What is Nutritional Yeast + Best Nutritional Yeast Recipes

18 Oct.,2022


Yeast Hydrolysate

Nutritional yeast! Nooch! Let’s find out the answer to the question, what is nutritional yeast?, learn about nutritional yeast benefits, and check out some tasty nutritional yeast recipes. Head to the end of the post for a creamy cashew cheese sauce. 

Nutritional yeast is one of those controversial ingredients. Like Brussels Sprouts, most people either love or hate it. When I first tried it in college after a vegetarian friend’s recommendation, I thought it was horrible. Now, though, I really enjoy it, especially after cutting back on dairy. 

What is Nutritional Yeast 

Also affectionally known as nooch, nutritional yeast is an inactive dried yeast that’s often fortified with vitamins, especially vitamin B-12. It looks a bit like fish food at first glance, however, it’s a tasty seasoning that has been specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of vegetarians and vegans.

With a “cheese-like” umami flavor that makes it a great substitute for any cheese, such as Parmesan, you’d sprinkle on soups, pastas, and other foods. It also works well blended into vegan cream sauces such as cashew cream based “queso” dip and Alfredo type sauces. 

Like some of our other featured ingredients: tempeh, tofu, lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa, nutritional yeast is a popular plant-based staple. 

Nutritional Yeast Benefits 

Some people use nutritional yeast for the flavor, others use it for the nutritional benefits. I love it for both! Nutritional yeast is often a good source of B vitamins, including B-12, and provides 8 grams of protein per 1/4 cup (Bob’s Red Mill brand). It’s also often fortified with folic acid, which is beneficial for a healthy pregnancy

Exact vitamin and mineral content will vary from brand to brand depending on how and if it’s fortified. It’s important to check the label and talk with your doctor or nutritionist about if relying solely on B-12 from this product is safe for you, as this is an essential vitamin.  

Nutritional yeast is usually low-sodium, gluten free, and vegan, but may be contaminated by nuts or other allergens during processing, so always check the packaging. 

Where to Buy Nutritional Yeast

How times have changed! When I first went looking for this ingredient 15 years ago I had to go to the small local health food store. Now, you can find it in many mainstream grocery stores, as well as Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and through my Amazon Affiliate link here (this means I make a small commission when you shop through the link). I most often buy this staple at Trader Joe’s, as I find it’s the best price and I enjoy the flavor. 

  • Trader Joe’s  costs around $3 per bag. 
  • Bragg’s found at Whole Foods, Amazon, and others. I paid $6.49 for a container at our local Whole Foods. I’m a big fan of Bragg products, especially as they are a local family (in my hometown), as mentioned in our Apple Cider Vinegar Drink recipe! 
  • Bob’s Red Mill was just over $5 at our local Target. This is another brand I really enjoy. 

Common Questions

Is nutritional yeast gluten free? 

Yes, it should be. It’s important, however to double check for other ingredients and cross contamination if you have an allergy. Some brands, like Bob’s Red Mill, are “tested and confirmed” gluten free. 

Nutritional Yeast vs. Brewers Yeast? 

Both are derived from the same yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but they are very different in terms of flavor, uses, and nutrition. Brewers yeast is a byproduct of brewing beer, and is often used as a dietary supplement (1). 

Is nutritional yeast vegan? 

Yes it is! In fact, it’s very popular in vegetarian and vegan diets, as it is high in protein and B vitamins. 

Are there any dangers in using this product? 

While healthy for most people, like all supplements, it should be used in moderation and may not be suitable for everyone. You may want to avoid it if you have a yeast sensitivity, IBD (2), or are sensitive to high-fiber foods. 

Are there any nutritional yeast substitutes? 

If you find you don’t enjoy the taste, look for other umami ingredients such as vegan Parmesan, truffle salt or oil as I use in my Vegan Ricotta, mushroom powder, soy sauce/liquid aminos, or miso paste. 

