If you are wondering “What is nutritional yeast?” You have come to the right place! Read on to find out what this tasty umami ingredient is and how to use it.
One of the most frequently asked questions by readers is: ” is nutritional yeast? “. I understand! At one point, this funky, flaky yellow powder seemed like a totally out of the ordinary ingredient to me. But today it has a permanent place in my pantry. I use it to make vegan “cheese” sauces and dips, to make popcorn, and to add savory flavor to soups, scrambles and more.
Because so many of you have asked about nutritional yeast, I thought it deserved a separate post. Below you’ll find my Nutritional Yeast 101, with information on what nutritional yeast actually is, how to use it, and my favorite nutritional yeast recipes.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast (affectionately known as “nooch”) is a deactivated form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as baker’s or brewer’s yeast. The key word here is disabled. Don’t try to put nutritional yeast in your next loaf of bread or batch of bagels. It won’t make them go up! Even though they come from the same fungus, instant yeast and nutritional yeast are never interchangeable.
So why eat nooch? Well, it first gained popularity in the 60s and 70s for its health benefits; it has been touted as a good source of protein and vitamin B12 for people on a vegetarian and vegan diet. While nutritional yeast is rich in B vitamins on its own, most of the nooch you find in stores today have been fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12 and folic acid.
How to use nutritional yeast
But the reasons for eating nooch go beyond its health benefits! Its flavor is nutty and salty, making it a delicious addition to all kinds of dishes. Most often it’s used to add a cheesy flavor to herbal recipes, like my vegan mac and cheese. There he creates the umami that Parmesan or Cheddar would add to regular macaroni.
You will find some of my favorite nutritional yeast recipes in the next section. Hope you give them a try, but also hope you experiment with other, easier ways to use nooch. Try tossing it with popcorn, butter, or oil and salt for a snack worthy of cravings, or sprinkle it over simply cooked veg for a splash of savory flavor. Love it on roasted Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower!
Yeast nutritional recipes
Looking for ways to use this nooch bag? These recipes are all delicious:
- Vegan cheese
No one will guess that this gooey ooey sauce is completely dairy free.
- Vegan pesto
No parmesan? No problem. Nutritional yeast adds a savory flavor to this easy pesto recipe.
- Vegan broccoli soup
Mixing nutritional yeast into this rich, creamy soup gives it an extra cheesy flavor. Even Jack, a huge fan of classic broccoli and cheddar soup, swears it’s as good as the real thing.
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
Add a side of steamed broccoli and dinner = resolved.
- Vegan Alfredo Sauce
Cauliflower and cashews give this light Alfredo sauce its comforting creamy texture.
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
If you’re looking for a super easy way to eat LOTS of veggies, make this dressing and store it in the fridge. It’s so tasty you’ll always come back for the carrot stick after the carrot stick.
- Tofu scramble
Unlike scrambled eggs, this tofu scramble warms up perfectly. Make it on the weekend and save leftovers for quick breakfasts all week long!
- Creamy vegan pasta
In this recipe, mixed white beans, lemon juice, olive oil, and nooch create a smooth, creamy, vegan pasta sauce rich in vegetable protein.
- Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta
Roasted garlic, shallots and nooch add a rich nutty flavor to this cozy fall dish.
- Vegan parmesan cheese
Get ready to sprinkle this tasty umami powder all over! I like to make a jackpot and freeze it to have it on hand at all times.
More Plant FAQs
Curious about plant-based eating? Check out one of these articles below:
Nutritional yeast popcorn
In this recipe, nutritional yeast adds a savory, cheesy flavor to simply popped popcorn. Warning: this is a very addictive snack!
- ¼ Chopped off sunflower oil, or any neutral oil
- ½ Chopped off popcorn kernels
- 3 soup spoons melted butter
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ⅓ Chopped off nutritional yeast flakes, optional
In a large saucepan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add a few kernels of corn. As soon as they start to burst, add the rest of the beans and remove the pot from the heat for 30 seconds, so that all the beans slowly reach the same temperature.
Return the pan to the heat with the lid on, but just partially off-center, releasing some of the steam. (Too much steam can make the popcorn soggy.) Shake the pan while the popcorn bursts so that it does not burn on the bottom. Once the bursting slows down, transfer the popcorn to a large bowl.
Pour the butter over the popcorn, sprinkle with salt, nutritional yeast flakes and mix.
Note: For a less flaky coating, mix the nutritional yeast flakes in a blender until powdery.
I read this New York Times article by Becky Hughes and this NPR article by Tove Danovich while writing this article.