If you’ve ever created a vegan “cheesy” dish, most likely you used an ingredient called “nutritional yeast.” For those looking to avoid dairy, this product has been a lifesaver. Below, you will find a list of the most popular substitutes for nutritional yeast for these times when you need a replacement.
Nutritional yeast, often referred to as “nooch,” is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.
It is a popular ingredient in vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based diets due to its unique flavor and nutritional profile.
The nutritional yeast taste is savory, cheesy, and slightly nutty flavor. It is typically sold as yellow flakes or powder.
It is commonly used as a condiment, seasoning, or ingredient in various dishes to add depth and enhance flavors.
In vegan dishes, it is used as a substitute for cheese. It adds flavor and a small amount of color to recipes as it has a yellow tinge to it.
Interesting fact: Nutritional yeast is different from standard active baking yeast or brewer’s yeast. It is inactive, so it cannot be used for baking. This fungus is derived from various sources, such as molasses, though it does not taste sweet.
Soy sauce works as a nutritional yeast substitute due to its umami taste, similar to nutritional yeast. If you’re seeking an alternative that will aid in providing flavor to a dish, soy sauce or tamari works well.
Use soy sauce in sauces, soups, and other dishes that have a liquid element.
Most people already have a bottle of this condiment in their fridge or cupboard, making it an accessible item to grab in the absence of nutritional yeast.
This sauce does not work well for all recipes – especially those that use a large amount of yeast. As you would probably guess, you will not want to use soy sauce in any sweet recipes like smoothies.
Soy sauce is a tasty ingredient that can be used in many savory recipes instead of nutritional yeast. It’s easy to find in stores, though you probably already have a bottle of it in your house.
You’ll notice that soy sauce has a bolder flavor than nutritional yeast. Because of this, it is easy to use too much while cooking. Not only will this potentially overpower other ingredients, but it can also make the recipe too salty to consume.
Use ½ tablespoon of soy sauce for every tablespoon of nutritional yeast.
While white miso paste might seem like an odd alternative, it works as one of the better substitutes for nutritional yeast.
This substitute also provides a “meaty” and umami taste when used in dishes. This paste also provides a similar nutty flavor.
If you’ve never heard of white miso paste before, it is created from fermented soybeans.
Some brands may include additional ingredients like rice and millet, depending on the manufacturer.
When using this paste in hot dishes, add it in last for the best flavor.
This alternative provides a similar flavor to nutritional yeast. Use miso paste in dishes that have a liquid base, like soups. This ingredient must be dissolved into a recipe.
Miso paste is also quite salty, like soy sauce. Again, it can be overwhelming when used in recipes. This paste does not work in dishes where nutritional yeast is used as a garnish.
It is not easy to find white miso at general grocery stores. However, if you have an Asian market nearby, you’ll likely find this swap there.
Use 1/3 of the amount of white miso paste that the recipe calls for.
Those familiar with vegan cooking will know that cashews are an excellent nutritional yeast alternative. Cashews are another staple in vegan recipes that can be used to create cheesy sauces and creamy soups.
Not only do they work well in sauces, but they also can be pulverized and used as a topping or garnish, like nutritional yeast.
Cashews provide a nutty flavor and a much different texture, even when in ground form. No umami flavor is present, so there will be a flavor difference when using cashews instead of yeast.
When using cashews in a sauce, ensure they have soaked ahead of time; otherwise, the consistency will be chunky instead of smooth.
This replacement works well for those who are only seeking a cheesy and nutty flavor in a recipe. Cashews are versatile as they can be used dry as a topping or soaked in dips and even smoothies. If you don’t have cashews in your kitchen, you can find a bag at the closest store.
The umami flavor is missing from this alternative, causing the final dish to taste different. While cashews are easy to find, they are pretty pricey and may be out of budget for some.
Cashews can be used in a 1:1 ratio instead of nutritional yeast.
Brewer’s yeast is created using the same fungus strain that nutritional yeast uses. However, it is formulated using beer most often, which adds a bitter flavor. It also is sold in a flake form and is seen in the store as an inactive yeast.
While the flavor is not the same, it is an excellent nutritional yeast replacement. It aids in thickening soups and dips as well.
You’ll still find this alternative provides a cheesy flavor, though it lacks a nuttiness and meaty taste. It is bolder, so you’ll want to use less in your recipes.
