WTF Wednesday: Nutritional Yeast


Yes, WTF indeed. I can almost hear you spluttering your latte over your iPhone. “Yeast?! Who would eat yeast??”

This is a food that I have seen in many a vegan recipe, but had never actually tried, probably because it’s relatively difficult to find in Australia (and yes, it does sound gross). Here in New York City, however, it’s in my local supermarket. Ah ha! I thought. Let’s give this a crack!

WTF is nutritional yeast?

Ok, so it’s NOT the bakers yeast used as the leavening agent in bread, nor is it brewer’s yeast used for making beer. It’s ‘inactive’, meaning it doesn’t froth and ‘grow’ like active dry yeast (I know, it’s still not sounding very appetising. Just bear with me.)

As you can see in the image, it comes in light yellow flakes. Apparently it also comes in a powder form, which I have yet to see.

It’s mostly used in vegan recipes as a cheese substitute as it has a savoury, nutty, ‘cheesy’ taste. It’s also described as having ‘umami’ – you know, that hard-to-describe ‘fifth’ taste that they go on about on Masterchef. All you need to know is: it adds lots of flavour to your dishes!

I tasted it on its own, and it’s actually pretty nice! Not like how you’d expect ‘yeast’ to taste.

Oh, and it’s called ‘Nutritional Yeast’ for a reason – yes, it is highly nutritious. Check it out:

  • It’s lactose, sugar, sodium and gluten free
  • Vegetarians, vegans and paleo-ites can eat it
  • It’s one of the very few non-animal sources of vitamin B12 – great news for vegans
  • It also contains zinc, folic acid, selenium and protein (3g per tablespoon)

How do I use it?

Just sprinkle that shit everywhere! I’ve been putting on my morning avocado, fried eggs, salads, in casseroles; basically anything that could use a savoury flavour boost. Can’t get enough of that umami-ness!

Here are some more ideas:

  • Add a ‘parmesan’ taste to kale chips. Here’s a recipe from ‘The Kitchn’
  • Sprinkle on popcorn
  • Mix into mashed potatoes or polenta
  • Blend it with almonds to make a crunchy ‘cheesy’ topping for savoury dishes
2014-03-03 14.07.48
I found these vegan kale chips in Whole Foods. I tell you what, they were AMAZING.

Where the fork do I find it?

If you’re in Australia, your best bet is to check out a health food store. I have never seen it in an Aussie supermarket. The brand I found here was ‘Bragg’, and they called it “Nutritional Yeast Seasoning”. It may also be referred to as “savoury yeast”. Try Go Vita stores.

Some call it “nooch” for short