Recipes on May 24, 2010 by

Nutritional Yeast Demystified

What is nutritional yeast, anyway?

What is nutritional yeast, anyway?

In Portland, you can find nutritional yeast (aka vegetarian food yeast) at almost every restaurant catering to a vegetarian clientele. It’s a funky orange-yellow color and can range from a fine powder to larger flakes. It smells a bit yeasty, a bit nutty and a bit cheesy, but what’s the deal? What is this funky ‘hippie dust’? (Truly, I have seen it called that before.)

Nutritional yeast, which is not to be confused with Active Dry Yeast or Brewer’s Yeast, is a deactivated form of the microorganism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeast is pasteurized and placed in a dryer to deactivate the yeast and bring out its nutritional properties. The yeast, which is gluten free, has a flavor reminiscent of cheese and is rich in amino acids, B-complex vitamins, niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium and thiamine. Bob’s Red Mill’s nutritional yeast has been fortified with vitamin B-12, as well.  Nutritional yeast is popular with vegetarians and vegans whose diets can be deplete of B-complex vitamins, especially B-12.

Nutritional yeast won’t make your bread rise or your beer ferment, but it is excellent sprinkled over popcorn and pizza. It can be added to breading for tofu or meat to increase the flavor and nutritional value of the food. The yeast is also a wonderful addition to gravies and sauces or used to create a non-dairy ‘cheese’ sauce for those who are vegan or who cannot tolerate dairy.

Here are some great recipes for turning this funky dust into something delicious and nutritious!

Nutritional Yeast Cheese Sauce from Bob’s Red Mill
The Best Cheesy Uncheese Sauce from Karina’s Kitchen (gluten free)
Hemp Burgers from Bob’s Red Mill
Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese (in the world) from
Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese from Flavor Vegan


Marion M says:

Dear Mr. Moore….I am confused but sooo happy to read your comments regarding your nutritional food yeast. My dear little 3 yr. old granddaughter is allergic to dairy, egg and banana (anaphylactic) I discoverd a vegan mac and cheese recipe which contained nutritional food yeast. I rushed to the whole food groc store to discover on the packaging of their nutritional food yeast was printed NOT FOR PEOPLE WITH DAIRY ALLERGY. Later in Loblaws I saw your large flake nutritional food yeast, it did not have the warning on it. I bought it, thought I would check with your website and find by the comments on your site that it is a great substitute for people with dairy allergies. I am so excited but still a little nervous about going ahead with this product. Can you advise me further. I appreciate your input as I am desperate to find food this little one can tolerate. Respectfully Marion M.

debra athanas says:

Since most beet sugar is a gmo product is the beet molasses used to grow this yeast a gmo product?

The sugar our yeast is grown on is also non-GMO.

Marion M says:

Dear Mr. Moore..I am confused but soo happy to read your comments regarding your nutritional food yeast. My dear little 3 yr. old granddaugther is allergic to dairy, egg and banana (anaphylactic) I discovered a vegan mac and cheese recipe which contained nutritional food yeast. I rushed to the whole food groc. store to discover on the packaging of their nutritional food yeast was printed NOT FOR PEOPLE WITH DAIRY ALLERGY. Later in Loblaws I saw your large flake nutritional food yeast, it did not have the warning on it. I bought it, thought I would check with your website and I find by the comments on your site that it is a great substitute for people with dairy allergies. I am so excited but still a little nervous about going ahead with this product. Can you advise me further. I appreciate your input as I am desperate to find food this little one can tolerate. Respectfully Marion M

@Marion Nutritional Yeast is fine for people with dairy allergies. It could be that the brand you were looking at with the warning is produced in a facility or shared lines with dairy products. Our nutritional yeast is produced in a facility that does not use any dairy products. There are no dairy containing ingredients in our Nutritional Yeast and it does make an awesome cheese substitute for things like mac-n-cheese. This website is a wonderful resource for information, food lists and recipes:

Angel says:

I hope you are doing well. 🙂 I am wondering how your yeast is dried. At what temperature? Thanks so much for your reply.

Hi Angel,

Our Nutritional Yeast is processed at temperatures above 212°F. The Nutritional Yeast is pasteurized and placed in a drum dryer to de-activate the yeast to get the nutritional properties. For more info, please contact our customer service team at 800-349-2173.

Danielle says:

Is your nutritional yeast potato free?


Yes, our nutritional yeast is potato free. We do package potato flour and potato starch in our gluten free facility, but we clean the lines well between each run. Please contact our amazing customer service staff for more info: 800-349-2173

Natalie says:

I am allergic to baker’s and brewer’s yeast… will that mean I’m probably allergic to nutritional yeast as well?

I would imagine that you would be, but I can’t say for sure. I’m sorry that we can’t give you a more definitive answer.

