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10 Nutritional Yeast Substitutes Every Vegan Should Know About

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 2, 2021

We know the importance of finding a fantastic ingredient that you can add to anything without thinking twice.

Being a vegan who constantly alters their diet options can be a handful and incredibly daunting if you want to substitute an already perfect ingredient that serves the purpose with excellence.

Nutritional yeast is one such ingredient, but if you are looking for alternatives, then you have stumbled across the right article.

You might need to read what exactly this yeast is made of, its limitations, and uses to then find the substitutes for each part, like its taste, texture, and nutritional value.

What Is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast has slowly taken its place on many vegan kitchen shelves. This excellent ingredient, also known as Nooch, has become a vegan kitchen staple because of its unique flavor profile.

This nutritional yeast has a similar flavor to the cheese, making it even more popular. If you are a vegan and miss having the cheesy flavor in your dishes, you have to get your hands on this vegan superfood.

Bakers and people who love to bake, keep in mind that you cannot use nutritional yeast for baking your bread. This yeast is highly inactive and would fail to make your bread rise or convert sugar into alcohol for making beer. This product comes from the same strain of brewer's yeast, but it is highly modified.

 

The manufacturer has to carefully follow a few things before starting the production of nutritional yeast. The raw product needs to be introduced into highly controlled laboratories. The process begins with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as common yeast. T

his yeast grows on three highly nutrient-deficient foods like sugar cane, wood pulp, and beet molasses; the molasses are usually genetically modified to remove all the nutrients that help the yeast grow. As the yeast notices an external lack of nutrients, the yeast slowly starts producing its nutrients.

Once this process is done, the manufacturers then dry out the yeast to preserve its high nutritional value; to do so, they use a potent hot gas to dry out and keep the consistency.

This yeast is then dried again depending on the factory or the manufacturing process; the drying process is usually called drum drying. Most manufacturers in the later stages fortify this yeast by adding vitamins such as B12 and folic acid.

Many people get confused with the name of this product since the packaging always spells out different words. People mostly avoid buying because of its various titles. Technically speaking, nutritional yeast is also called yeast seasoning or nutritional yeast seasoning.

Most Australian manufacturers and departmental stores fashion the label saying yeast seasoning, while North American people like to call it Nooch or nutritional yeast. Brands usually combine various terms to appeal to consumers and a broader audience.

Why Do People Use It?

As nutritional yeast is filled with umami flavors, most vegans use it to add a cheesy flavor to their dish. Users can use it to create a depth of flavors, vegan cheeses, and various homemade cheese sauces. The most famous use of nutritional yeast is adding a cheesy flavor to popcorn.

Many vegans sprinkle the powder on roasted vegetables and rice for a nice pesto creamy flavor. Nutritional yeast is excellent for people on vegan diets as they can add this ingredient into the dressing for a more flavorful salad.

Other than the flavor, many people love it because of its nutritional benefit and for ingesting loads of vitamin B-12. Nutritional yeast also gives an excellent creamy texture to any dish; therefore, vegans love using this flavoring agent in their cooking.

Nutritional Value Of Nooch

1oz of serving gives you an approximate of:

  • Carbohydrates: 10g
  • Fiber: 5.5g
  • Calories: 84
  • Protein: 11.7g
  • Fat: 1.2g

It is awe-inspiring to see that a mere 1oz serving size gives nearly 12 grams of healthy plant-based protein. You are bound to receive your daily recommended intake of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. This yeast is an excellent product if you wish to get your daily doses of proteins and different vitamins.

You do not have to compromise nutrition, even if you a vegan.

Reasons To Find Nutritional Yeast Substitute.

While nutritional yeast seems to a perfect alternative to basic cheese and gives a boost of nutrition, there are many reasons why people might want to change this ingredient from their diet.

  • Genetically modification

As we know, nutritional yeast is significantly modified to give us the final result and flavor profile. Changing the food structure can sometimes clash with vegans who do not wish to eat significantly modified foods made in a laboratory. They want a real and straightforward ingredient that works just like Nooch.

  • Contains MSG

This nutritional yeast contains MSG because of its manufacturing process. This yeast is manufactured, fermented, highly concentrated in flavor, and includes glutamates which is the exact requirement for MSG to build up as a byproduct.

