9 Best Nutritional Yeast Substitutes
What do you do if you don’t have nutritional yeast? No worries! In this article, we’ll review my 9 best nutritional yeast substitutes from white miso to cashews that you can use in recipes.
As a plant-based dietitian and recipe developer, I love using nutritional yeast in recipes to add some savory, “cheesy” flavor to a dish but without the dairy. Not only is nutritional yeast a handy ingredient to keep in your plant-based pantry, but it is also surprisingly high in protein and packed with many B vitamins.
What do you do if you don’t have nutritional yeast? No fear! In this article, we’ll review my 9 favorite nutritional yeast substitutes that you can use in recipes.
What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast flakes (ie. “nooch”) is a food beloved by vegans and vegetarians for its unique cheese-like flavor. This fun ingredient is an inactivated version of a species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae that is the same type of yeast used for bread and beer. However, since it is an inactive yeast, it won’t react in the same way as the baker’s yeast used for bread.
What does Nutritional Yeast Taste Like?
The flavor of nutritional yeast is sometimes hard to describe, but it comes across as nutty, savory, and cheesy. It is typically used in recipes to add “umami” (ie. savory) notes to a dish. The cheesy flavor profile makes it a popular ingredient in dairy-free or vegan dishes that don’t use animal products like dairy cheese. (I love to use it for my vegan parmesan cheese recipe!)
Nutritional Yeast Substitutes
Maybe you’re in the middle of making a recipe and you’ve run out of nutritional yeast or you can’t find it in the store. You may find yourself wondering, what can I use instead of nutritional yeast? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered! Here are 10 of the best substitutes for nutritional yeast.
This is probably my go-to substitute for nutritional yeast in recipes! Nutritional yeast is often added to plant-based dishes instead of cheese to provide that cheesy flavor, but without the dairy. If I’ve run out of nutritional yeast, I will often just use a bit of shredded vegan cheddar instead depending on the recipe. Use vegan cheese as a nutritional yeast alternative in pastas and soups.
White miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans. There are several types of miso paste that range in flavor and color but I find that white miso makes the best nutritional yeast replacement as it is more mild than the other varieties.
You can find white miso paste in the refrigerator section of the grocery store, usually near the tofu and other plant-based products. Use white miso as a substitute for nutritional yeast in soups, dressings and sauces.
Soy sauce can also be described as umami so it makes a great nutritional yeast substitute in a pinch. Use about 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce as a substitute for a tablespoon of nutritional yeast in stir fry, marinades, sauces, and dressings. You may also want to reduce the salt in the recipe when using soy sauce as it add some saltiness.
Liquid aminos or coconut aminos are made from fermented soy beans or coconut and have a flavor that is very similar to soy sauce. The savory and salty taste means it can be a great option instead of nutritional yeast for stews, casseroles, stir fry, dressings, and sauces. Use about half as much aminos as nutritional yeast and reduce the salt in the recipe to taste.
Dried mushrooms (like shiitake mushrooms) have the same rich, earthy flavor as nutritional yeast. Grind up your dried mushrooms into a fine powder with a blender or food processor and sprinkle on a dish the same way you would nutritional yeast. You can usually use about the same amount of dehydrated mushrooms as nutritional yeast.
You can also rehydrate the mushrooms and use the soaking liquid or chop up the mushrooms and use in place of the nutritional yeast.
Cashews can mimic the mild, nutty flavor of nutritional yeast so you can use often use them as a substitute. Add cashew butter to creamy sauces for pasta or casseroles, soups, stews, and dressings instead of nutritional yeast. Sunflower seeds are also a great option.
Pulse your cashews in a food processor or blender to create a powder when using in place of nutritional yeast. You can use is as a 1 to 1 replacement for nooch.
Although there are slight differences between the two, Vegemite and marmite are both made from the yeast extract that is leftover from brewing beer. (This article from The Spruce Eats reviews the differences between Vegemite and marmite.)
The rich, salty and savory flavor of either one make them a good option as a nutritional yeast substitute in a variety dishes from sauces to soups. It has a much stronger flavor so you’ll want to use less vegemite/marmite than nutritional yeast. I’d recommend you start by adding 1/2 teaspoon at a time and taste as you go until you get the right amount of umami flavor you are looking for.
If you are looking to add some savory or umami flavor notes to a recipe without nutritional yeast, you can also reach into your spice cabinet for garlic powder – we always have some on hand! You can easily add garlic powder to any dish from pasta to soup to dressing that uses nutritional yeast. You only need a teaspoon or so of garlic powder for recipes.
Tahini is a paste made from ground up sesame seeds and has the same mildly nutty taste that nutritional yeast does. Use tahini instead of nutritional yeast in dishes like dressings, dips, and sauces. You can use the same about of tahini as nutritional yeast in most dishes.
It depends on the recipe! If there is only a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast in a main dish you can likely skip it. However, if you are making a sauce, marinade, or dish that is using the nutritional yeast to add that cheesy flavor (like a vegan cheese sauce or my vegan broccoli cheddar soup) – you’ll want to make sure to actually use nutritional yeast in the recipe or it won’t turn out.
Yes, nutritional yeast is gluten free so it can be used in recipes made for those with celiac or a gluten intolerance.
No, nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast are not the same. Nutritional yeast is an inactivated yeast. While brewer’s yeast is still alive so that it can be used to make bread or beer. Brewer’s yeast has a bitter flavor and it sometimes used as a nutritional supplement.
Not always! Some brands are fortified with B vitamins, but not all brands. If you are looking to get some extra B vitamins in your diet (like vitamin B12 for those on a vegan diet), you’ll want to double check the label to make sure your nutritional yeast is fortified.
Nutritional yeast is high in protein (there are 3 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons), but we don’t generally eat enough of it in a dish to provide a substantial amount of protein. (But a few grams here or there over the course of a day does add up!)