Megan says:

I have gluten and corn allergies. Is Nutritional Yeast derived from either of those?


Our Nutritional Yeast is not derived from corn or gluten.

Darla says:

Hello! Wondering about any cross contamination with tree nuts or peanuts?



We don’t have any peanuts in our facility, so there is no risk of cross contact with them. We do produce products that contain hazelnuts and almonds in our gluten free facility. All lines are cleaned between production runs and we follow Good Manufacturing Processes to prevent cross contact between allergens. For more information about our allergen policies, please contact our customer service team at 800-349-2173.

Thor Halland says:


Can you explain how I can make this at home? I live in a Developing country (Thailand) and Veganism is only just developing (despite its Buddhist religion) and importing it is beyond financial possibilities for Thai people.

Hi Thor,

I don’t believe you can make this at home. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Christine says:

Hi, Cassidy,

My husband and I have changed our diet because he has prostate
cancer, and we know that what he eats can make a difference in the
progression of the disease. I would like to use nutritional yeast in lieu of cheese, but I read that high levels of folic acid can speed up the growth of cancer cells. Can you please tell me the amount of
folic acid present in Bob’s yeast? Thanks.

Hi Christine,

It looks like a 1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast contains 444mcg of Folic Acid. Honestly don’t know if that’s a lot or not, but you might look into other cheese alternatives like Daiya shreds if Nutritional Yeast is out.

Robert says:

Did you know there is a difference in folic acid and folate? Folic acid is a synthetic man made form of folate and probably why it increases cancer. Nutritional yeast would be better off if they used all natural ingredients. Maybe you can find one that uses folate

Angela says:


I was wondering if there’s any soy,,gluten, or seseme in this product?


Hi Angela,

We do produce this product in our gluten free facility, which also processes items containing soy and sesame. The product does not contain gluten, soy or sesame and is tested to be sure that it does not contain gluten. We use good manufacturing practices to ensure that lines are cleaned between runs and reduce the chance of any cross contact between these allergens. I hope this helps. For more info, please call our customer service team at 800-349-2173.


Samia says:

Hi. I was shocked by your statement (above, in response to Angel) that your Nutritional Yeast is processed at temperatures above 212°F. That is beyond belief. 212 degrees F. is boiling point. So why would you want to heat it even higher??? This isn’t necessary for pasteurization. Thank you. – Samia.


This is how it is made by our supplier. I’m not sure why they choose such a high temperature. Please contact customer service for more info at 800-349-2173

Jim V. says:

Samia, raw food is an unscientific scam. Don’t believe what you read on the internet. Don’t even begin to suggest/imply that a bowl of cooked quinoa with steamed broccoli/kale with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and olive oil is unhealthy in any way, shape, or form.
Thank you Bob’s Red Mill for pasteurizing this product and making it safe. 🙂

Ben says:

Actually, there is plenty of science to back the raw foods diet. It is a fact that enzymes are destroyed when you cook most foods. It is a fact that these enzymes aid in the digestion process and help absorb nutrients. It is a fact that nutrients are lost during the cooking process in most cases. Nobody is suggesting that quinoa and kale are unhealthy, even cooked. What is being suggested is that they are more healthy if sprouted/raw. Nutrient density is the key. Quinoa and kale are more nutrient dense in their raw form with the enzymes intact. That being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with nutritional yeast either. A lot of raw foodists use nutritional yeast even though it has been pasteurized. Those are the smarter ones in my opinion. The ones that are just stuck on the concept that literally everything they consume must be raw are going overboard. There are exceptions to be made. This is one of them. Having been raw for a week, I can tell you I feel better than I have for decades. You should not knock it until you have tried it.

Shaylen says:

Jim, it literally makes no sense to call raw food a scam. You’re essentially calling nature a scam. Raw food is so important and we should eat it in abundance daily (raw PLANT food that is, and plant food in general, exclusively). But you’re right that cooked food has its own benefits such as quinoa like you mentioned. I believe a diet rich in raw whole plant foods and cooked whole plant foods is optimal.

[…] of garlic 1/4 cup 100% Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed Olive Oil himilayan sea salt to taste 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast optional:  1/2 tsp superfood […]

Kendra says:

I have heard a rumor that nutritional yeast may have MSG in it, from the way it is processed. Do you have any idea of your product being free from MSG. Respectfully, Kendra


Please contact customer service for information about MSG being in our Nutritional Yeast. They can be reached at 800-349-2173. My guess is that if it is present, it is naturally occurring, but I am not sure.

Viola says:

I am not familiar with nutritional yeast and would like to know if it is safe to use if you have an allergy to yeast and also have celiac disease.