Interestingly the manufacturing process of MSG is exceptionally similar to that of nutritional yeast. The addition of MSG knowingly or unknowingly can cause many issues; some classic results include feeling dizzy, lightheaded, losing balance, and feeling nauseous.

  • Strong flavor profile

As nutritional yeast is very highly concentrated, it can be an overpowering ingredient around the house. Not many people love and appreciate the strong flavor of this ingredient and thus might be in search of something more subtle and mild.

  • To use in the absence of this yeast

Sometimes you might want an ingredient that is easy to find in your pantry when you have an empty bottle of nutritional yeast lying on the counter.

  • Allergies

A few vegans might be allergic to the chemical composition of this ingredient. Many of them can break out and have severe physical reactions soon after consuming even a trace amount of nutritional yeast.

List Of Nutritional Yeast Substitutes

We have carefully curated the ten best nutritional yeast substitutes that are 100% vegan.

Every ingredient is vegan and can be used instead of nutritional yeast without breaking your diet and vegan lifestyle.

The most important thing? They are easy to find in your pantry or at the departmental store.

#1 Soy sauce

Soy sauce is an excellent substitute for nutritional yeast because of its rich umami flavor. As soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, the intense flavor gets saturated into the beans, which get transferred into the sauce. You can add this to any savory dishes that call for nutritional yeast. Be careful not to add a lot, as concentrated soy sauce is extremely salty and can ruin the recipe if not added in proportion.

For every heaped tablespoon of Nooch that your particular recipe calls, you can add half a tablespoon of concentrated soy sauce. Miso paste is another best ingredient when looking for substitution, as soy sauce has a saltier taste. Miso paste is heavily flavorful and umami in nature; if you want a similar experience, we highly recommend miso paste instead of nutritional yeast.

#2 Spices

This substitute is for people who are looking to add flavor to their savory dishes. As nutritional yeast is highly concentrated and has intense flavors, so do these spices. We have mentioned four herbs that work if you want to add flavor to your dish.

  • Paprika

Paprika does not have any cheesy flavor, but this is an excellent alternative if you miss the flavorful popcorn bowls. Try adding smoked paprika for a bright, spicy yet intense woody flavor into your meal. If you like a little spice, definitely add this to your vegan soups and roasted vegetable platters.

  • Dried onion flakes

This ingredient has yet another unique flavor that works excellent with creamy soups. Dried onion flakes are a perfect substitution for looking for a texture that resembles your regular nutritional yeast. Please do not add a lot as it can become very overpowering.

  • Asoefotedia

You can find this natural gum-based plant substitution in the international section of your grocery store. This ingredient can add a very subtle yet strong flavor if your diet does not allow you to eat garlic and onions.

  • Basil and oregano

These fresh herbs are perfect for dishes that mainly have cheese, like bread and tomato-based dishes. Basil and oregano are perfect as people usually use them for heavy dairy recipes; this very association can trick your brain into thinking that the formula has more cheesy flavor than it initially does.

#3 Yeast Extract – Marmite and Vegemite

Yeast Extracts aren't very widely used in traditional kitchens, but you can find them under brand names like Marmite and Vegemite. They are extremely popular in Australia and UK. This yeast variety has additional ingredients and is heavily fortified with vitamin B, so they are an excellent substitute if you are looking for nutritional needs. Be careful as the flavor profile of these yeast extracts is very different in taste, and they are heavily concentrated. The flavor is very bitter and salty but will surely give you added nutrition required for your diet. You can add two teaspoons for every one tablespoon mentioned.

#4 Vegetable bouillon

Vegetable bouillon is the most common ingredient on this substitute list. It is mainly made by simmering vegetables and boiling them till they form a heavily concentrated flavor. We highly recommend this ingredient if you are looking to add flavors in your stews and soups, do not add this into dry recipes as it has high liquid content. You will love the rich flavor and nutrition of the vegetables without feeling the need to consume ungodly amounts of vegetables.

#5 Stock cubes

These cubes are excellent, flavorful little brick cubes that you can add to dry dishes. You can crush it and sprinkle it as and when needed. Keep in mind that these stock cubes do have additional yeast extract in the raw ingredients. If you wish to avoid yeast altogether, look for stock cubes that have zero amount of yeast.

