick, here is aSharp Cheddar Cheese recipe by It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
Cheese Sauces and Spreads
If chips and dip, queso, and cheese spreads are more your game, then these recipes are for you.
- I can’t get over this easy Cashew Cheese Sauce by Our Wandering Kitchen
- If you have any allergies, give this nut-free and soy-free cheese sauce by Detoxinista a try
- I haven’t forgotten about bagels! Here is a dreamy Cream Cheese recipe by Vegan Heaven to pair your bagel with.
- Need a dip for some tortilla chips? Then give this Nacho Cheese Sauce by Keeping the Peas a go.
Tofu Ricotta Cheese
Everybody loves a carb-tastic Italian recipe, so I had to give tofu ricotta its own section!
These recipes will be a show-stopper at your next dinner party.
- If you eat one, you’ll eat them all. Try this Ravioli with Tofu Ricotta recipe by Emilie Eats
- When was the last time you indulged in a calzone? This Tofu Ricotta and Spinach Calzones by Create Mindfully is worth it.
- These Stuffed Mushrooms with Creamy Basil Tofu Ricotta by Glue and Glitter are both understated and delicious.
- Having family over? Serve up this Lasagna with Spinach Tofu Ricotta by the Viet Vegan
- I couldn’t make this list without pizza! This Veggie Pizza with Tofu Ricotta by Peta2 is an easy one to try.
Mac and Cheese
Who doesn’t love a classic mac and cheese recipe? These plant-based editions are to die for!
- This Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe by Choosing Chia is a spin on the old classic.
- Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese by Delish Knowledge might sound strange, but don’t know it until you try it.
- Bring this Baked Mac and Cheese recipe by Six Vegan Sisters to your next outdoor picnic or cookout.
If you don’t want to commit to a full-blown recipe, then this section is for you.
Since nutritional yeast is so flavorful, you can simply sprinkle it on top of some of your favorite snacks and dishes!
Here are some ideas:
- Use it on top of avocado toast. The toasted bread, creamy avocado, and nutty nooch is surprisingly addictive.
- Sprinkle it over roasted potatoes for some extra flavor.
- Why stop at potatoes? Add a tablespoon or two to any of your roasted veggies or stir fries!
- Tired of your pasta recipes? Skip the sauce and just add a bit of nutritional yeast, lemon, and olive oil instead.
- Adding nooch onto roasted chickpeas is a great way to get a protein-packed snack.
Nutritional yeast is going to be your new secret ingredient when it comes to your cooking staples.
- This Vegan Pesto Rice by Cadry’s Kitchen can be made in under 10 minutes
- Vegan Tofu Scramble is a breakfast staple. I love this recipe by Nora Cooks.
- This Vegan Polenta Recipe with Mushrooms by Bianca Zapatka is simple, yet sophisticated.
- Pair this Creamy Tomato Soup by Blissful Basil with some garlic bread for the ultimate comfort food.
- This Vegan Omelet with roasted veggies by The Minimalist Baker is the perfect way to start your day.
Nutritional Yeast: Your New Best Friend
Once you try nooch, there is absolutely NO going back.
This seasoning is versatile, nutritious, and inexpensive.
I mean, what’s not to love?
Now you know EVERYTHING there is to know about nutritional yeast. What it is, where to buy it, and how to use it.If you love learning about the vegan lifestyle, make sure to check out our blog about grocery shopping here.