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Ingredient IQ: Nutritional Yeast

Think of nutritional yeast—or nooch, as fans like to call it—as the Parmesan of the plant-based food world. Made from yeast cultures that have been deactivated and dried into tiny granules or flakes, melt-in-your-mouth nutritional yeast has a rich, fermented, cheesy flavor that’s perfect on everything from popcorn to pasta.

Once billed as a protein and vitamin supplement (hence the name), the savory sprinkle has gone mainstream, with well-known natural food companies such as Bob’s Red Mill and Bragg marketing their own brands alongside the old standard, Red Star. Keep in mind that while nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12, you shouldn’t rely on it to meet your needs of this vital nutrient.

Read more: Why Every Vegan and Vegetarian Needs Vitamin B12 

Bring on the Flavor
In addition to substituting nutritional yeast anywhere you’d use grated cheese, you can use 1 to 2 tablespoons (or more) to:

  • Season stews and casseroles
  • Turn blended cashews or beans into “cheese” spread
  • Flavor homemade kale chips
  • Add a creamy element to salad dressings
  • Give baked goods a buttery flavor

Or try the following recipes, which harness the power of nooch to delicious effect.

Tex-Mex Potato SkinsTalk about melt-in-your-mouth goodness: Every bite of these potatoes is pure bliss, thanks to the creamy nutritional yeast-based sauce. Get the recipe here.

Vegan Cheesy SauceYou’ll have no trouble thinking up ways to use this versatile Vegan Cheesy Sauce (but we’ve included a few suggestions to get you started). Get the recipe here.

Creamy Corn ButterCreamy Corn ButterCorn might be the star, but nutritional yeast is equally key to achieving buttery perfection with this simple recipe. Get the recipe here.

Winter Vegetable Risotto Nutritional yeast joins forces with almond milk and tahini to form a plant-based Parmesan in this hearty risotto. Get the recipe here.

Layered Vegetable SaladLayered Vegetable SaladA mixture of mashed beans and nutritional yeast are the secret to the cheesy layer of this much-loved lasagna-like salad. Get the recipe here

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about the author

Mary Margaret Chappell

When Mary Margaret Chappell first started out in the plant-based food world as a writer, editor, and recipe developer, she was a bacon-loving former pastry chef who didn’t think she could ever cook without butter. Fourteen years, four cookbooks, dozens of cooking classes, and hundreds of recipes later, her favorite thing in the world is sharing the tips, techniques, and recipes that show just how easy and delicious whole-food, plant-based cooking can be. The former food editor of Vegetarian Times magazine has done away with her dependency on butter and is honing her skills at baking with natural sweeteners. 

Mary Margaret lives in France, where plant-based eating can often be a challenge, but the fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes available are simply amazing.

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