What is nutritional yeast and how do you use it? It is inactive yeast, grown on molasses. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor. It’s a source of protein & B12.
Today I’m sharing all of the details on “nooch” plus 31 ways to use it.
Some people have jars of sugar and flour on their counter for easy access.
I have a jar of nutritional yeast.
(This one was made by vegan potter, Jeanette Zeis.)
I pull from it several times a day for sprinkling on a chickpea scramble, to give a cheesy flavor to air-popped popcorn, or as a treat for the kitties.
And when the jar runneth empty, it’s time to make a grocery store run. STAT.
It’s not an ingredient I want to be without.
But there was a time when nutritional yeast flakes weren’t a pantry staple or part of my vegan essential spices and seasonings.
In fact, when I first went vegetarian, I’d never even heard of it before.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is dried, inactive yeast, grown on molasses.
Since it is inactive, that means it can’t be used for making raised donuts or breads.
And the same holds true the other way around.
If a recipe calls for nutritional yeast flakes, do not substitute with brewer’s yeast, torula yeast, or active yeast sold in packets.
It’s not the same thing and won’t deliver the results you want.
You may wonder, is yeast vegan? <—– Find out here.
But the short answer is that yeast is part of the fungus family, like mushrooms.
How does it taste?
I’ll admit that the name nutritional yeast flakes doesn’t sound wholly appealing.
(If you can’t bear to call it nutritional yeast, give nooch a whirl. It’s a popular slang term for it in the vegan community.)
Luckily, it makes up for it in taste.
Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty flavor that is a wonderful addition to sauces, dips, or gravies.
When it comes to flavor, it can be a bit divisive.
It seems to be one of those love it or hate it foods like cilantro or mushrooms.
I fall strongly into the former camp.
It’s also important to know that the flavor can vary from brand to brand.
So if you don’t like it the first time around, give it another chance with a different brand.
Is it good for you?
In addition to giving foods a cheesy taste, nutritional yeast is also a source of protein and vitamin B12.
(Although, I recommend taking a regular B12 supplement as well, if you’re vegan. A B12 deficiency is nothing to mess around with. That’s a link to the one I use.)
Where can you buy it?
Nutritional yeast is popping up in more and more places nowadays.
In addition to being sold at Whole Foods and other natural grocery stores, Trader Joe’s sells it with their own branding. At $2.99 bag, that’s what I buy most of the time.
It’s also for sale at Hy-Vee (in the health market), Walmart, and Amazon.
It’s usually in the natural foods section, near the baking stuff like flour, or with the supplements. You can often find it in bulk bins as well.
How do you store it?
As you’d probably guess since it’s sold in bulk bins, nutritional yeast does not need to be refrigerated.
It can be stored anywhere cool and dark to preserve its B vitamins.
A ceramic jar in the pantry or on the countertop works fine.
Since it’s a dry product, the key is keeping moisture out.
If you’d prefer, it can also be frozen in a sealed, air-tight bag. It has a shelf life of 1 to 2 years.
How do you use it?
There are so many ways to use nutritional yeast! Here are some ideas.
Make cheesy things
Because of its cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast is great for making dairy free cheeses and sauces.
Vegan parmesan cheese
You can use just nutritional yeast to make vegan parmesan cheese along with raw cashews, hemp hearts, and seasonings.
Chili cheese dip
This savory vegan chili cheese dip is loaded with three bean chili, seitan chorizo, and creamy cashew queso.
Use it as a popcorn topping
How do you make nutritional yeast popcorn?
Melt vegan butter, drizzle it on popcorn, add nutritional yeast, and a pinch of salt.
I’m so addicted to this, I’ve been known to smuggle my own nutritional yeast into movie theatres.
(Some movie theatres have jars of their own!)
Who doesn’t love nachos?
Crispy tortilla chips are piled high with vegan chorizo, black beans, tomatoes, and guacamole.
Then it’s finished with a gloriously cheesy cashew queso.
Chili cheese tots
Satisfy the kid in you with vegan chili cheese tater tots.
So messy & delicious, it ticks all the pleasure sensors!
Serve it as an appetizer or a full meal on its own.
Vegan Philly cheesesteak
Vegan Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are loaded with savory jackfruit, creamy cashew cheese, sautéed onions, and peppers.
It’s a hearty, heavy-duty sandwich that screams comfort food.
Sprinkle nutritional yeast on avocado toast for a delicious cheesy finish.
Nutritional yeast gives a cheesy edge to tofu ricotta.
Add it to vegan lasagna, stuffed shells, and mushroom pizzas.
It’s made with just a few ingredients in the food processor, and comes together in only minutes.
