Nutritional yeast is a food product that is mostly used in vegan and vegetarian meals. It is a healthy ingredient full of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants. Therefore, anyone who wants to improve their overall health can also use this product.
This type of yeast is also a common ingredient in baking and beer brewing. However, when it is used for the production of nutritional yeast, the yeast cells are inactive or dead. In the beer and baked products production, on the other hand, the yeast is used in its live form.
You can use it to thicken soups and sauces, sprinkle on top of your pasta, roasted veggies, rice, and popcorn, or as a substitute for cheese. It will add salty umami flavor and a better texture to your dish.
However, if you can’t find nutritional yeast at your shop, or you run out of it you can use some of the things we all have at home. Soy sauce, chickpea flour, miso paste, dried onion flakes, vegetable broth, or some of the substitutes mentioned below make excellent substitutes.
Nutritional Yeast Substitutes
Nutritional yeast is grown on molasses or sugarcane for days. Then, it is deactivated with heat, harvested, washed, dried, and packed. This healthy product is available as a powder, flakes, and granules.
It has a yellow color and a strong cheesy and nutty umami flavor. You can choose between fortified with extra vitamins and unfortified with just the naturally produced vitamins and minerals from the yeast.
If you want to improve the flavor of your food you can use unfortified nutritional yeast. However, if you want to improve your health and add more vitamins and minerals to your diet fortified nutritional yeast will be the perfect product for you.
When you are substituting nutritional yeast, it is important to choose the right ingredient that will give a similar flavor to your dish. You will also have to use the right quantity, so start with a smaller amount and add more if needed.
1. Chickpea flour
This gluten-free and rich with protein flour is made by grinding the chickpea. It is the key ingredient in falafel. However, you can also add it to stews, soups, salads, and curry.
Chickpea flour is used as a batter to coat meat and vegetables before frying and in some sweet dishes too. This flour is rich in vitamins and minerals same as the nutritional yeast and can be a pretty good substitute for it.
For better flavor, you can toast it in the oven and use it as a substitute for nutritional yeast. You will get a texture and nutty flavor similar to nutritional yeast.
2. Yeast extracts
They are made by adding sugar to yeast in a warm environment, and spin in a centrifuge until their cell walls break.
Yeast extracts are used as flavorings and food additives in gravy, crackers, frozen meals, canned soups, snack foods, and other packaged food. They contain beneficial vitamins and minerals for your health just like nutritional yeast.
Popular products made of yeast extract include spreads brands Vegemite and Marmite. Vegemite is thick spread from Australia with added spices, coloring, and additives. It has a salty and slightly bitter umami flavor and is used as a spread and filling for pastries.
Marmite is thicker and smoother and has a rich salty-sweet flavor. It is a British spread used in toasts, wafers, sandwiches, or added to pasta, soup, and other dishes.
When you are using the yeast extract as a substitute for nutritional yeast your dishes will get a more salty and savory flavor.
3. Soy sauce
Soy sauce is one of the substitutes for nutritional yeast. Made from fermented soybeans it has a salty umami flavor and thick texture.
You can use soy sauce with low salt content as a substitute for nutritional yeast. It doesn’t have the same nutrition value as nutritional yeast, so you will only get a salty flavor in your dish. Use a small amount of soy sauce first and add more if needed.
4. Dried mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms are the best replacement for nutritional yeast but if you have oyster, chanterelle, or shitake mushrooms you can also use them as a substitute.
They have a meaty texture and rich earthy flavor which is not similar to the flavor of the nutritional yeast. For better flavor, you can grind the mushrooms into powder and use them in your cooking. Mushrooms are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, you will get similar nutrients as when you are using nutritional yeast.
5. Dried onion flakes
You can sprinkle dried onion flakes on top of your dish, or add them to soups, stews, and sauces. You will not get the same flavor and texture as with nutritional yeast.
However, the flavor of the dry onions will improve the flavor of your dish. For a thicker texture, you can mix the onion powder with chickpea flour.
6. Miso paste
This traditional seasoning is made of fermented soybeans and is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It has a salty-savory, earthy flavor which can be also sweet, and fruity depending on the added ingredients and the length of the fermentation process.
