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What Is Nutritional Yeast? and Recipes!



Vegan’s treat nutritional yeast like it’s the dehydrated cheese in a mac and cheese box. It’s not, but it does make great, creamy, cheese-like sauces. For a long, long time (think 30 of my 31 years), I stayed far away from it. 27 of those years were spent in ignorance that this food existed, two of those years were spent avoiding it because it was odd, one was spent avoiding it because I have read of contraindications between inflammatory bowel disease and nutritional yeast. Then I gave in, tried it, loved it, and now know just what it is.

Nutritional yeast is the deactivated form of the yeast known as “Saccharomyces cerevisiae”. It is an excellent source of protein and is therefore often used abundantly among the veggie crowd. Considered a complete protein containing 18 amino acids, it also contains a variety of minerals such as chromium, an important nutrient for maintaining balanced blood sugar levels.

But Where Does This Stuff Come From?

Nutritional yeast is grown on cane sugar and molasses. It is then harvested, washed, and dried into flakes. It takes on a yellow-orange-brown colour. After it is harvested, it is washed and pasteurized therefore guaranteeing that it is inert (meaning it won’t keep growing). Therefore, no need to worry that it will lead to yeast infections, and cause Candida. It has no relation to detrimental yeast growth.

And The Nutrition?

Nutritional yeast is particularly rich in B vitamins. These are the important guys for our energy production – they help in the metabolism of protein, fats, and carbs, meaning we can better use the fuel from our food, manage stress and keep our youthful complexion radiant.

Nutritional yeast is a bonus for vegetarians /vegans since many varieties are fortified with vitamin B12 (a nutrient only found on foods with faces).

Nutritional yeast is beneficial for those dealing with diabetes and blood sugar issues in general. This is because it contains chromium, a trace mineral which is important in managing blood sugar levels.

Other benefits:

  • Maintains healthy bacteria balance in the gut which is important for immune health
  • Improves blood production, which is great for peeps who are anemic
  • Helps maintain optimal cholesterol levels
  • Improves liver health and function

Where Can You Get Some?

Usually in bulk, in the fridge section of your local health food store.

What Can You Do With It?

Miso Hummus or Bean Dip?

Miso Hummus

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Fast Food Fettuccini

Caesar Salad – Hold The Anchovies

Kale Chips


Veggie Chili

Nutritional yeast

Cashew Ketchup

Sweet Potato Fries with Cashew Ketchup

38 responses to “What Is Nutritional Yeast? and Recipes!”

  1. Kristin (Cook, Bake, Nibble) says:

    I love nutritional yeast (“nooch” in our house). Since I don’t eat much meat/animal products at all I like that I am getting by B12 in a tasty way. And it is SO versatile in cooking! I use it in sweet or savoury dishes :)


  2. Gail says:

    Hi Meghan – Thanks for this great information about yeast. Very useful for us candida sufferers. Might sound silly but I always ask anyway – is nutritional yeast gluten free?

    • Chrissy says:

      I myself have wondered about Nutritional Yeast and Candida. Good to know that it does not contribute to it. Interested in trying it now :)

  3. Alex says:

    Hey Meghan,

    Just a couple of questions/comments:

    -Aren’t some nutrients lost during the pasteurization process of nut. yeast?

    -Brewer’s and nutritional yeast are not the same thing. Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast, whereas brewer’s yeast is active and used to ferment carbs to make beers and sometimes to make bread. It is also bitter and specifically undelicious, unlike nutritional yeast, which is very yummy!

    Thanks for a great round-up of recipes!

    • ainslie says:

      “specifically undelicious” is the best description! I was going to mention the same thing, I feel like particularly in holistic nutrition-type literature brewer’s yeast and nooch are referred to as the same or interchangeable, when they really aren’t. Nooch is cheesy and delish and adored by vegans everywhere, brewer’s yeast is like…”specifically undelicious” bitter beer aftertaste and no one eats it ever.

      • Meghan Telpner says:

        That’s what I had researched but so much I read had said it was the same…

        • ainslie says:

          I think aside from the active vs. inactive deal, they’re basically the same nutritionally – both are high in B vits and minerals (except I don’t think brewer’s is B12-fortified). I get the feeling the difference in taste is not mentioned/taken into account in nutritional literature as it’s viewed more as a supplement than a delicious cheesy food! That said, I think I’m so interested in this topic right now because I’m obsessed with making raw vegan nacho cheese sauce lately, ha!

          • Meghan Telpner says:

            Good call. I have yet to venture into the world of active yeast but I think someone will be teaching a bread making cooking class at my cooking school this winter. I want to start learning about that too! So much to know.

  4. Paige @ The Gravy Boat says:

    Thank you for this post! I actually got some questions about nutritional yeast from a client the other day and I realized that I’m not very informed on the subject (despite having some in my refrigerator at home…). This is perfect timing and very helpful!

