Ingredient of the Week: Nutritional Yeast

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Welcome to another “Ingredient of the Week” post. This week’s featured kitchen staple is Nutritional Yeast. 

I admit it—the name makes me giggle a little too. Nutritional yeast may sound pretty funky, but I was won over by its nutrient-packed versatility.

Like brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, usually Saccharomyces cerevisiaeThe yeast is cultured with a mix of sugarcane and beet molasses for about 7 days and then harvested, washed, dried and packaged. By the time you see it in the store, it’s a yellow flakey, powdery substance that closely resembles cornmeal.(Source)

Nutritional yeast has long been popular with vegetarians and vegans for its protein content and high levels of B-vitamins. Some brands (like the one I buy) also come fortified with vitamin B12, which is produced separately (by bacteria) and then added to the yeast.

I find the mild, cheesy flavor  goes really well with all kinds of things. I love it sprinkled on soup, salad, pasta, and even whisked into sauces and dressings. You can also use it on popcorn. 

kale salad with miso-tahini-nutritional yeast dressing

Something I see all over the blogosphere, as they say, is vegan macaroni and cheese with a nutritional yeast-based cream sauce, but I’ve yet to try it. I’ve even seen people use nutritional yeast in smoothies and oatmeal.

Sure, it may sound a little hippie-dippy, but it’s totally worth a try!

Have you ever tried nutritional yeast? What’s your favorite way to use it?

7 thoughts on “Ingredient of the Week: Nutritional Yeast

    forgottenbeast said:
    June 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    It took me a long LONG time to come around to nutritional yeast, and I still think it smells/looks like fish food and tastes nothing like cheese–but now I’m obsessed with making sauce/dip out of it for crackers or socca and love the taste for what it is (not cheese)

    Jess responded:
    June 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Fish food—that’s amazing! I never thought about that but you are so right!

    mealsformiles said:
    June 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I actually haven’t tried nutritional yeast yet but do see tons of bloggers using it/talking about it. I want to give it a shot – it sounds like a great way to get in nutrients pretty easily!

    Laurie said:
    June 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I love using nutritional yeast to make vegan gravy. It gives it a slight ‘cheesiness’ that helps balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce I use, and makes it creamy as well.

    Victoria said:
    October 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I have a friend who is allergic to yeast. Is this considered yeast?? It is deactivated, so I am curious if she can use it. Thanks

      Jess responded:
      October 6, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      It may or may not depend on what type of yeast your friend is allergic to, but it’s probably best to avoid it.

    Things I Never Thought I’d Say | Keeping It Real Food said:
    December 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    […] obviously, necessitates having nutritional yeast on hand to spill. If you’re raising an eyebrow over the word, I don’t blame […]

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