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What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is an ingredient that’s been growing in popularity. It has a great flavor, lots of health benefits, and can be used in a ton of different recipes. 

overhead of tofu crusted in nutritional yeast

I love to use nutritional yeast in my cooking. It’s such a great ingredient because you can use it in so many different ways, and on so many different kinds of food. In the past few years, yeast has become really popular because it’s healthy, delicious, and commonly used in vegetarian and vegan dishes. 

But even though nutritional yeast is a fairly common ingredient these days, a lot of people are still unfamiliar with it. So it seemed like a good idea to answer some commonly asked questions about this healthy ingredient and share a few of my favorite recipes. So if you’re new to the wonderful world of nutritional yeast, then keep reading! 

What is Nutritional Yeast? 

Nutritional yeast is a yellow and flaky ingredient with a very dry texture, like a dried herb. Unlike the yeast that you use when you make bread, nutritional yeast is deactivated. That means that the yeast has essentially been killed, which makes it safe to eat. 

How Do You Use It? 

You can use this unique ingredient in so many different ways. I love it as a condiment, sprinkled on top of popcorn, potatoes, pasta, and other similar dishes. It’s also great mixed with other seasonings to create a savory spice blend for meats or vegetables. Nutritional yeast dissolves easily and mixes well with other ingredients, so you can add it to season things like soup, salad dressings, and sauces. 

Is Nutritional Yeast Healthy? 

Yes, nutritional yeast is very healthy. It’s a tremendous source of protein, which makes it great for anyone on a plant-based diet. Not only is yeast full of protein, but it’s low in calories. A quarter cup of nutritional yeast has 18 grams of protein and just 100 calories. It’s also a good source of fiber and has a lot of zinc, potassium, riboflavin, and B12, among other nutrients. Studies have linked nutritional yeast to improved heart health and immune system health.

What Does It Taste Like? 

Nutritional yeast has a very cheesy flavor. In fact, a lot of vegans use yeast in place of parmesan cheese, which I strongly recommend. I put it on my pasta in place of cheese all the time. It also has a strong nutty flavor and is loaded with umami. It’s a very common seasoning for vegans because the rich umami flavor can help foods taste meatier. 

How Do You Store Nutritional Yeast? 

It’s important to store your yeast in an airtight container or bag so that no moisture gets in. You also want to store it in a dark and dry spot, such as inside a cupboard. If you store your yeast this way, it will last for at least 2 years. 

Where To Buy It

Because nutritional yeast is becoming so popular, a lot of grocery stores now carry it. However, if you can’t find it at your local grocery store, you’ll be able to buy it at any health food store or natural food store. It’s a fairly cheap ingredient, and many stores carry it in bulk. 

10 Easy Recipes With Nutritional Yeast 

Now that we’ve answered some questions about yeast, let’s cook with it. These 10 recipes are healthy, tasty, and easy to make.

My (Not So New) Favorite Snack: Popcorn

My absolute favorite way to eat nutritional yeast is on top of popcorn. I’m a big popcorn lover, and I never eat it without yeast. It adds a savory, rich, and hearty flavor to the popcorn. Give this a try and you’ll never go back to normal popcorn again!
Check out this recipe
Overhead view of two bowls of broccoli soup garnished with a lemon slice, broccoli, vegan creme fraiche, and chili flakes, next to a pot of soup and some spoons

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

This recipe has a ton of nutritional yeast: 1 cup of it, to be exact. Even though the soup is vegan, it tastes super cheesy thanks to the yeast and the cashews. It’s also really healthy, with lots of broccoli, zucchini, and carrots.
Check out this recipe
How To Make Vegan Kale Chips

Vegan Nacho Cheesy Kale Chips

This is one of my favorite snack recipes. It has an amazing vegan cheese sauce made of yeast, cashews, bell pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, and lemon juice. It’s one of those snacks that you won’t be able to stop eating!
Check out this recipe
Vegan Broccoli Burgers Video

Broccoli Quinoa Burgers

These burgers are loaded with protein, thanks to yeast, quinoa, and chickpeas. The nutritional yeast adds both meatiness and cheesiness to the burgers, which also have tons of broccoli in them. Your non-vegan friends won’t be able to tell that this is a vegan recipe!
Check out this recipe
Looking for the perfect vegan pesto recipe? THIS IS IT! Tastes just like real pesto but has zero cheese!

Everyday Vegan Pesto

One great thing about nutritional yeast is that you can use it in place of parmesan cheese in pretty much any recipe. That’s definitely true of pesto, where the yeast perfectly replaces the flavor of the parmesan cheese while being a lot healthier.
Check out this recipe
pizza with colorful vegetables cut into slices

Low-Carb Zucchini Pizza Crust

This pizza crust isn’t just about being healthy. I think it tastes even better than a traditional pizza crust. The yeast makes it cheesy, while shredded zucchini and Italian seasoning add a whole bunch of flavor to the crust. This amazing recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.
Check out this recipe
Buffalo Quinoa Mac + Cheese -- made with a vegan cauliflower sauce that's super creamy and SO HEALTHY!

Buffalo Cauliflower Quinoa Mac + Cheese

If you’ve never tried mixing nutritional yeast with buffalo sauce, then you’ve got to try this recipe! It’s an amazing combination, with the cheesy yeast balancing the spicy and tangy sauce. There are so many flavors in this quinoa, including miso paste, lemon juice, and steamed veggies. It’s a really outstanding vegan mac and cheese.
Check out this recipe
vegan broccoli tots with quinoa flour

Vegan Quinoa Broccoli Tots

This 20-minute appetizer is a must-try. Broccoli tots have so much more flavor than potato tots, and all you need to season them are yeast, garlic powder, miso paste, and hummus. They’re so rich, so savory, and a great finger food.
Check out this recipe
Overhead view of quinoa and lentil taco meat in skillet

Quinoa + Lentil Vegan Taco Meat

Nutritional yeast is a really popular ingredient when cooking meat substitutes. This ground beef alternative is made out of quinoa and lentils that are seasoned with cumin, coriander, paprika, chili powder, and yeast. The result is taco meat that’s smoky, spicy, loaded with umami, and super healthy.
Check out this recipe
plate of kale salad with crispy tofu

Best Ever Massaged Kale Salad

One of the most underrated ways to use nutritional yeast is in a salad dressing. This one couldn’t be more simple, as it’s just yeast, garlic powder, olive oil, and lemon juice. But that’s all you need to make a perfect kale salad.
Check out this recipe

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