  5. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says:

    Yay! I’ve been wondering about this stuff! Thanks for posting this :D

  6. Melissa says:

    Nooch is the bomb- I love it! I mix it in with some coconut oil, and then drizzle over broccoli, kale, etc, as well as a key ingredient in my dehydrated kale chips. It’s also really good mixed in with some vegetable juice. There are so many things you can do with it!

  7. Lindsay at Kitchen Operas says:

    It’s also amazing over popcorn. I am so glad to have discovered nutritional yeast this year, too!

  8. Annette says:

    I’ve been unsure about “nooch” ever since we went dairy free. After reading this I think we’ll give it a try.

  9. Deborah says:

    I LOVE nutritional yeast and have been using it for years. I remember the first time I bought it and tasted it. I expected ‘yuk’ and was very pleasantly surprised to find ‘yum’ :-)
    This post comes at the perfect time for me to share my absolute FAVOURITE recipe using nutritional yeast. We had this on our holiday table last year and almost everyone said it was the best dish EVER! Even for non-vegetarians, I’d serve this instead of a traditional dressing!

  10. Julia Mielish says:

    Hi Meghan,
    Thank you so much for another timely post. We were just looking at this yesterday in the store and I said I would go home a research it and you have done such a better job of it than I could. Now I know what it is, i can now look at whether it can be tolerated by celiac sufferers.

    Thank you so much!!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      I don’t see why it would be a problem, but obviously best to try it out in a very small amount- maybe sprinkle a little on something you’re eating and see how you feel before you go all out creating a recipe with a lot in it- but you probably knew that already.

  11. Leesie says:

    How long is the shelf-life and or where should it be stored? Thanks for all the recipes, can’t wait to try them with my son when he comes home from college in a few weeks.
    Happy Chanukah!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Thank you Leesie- we are having a very sweet one- with my whole family on holidays together in Jamaica. I think it has an indefinite shelf life- assuming that shelf is in a fridge.

  12. Chantal says:

    Great post :) It’s not like we don’t have enough to worry about already when it comes to the food industry but I just learned fairly recently that a lot of more conventional nutritional yeast has MSG in it. I found this out the hard way, when I’d bought nutritional yeast in bulk and started getting a weird “air/gas pocket” feeling in the back of my mouth. I was told that’s what happens to people when they eat MSG. So of course I looked into it, and found out that I wasn’t too far from the truth. So just a warning to be conscious of the type you buy! So far, I’ve had super results for the most part, especially with the Red Star Nutritional Yeast, it hasn’t made me reacted at all. Other than that, I loooove my nutritional yeast :)

  13. Alisa Cooks says:

    Now that is great to know. Several times I had people email me looking for an alternative to nutritional yeast in recipes (there isn’t one that I know of!) because they are avoiding yeast for Candida. I will keep this knowledge in my back pocket (or email folder :)

  14. kendra says:

    I’ve been mixing some nutritional yeast and some dill with kefir or yogurt to make a cheesy spread. Sooo tasty! And, of course, awesome on kale chips.

  15. Jen Fuller says:

    I just wanted to add a blurb about nutritional yeast. I sprinkle it over my popcorn. We call it cheesy popcorn at our house. I have found that little kids love it too!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      I have done that- thought I don’t eat popcorn, I’ll break rice cakes into little bits, toast those and then sprinkle the noochie goodness.

  16. Kate @ahealthypassion says:

    Hi Megan- thank you so much for all the fantastic recipes! I love your site. I bought some nutritional yeast a few months ago and had no idea what to do with it and then i found your recipes. They are delicious keep up the great work!

  17. Gustoso says:

    Cool I’ve been wanting to try, ever since going dairy free.

  18. Katie says:

    I get my nooch at whole foods in the bulk section, but it is not refrigerated. Considering that you say to store in the refrigerator, is this kind that I am getting bad? Thanks!

  19. Jillian Gora (@Jilliangora) says:

    nutritional yeast – i think i’ll have to try this. thanks @meghantelpner for the info!

  20. Ambri says:

    I love nutritional yeast! As a snack or breakfast, I like sprinkling it on sprouted rye toast either over mashed avocados or coconut oil!!! Yuuuuummmmmy!

  21. Judyb says:

    Love Nut. yeast. Mix it with vegan mayo and it makes a super cheesy sauce. I don’t keep refrigerated, so need to check on that. I also use it in Mac and”cheese’. Sprinkled on Spaghetti, on popcorn, and any other excuse I can find to eat it.

  22. Becky says:

    Thanks for these great looking recipes Meghan. And the info about such a strange food – we say it looks like fish food!

    I recently used it to make Queso Burger Soup -it’s out of this world!

  23. Christine says:

    Your comment regarding B12 sources is inaccurate: you state that “B12 is only found on foods with faces”.
    Spirulina is a vegan food that is loaded with B12.

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