What is nutritional yeast, anyway?

Nutritional Yeast Demystified

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Recipes
What is nutritional yeast, anyway?

What is nutritional yeast, anyway?

In Portland, you can find nutritional yeast (aka vegetarian food yeast) at almost every restaurant catering to a vegetarian clientele. It’s a funky orange-yellow color and can range from a fine powder to larger flakes. It smells a bit yeasty, a bit nutty and a bit cheesy, but what’s the deal? What is this funky ‘hippie dust’? (Truly, I have seen it called that before.)

Nutritional yeast, which is not to be confused with Active Dry Yeast or Brewer’s Yeast, is a deactivated form of the microorganism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeast is pasteurized and placed in a dryer to deactivate the yeast and bring out its nutritional properties. The yeast, which is gluten free, has a flavor reminiscent of cheese and is rich in amino acids, B-complex vitamins, niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium and thiamine. Bob’s Red Mill’s nutritional yeast has been fortified with vitamin B-12, as well.  Nutritional yeast is popular with vegetarians and vegans whose diets can be deplete of B-complex vitamins, especially B-12.

Nutritional yeast won’t make your bread rise or your beer ferment, but it is excellent sprinkled over popcorn and pizza. It can be added to breading for tofu or meat to increase the flavor and nutritional value of the food. The yeast is also a wonderful addition to gravies and sauces or used to create a non-dairy ‘cheese’ sauce for those who are vegan or who cannot tolerate dairy.

Here are some great recipes for turning this funky dust into something delicious and nutritious!

Nutritional Yeast Cheese Sauce from Bob’s Red Mill
The Best Cheesy Uncheese Sauce from Karina’s Kitchen (gluten free)
Hemp Burgers from Bob’s Red Mill
Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese (in the world) from VegWeb.com
Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese from Flavor Vegan

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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39 Responses to “Nutritional Yeast Demystified”

  1. Dear Mr. Moore….I am confused but sooo happy to read your comments regarding your nutritional food yeast. My dear little 3 yr. old granddaughter is allergic to dairy, egg and banana (anaphylactic) I discoverd a vegan mac and cheese recipe which contained nutritional food yeast. I rushed to the whole food groc store to discover on the packaging of their nutritional food yeast was printed NOT FOR PEOPLE WITH DAIRY ALLERGY. Later in Loblaws I saw your large flake nutritional food yeast, it did not have the warning on it. I bought it, thought I would check with your website and find by the comments on your site that it is a great substitute for people with dairy allergies. I am so excited but still a little nervous about going ahead with this product. Can you advise me further. I appreciate your input as I am desperate to find food this little one can tolerate. Respectfully Marion M.

  2. Dear Mr. Moore..I am confused but soo happy to read your comments regarding your nutritional food yeast. My dear little 3 yr. old granddaugther is allergic to dairy, egg and banana (anaphylactic) I discovered a vegan mac and cheese recipe which contained nutritional food yeast. I rushed to the whole food groc. store to discover on the packaging of their nutritional food yeast was printed NOT FOR PEOPLE WITH DAIRY ALLERGY. Later in Loblaws I saw your large flake nutritional food yeast, it did not have the warning on it. I bought it, thought I would check with your website and I find by the comments on your site that it is a great substitute for people with dairy allergies. I am so excited but still a little nervous about going ahead with this product. Can you advise me further. I appreciate your input as I am desperate to find food this little one can tolerate. Respectfully Marion M

    • @Marion Nutritional Yeast is fine for people with dairy allergies. It could be that the brand you were looking at with the warning is produced in a facility or shared lines with dairy products. Our nutritional yeast is produced in a facility that does not use any dairy products. There are no dairy containing ingredients in our Nutritional Yeast and it does make an awesome cheese substitute for things like mac-n-cheese. This website is a wonderful resource for information, food lists and recipes: http://www.godairyfree.org/

    • Hi Angel,

      Our Nutritional Yeast is processed at temperatures above 212°F. The Nutritional Yeast is pasteurized and placed in a drum dryer to de-activate the yeast to get the nutritional properties. For more info, please contact our customer service team at 800-349-2173.

    • Danielle,

      Yes, our nutritional yeast is potato free. We do package potato flour and potato starch in our gluten free facility, but we clean the lines well between each run. Please contact our amazing customer service staff for more info: 800-349-2173

  3. I am allergic to baker’s and brewer’s yeast… will that mean I’m probably allergic to nutritional yeast as well?

    • Darla,

      We don’t have any peanuts in our facility, so there is no risk of cross contact with them. We do produce products that contain hazelnuts and almonds in our gluten free facility. All lines are cleaned between production runs and we follow Good Manufacturing Processes to prevent cross contact between allergens. For more information about our allergen policies, please contact our customer service team at 800-349-2173.