Vegan lasagna is layered with pasta sauce, tofu ricotta, zucchini, fresh basil & spinach.
This mini casserole is just the right size for one.
And it’s ready in only 30 minutes thanks to the air fryer!
Fried squash blossoms
Fried squash blossoms with cashew cheese are a vegan appetizer that’s sure to impress!
Delicata squash or zucchini blossoms are stuffed with cashew cheese, dredged in flour and spices, and shallow fried.
Cheesy udon noodle bowl
Udon noodle bowl is topped with a cheesy cashew sauce & browned Brussels sprouts.
The creamy sauce is filled with the flavors of miso, sriracha, and tamari.
Vegan pesto rice is the perfect weeknight meal.
It uses just 10 ingredients & takes about 8 minutes to make.
Eat it on its own, as a side dish, or as a base for delicious pesto rice bowls with your favorite toppings!
Add cheesy flavor to your vegan grits with nooch.
Great for breakfast or as a side dish!
Vegan corn cakes
You’re going to love these vegan corn cakes for breakfast or brunch.
They’re great on their own or with a tofu scramble on the side.
Plus, they’re naturally gluten-free!
Spinach & artichoke dip
If you ever went to a casual dining restaurant chain in the early 2000’s, chances are someone at your table ordered spinach & artichoke dip.
This version is veganized with nutritional yeast added for richness.
Creamy tomato soup
Few foods give the cozy comfort of a bowl of creamy vegan tomato soup with a non-dairy grilled cheese sandwich for dipping.
This full-bodied soup has a wonderful depth of flavor from the addition of sun-dried tomatoes.
Add a handful of homemade croutons and a drizzle of sun-dried tomato oil on top just before serving.
Baked farro with tomatoes and herbs is a deliciously cheesy casserole.
This comforting dish is perfect to warm you up from the inside out.
It’s hard to believe there’s not a lick of dairy in this smoky, cheesy corn chowder.
It’s wonderfully comforting.
Air fryer chickpeas
Nutritional yeast is a delightful topping on roasted chickpeas.
Eat the roasted chickpeas as a snack. Or use them as a salad topper.
An appetizer the whole family will love.
Fried ravioli in the air fryer – seasoned with basil, oregano, nutritional yeast, and garlic.
On the side, marinara sauce for dipping.
Pair it with tofu
Tofu is a blank slate for flavors.
So when you add nutritional yeast, it stands out in a marvelous way.
Crustless mini vegan quiche are filled with red bell pepper, onions, kale, and seitan bacon in a savory tofu and cashew filling.
Cook these adorable, portable quiche bites in the air fryer or oven.
Vegan frittata is one of my favorite holiday brunch dishes.
It’s dotted with veggies in a creamy tofu & cashew base.
Vegan breakfast tacos are loaded with seasoned tofu, black beans, corn, bell peppers, onions, and garlic.
Pile the scramble into warmed corn tortillas with a dollop of guacamole and pinch of cilantro.
To make vegan shakshuka, sprinkle nutritional yeast onto slabs of tofu.
Then add them to a sauce of tomatoes and bell peppers.
This savory brunch is satiating and cozy.
This vegan tofu scramble recipe is filled with fresh, seasonal vegetables – kale, red bell pepper, and onions.
It’s topped with avocado.
Toasted breakfast sandwich
This toasted breakfast sandwich is filled with eggy tofu seasoned with nooch, seitan bacon, and non-dairy cheese.
It’s a cozy breakfast that’s great for on-the-go.
Plus, it’s ready in 15 minutes.
Vegan egg in a hole
A sprinkling of nooch is a delicious finish on vegan egg in a hole.
It’s made with super firm tofu & liquid Just Egg.
Vegan eggs Benedict
Nutritional yeast is a flavoring for the tofu on vegan eggs Benedict.
It’s finished with a velvety layer of egg-free hollandaise sauce.
Nutritional yeast adds umami and richness.
Add nooch to your chicken seitan for full-bodied flavor.
This high protein vegan meat is great in sandwiches or soups.
Vegan turkey gravy
Vegan turkey gravy is a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving spread.
Or use it anytime you are craving something to top your mashed potatoes.
Fried polenta stacks
Polenta stacks are made with mouthwatering layers of crispy polenta, barbecued squash, and cashew cream.
The cashew cream gets its umami & richness from a combination of nooch and miso paste.
Vegan fried chicken
Yep, this vegan fried chicken is totally plant-based!
It’s a filling & fun main course that’s always a crowd-pleaser.
Content updated January 6, 2023. Originally posted May 9, 2017.
My kitties were confused. What IS this stuff??? It’s not kibble, it’s not gooshy…
One of them sniffed it and sneezed and ran away (while I did my best not to laugh…I failed). Next time, I’ll try sprinkling a little over their gooshy.
