Guide to Nutritional Yeast plus 20 Delicious Recipes

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Though it may seem like a strange ingredient, nutritional yeast is a natural food that has been around for quite some time. Let’s first dive into the “what” it is (and isn’t) and then I’ll address the “how” to use it with some amazing nutritional yeast recipes.

A Quick Guide to Nutritional Yeast + Delicious Dairy-Free Nutritional Yeast Recipes

What Is Nutritional Yeast? A Supplement and a Seasoning

Not to be confused with baker’s yeast (such as active dry yeast), brewer’s yeast, or yeast extract, nutritional yeast is a member of the fungi family that is grown on sugarcane or beet molasses and then deactivated. Since nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast, it doesn’t grow, froth, or leaven like baker’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast is also deactivated yeast, but it’s a byproduct of the brewing process, and has a very bitter and less appealing flavor than nutritional yeast. And while nutritional yeast is a dry ingredient with a subtle taste, yeast extract is a paste with a much stronger flavor. In other words, do not attempt to substitute any of these other types of yeast in nutritional yeast recipes!

Though it can grow in the wild, the nutritional yeast that we purchase in stores is produced under carefully controlled conditions and then it is harvested, washed, and heat dried to deactivate the yeast.

20 Delicious, Dairy-Free Nutritional Yeast RecipesAs the name implies, nutritional yeast is packed with some healthy goodness. It is typically fortified with B vitamins, including vitamin B12, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. It’s also a sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, low-fat food that is a relatively good source of fiber, iron, and protein. And call it a happy coincidence, but nutritional yeast does double duty by providing vitamin B12 and cheesy flavor, a need and a desire of many who follow plant-based diets.

Though originally adored as a supplement, nutritional yeast recipes now abound thanks to this ingredient’s natural cheesy, savory, nutty and near umami flavor. Just a bit can cure cravings for the salty, pungent nemesis of dairy-free foodies. But it isn’t just about cheesiness. As you will taste in the nutritional yeast recipes below, this humble ingredient can do everything from adding the richness of egg yolks to providing depth to baked goods.

Note that nutritional yeast is available flaked or in powdered form, but I find the flakes to be easiest to measure, and they readily dissolve. Also, not all brands are fortified with B vitamins. To get the nutritional benefits and best flavor, I typically use Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

What If I Can’t Eat Yeast? Nutritional Yeast is “Deactivated”

Many who follow an anti-candida diet shun anything with the word “yeast” attached, but there has been no scientific evidence that nutritional yeast promotes the growth of candida in humans, particularly since it is a deactivated yeast. And though the savory flavor of nutritional yeast comes from glutamic acid, this is not the same as the commercial additive monosodium glutamate (MSG). Glutamic acid is a naturally-occurring amino acid found in many fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Many practitioners give their anti-candida patients the go ahead with nutritional yeast, but it is still best to consult your physician regarding any medical concern.

How Can You Use It? Enjoy These Nutritional Yeast Recipes!

Click the title or the image to head straight to any of these nutritional yeast recipes. You just might be surprised how many different ways this versatile ingredient can be used! Note that this is a sponsored post by Bob’s Red Mill, but I chose this feature as I have been using their nutritional yeast in my recipes for years.

Cinnamon Buckwheat Vegan French Toast (NEW!)

No eggs? No problem. Nutritional yeast adds the savory, rich goodness of egg yolks when used in small amounts. This recipe is so easy and versatile, and no one will be the wiser that it is egg-free and dairy-free!

Cinnamon Buckwheat Vegan French Toast - You won't believe it's egg-free! Also dairy-free and optionally gluten-free.

Cheesy Chia Popcorn

A quick blend of nutritional yeast, chia seeds, salt, and spices yields a flavorful and nutritious popcorn topping that the whole family will love.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Cheesy Chia Popcorn

Grab-and-Gorge Garlic Kale Chips

Kale chips have become a snacking staple in so many households, and as many of you already know, nutritional yeast makes an amazing seasoning on these crunchy greens.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Grab-and-Gorge Garlic Kale Chips

Southwestern-Style Dairy-Free Mac ‘n Cheese

For stove-top vegan mac ‘n cheese, nutritional yeast really is a wonderful secret weapon. It melts perfectly into the creamy sauce for a delicious better-than-boxed taste.

Spicy Southwestern Stovetop Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese (Gluten-Free & Vegan, too!)

Halloweegan Peppers

The gluten-free and vegan quinoa stuffing in these carved bell peppers gets a flavor boost from the subtle savoriness of nutritional yeast. Just a couple tablespoons needed for the whole recipe.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Halloweegan Peppers: Vegan Quinoa Filling in Carved Squash or Bell Peppers!

Vitality Soup

Warm, nourishing soup gets a light flavor and nutrition boost from nutritional yeast.

Natural Vitality Soup + More Nutritional Yeast Recipes

Vegan Tomato Queso Dip

Did you know that nutritional yeast creates an instant cheesy Mexican sauce when stirred into salsa? This dip takes it a step further for a full-bodied crockpot dip that can double as a rich sauce.

Vegan Tomato Queso Dip Recipe

Dairy-Free Caramelized Onion Dip

Rather than making it cheesy, nutritional yeast acts as a savory underlying influence to enhance the caramelized onions and all-natural seasonings in this healthier vegan version of a classic dip.