Nutritional yeast is safe for those with celiac disease, but I am not sure about yeast allergies. Nutritional yeast is not live like conventional baking yeast, but you should probably talk to your doctor about it before trying it.

Sarah says:

I am wondering if when beginning to eat nutritional yeast I should start slowly? I have only been sprinkling tiny amounts of my food but notice that I am having very bad gastrointestinal upset and light headedness. I know that the B vitamins incorporated into the yeast are water soluble so I do not believe I am having a reaction to any type of overdose, nor do I believe I have eaten enough to overdose. Is this a common reaction? Thanks!

I haven’t heard of that reaction. I would stop eating it and speak with your doctor or a nutritionist.

[…] But since discovering nutritional yeast, I really don’t miss it so much anymore! So what is nutritional yeast? Well, it has a nutty, cheesy flavor, and comes in either flakes or powder form. It is rich in vitamins (b-complex, folic acid, zinc, and more) and many brands are fortified with vitamin B-12. The brand I use is Bob’s Red Mill which comes in flake form, however when I can find it I do prefer the powder version.(more on nutritional yeast – Nutritional Yeast Demystified) […]

Lisa says:

Hi – does Bob’s Nutritional Yeast (once it is ready to consume) still have any of the glucose remaining in it? I would like to use this product but sugar is a no-go.
Thank you.

Hi Lisa,

I am so sorry, but I do not know the definitive answer to this. It does not contain any sugar and I would imagine that it does not have glucose, but I can’t say for sure. I honestly can’t find any sources that indicate that it would have any glucose, so I would imagine you’re safe here.

Keith G. says:


My wife and I are moving toward a vegan lifestyle and we have only tried nutritional yeast on nachos which we had at a vegan restaurant. What is the difference between the powder form and the flakes? I’ve read all the comments on this page and I’m not certain why you would use one over the other.

Keith G.
Paso Robles, Ca

Hi Keith,

The difference is just the size of the particles. The nutritional yeast that we sell has larger flakes. Either size (powder or flake) works well to make a cheese sauce. There are many recipes, the one we use at home is similar to this:

Janelle says:

Can you tell me how much Vitamin B12 there is in a serving of your nutritional yeast. I dont see that on the label. Thanks so much,

Yes, there are 7 mcg per 1/4 cup serving.

Rendi says:

Does your nutritional yeast have added synthetic folic acid or the bioavailable natural form, folate?

The folic acid in our nutritional yeast is the synthetic form. Please give us a call at 800-349-2173 for more information.

Dwenda Gjerdingen says:

Does your nutritional yeast truly contain folic acid (the synthetic form of folate), or folate (natural form)? Do you fortify your nutritional yeast with folic acid? This is important, because some people evidently cannot process folic acid, so folate may be safer and more effective.

Our nutritional yeast is fortified with synthetic folic acid. If you need more information bout this, please give us a call at 800-349-2173.

Mariana says:

What a bunch of crazy precious people. Nutritional yeast is completely safe as are synthetic b12, folic acid….I wonder what some of you would do if you had real problems and weren’t fortunate enough to live in a country where you can preoccupy yourselves with fad diets and “gluten intolerance” (not Celiac, which is real) and such silliness.

I live in a country where we are lucky to have running water for more than two hours a day and any bread be it wheat kamut or rye is treated as a blessing since more often than not it isn’t available. Everyone eats and with thanks.

What a silly strange world you people have created for yourselves in the US. I am so glad for Bob’s products being distributed in my country.

prema says:

Hi……Excuse me but folic acid is a man made chemical… is linked to breast cancer and is unfortunately added to so many foods because once a long long time ago the government decided we were folate deficient….but pharm saw a way to make money and so came folic acid… is unhealthy and in fact most things that are artificially made for the consumption of any being is usually so unhealthy..
See of nutritional yeast were the only source of folic acid one was taking then perhaps i could see eating it but it is not…..
check your multiple vitamin and see….now how many of you are taking a multiple that has folic acid and not folate in it…….
if you are really health conscious you would not make excuses for synthetic foods and at the same time have much gratitude..

prema says:

Mariana, what a strange combination you are……where did you get your computer in order to do such research and write your comment and in such perfect English…where did you get such an education……hummmm very contradictory……the pic you paint certainly does not include getting to a library to read and use a computer or even having a computer…..wanting healthy foods and not poisonous foods has nothing to do with being ungrateful for what we have…..we should eat poison, which synthetic vitamins are, just because we are blessed to not be living in poverty.?….but don’t worry if Monsanto gets its way all citizens of the world will be in very ill health …
with the little bit of money i have i buy only nutritional food….and if Bod’s yeast has folic acid which is linked to breast cancer in it i will not use my little bit of food money to poison myself…..

