October 22, 2012

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a very popular food product with vegans and vegetarians. Nutritional yeast AKA nooch, yeshi, savoury yeast flakes or brufax, is a deactivated yeast product. It is NOT brewers yeast. The yeast is cultured for several days in a nutrient medium which is normally a glucose product sourced from sugarcane or beet molasses. After being cultured, it is deactivated under high heat and processed ready for consumption. There is no need to worry about getting a yeast infection as the production and high heat process guarantees the product to be free from candida albicans, seen in thrush infections. 

As you can see in the photo above, nutritional yeast is purchased in the form of yellow flakes or powder. The flavour of nooch is hard to describe but it has a nutty and cheesy flavour similar to that of parmesan or what I believe to be like the cheesy flavouring on chips and crackers. Thus, it is often used in cheese alternatives and cheese substitutes to give a cheesy flavour and yellow colouring. That is why vegans absolutely love it! Don't dismiss this wonderful ingredient until you try it!

Other than its delicious taste, nutritional yeast also has many benefits including its high content of B-complex vitamins. There are many brands that also enhance their yeast products with vitamin B12. It is suitable for the vegan and lactose-intolerant person as it is dairy-free and low in sodium and fats. It is also normally gluten-free but check the packaging to be safe.

On a nutritional note, approximately 2 tablespoons (16 grams) contains the following nutritional values:
  • 65 calories
  • 8.4g protein
  • 0.8g fat
  • 3.3g carbohydrates 
  • 3.9g dietary fiber
  • 5.2mg sodium
  • 320mg potassium (32% of your daily intake)
  • 9.6mg thiamin (B1) (872% of your daily intake)
  • 56mg niacin (560% of your daily intake)
  • 9.6mg riboflavin (B2) (565% of your daily intake)
  • 9.6mg pyridoxine (B6) (600% of your daily intake)
  • 8µg vitamin b12 (400% of your daily intake)

Due to its cheesy flavour, you can use it as a condiment or ingredient in any recipe that you would like to make cheesy. For example, in my parmesan cheese recipe we use 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast to make it taste extra cheese-like. 

Other great ideas for using nutritional yeast can include adding it as a popcorn seasoning, in dips, on mashed potatoes, in scrambled tofu, on potato chips, to season roasted chickpeas, on the tops of pizza, for mac and cheese and whatever else your heart desires!

If you live in Australia and are having trouble purchasing it, I normally buy the Lotus brand of Savoury Yeast flakes from health food stores such as Mrs Flannery's or Go Vita. 



  1. This probably wouldn't be a problem cos I don't think people go that hard on nutritional yeast. But they're crazy levels of B vitamins! Over 50mg/day of Niacin can have toxic effects like rashes and abdominal woes, and B6 (recommended 2mg/day) apparently can cause mood disruption and nerve damage if overconsumed. They're not broken down by heat either.
    I guess the stuff is made for vegans so maybe they know what they're doing, it might be a worry if you're going crazy on the stuff though (:

    1. Thanks for the comment. Our recipes call for about 1 tablespoon for the whole recipe so there is nothing to worry about.

  2. Hi Madison,

    I've just discovered your site and love it! What part of the supermarket is nutritional yeast kept in?


    1. Hi Lucia! You can purchase it from your local health food store. Our supermarket doesn't stock it. Thank you :)

  3. Hello from the UK – it sounds brilliant – where's the best place to buy this? Health food shops?

  4. Nutritional yeast flakes are commonly sold in the "bin" or "bulk" section of your favorite grocery store, online via multiple suppliers, or near the popcorn area of grocers (since so many people love sprinkling it on their popcorn) - especially in the USA where it is quite popular. It can be freely used to add extra nutrition and flavor to casseroles, egg dishes/salads/quiches, potato dishes/salads, green salads, sauces/gravies, pasta dishes, and so much more. It's extremely inexpensive, so the longer you own some, the more likely you are to experiment with it in lots of creative and flavorful ways.

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  10. Allens jelly beans (in NZ anyway) have cochineal (E120) in them, so they aren't vegan. Not sure if it's likely to be different over there...

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