Nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient used in cooking recipes for everything from mashed potatoes to soups and sauces. The yeast is deactivated, which means that it can no longer grow or leaven bread. Nutritional yeast is also free of gluten, soy, and sugar, making it an excellent option for individuals on a diet.
Some of its numerous nutritional benefits include vitamin B complexes, minerals, and essential amino acids. Nutritional yeast is also great tasting with a cheesy or nutty flavor. This, in combination with its dietary benefits, makes it popular among vegetarians and vegans. You can get nutritional yeast in flake, granule, or powder form at most natural food stores.
What is the best substitute for nutritional yeast? The best substitute for nutritional yeast is brewer’s yeast. The two are similar in many ways, being both derived from a fungus, inactivated, and packed with vitamin B and proteins. Baker’s yeast fits most nutritional yeast recipes, and since it’s also gluten and soy-free, it’s great for people on a diet.
An Overview of Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is one of few foods that are accepted by all diet choices. It is so rich that a single teaspoon contains 4 grams of protein, 2 ½ grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and as much as 25 calories. It has also been linked to several health benefits like immune system support and improved recovery from post-workout fatigue.
The nutritional yeast production process is interesting because glucose is the primary culture ingredient, even though nutritional yeast is sugar-free. After growing, the yeast is deactivated using heat and pasteurization. Then, it is dried and packaged as either granules, flakes, or powder and stored.
Various forms of nutritional yeast have their merits. Yeast flakes have a milder taste and smooth texture, but yeast granules are more compatible with some recipes. Flakes are also easier to store; all they need is an airtight container and a dark place.
Why Replace Nutritional Yeast?
- You want a distinct flavor: Nutritional yeast has a cheesy taste that doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. In that case, a substitute will serve you just fine.
- You want other nutritional benefits: As nourishing as nutritional yeast is, it lacks sodium, gluten, and other compounds. You may need a substitute that is high in proteins and vitamins, but also gluten and sodium.
- You can’t find nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast is loved by vegans, vegetarians, and meat lovers alike. As such, it’s in constant demand, and your favorite store may run out. If your recipe can’t wait for them to restock, there are yeast alternatives that will work just as well.
- You have a yeast allergy: Yeast allergies can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like skin reactions, mood alterations, and even physical pain. You may seek out nutritional yeast substitutes if you crave the dietary benefits but don’t want to expose yourself to allergic reactions.
Best Substitutes for Nutritional Yeast
Best Overall Substitute for Nutritional Yeast: Brewer’s Yeast
Brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast both come from the same fungus. They contain similar quantities of proteins and vitamins and can be interchanged for the same recipes. However, brewer’s yeast has a characteristic bitter taste that contrasts with nutritional yeast’s cheesy taste.
Brewer’s yeast has been shown to help with conditions like lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, and antibiotics-induced diarrhea. As the name suggests, brewer’s yeast is used to make beer, so you can also expect a beer-like taste.
Best Substitute for Complex Recipes: Chickpea Flour, Onion, and Garlic
The combination of chickpea flour, onion, and garlic powder makes excellent substitutes for some nutritional yeast recipes. Chickpea flour alone is close but doesn’t quite match the yeast’s flavor; it’s much better with spices like onion and garlic powder. But in a pinch, chickpea flour alone will do.
Chickpea flour is high in protein. Combined with the two other spices, it becomes a highly nutritious substitute. The combination is especially great when sprinkled on popcorn. It also gives you a chance to explore combining your ingredients to find the perfect taste for your meals.
Best Substitute for Non-Vegans: Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese is a common substitute for nutritional yeast because it has a similar taste and texture. It is made from unpasteurized raw cow’s milk, and it contains more protein than most other cheeses. It is also easily digestible.
Unlike nutritional yeast, parmesan cheese is non-vegan, giving meat lovers more versatility if they ever run out of nutritional yeast. It’s important to know that cheese is less nutritious and contains more fat and salt. As a result, it requires a lesser amount for the same recipe as nutritional yeast.
Best Substitute for Sauces: Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a fantastic substitute for nutritional yeast when preparing recipes like vegan cheese sauce or even soup. Soy sauce has a salty, meaty, and umami flavor. And unlike nutritional yeast, it contains sodium.
The sodium content of soy sauce is less than salt, which means that it’s also a great alternative for people looking to reduce their salt intake. There are also low-sodium soy sauces for even more sodium control. Soy sauce has antioxidant and anti-allergenic properties and is available at most grocery stores.
Best Substitute for Miso Soup: Miso Paste
Miso paste is possibly the only perfect substitute for nutritional yeast when you’re preparing miso soup. It has the yeast’s signature salty and umami flavor. Additionally, it is packed with many of the same proteins that people love about nutritional yeast.
Miso paste also contains probiotics that promote gut health and aid digestion. It is also great for other recipes like soup, broiled fish, and even salad dressing.
Best Substitute for Vegans: Liquid Aminos
Liquid aminos is a favorite for most vegans and a suitable alternative for nutritional yeast. Being concentrated amino acids, liquid aminos contains a tremendous amount of protein. It is made from coconut sap fermented with salt and water. As a result, it has a peasant salty and nutty taste.
Liquid aminos is very versatile, which means you can use it with most recipes. However, it’s important to remember that it is salty, so you may need to adjust your recipe as needed.