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What does Nutritional Yeast Taste Like? Everything you need to know.


Have you ever asked yourself, “What does nutritional yeast taste like?” With the rise of veganism and the increase in people’s effort to have a healthier lifestyle, many are hunting for this delicious and healthy ingredient.

Well, in this post, you’ll discover what nutritional yeast tastes like and how you can make it taste better if you find yourself not liking it.

small dish filled with yellow nutritional yeast flakes

nutritional yeast origins

The history of nutritional yeast is a bit of a mystery, but it is thought to have originated in the early 1900s. It wasn’t until the 1950s though that it really started to gain popularity. This was due, in part, to its use as a vegan cheese substitute.

Nutritional yeast is high in protein and vitamins, making it a health-conscious choice for those looking to avoid animal products. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor that makes it a versatile ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. Today, nutritional yeast is a staple in vegan kitchens all over the world.

Simply put, nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast. Also called “nooch”, it is the same yeast used for making bread and beer – saccharomyces cerevisiae. 

Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is commonly known as brewer’s yeast, is grown on sugar cane or beet molasses to make nutritional yeast. After harvest, it is heated, pasteurized, and dried, thus deactivating it. Because of this process, nutritional yeast no longer has the leavening agent, so it cannot be used as a dough riser.

You should never interchangeably use nutritional yeast and active yeast because they are used very differently in cooking and baking. 

Nutritional Yeast Benefits

Nutritional yeast is a complete protein as it contains all the nine essential amino acids. It is highly nutritious that only a tablespoon of it would be enough for you to enjoy its benefits. 

It is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free, making it popular for people following specific diets. In addition to these benefits, nutritional yeast is high in fiber, folic acid, and B vitamins such as Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. 

Be aware that nutritional yeast is still yeast, and people with yeast allergies should stay away from it. If you are worried about the safety of adding this to your diet, it is still best to talk with a medical professional.

What Does Nutritional Yeast Taste Like

Nutrition yeast tastes savory, nutty, and a bit salty. It has an umami taste and a cheesy flavor that might confuse your taste buds a bit.

Many say that nutritional yeast actually tastes like cheese, so it is not surprising that nutritional yeast is the go-to cheese substitute for vegans and vegetarians. 

What Does Nutritional Yeast Look Like

Nutritional yeast is a yellow-golden powder that resembles cornmeal. It is most commonly used as a food ingredient or seasoning and has a cheesy, nutty flavor.

Ways To Make Nutritional Yeast Taste Good

Even when many people say that nutritional yeast has a cheesy taste, some still dislike its taste. The good thing is that it is a versatile and flexible ingredient, and there are ways to make it taste better. 

Here are 3 ways to make nutritional yeast taste better:

1. Make it taste better by using it alongside olive oil. 

Olive oil can mask the flavor of nutritional yeast, so you can enjoy its benefits without having to endure its taste.

2. Counter the taste by using lemon juice.

Lemon juice has a sharp, acidic, and sour taste that will quickly make the nutty taste of nutritional yeast milder and, therefore, more tolerable. 

3. Combine it with garlic powder or chili powder.

Garlic is a versatile spice that complements almost anything, including nutritional yeast. On the other hand, chili powder has a strong flavor that can overpower nutritional yeast.

Put nutritional yeast to recipes where you will also put garlic or chili powder; you’ll never even notice that it’s there. 

The Best Ways To Use Nutritional Yeast 

Nooch has found its way to the kitchen of both home cooks and professional chefs alike, regardless of their dietary preferences. 

It is already a popular ingredient in different recipes and can be used in various other ways.

Here are 3 of the best ways to use nutritional yeast:

1. Salt replacement

Nutritional yeast is a great alternative to salt. Since it is more on the salty side, you can use nutritional yeast to add a saltier and more savory taste to any dish where you would usually have salt. This works best in popcorn, salad dressing, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes.

2. Cheese substitute

Since nutritional yeast has a taste similar to cheese, it can be used as a substitute for grated parmesan cheese in vegan pasta dishes. It can be used in place of powdered cheese in various vegan recipes, including bread. If you usually add more cheese to your boxed mac and cheese, you can try adding nooch as a topping instead. 

3. Thickener

Nutritional yeast can take the place of cornstarch and breadcrumbs as a thickener in soups, stews, and sauces. Make sure to add it cautiously because too much can result in a pasty mess, and since nooch is already salty, it can affect the taste of your dish. 

4. Flavor enhancer.

Yes, you can use nutritional yeast as a flavor enhancer. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor that can add depth and richness to many dishes. Try sprinkling it on top of roasted vegetables, stirred into soups or sauces, in your mac and cheese, or sprinkled over popcorn for a delicious snack.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does nutritional yeast taste like cheese?

Nutritional yeast has the same umami taste as most cheeses; hence, it is safe to say that it tastes like cheese. It is salty and nutty, comparable to parmesan and cheddar cheese. 

Where to buy nutritional yeast?

Some stores sell nutritional yeast in the form of flakes, others in powder form. It can usually be found in the baking aisle or section of health food stores, and some regular supermarkets may also stock it. If you have trouble finding it, you can also order it online.

Final Thoughts

Nutritional yeast is an excellent choice for a healthier alternative for seasoning dishes. It is a gluten-free, vegan food rich in nutrients, making it a perfect dietary addition for vegans, vegetarians, or simply people aiming for a healthy diet.

Nutritional yeast sure has many benefits that make it worth it, but it may not be everybody’s favorite because of its taste. Now, if someone asks you “What does nutritional yeast taste like?”, you’ll exactly know how to answer: Nutritional yeast tastes nutty and has a cheese-like flavor.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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