Pie says:

I have a question: how is possible that the final product(Nutritional Yeast) preserves its B vitamins after pasteurization?
Pasteurization process applies a lot of heat(above 200F) which DAMAGES all B vitamins…
I just don’t understand…

Pie says:

Ok. Sorry. I just read that it is fortified… Thanks anyway…

Jason says:

I like this product but think that the folic acid should no longer be added given the credible concerns with respect to cancer. Thanks!

Laura says:

My concern is about the folic acid in your yeast. I have a defect in the MTHFR gene, which means I have problems with absorption of B vitamins. I am not supposed to eat anything that has been fortified with artificial folic acid, but only consume folate that is found naturally in food or methylated folated. I eat a fair amount of nutritional yeast. Is your product fortified with folic acid, or does it just naturally contain folate? Thanks.

Our nutritional yeast is fortified. It sounds like it might not be the best choice for you.

James says:

if I boilled dry yeast in water for 5 mins. what nutrition components are lost?
is the protein lost?


That is a great question and not one that we’re able to answer. I’m so sorry that we can’t be of further assistance. I’d imagine that something is probably lost, but I can’t be sure.

Lindsey says:

Does nutritional yeast act in gluten mimicking? I’ve read about cross-reaction (although it seems unfounded). Cross reaction apparently occurs when antibodies made to tag one food (gluten) attach to a different food that is not the original food (such as nutritional yeast) because the food looks similar to gluten.
Can you give me any feedback on this?

I’m sorry, but we don’t know.

Cheryl says:

We have allergies to sugar beet. Is nutritional yeast safe for this allergy?

I would think so. I am not aware of a connection between beets and yeast.

Kirsten says:

Whats the difference between nutritional yeast and nutritional yeast SEASONING? The only kind I could find in my town is called Braggs nutritional yeaat seasoning so I was wondering if they are the same thing or if the seasoning has spices added to it.

You’ll have to read the ingredient list, I’m not sure if Braggs adds any extra seasoning. Ours is just nutritional yeast and vitamins. They may just call it seasoning because that’s how most people use it.

Aashima says:

Many questions have been asked about what is in and how nutritional yeast is produced. You have been able to answer the most technical questions. When asked about MSG in your product, you referred the asking person to customer service.
Why could you not answer this question? Is it possible you did not want the answer published where everyone could see it?


I did not answer that question because I do not have an answer readily available. Since the last time it was asked, I have received the answer that our nutritional yeast does contain naturally occurring MSG (glutamic acid), but does not have the added MSG that is so concerning.

lori bigboy says:

Hello. Can you tell me of nutritional yeast is made from brewers yeast? I’m allergic to brewers yeast.

While our nutritional yeast is not brewer’s yeast, it appears to be the same strain of yeast, so I would recommend that you do not use it.

Sierra says:

is the folic acid synthetic? is it added (or fortified) by the manufacturer, or is it naturally occurring? thank you

The folic acid in our nutritional yeast is added by the manufacturer and is the synthetic variety.

Therese D says:

I am allergic to Brewer’s yeast(breathing problems). Can I safely consume nutritional yeast?

I am so sorry, but I’d ask your doctor. They are not the same, but they are similar, so it’s likely you may react to that yeast.

Laura says:

Can you please provide this data:
-Does this product contain ‘processed free glutamic acid’?
(Consumers refer to this as ‘MSG’.)
-Does the ‘processed free glutamic acid’ occur as a result of the processing of the yeast? Can you explain how?
-What is the percentage of ‘processed free glutamic acid’ in your product?
-How much ‘processed free glutamic acid’ would I ingest if I ate 2 TBS of your nutritional yeast?

Thank you.

Yes, our nutritional yeast does contain naturally occurring glutamic acid. We have not tested the quantities of glutamic acid in our product so if you have a concern, we suggest you speak with a nutritionist before using this product.

Sully says:


I made an AIP pizza recipe that required 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast in the tapioca flour crust. When I make the pizza I have 2 slices a day for my lunch until it is gone. I have been noticing that I am extremely dizzy, like a permanent vertigo feeling. Also, nausea and bloating. I also had a very bad migraine on the left side of my temple area. I have never had this kind of migraine before. The only thing I have changed in my diet is the nutritional yeast. I am wondering if there is something in it that is causing this to happen to me. I did a search online and saw that this is a common thing to happen to people after having it. What is it in the product that causes these things to happen? Is it not safe? Thanks.

We aren’t sure why that is happening. You should talk to your healthcare professional before continuing to eat nutritional yeast.

Rakan Himadeh says:

Thanks for this. How much zinc does the yeast have per serving and can I find the amino acid profile anywhere?

Our nutritional yeast provides 2.36mg of zinc per 1/4 cup serving.

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