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 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.