Cheesy. Nutritious. Dairy-free. These are the three words that describe nutritional yeast, an ingredient we are seeing more and more of recently. You might have noticed these yellow flakes in the bulk section of your local grocery store. But what is it? We understand how some might find the name “yeast” offputting, but despite that, nutritional yeast, affectionately called “nooch” by its fans, is an ingredient that you want to add to your pantry as soon as possible.
About Nutritional Yeast
Simply put, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that is sold in the form of yellow flakes and powders. It is most often grown on blackstrap molasses, then harvested, heated to halt growth, then crumbled and packaged so it can be sold to consumers. In terms of flavor, nutritional yeast has an uncanny cheesy, nutty flavor that makes it especially useful in dairy-free cooking.
But it is more than just a cheesy-tasting by-product of molasses production — it is also somewhat of a nutritional powerhouse. Depending on the brand that you buy, a single serving of nutritional yeast, which is typically 2 tablespoons, contains between 8-10 grams of protein and 4-5 grams of fiber. It is a great source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and folate. Nutritional yeast can also be a great source of vitamin B12, the vitamin responsible for keeping our blood, nervous system, and heart healthy. Again, the nutritional value depends entirely on the brand. If you are looking to supplement your vitamin B12 intake with nutritional yeast, be sure to check the nutrition label before you buy.
How to Use Nutritional Yeast
Can’t imagine life without cheese? Well, nutritional yeast can help with that. Its nutty, cheesy flavor make it the perfect ingredient for making all your favorite dishes without the cheese — like mac and cheese! Nutritional yeast is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes the sauce in this Easy Mac and Not Cheese, this Taco Mac and Cheese, and this Oil-Free Mac and Cheese so wonderfully cheesy. You can also use it to make other famously cheesy sauces, like alfredo sauce! Try this Fettuccine Alfredo where the sauce is made by blending steamed cauliflower with nutritional yeast and spices or these Sweet Potato Stuffed Shells With Cashew Alfredo. And you’ll want to put this Life-Changing Cheese Sauce on everything from pasta to broccoli and potatoes. Nobody would ever guess that any of these sauces are actually dairy-free.
You can also use nutritional yeast to make cheesy dips. This Green Chili Nacho Cheese Sauce combines cashews, roasted red pepper, chilis, and nutritional yeast to make a thick, creamy, and spicy dip. Or, try this Cheesy Spinach Dip made from cashews, spinach, and nutritional yeast.
And yes, you can use nutritional yeast to make all kinds of dairy-free cheeses, too. If you are completely new to vegan cheese making, this Herbed Soft Cashew Cheese is the perfect place to start. Simply blend all the ingredients together, heat it up with agar agar, and then pour it into ramekins and let it set. This Garlic and Herb Cashew Cream Cheese is also incredibly simple to make, as is the “ricotta” in these Baked Eggplant Stacks With Cashew Ricotta.
Thankfully, the growing popularity of nutritional yeast means that it is becoming easier and easier to find. Check the specialty ingredients aisle of your local grocery store or try your local health food store. Otherwise, you should be able to find nutritional yeast at practically any grocery store that has a bulk buy section.
If you cannot find nutritional yeast on a local level, you always have the option to buy it online. This Bragg’s Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning is fortified with plant-based vitamin B12 and is perfect for use in any recipe that calls for nutritional yeast. A pack of two 4.5-ounce bottles costs $13.79.
Now that you know the basic uses for nutritional yeast, let’s talk about how else we can use it. We’ve already shown you some of the ways you can use this cheesy ingredient to make dairy-free cheese, but there are so many more varieties to talk about. First, mozzarella. The melty, gooey, stretchy mozzarella in these Quesadillas With Cashew Mozzarella and Chipotle Cream is so easy to make, you won’t believe it. And this Baked Cashew Mozzarella is like a fancier version of classic mozzarella sticks. You can also use it to make this Cashew Blue Cheese, this Baked Cashew Brie, this Smoked Coconut Gouda, and so many more varieties.
Nutritional yeast is what makes the sauce in this Lasagna With Cashew Bechamel taste so cheesy and it’s one of the ingredients in this Butternut Squash Lasagna With Tofu Ricotta. You might even want to top it off with this Raw Almond Parmesan, which is made by blending almonds, nutritional yeast, and garlic into a powdery texture. This Parmesan would also make a great topping for soups and salads.
Nutritional yeast adds another layer of flavor to your tofu scramble. This Mushroom Tofu Scramble With Roasted Paprika Potatoes is packed with sautéed mushrooms, cheesy vegetables, and a small amount of nutritional yeast to bring out the savory flavors of the veggies — we don’t blame you if you want to add a little more than the recipe calls for. Try adding it to other tofu scramble recipes, like these Sweet Potato and Tofu Scramble Mega Breakfast Burritos. Another savory breakfast dish that nutritional yeast works great in is quiches. This Cheesy Wild Garlic Quiche had a puff pastry crust, a filling of leeks, onions, and wild garlic, and is topped with a silky-smooth, cheesy sauce. In these light, crisp Chickpea Flour Quiches, nutritional yeast is simply blended into the batter.
And of course, we recommend sprinkling nutritional yeast on just about everything you eat — once you try it, you will want to. Check out our vegan nutritional yeast recipes page for more ideas on how to use this cheesy miracle food.
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