#6 Brewer's Yeast

As the name suggests, brewer's yeast is usually used in the beer-making process. You can use it for baking vegan bread too. Brewer's yeast isn't packed with nutrition like the nutritional yeast but has a good amount of protein. It doesn't have a high vitamin B12, but it is undoubtedly a good substitute instead of adding nothing. You will surely get a few minerals and vitamins into your diet with this yeast's consumption. One thing to pay attention to while using brewer's yeast is the flavor; as it is used to make beer, the yeast is on a bitter side than the tasty and cheesy Nooch. We highly recommend dialing down the quality to reduce the bitter edge of the flavor profile.

#7 Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour is the most suitable substitute for nutritional yeast as it is very similar in texture, flavor, look, and nutritional value. We agree that the nutritional value would not match Nooch's, but considering the other alternatives, this is the closest you can get to Nooch.

Keep in mind that chickpea is on a blander and milder side, so this is perfect for when recipes call for a considerable amount of yeast, like ¼ cup. You cannot add brewers' yeast as it will make the entire dish bitter, and you cannot add soy or vegetable bouillon as it would not give you your desired texture. In such cases, you can rely on chickpea flakes or powder. If you wish to add it for a crunch factor, we recommend toasting it for a more crunchy texture. As the flavor is light, you can mix garlic powder, smoked salt, or smoked paprika to achieve a somewhat similar taste.

#8 Vegan Protein

If you consume nutritional yeast just for protein, we suggest that you try various food groups and have a varied diet to increase the protein intake with every bite and every meal. The most common and nutritious complete vegan protein include:

Quinoa
Soy and soy products such as tofu, seitan, edamame, and tempeh
Chia seeds
Buckwheat

Consuming these vegan alternatives will indeed balance out the absence of high protein that you would have gotten from the nutritional yeast.

#9 Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds have a great source of vitamin B. You can use this substitute if you are looking for something high in vitamin B. Apart from the nutrition, they have a crunchy texture. You can add whole-shelled seeds into your salads, vegan yogurts, and cereals. Ground sunflower seeds are perfect for adding a grainy texture with a hint of nutty undertones. If you can get your vegan hands-on pure sunflower butter, consider purchasing and using it as a dip for raw vegetable slices and fries. This butter is also excellent for thickening up your soup.

 

#10 Mushrooms

Mushrooms are exceptionally perfect when you think about using them to enhance the flavor of your dishes. Get your hands on dried mushrooms for a better flavor concentration. You can buy these pre-chopped, but we recommend buying whole and chopping or making a powder per your need.

These four types are excellent to add as a substitute for nutritional yeast.

  • Shitake mushroom

Shitake mushroom has a very mild flavor, but this is an excellent substitute to add to dishes with light and sensitive flavors. It will surely give you the much-needed umami flavor that binds the entire recipe.

 

  • Oyster mushroom

These mushrooms have a more robust flavor than shitake, and you can very easily use these instead of shitake in any dish.

  • Porcini

Porcini has a very intense hearty flavor that is great for vegans who want an extra nutty flavor just like the Nooch. This mushroom is heavily used in Italian cuisine and can lift your pasta without extra cheese. We recommend this for cheesier dishes.

  • Chanterelles

These mushrooms are filled with peppery and fruity flavors, which are ideal for stews and soups. A powder of this can thicken the soup, just like nutritional yeast. If you are looking for fruity and peppery flavors, this mushroom is very much ideal.

Conclusion

Nutritional yeast is an excellent addition to your vegan recipes. Still, if you are running low on this stock or do not have it, we recommend testing all these readily available products in your pantry. If you aren't vegan, we highly recommend using parmesan cheese as an alternative. Parmesan is the best ingredient that you can use as both of them have nearly the same taste, and they do look similar.

Apart from this, you can add avocado into your vegan diet to get the most nutrition. Avocado does not resemble any flavor or texture, but it is highly nutritious. If you are a vegan, it becomes imperative to measure and keep track of your food intake for minimum calories and a healthy amount of proteins and vitamins. All the ingredients mentioned above are perfect in terms of flavor, texture, or taste. From now onward, your dish would never fall flat, even with the absence of nutritional yeast.

References

https://www.iamgoingvegan.com/nutritional-yeast-substitutes
https://myvegansausages.com/substitutes-for-nutritional-yeast/


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