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Substitute for Nutritional yeast

If you’ve ever created a vegan “cheesy” dish, you have likely consumed nutritional yeast. For those looking to avoid dairy due to intolerances, this product has been a lifesaver. Below is a substitute for nutritional yeast list for these times when you need a replacement.

What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is commonly used in vegan dishes as a substitute for cheese. It adds flavor and a small amount of color to recipes as it has a yellow tinge to it. Yeast has a long history of use, starting from Egyptian times, as evidenced by ruins. About 150 years ago, scientists began looking into the benefits of yeast further, and this investigation planted the seed for the production of nutritional yeast. In the 1970s, this product became widely popular for its state health benefits.

Nutritional yeast is different from standard yeast in that it is inactive, so it cannot be used for baking. This fungus is derived from various sources, such as molasses, though it does not have a sweet taste. Most often, you’ll find this form of yeast in savory dishes. However, on occasion, recipes call for nutritional yeast in sweet-tasting meals like smoothies.

Top Nutritional Yeast Substitutes

1.Soy Sauce

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 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.

Cooking Tip:
Use ½ tablespoon of soy sauce for every tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

2. White Miso Paste

While white miso paste might seem like an odd alternative, it works as one of the better substitutes for nutritional yeast. White miso also provides a “meaty”/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. Depending on the manufacturer, some brands may include additional ingredients like rice and millet. 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. Though if you have an Asian market nearby, you’ll likely find this swap there.

Cooking Tip:
Use 1/3 of the amount of white miso paste that the recipe calls for.

3. Cashews

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.

Cooking Tip:
Cashews can be used in a 1:1 ratio instead of nutritional yeast.

4. Brewer’s 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.

Cooking Tip:
Use ½ the amount of brewer’s yeast that the recipe calls for.


What does nutritional yeast do in a recipe?

Nutritional yeast is used for adding flavor to vegan recipes. It provides a nutty, umami, or cheesy taste that many uses instead of cheese. Nutritional yeast is excellent as in vegan cheese recipes like vegan cheese sauce.

Can you skip nutritional yeast in a recipe?

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.

Is nutritional yeast a good cheese substitute?

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.

Can you substitute parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast?

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.

If you’re unfamiliar with vegan recipes, 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.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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