Nutritional yeast is a beloved flavor booster among plant-based eaters. Also known as “nooch,” this gold-hued dust has a rich, fermented, “cheesy” flavor, that, when blended with ingredients such as nuts, beans, and cooked starchy vegetables, perfectly mimics a creamy, cheese sauce. Whether you’re a nutritional yeast-newbie or a fan from way back, these 23 hand-picked recipes showcase its ability to enhance savory flavor in a variety of dishes. All the recipes are plant-based and oil-free, which means they’re deliciously healthy too!
In this vegan take on a comfort food classic, a hearty dose of nutritional yeast blended with plant milk, garlic, and boiled sweet potato makes a velvety sauce with cheesy flavor. Don’t be surprised if this one creeps into your weekly rotation! One reader notes: “Made many times and [it] will continue to be a staple.” Check out more Healthy, Delicious, Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipes here.
This healthy vegan take on fried cheese sticks uses blended potato and nutritional yeast to recreate a mozzarella-like interior; nooch is also used to season the crispy coating. Prepare to be amazed, or as one fan puts it, “These are stupid good.” Note: This recipe calls for the cheesy-potato filling to be frozen overnight before baking, so be sure to allow time for this.
Chef AJ’s dairy-free Parmesan is so darn good you’ll find yourself adding it to everything from stews to veggie bakes, salads, and even air-popped popcorn. Made with nutritional yeast and raw nuts, this must-have condiment is also free of added salt. Make plenty and store in the fridge in an airtight container so it’s ready to bring out at mealtimes.
These sublime, open-faced vegan cheeseburgers are a testament to how far WFPB cooking has come. Featuring tender, beautifully seasoned quinoa-veggie patties drizzled with a mouthwatering potato “cheese” sauce and a tangy red onion and bell pepper medley, they are a culinary triumph. Note: These burgers take some time to prepare and are better suited to nights when you’re not scrambling to get dinner on the table.
Homemade basil pesto is affordable, convenient, and just as good as store-bought. Nutritional yeast and cashews sub in for Parmesan cheese while the usual tricksters, garlic and lemon juice, give pep and body. Add a dollop to pastas, salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, or pizza, and instantly create a cafe-quality meal. Pro tip: Make plenty and use for multiple meals; it’ll keep for a few days in the fridge.
Sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and nutritional yeast add tangy cheese flavor to these twice-baked potatoes. Garnished with scallions and a simple lime-tahini dressing, they’re fancy enough to serve to guests and are kid-friendly as well. Note: This recipe takes 90 minutes to make, but that’s mostly passive potato baking time.
When you start eating a healthy plant-based diet it’s natural to wonder how you’ll eat pizza again. What about the cheese?! But then you discover recipes like these easy pita pizzas, which are topped with a nut-free, vegan cheese spread made from blending nutritional yeast with white beans. Insert sigh of relief! Our Air Fryer Mini Pizzas also get their cheesy flavor from a nooch-infused white bean spread.
Looking for a fabulous appetizer to impress both vegans and non-vegans? Enter: asparagus spears coated with a mix of hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, garlic, and breadcrumbs. No one will know they’re healthy! One reader writes: “We’ve made this recipe numerous times and love it. Don’t forget to drizzle the lemon juice on top because it really adds to it.”
Nutritional yeast joins a toothsome lineup of ingredients including chia seeds, capers, lemon juice, kelp granules, and maple syrup to create a full-bodied, oil-free caesar dressing. Pro tip: When eating out, especially when you suspect there will be few vegan options, bring along your own dressing; now you can transform even a basic green salad into a satisfying meal.
This fabulous side dish of baked “cheesy” cauliflower brings back happy memories of veggies bathed in a rich cheese sauce—only this time, it’s healthy! Perfect for family supper or festive gatherings, this scrumptious bake also works with broccoli substituted for some, or all, of the cauliflower. One reader remarks, “This was a slam-dunk for me. I loved the creaminess of the sauce and really appreciated how low key the prep was.”
For the full, cheesy, melt-in-your-mouth flavor extravaganza that only lasagna can give, these vegan roll-ups really deliver. A herb-infused butternut squash “cheese” sauce, flavored with nutritional yeast, white miso, navy beans, garlic, and tahini, mingles with layers of whole grain lasagna noodles and marinara sauce. One reader writes, “So good! One of my new faves.”
A whole-food, plant-based take on chicken nuggets, these crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside bites are perfect for a snack, appetizer, or kids birthday party. With a well-seasoned center made with chickpeas and rice, they taste great dipped into ketchup, barbecue sauce and/or hot sauce. For another delish “cheesy” appetizer, check out these Chickpeazella Sticks.
Fettuccine Alfredo is normally a cream-heavy dish, but this vegan version gets its cheesy richness from blended cannellini beans, nutritional yeast, almond butter, and garlic. “So simple and yummy,” notes one reader. For more cheesy vegan pasta dishes, check out our collection of mac and cheese recipes or this yummy Green Bean Pasta with Cashew Pesto.
In this dairy-free cheese sauce, a whole cup of nutritional yeast is blended with onion, red bell pepper, and cashews (optional) to delicious effect. Add veggies, pasta, or a veggie bake, for a tasty meal the whole family will enjoy. Other delicious nut-free vegan cheese sauces that you can use to brighten up your cooking include: our oat-based Vegan Queso Sauce; or this incredibly versatile Cauliflower Béchamel.
This gorgeous layered veggie salad is so much more than your ordinary salad. Thinly sliced veggie ribbons are layered with a “cheesy” white bean spread, while a seasoned balsamic dressing adds tangy goodness. You’ll want to savor every bite. Note: To really let the flavors mingle, chill for at least an hour before serving.
The best thing about this fabulous brown rice risotto, aside from the creamy, rustic nooch-enhanced flavor, is you don’t need to spend hours at the stove trying not to burn it! Mayim Bialik’s scrumptious Winter Vegetable Risotto also features nutritional yeast.
In this healthy version of a greasy, fast-food classic, chunky potato wedges are topped with a zesty bean chili and a creamy potato sauce. Incredibly satisfying and packed with robust flavors, this hearty whole-food, plant-based dish forever dispels the myth that vegans live on raw lettuce and sprouts!
For a 30-minute weeknight meal that consistently knocks it out of the park, serve baked tortilla chips with seasoned lentils, pico de gallo, and a creamy potato-based nacho “cheese.” Garnish with scallions and cilantro.
Oil-free and absolutely delicious, there’s no need to be sparing with this creamy, golden butter. Corn lends sweetness, nutritional yeast adds a savory note, and agar powder (a seaweed-derived alternative to gelatin) binds it together. Spread on bread, crackers, or slather on ears of piping hot corn. Note: You can use fresh or frozen corn to make the butter.
Perfect for a lazy weekend brunch, this tofu-based veggie frittata has a delightful lightness thanks to the airy qualities of aquafaba (canned chickpea liquid), while a selection of spices and nutritional yeast yield a tantalizing cheesy, egg-like flavor.
Sick of serving up the same old appetizers? Gather your guests for some vegan fondue fun—you’ll be amazed at the perfectly gooey texture of this veggie-laden “cheese” sauce. Plant-based dippers that work well include: tofu or bread cubes, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, asparagus, small whole mushrooms, snow pea pods, and pita triangles. Now where is that fondue pot?
Lisa Esile is an author, illustrator, blogger, vegetable gardener, and whole-food enthusiast with a special fondness for potatoes. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is passionate about showing people how to live happier, healthier lives. Lisa is the author of Reach your Big Calm and the co-author of Whose Mind Is It Anyway?.