Nutritional yeast powder is a versatile ingredient that can be used to enhance the flavor and nutrition of many dishes.
Often described as having a cheesy, nutty, or savory taste, nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient in vegan cooking as it can mimic cheese flavors without using any dairy.
But you don't have to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet to enjoy the unique taste and health benefits of nooch.
What Is Nutritional Yeast Powder
Nutritional yeast powder, sometimes affectionately called "nooch," is an inactive form of yeast that is grown specifically to be used as a food product rather than for the fermentation properties that active yeasts provide. The yeast undergoes a process of culturing, harvesting, washing, drying, and often fortifying before being sold as flakes or a powder.
While nutritional yeast naturally contains some vitamins and minerals, most commercial brands fortify it further with vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folic acid, and zinc. This makes it especially beneficial for vegans and vegetarians who may not get enough of these nutrients from their diet.
Provides a Cheesy Flavor
One of the most popular uses for nutritional yeast powder is to create vegan "cheese" flavors by mimicking the taste of parmesan or cheddar cheese. The powder has an innate savory, nutty, cheesy flavor when used in cooking.
Nutritional yeast powder makes an excellent dairy-free alternative in dishes like:
- Vegan mac and cheese
- Cheese sauces
- Cheesy vegan pasta bakes
- Cheesy popcorn seasoning
- Cheese-flavored crackers or breads
When added to dishes like these, the powder provides the rich, savory cheese notes without using any actual cheese.
Key Takeaway: Thanks to its natural savory and nutty flavor notes, nutritional yeast powder mimics parmesan and cheddar cheese flavors very well. Use it in pasta, sauces, baked goods and more for cheese flavor without the dairy.
Adds Nutrition to Meals
In addition to its cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast powder boosts the nutritional value of recipes. Just two tablespoons provides a good dose of important nutrients:
- 5 grams of protein
- 4 grams of fiber
- Vitamin B2 - 246% DV
- Vitamin B3 - 109% DV
- Vitamin B6 - 212% DV
- Vitamin B9 - 59% DV
- Vitamin B12 - 313% DV
- Zinc and magnesium
Sprinkling this nutrient powerhouse powder into dishes ranging from veggies to soups to salads is an easy way to increase their nutrition. The B vitamins are especially important for energy production and cell health.
Key Takeaway: With just two tablespoons providing over 100% DV for several B vitamins, using nutritional yeast powder significantly increases the nutrition you get from recipes.
Replaces Cheese in Vegan Dishes
In vegan cooking, nutritional yeast powder frequently stands in for non-vegan cheese ingredients like parmesan. Its natural flavor makes it perfect for recipes like:
- Vegan pesto
- Vegan pizza with non-dairy cheese
- Vegan nacho cheese dip
- Vegan ranch dressing
- Vegan Alfredo pasta sauce
- Vegan artisan cheeses
Key Takeaway: Thanks to its savory flavor profile similar to cheese, nutritional yeast powder replaces non-vegan cheese in many classic recipes, allowing vegans to still enjoy the dishes.
Thickens Soups and Sauces
In addition to boosting flavor, the powder also thickens up recipes. Blend it into creamy soups, sauces, salad dressings, and dips in the same way you might use flour or cornstarch as a thickening agent.
The thicker texture comes from nutritional yeast's fiber absorbing liquid. For best results, whisk small amounts of the powder into the simmering liquid towards the end of cooking. This prevents clumping.
Some dishes that benefit from a sprinkle of thickening powder include:
- Cream soups - broccoli, potato, tomato
- White sauces - alfredo, mushroom, cheese sauces
- Salad dressings - green goddess, caesar, ranch
- Bean dips - hummus, black bean dip
Key Takeaway: Stir just a bit of nutritional yeast powder into simmering liquids like soups, sauces and dips at the end of cooking to gently thicken and enhance the flavor.
Uses in Baking
The savory flavor and vitamin boost nutritional yeast powder provides also works nicely in baked goods. Use it to replace cheese in crackers, breads, scones or biscuits.
Or add a couple tablespoons into the dry ingredients when making:
- Vegan pizza dough
- Pretzels or bagels
- Savory bread sticks
- Flaky biscuits or scones
The powder adds nutrition while giving baked goods a more complex, savory quality. Play around with adding herbs like rosemary or Italian seasoning blends to complement it.
Key Takeaway: In baking, nutritional yeast powder replaces cheese to make crackers, breads and more dairy-free and nutritious. Its savory flavor also enhances other doughs and batters.
Seasons Veggies and Grains
One of the simplest ways to use nutritional yeast powder is as a savory seasoning sprinkled over hot dishes. Its flavor complements vegetables and grains perfectly.
Toss the flakes with olive oil or melted vegan butter, then drizzle over:
- Roasted veggies - potatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
- Sauteed greens - kale, spinach, Swiss chard
- Steamed veggies - broccoli, green beans, asparagus
- Whole grains - brown rice, farro, barley, quinoa
The powder makes an easy topping for veggie bowls and grain salads by adding instant savory flavor. Mix in herbs or lemon juice to balance it out.
Key Takeaway: Quickly elevate simple cooked vegetables or whole grains by finishing them with a sprinkling of olive oil and nutritional yeast powder.
Boosts Nut Butter Toast
Take nut butter toast up a notch with just a bit of this flavored powder. Simply smear your favorite nut butter over whole grain toast, then sprinkle on a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast flakes.
The powder's savory depth pairs nicely with the rich nuttiness of spreads like:
Customize your toasts further with additions like:
- Sliced bananas
- Bee pollen
- Ground flax or chia seeds
- Hemp hearts
Drizzle with honey for a sweet and salty flavor contrast if you wish. The sprinkling of powder makes nut butter toasts far more crave-worthy.
Key Takeaway: Nutritional yeast powder adds a savory, cheesy element to nut butter toast, balancing out the rich nutty flavors perfectly.
Where can I buy nutritional yeast powder?
You can find both flakes and powder versions in the spice aisle or bulk bins of well-stocked grocery stores, health food stores, and online. Brands like Bragg's, Bob's Red Mill, Anthony's and Hoosier Hill Farm are good options.
How should I store nutritional yeast powder?
Keep nutritional yeast in an airtight container in a cool, dark cabinet or the refrigerator to preserve freshness and nutrient content. Properly stored, it stays fresh for up to two years.
Is using nutritional yeast good for weight loss?
While not a magic bullet, using it to boost flavor of nutritious foods can aid weight loss goals. The powder adds lots of nutrients while being very low calorie - about 40 calories per two tablespoon serving. It may help curb cravings for high-calorie cheese or salt.
What does nutritional yeast taste like?
The best way to describe it is having a savory flavor similar to parmesan or cheddar cheese but without the actual dairy. Many people say nooch has a nutty, cheesy, umami taste. The flavor works very well in place of cheese in many recipes, especially when combined with other savory spices.
With its naturally nutty and savory flavor similar to parmesan cheese, the possibilities are endless when cooking with nutritional yeast powder. Add it to everything from pasta to popcorn for instant cheesy flavor without any dairy.
Nutritional yeast powder is perfect for vegan cooking, but also makes an excellent flavor booster for all types of dishes from roasted vegetables to nut butter toasts.
With the bonus of being packed with key B vitamins, fiber, and protein, a sprinkle of this flaky powder enhances both nutrition and taste.