Nutritional Yeast Recipes

I usually use this seasoning for sprinkling, rather than as a recipe ingredient. My best tip for making it taste good is to use it with a little bit of pink salt or sea salt. Some tasty ways to use nutritional yeast include: 

  • Wherever you’d sprinkle Parmesan 
  • Popcorn
  • Roasted Veggies 
  • Kale Chips
  • Tofu Scramble
  • Pasta 
  • Avocado toast 
  • Baked or roasted potatoes 
  • Plant-based mac & “cheese” 
  • Soups 
  • Vegan Cheese Sauce (recipe at the bottom!) 

Nutritional Yeast Recipes

Wondering how to use nutritional yeast? Look no further! Nutritional yeast can add tasty umami flavor to a variety of dishes and is a great substitute for cheese. It works for adding depth of flavor to soups, pastas, potatoes, kale chips, and even popcorn. Here are some recipes that use nutritional yeast as an ingredient or taste great with it sprinkled on top.

Tofu Scramble

This easy tofu scramble recipe makes a delicious breakfast. Find out how to make vegan scrambled eggs with a basic tofu scramble or farmers market veggies.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed cauliflower! Cauliflower "mashed potatoes" are a creamy and cozy healthier side dish perfect for the holidays or any day. This garlic cauliflower mash recipe is keto and vegan friendly. 

Italian Vegetable Soup

The best homemade veggie farro soup recipe! This healthy Italian vegetable soup is easy to make on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. Top with a pinch of nooch instead of Parmesan.

Vegan Caesar Dressing

Easy vegan Caesar dressing for making the most delicious vegan Caesar salads! Cashews make this dressing extra creamy and dairy-free.

Vegan Broccoli Soup with Cashew Cream

Smooth cashew cream makes this dairy-free broccoli soup extra creamy. Try this nutritious soup for a comforting lunch or dinner.

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup

A hearty and delicious lentil vegetable soup made easy in the Instant Pot. Instant Pot lentil soup is a wonderful hearty plant based dinner.

Vegan Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast burritos filled with tofu scramble, potatoes, avocado, and arugula make a delicious high protein vegan breakfast.

Stovetop Popcorn

Find out how to make popcorn on the stove with this simple recipe. Enjoy alone or with one of these seasoning ideas.

Instant Pot Risotto with Peas and Artichokes

The Instant Pot pressure cooker makes risotto easier than ever. Try our favorite combination of peas and artichokes!

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

A delicious warm spinach artichoke dip with hearts of palm and a creamy cashew based sauce. This wholesome dip is perfect for snacking or as part of a crudite platter.

Pea Pesto Pasta

Creamy pea pesto penne pasta is a light plant-based dinner filled with the bright fresh flavors of basil, lemon, garlic, and peas. This recipe doesn't currently include nutritional yeast, but it would be delicious sprinkled on top or mixed in.

Avocado Toast

How to make the best avocado toast ever! From simple to loaded up with healthy toppings, try all of these delicious avocado toast recipes. All of these easy avocado toast recipes are vegan. My favorite: avocado on sourdough with a sprinkle of sea salt, nutritional yeast, and sprouts.

Continue to Content

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Vegan Cheese Sauce

Prep Time

8 hours

Cook Time

5 minutes

Total Time

8 hours

5 minutes

A creamy vegan cheese sauce made with raw cashews and nutritional yeast. This nutritional yeast cheese sauce is delicious on pasta as a vegan mac and cheese, or over baked potatoes and steamed vegetables. A great simple recipe for using nutritional yeast.


  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/8-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of water, as needed
  • freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
  2. Add the cashews to a blender or food processor. Add the nutritional yeast (1/8 cup to start, or 1/4 cup if you love nutritional yeast flavor), garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, and half the water.
  3. Place the lid on the blender or food processor and turn on to blend. Slowly add water through the hole at the top until the sauce has reached your desired consistency. You may need even more than the 1/2 cup of water to thin.
  4. Taste and add more nutritional yeast, lemon, garlic powder, or salt to taste. Season with a good pinch of pepper.
  5. To serve, immediately pour over hot pasta or serve alongside steamed vegetables (baked potatoes or broccoli are great options).


If you're in a hurry, you can quick-soak the cashews by pouring boiling water over them and letting sit for 1 hour. To skip soaking all together, first finely grind the cashews in a blender (you'll need extra water with this method). We found the overnight soak resulted in the least amount of "nuttiness" in the sauce.

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Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.