  4. Hi,

    Can you explain how I can make this at home? I live in a Developing country (Thailand) and Veganism is only just developing (despite its Buddhist religion) and importing it is beyond financial possibilities for Thai people.

  5. Hi, Cassidy,

    My husband and I have changed our diet because he has prostate
    cancer, and we know that what he eats can make a difference in the
    progression of the disease. I would like to use nutritional yeast in lieu of cheese, but I read that high levels of folic acid can speed up the growth of cancer cells. Can you please tell me the amount of
    folic acid present in Bob’s yeast? Thanks.

    • Hi Christine,

      It looks like a 1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast contains 444mcg of Folic Acid. Honestly don’t know if that’s a lot or not, but you might look into other cheese alternatives like Daiya shreds if Nutritional Yeast is out.

    • Hi Angela,

      We do produce this product in our gluten free facility, which also processes items containing soy and sesame. The product does not contain gluten, soy or sesame and is tested to be sure that it does not contain gluten. We use good manufacturing practices to ensure that lines are cleaned between runs and reduce the chance of any cross contact between these allergens. I hope this helps. For more info, please call our customer service team at 800-349-2173.

      Thanks!

  6. Hi. I was shocked by your statement (above, in response to Angel) that your Nutritional Yeast is processed at temperatures above 212°F. That is beyond belief. 212 degrees F. is boiling point. So why would you want to heat it even higher??? This isn’t necessary for pasteurization. Thank you. – Samia.

    • Samia,

      This is how it is made by our supplier. I’m not sure why they choose such a high temperature. Please contact customer service for more info at 800-349-2173

  7. Samia, raw food is an unscientific scam. Don’t believe what you read on the internet. Don’t even begin to suggest/imply that a bowl of cooked quinoa with steamed broccoli/kale with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and olive oil is unhealthy in any way, shape, or form.
    Thank you Bob’s Red Mill for pasteurizing this product and making it safe. :)

    • Actually, there is plenty of science to back the raw foods diet. It is a fact that enzymes are destroyed when you cook most foods. It is a fact that these enzymes aid in the digestion process and help absorb nutrients. It is a fact that nutrients are lost during the cooking process in most cases. Nobody is suggesting that quinoa and kale are unhealthy, even cooked. What is being suggested is that they are more healthy if sprouted/raw. Nutrient density is the key. Quinoa and kale are more nutrient dense in their raw form with the enzymes intact. That being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with nutritional yeast either. A lot of raw foodists use nutritional yeast even though it has been pasteurized. Those are the smarter ones in my opinion. The ones that are just stuck on the concept that literally everything they consume must be raw are going overboard. There are exceptions to be made. This is one of them. Having been raw for a week, I can tell you I feel better than I have for decades. You should not knock it until you have tried it.

  8. I have heard a rumor that nutritional yeast may have MSG in it, from the way it is processed. Do you have any idea of your product being free from MSG. Respectfully, Kendra

    • Kendra,

      Please contact customer service for information about MSG being in our Nutritional Yeast. They can be reached at 800-349-2173. My guess is that if it is present, it is naturally occurring, but I am not sure.

  9. I am not familiar with nutritional yeast and would like to know if it is safe to use if you have an allergy to yeast and also have celiac disease.

    • Viola,

      Nutritional yeast is safe for those with celiac disease, but I am not sure about yeast allergies. Nutritional yeast is not live like conventional baking yeast, but you should probably talk to your doctor about it before trying it.

  10. Hello,
    I am wondering if when beginning to eat nutritional yeast I should start slowly? I have only been sprinkling tiny amounts of my food but notice that I am having very bad gastrointestinal upset and light headedness. I know that the B vitamins incorporated into the yeast are water soluble so I do not believe I am having a reaction to any type of overdose, nor do I believe I have eaten enough to overdose. Is this a common reaction? Thanks!

  11. Hi – does Bob’s Nutritional Yeast (once it is ready to consume) still have any of the glucose remaining in it? I would like to use this product but sugar is a no-go.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I am so sorry, but I do not know the definitive answer to this. It does not contain any sugar and I would imagine that it does not have glucose, but I can’t say for sure. I honestly can’t find any sources that indicate that it would have any glucose, so I would imagine you’re safe here.

  12. Cassidy,

    My wife and I are moving toward a vegan lifestyle and we have only tried nutritional yeast on nachos which we had at a vegan restaurant. What is the difference between the powder form and the flakes? I’ve read all the comments on this page and I’m not certain why you would use one over the other.

    Thanks!
    Keith G.
    Paso Robles, Ca

  13. Hello,
    Can you tell me how much Vitamin B12 there is in a serving of your nutritional yeast. I dont see that on the label. Thanks so much,

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