Nutritional yeast is a useful and versatile ingredient – and we think it has a place in everyone’s kitchen cupboard.
But you’d be forgiven for not knowing exactly what nutritional yeast is. After all, it’s a relative newcomer to our supermarket shelves and can’t always be found outside of specialist shops.
So, what can you use nutritional yeast for? Read on to find out more.
What is nutritional yeast?
Yeast, part of the funghi family, is produced from molasses, a natural sugar syrup. When molasses and oxygen meet and are left to ferment, yeast is produced.
Nutritional yeast comes from the same organism – saccharomyces cerevisiae – as brewer’s yeast (the stuff which turns plants into alcohol and gives bread its rise). Unlike brewer’s yeast, thought, nutritional yeast has been ‘deactivated’ using heat and has no fermentation powers.1
Nutritional yeast is available in flakes, granules or powder.
Why is nutritional yeast popular?
Nutritional yeast uses are many – it also comes with a host of health benefits.
Nutritional yeast is a rich source of B vitamins and minerals, including folic acid. These are things which vegetarians and vegans can be deficient in, which makes nutritional yeast especially good for those following a meat and dairy-free diet.2
Nutritional yeast is also very low in fat and calories – with only 17kcal and 0.2g fat per 5g serving.3 When compared to a slice of cheddar cheese, which has around 110 calories and 9g fat, nutritional yeast is healthier and lighter.4
Nutritional yeast has gained in popularity over the years alongside the rise of vegetarianism and veganism in the UK. According to researchers, the global nutritional yeast market is expected to expand further over the next decade.5
In the process, nutritional yeast has earned itself a trendy new name among foodies and culinary bloggers – ‘nooch’.
How to use nutritional yeast
What is nutritional yeast used for? Read on for some ideas.
- How to use nutritional yeast as cheese
Far lower in calories and fat than real cheese, nutritional yeast is a solid stand-in when you crave something cheesy but want to keep it healthy and light.
Sprinkle nutritional yeast over jacket potatoes, stews, casseroles, roasted vegetables, rice or even porridge. Just a pinch or two is enough as it’s quite strong tasting.
- How to use nutritional yeast in soup
You just need a little nutritional yeast to make a warming soup packed with B-vitamins.
To add a savoury flavour and extra nutrition to an existing soup, simply sprinkle a serving (around a tablespoon) of nutritional yeast on top.
Alternatively, adding nutritional yeast to home-made soup gives an indulgent creamy taste. Add the nutritional yeast at the very end of the recipe, when the soup has been taken off the heat and is about to be blended.
It’s worth remembering that nutritional yeast shouldn’t be heated above 100 degrees centigrade as this destroys the health benefits.
- How to use nutritional yeast in pasta
Make a vegan ‘cheese’ pasta sauce by simmering a little olive oil, a tablespoon of flour and a dash of soya milk. Add nutritional yeast flakes and stir continuously until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
This sauce can be used in place of bechamel in lasagne, as well as to make a vegan version of traditionally cheesy dishes like alfredo or carbonara.
Nutritional yeast is salt-free and makes a great general seasoning for simple dishes such as spaghetti with olive oil and garlic.
- How to use nutritional yeast on pizza
Switching up the layer of cheese on a home-made pizza with nutritional yeast is a great idea for vegans or those looking for a healthy version of their favourite snack.
Once your pizza base is cooked, sprinkle a layer of nutritional yeast in place of the cheese before adding fresh tomato sauce, basil and cheese. This hack works best on thin base pizzas, where high-quality toppings take centre stage.
- How to use nutritional yeast on popcorn
Shaking freshly popped corn with nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt makes a low-calorie, low-fat and altogether delicious snack. ‘Nooch’ popcorn is becoming a favourite among foodie bloggers for this reason.
This is easy to make at home in a pan. Simply drop corn kernels in a little hot oil in a large pan and wait for the popping sound! Then shake in a lidded container to distribute the savoury goodness.
- Can I use nutritional yeast to make bread?
No. Nutritional yeast can’t be used as a baking agent as it’s inactive and contains no leavening properties.
Last updated: 15 October 2020