I swear that I pretty much buy nooch by the POUND! I use it frequently and quite liberally. I LOVE it! Excellent over popcorn, fantastic over pasta or salads, invaluable in “cheese” sauces, and in gravies? It gives it a wonderfully rich flavor. I’ve even added it to Asian dishes instead of the seemingly requisite MSG or equivalent, and it’s fantastic!
As I live on a sailing yacht, keeping it dry can be a bit of a chore, but I do have a dehumidifier running constantly in one form or another, so it’s not impossible. Usually it’s just in my spice cabinet in a Ziploc bag (with all the air squeezed out), but I’m really leaning toward one of these jars (maybe with a Ziploc bag inside it, just for good measure?) for sheer decorative focus – and to remind me to use it more!!!
Hi – just found your great website! I just became a vegan on 1/1/2018 and I am feeling so good about myself. I did it for health, but I really don’t like the way the animals are treated, so I really am doing it for them:( So thanks for all the great recipes!
I found your website looking for nutritional yeast and I saw your cute little jar you keep your nutritional yeast in and I wanted to know if you’d share where you bought it. I would love to have one that is so cute and I can keep on my table/counter.
Hi, Kim! Congratulations on going vegan this January. That’s wonderful for you and the animals! Isn’t that jar so cute? It’s made by a vegan potter, Jeanette Zeis. I linked to Jeanette’s Etsy page in the 6th paragraph of this post. So if you scroll, you can find it there. I’m sure it will look adorable on your counter!
I bought a jar of low salt nutrional yeast…want to use it to make the recipe I found on Piterest with rice paper to make bacon. Will let you know how it works.
It doesn’t include any salt at all. The ingredients are only nutritional yeast and vitamins. Good luck with the rice paper bacon!
I use it to make pesto instead of parm. Good stuff!
That’s a great addition, Danny! I like to add it to my pesto too. It’s so tasty!
I. Ought some after reading your post but have not used it yet. I’m intrigued about how popcorn will taste with it. Can dogs have it too? Mine eat dry food with a little Vegall on it-maybe I could sprinkle some “nooch” on it as well.
I sprinkle it on my dogs’ food and they love it!
I LOVE nutritional yeast and love that you have a whole post dedicated to it!
We’re new vegans (Jan 6, 2017) and my favorite way used to be on buttered popcorn loaded up with nutritional yeast…I have since been using an air popper and using a spray liquid amino and then adding nutritional yeast. Doesn’t stick very well. I am going to try your idea of vegan butter and then nutritional yeast.
We buy the KAL brand off Amazon (large can) and keep a 1/4 cup in it for sprinkling. That little container you show is adorable.
Looking forward to trying out some new recipes from this post.
Also, the word nooch is like nails on a chalkboard for me 🙂
It sounds like you are a mega fan as well! I have heard others who can’t tolerate the word “nooch” too. Although, it doesn’t bother me, I definitely have slang terms that really bug me. So I know your pain!
so far I have only purchased a small amount of this product from a large bin in the health foods section. there was no label giving nutritional info or shelf life or storage directions.
1 Do I keep it in the pantry or fridge?
2 What exactly is in it? I need to know before letting my allergy kids taste it.
Those are excellent questions, Judy! I added some information about shelf life & storage instructions in the post above. Nutritional information can vary by brand, depending on how and if they fortify it. Since you have specific allergy concerns, I’d ask to see the package label at your grocery store. (They probably still have the big bag in the back that they use to fill the container.) Or you could buy a smaller bottle of it, so that you could read the label and be sure it didn’t come into contact with any allergens by way of other customers.
Maybe I’m just old and crotchety, but “nooch” just makes me cringe. I’ve been using this stuff for decades and it’s only recently been called this. Is it a hipster thing???? I hear talk of hipsters 🙂
I hear you, Mumrah! You’re not alone in finding the word “nooch” cringe-worthy. I’ve been vegan for nearly 10 years, and I’ve heard that slang for it the entire time. The first person I heard use it was Isa Chandra Moskowitz. She refers to it as nooch in her books, but she may or may not have been the person who popularized it.
Great guide, Cadry! 🙂 Nooch belongs on EVERYTHING IMO. 😀
Thanks, Caitlin! You speak the truth. 😀
Pixie @ Cheerfully Vegan
I haven’t tried giving any to my cats. I’ll have to see if they are interested – they can be snobs about new things. lol
My favorite way to use nutritional yeast is in a chicken-style seasoning that I use in TONS of recipes, including on popcorn. If you like regular nutritional yeast on it, you’ll adore this on it! It also features highly in just about all of my soup recipes and most of my tofu recipes.