This yeast works well to provide both a thick consistency to dishes as well as a cheese flavor. Use it in cheesy sauces and dips as a substitution for nutritional yeast.
Regarding flavor, you’ll find that brewer’s yeast is quite different. When cooking with this replacement, the taste will be noticeable. If too much is used, it can cause the dish to become bitter or overpowered. Brewer’s yeast is not easy to find at local grocery stores. It may need to be ordered online.
Use ½ the amount of brewer’s yeast that the recipe calls for.
Parmesan cheese works well as a substitution as it provides a similar nutty flavor to dishes.
Nutritional yeast is typically a replacement for parmesan cheese in recipes for those who have reactions to dairy or are vegan.
If you have no issues consuming dairy, you can make the reverse swap by using parmesan instead.
When using parmesan, alter the amount of salt that is in the dish.
Parmesan contains a higher sodium level than nutritional yeast, which will make the recipe overly salty if not modified.
This cheese is most often used in Italian cuisine. However, you can also use it as a replacement for any dish that calls for nutritional yeast.
Try parmesan on pasta dishes, pizza, vegetables, and salads.
Parmesan works well in any dish that requires nutritional yeast. The flavor profile is very similar, yet parmesan cheese provides gooeyness to recipes. You can find parmesan in any grocery store if you don’t have some in your fridge already.
As noted, this swap does include dairy. It is not a good substitution for those who can’t or don’t eat dairy.
Use as a swap in a 1:1 ratio.
Liquid aminos: Liquid aminos, such as Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or coconut aminos, are soy sauce alternatives that are often gluten-free and have a milder taste.
You will notice there is a difference in consistency as aminos are sold in liquid form, whereas nutritional yeast is offered in a flake form. However, a similar taste makes coconut aminos work well as a replacement.
These aminos are often compared to soy sauce both for color, consistency, and taste.
When using coconut aminos, you’ll note a nutty, sweet, salty, slightly fruity taste.
Choose this liquid replacement when making dishes that are saucy or soupy. You will want to avoid using this swap to top salads or other dishes without a liquid component.
As the popularity of coconut aminos grows, it is more easily found in grocery stores. However, you may still have some trouble finding it at your local store if there is not a demand for it.
The sweetness and slightly fruity taste will alter the flavor of your dishes.
Coconut aminos provide a taste that is similar to nutritional yeast in dishes. It works well in liquid-based recipes as a replacement.
You cannot use coconut aminos in recipes that do not have sauces. This swap may also not be at all grocery stores. The flavor does vary, which will change the taste of the dish.
Use ½ the amount required by the recipe and add more if needed.
Chickpea flour, also known as garbanzo bean flour, is made by pulverizing dried chickpeas until they become a fine powder.
This flour also provides a nutty taste. However, it has a prominent bean flavor and can be drier tasting than nutritional yeast. You’ll also find chickpea flour lacks a cheesy taste.
This flour is most commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes like falafel.
If you live near a store with a sizeable ethnic section or an Indian grocery store, you’ll easily find this ingredient. If not, you will need to order it online, as your local store likely does not have it.
While people usually opt for nutritional yeast for flavor, it also aids in thickening dishes. Chickpea flour works excellently in this regard. As it’s a dry powder, it can also be used as a topping for snacks like popcorn.
Chickpea flour is excellent as a thickener and adds a nutty flavor to dishes. Use it in both sauces and as a topping for food.
The flavor profile lacks a cheesy taste, so you’ll need to add additional seasoning to mimic the flavor more closely. It may not be easy to find this replacement in stores. You can make your own at home. However, it can be time-consuming.
Use ½ of the amount listed in the recipe.
When you’re creating dishes that require a “meaty” taste, dried mushrooms work well. You will find they lack a cheesy flavor and salty taste that is provided by nutritional yeast.
However, you can easily remedy the saltiness by adding a small amount of salt to the recipe.
There are multiple ways you can use dried mushrooms, including finely ground, pulverized into a powder, and even rehydrated. This allows for more cooking possibilities.
The variety of dried mushrooms chosen will also affect the flavor as some mushrooms (like porcini mushrooms) will also provide a nutty taste. Use dried mushrooms in soups and cooked vegetable-based dishes.
This swap adds an umami flavor to dishes and can be used in multiple ways.
Not all flavor notes are present in dried mushrooms. You will not be able to replicate a cheesy flavor with this substitute.