Miso paste is a common ingredient in sauces, soups, spreads, stir-fries, and other dishes. White miso paste includes rice, barley, and soybeans. It is less salty than the darker varieties of miso paste and a better substitute for nutritional yeast.
Use 1/3 of the required amount for nutritional yeast that your dish needs with miso paste and you will save your recipe.
7. Vegetable broth
Vegetable broth is made with different types of vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic, herbs, and spices. It has a salty umami flavor and brown color depending on the ingredients added.
You can use vegetable broth as a substitute for nutritional yeast in soups, and stews, but use less liquid in your dish because you are adding liquid with the vegetable broth.
8. Dried seaweed
Dried seaweed is a form of algae that grows in the sea with many vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fats, so it is good for your health.
This product has a salty umami flavor and works well in stews, salads, soups, risotto, and many other dishes. You can sprinkle it in your dishes as a substitute for nutritional yeast. You will get a similar flavor, nutrition, and texture.
9. Ground cashews
Ground cashews are used as a base for sauces, processed into cheese and butter, or used in the making of desserts and sweets. They have a rich creamy texture and mild flavor.
You can soak the cashews and blend them to get a smooth texture, so you could use it as a base for dips. Sprinkle the grounded cashews on top of your food as a substitute for nutritional yeast. You will get a nutty flavor, not very similar to the flavor of the nutritional yeast.
10. Brewer’s yeast
Brewer’s yeast is made from the same type of yeast as nutritional yeast. This yeast is used in beer brewing and has a slightly bitter flavor.
It has fewer nutrients. However, it is a great substitute for nutritional yeast. For 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast use ½ tablespoon of brewer’s yeast.
11. Liquid aminos
Liquid aminos are seasonings with a similar flavor and texture to soy sauce. They are made when coconut sap is fermented with water and salt or when the soybeans are treated with acidic solutions until they are breaking down into free amino acids.
They have salty, savory, and slightly sweet umami taste, and a high content of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. But if you want to use them as a substitute for nutritional yeast, use a smaller amount because they are saltier than nutritional yeast.
12. Vegetable bouillon cubes
These cubes are made when dry ingredients and additives are mixed into a paste and then shaped into cubes. They have a salty umami flavor. Therefore, you can use them as a substitute for nutritional yeast in soups, sauces, or other dishes.
However, before you add the bouillon cubes to your dish it is better to dissolve them in a cup of warm water. And because bouillon cubes have high salt content, you can use the cubes with low-sodium content.
13. Vegan parmesan cheese
Vegan parmesan cheese is made of nutritional yeast, cashews, salt, and garlic powder. You can also use other types made with grounded seeds, almonds, soybeans, rice, plant milk, spices, and more.
Vegan cheese has a salty flavor and makes a good substitute for nutritional yeast. You can use it sprinkled over your pasta, salads, and pizza, or you can add it to sauces and soups.
Homemade Nutritional Yeast Substitute
You can make nutritional yeast with just two cups of cooked sprouted chickpeas and one cup of white miso paste.
Bake them at the lowest temperature in your oven or you can dehydrate them in a dehydrator. When they are dehydrated grind them together and add spices of your choosing. Keep it in a jar and use it in your dishes to add a beautiful nutty flavor.
Can you leave nutritional yeast out of a recipe?
You can leave nutritional yeast out of a recipe if you can’t find any at the local store. Instead, you can use some of the substitutes mentioned in this article.
Can you use flour instead of nutritional yeast?
You can use flour instead of nutritional yeast to thicken a sauce. However, you will lack the flavor of the nutritional yeast. For other dishes such as pasta, soup, or roasted vegetables, you can use chickpea flour as a substitute for nutritional yeast.
Can you use normal yeast instead of nutritional yeast?
You can’t use normal yeast instead of nutritional yeast. Normal yeast is active and acts as a leavening agent in baked goods. Meaning, they are two different products.
What does nutritional yeast do in a recipe?
Nutritional yeast is a nutritious vegan product rich in different vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants. Therefore, it will improve the nutritious value of the meal, and give it a salty cheesy flavor.
Nutritional yeast is a highly nutritious product with many health benefits. Perhaps some of these substitutes don’t have as many vitamins and minerals as nutritional yeast, however, they will add a flavor and texture to your dishes.