Ha! If a cat can’t be a snob about new things, who can? 😉 Your seasoning sounds very tasty, Pixie. Thanks for sharing!
Avon Kleinman (Doggone Vegan)
Great informative blog and fabulous pics — thank you. I too had never heard of nutritional yeast before going vegan in Jan 2016. Since discovering it, I’ve never looked back and now I use it regularly, sometimes just eating it by the spoonful, although I particularly like it on popcorn.
I agree with your comments about B12. I used to think that B12 is the Archilles’ heel of veganism, but yes, I now believe that regular supplemention is advisable. I first starting purchasing nooch from the bins at a local bulk foods store until I found out that it did not contain B12 — apparently some manufacturers add it; some don’t. I now buy the “Lotus” brand of ‘Savoury Yeast Flakes’ which is packed in Australia from imported ingredients from the USA. It’s slightly more expensive, but as well as the dried yeast it is also fortified with niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), folic acid (B9), and vitamin B12. I’m not sure if this satisfies our daily requirements, so to be on the safe side, I also take a daily supplement. However, I do know that the Lotus brand certainly tastes the most nutritious!
Keep up the good work … and regards to Avon. 😊
Thanks for the insight, Avon, and I’ll pass on your regards to Avon! 😀
johanna @ green gourmet giraffe
I have got to feel a bit naked without nooch. I think two of my favourite recipes using it are tofu bacon and tofu besan omelet but I want to try all of your recipes with it – such amazing stuff. I think it is a bit of an acquired taste but once you are addicted there is no turning back. Surprised to hear that the same is true for cats – love your pic of your kitty in the nooch.
I hear you! The first time I bought a container of nooch, I balked at the price. It was $20 for a massive container, and I wasn’t sure how often I’d use it. (They didn’t have any in the bulk bins at that time.) Little did I know, getting through that container – and many more to follow – wouldn’t be an issue! That’s interesting that it’s an ingredient in one of your favorite tofu bacon recipes. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to use it there. Sounds delicious!
Nooch is life. LIFE! I don’t think that is being overdramatic. 😉
I have a similar jar to yours, except mine is pink. It was a very happy day opening that package from the US and finding that nothing had broken in transit!
Alas, none of my cats have enjoyed nutritional yeast. I don’t understand. They just turn up their noses at it.
Haha! Not overdramatic in the slightest. 😉 I’m so glad your jar made it to Australia unscathed. I would have been opening the shipping box with bated breath too. That’s too bad that your kitties have been disinterested in it. I suppose it’s a cat’s purr-ogative to like what she likes! 😀
Do you keep it on the counter or in the fridge?
I keep it on the counter, Sam. Nutritional yeast doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Nooch is basically my favourite thing ever! Whenever I’m going to be settled somewhere for a month whilst travelling it’s the first thing that I buy so that I can spend the month making cheese sauces and spreads, tofu scramble, and creamy pasta dishes. So much yum! Also, the pic of your kitty with a bowl o’nooch is the cutest!!
That’s great, Jojo. You are a true nooch enthusiast. I would be the same way if I did the same kind of long-term traveling that you do. Avon was more than happy to be the nutritional yeast model for this post! 😀
I love the picture of Avon eating his nooch! My cats go crazy for it! They know the sound of the jar I keep it in and they come running when they hear me open it.
That’s so cute! It’s like Pavlov’s nooch. 😀
My own two can hear from two rooms away the sound of the desk drawer where the catnip is stashed. When I open that particular drawer, I count one thousand one, one thousand two …. And they generally show up no later than the count of five. We’ll have to see if they react the same way to nooch!
I love your nooch jar! ! also didn’t know that cats liked it so I’ll give that a try :).
Thanks, Hannah! I have so many pieces of pottery from Jeanette Zeis. I love them all, but the jar is probably my favorite.
I must admit I like the word “nooch” better than nutritional yeast. I’m going to start using it (the word…and the yeast).
That surprises me, Shell! You used to be so against abbreviations. You have changed. 😉
My kitty LOVES nooch! We always put it on our salads, and I’ll usually put the salads on the table before I’m ready to take the entrees out – she’s always licking our salads like immediately, haha.
Haha! Oh, no! It sounds like you have to be vigilant when guarding your salads. Jezebel is like that with asparagus. I can’t leave her alone in a room with it, unless I want it to be eaten.
Great article, didn’t know cats like it, mine getting a treat now! Love that little crock, where could a gal pick one up?
I hope your kitties love it as much as mine do! You can get a ceramic jar from potter, Jeanette Zeis. She doesn’t have any in stock on her Etsy page currently, but I’m sure if you sent her a message, it could be arranged. I adore her work.