Dairy-Free Caramelized Onion Dip + More Nutritional Yeast Recipes

Sharp Vegan Cheddar Cheese

Yes, you can make your own sliced cheese at home! This recipe isn’t for the faint of heart, but when your ready for some adventure, this is one to try.

Sharp Vegan Cheddar Cheese Alternative Recipe

Brazil Nut Parmezan + Easy Cheesy Sprinkle

One of the easiest and most useful ways to use nutritional yeast is in a quick nutty or seed blend that mimics the flavor and usefulness of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy these two nutritional yeast recipes or the “parma” ones provided in Go Dairy Free.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - 2 Vegan Parmesan Substitutes - Brazil Nut Parmezan and Cheesy Sprinkle

Vegan Parmesan Flakes

Why stop at powdered parmesan when you can easily create crispy shards of cheesy goodness to add crunch to salads, soups, and more!

Vegan Parmesan Flakes - A simple dairy-free recipe for adding flavor to almost any dish

Gluten-Free and Vegan Risotto

Just a touch of nutritional yeast perfects this parmesan-loving dish, adding the finishing touch it needs for both flavor and richness.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Risotto + More Nutritional Yeast Recipes

Butternut Squash and Sage Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Smoky White Pizza Sauce

Give cheese-free pizza a flavor boost by using nutritional yeast along with rich, salty, bold, and zesty ingredients in the sauce.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Butternut squash and sage pizza with caramelized onions and smoky white pizza sauce

Easy Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Pizza Crust

Why stop with the toppings? A little nutritional yeast in savory baked breads, like pizza crust, intensifies their flavor.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Easy Gluten-Free Grain-Free Pizza Crust

Crispy Southwestern Quinoa and Chick’n Burritos

This restaurant-worthy dish uses a double dose of cheesiness – a little bit of Daiya plus nutritional yeast in the flavorful quinoa mixture that subs in for rice.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Crispy Southwestern Quinoa and Chick’n Burritos

Tofu Benedict with Vegan Hollandaise Sauce and Homemade English Muffins

A hollandaise sauce without dairy and eggs? Indeed, and made possible by nutritional yeast and some creative creamy ingredients.

Tofu Benedict with Vegan Hollandaise Sauce Recipe

Dairy-Free Scalloped Potatoes

Perfect for the holidays and beyond, everyone will love this creamy vegan side, even those die hard dairy cheese fanatics.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Dairy-Free Scalloped Potatoes

Tofu Omelet with Pesto, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

A prime recipe example of nutritional yeast’s egg-like powers. It adds to the deep yellow hue while providing egg yolk-like flavor and texture.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Tofu Omelet with Pesto, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Vegan Quiche

Nutritional yeast does double duty in the rich, yet healthy brunch delight. When combined with the other ingredients, it offers both cheesiness and the savory luxury of egg yolks without an ounce of dairy or eggs.

Vegan Quiche Recipe + More Nutritional Yeast Recipes

Nutritional Yeast and Smoked Paprika Spice Blend

And for all of those other meals and snacks that could use a flavor boost, Kim’s “best ever” seasoning comes to the rescue. It’s simple and uses three of my all-time favorite ingredients: nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, and salt.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes - Best Ever Vegan Cheesy Seasoning Blend

No Bake Vegan Cheesecake

And a BONUS dessert recipe! Tofu-based cheesecakes benefit from a little more nutritional yeast, but this nut-based one uses just a bit to give it that perfect cream cheese flavor.

No Bake Vegan Cheesecake + More Nutritional Yeast Recipes

This informational post and great round-up of nutritional yeast recipes is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill, my favorite grain company! They produce nutritional yeast and dozens of other fabulous dairy-free ingredients for baking and beyond. 

I’ve submitted this post to Allergy-Free Wednesdays!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

17 Comments

    • Hi Alice, I don’t see why not, as long as you add it rather than using it in place of any active yeast in your recipe. Nutritional yeast is inactive, and thus should only affect your recipe in flavor, not function.

  1. Pingback: What Is Nooch? - Health News and Views - Health.com

  2. I don’t usually leave comments on posts but I just have to tell you that this one is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful recipes.

  3. What would make one sensitive to nutritional yeast? Every time I’ve eaten I’ve felt awful with the worst stomach cramps and gas.

  4. I actually woke up this morning thinking about nutritional yeast. Odd. This post has come at just the right time because I *never* know what to do with nooch but always have some in the cupboard. Thanks Alisa.

  5. Wow Alisa, this is a great post. Sharing it around, I wish I had it years ago 🙂 There’s some fabulous recipes here too. I’m so intrigued by the french toast!

    • Thanks Maggie! I think your family would love it! I know you make your own bread, but Silver Hills Bakery Sprouted GF bread would probably be great with this (though a little delicate!).

  6. Great post, Alisa. I love nooch! And I love that you mentioned it in relation to candida. I actually wasn’t allowed to eat it at the early stages, not because it causes fungus to grow, but because, as a yeast, it is similar in structure to other yeasts, and my immune system might be triggered by it because of its similarity to candida. So the veto is often more to prevent an inflammatory or allergic reaction, from what I understand. I do enjoy it occasionally now (and I mean I ENJOY it!). 🙂 Great recipe roundup as well–some new ideas to try!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Ricki! I’ve actually never heard this take on it from any of the practitioners I spoken wiht. Very interesting though – too bad there aren’t more studies done in this arena. I’m betting there will be some going forward though!

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