Use in a 1:1 ratio when using mushroom powder.
Dried seaweed, such as nori or dulse flakes, can be used as a flavor enhancer in certain recipes, but it is not a direct substitute for nutritional yeast.
This sub provides a unique umami flavor and adds a hint of oceanic taste to dishes.
While nutritional yeast offers a cheesy and nutty flavor, dried seaweed can contribute a different kind of savory taste.
It can be used to add depth to soups, stews, and stir-fries or sprinkled over salads and rice dishes.
It won’t offer the same flavor profile.
If you’re specifically looking for a substitute that replicates the flavor and nutritional benefits of nutritional yeast, exploring other alternatives, such as homemade substitutes or the previously mentioned options, may be more suitable.
Vegemite is a popular Australian spread made from yeast extract and has a strong, savory flavor. It can be used as a substitute for nutritional yeast in certain recipes.
While it can provide a similar umami taste, it’s important to note that the flavor profile of Vegemite is stronger and more intense than nutritional yeast.
It can be added to soups, stews, or sauces for a rich and savory flavor.
Vegemite is a concentrated spread and contains additional ingredients like salt and various flavorings, so it may not provide the exact nutritional content or profile of nutritional yeast.
Use Vegemite sparingly and adjust the quantity based on your personal taste preferences.
Bouillon powder can be used as a flavor enhancer and seasoning in recipes, but it is not a direct substitute for nutritional yeast.
This sub is typically used to add a savory taste to dishes like soups, stews, and sauces, similar to broth or stock.
It can provide some umami flavor but won’t replicate the cheesy and nutty taste of nutritional yeast.
Bouillon powder often contains salt, artificial flavorings, and other ingredients that may not align with the nutritional profile of nutritional yeast.
Onion flakes can be used as a flavoring ingredient in certain recipes but cannot serve as a direct substitute for nutritional yeast.
If you’re seeking a substitute for nutritional yeast, it’s best to consider alternatives like the homemade nutritional yeast substitutes mentioned earlier or explore other options that can provide a similar flavor profile.
Onion flakes provide a distinct onion flavor and texture, whereas nutritional yeast has a savory, cheesy, and slightly nutty taste.
If you’re looking for a replacement that mimics nutritional yeast’s flavor and nutritional properties, using onion flakes alone won’t achieve that.
Combining onion flakes with other ingredients creates a more flavorful dish.
Smoked paprika can add a smoky and slightly sweet flavor to dishes. While it won’t provide the same cheesy taste, it can add depth and complexity to recipes.
Paprika can be used as a flavor enhancer in recipes, but it won’t directly replace nutritional yeast’s flavor and nutritional profile.
However, if you’d like to use paprika to add depth and flavor to a dish as a substitute for nutritional yeast, here’s how you can incorporate it:
You can use paprika as seasoning, flavoring in sauces, spice blends, and meat rubs.
Paprika can’t replace the cheesy or nutty flavor of nutritional yeast.
Sprinkle it over roasted vegetables, potatoes, or popcorn for a tasty twist.
Nutritional yeast is used for adding flavor to vegan recipes. It provides a nutty, umami, or cheesy taste that many use instead of cheese. Nutritional yeast is excellent, as in vegan cheese recipes like vegan cheese sauce.
Technically, yes, you can skip nutritional yeast in a recipe. This is true only for recipes that require small amounts of nutritional yeast. You will notice less flavor than usual and may need to add other seasonings to account for the taste. This is not a good solution for vegan mac and cheese recipes where the dish relies on a cheesy flavor.
Yes, if you have a dairy intolerance or dietary restrictions, you can substitute nutritional yeast as a good alternative. It does not provide an exact flavor match. However, it adds a cheesy taste and can help satisfy cheese cravings.
If you find a recipe that usually requires nutritional yeast, you can use parmesan instead. This is ideal for those who are not vegan and who don’t have dietary restrictions in place. It will provide a cheesy taste in your recipes and is best used in savory menu items.
Next time you consider how to replace nutritional yeast, consider the above choices first. You’ll be surprised at how tasty each one is. Soy sauce and white miso paste are your best bets for adding an umami flavor to your favorite dishes. Chickpea flour and yeast extract (like marmite) are additional items that make replacing nutritional yeast easy.
Try each of the listed choices to see what works best with your tastebuds. Keep an open mind, and you’ll be surprised at how well the flavors mimic nutritional yeast.