Introduction to Nutritional Yeast
“Nooch,” AKA nutritional yeast, is a kind of culinary yeast used in everything from popcorn seasonings to non-dairy cheese substitutes. To get technical, it’s a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that’s been deactivated so it can’t leaven dough.
While nooch won’t make your bread big and fluffy, it still has a few tricks up its sleeve — the process of deactivating the yeast breaks down proteins that release glutamic acid, a flavor-enhancing compound that gives nooch its mouth-watering umami flavor (more on that shortly).
As its name suggests, nutritional yeast is chock full of beneficial vitamins, proteins and other nutrients. It’s also naturally gluten free and contains no fat or cholesterol, making this magical umami-bomb-in-a-jar a health-conscious treat you can feel good sprinkling on soups, salads and snacks.
What It Tastes Like
Nutritional yeast has a satisfying flavor that goes beyond what you might consider savory. We call this umami — one of the fundamental tastes along with sweet, salty, sour and bitter. If you’re a fan of soy sauce, tomatoes or parmesan cheese, then you’ve already tasted umami in action. It can be described as deep, rich or even meaty — and it’s all due to the presence of glutamic acid, the only known compound to impart umami flavor.
To some people, nooch tastes cheesy or nutty. To others, it’s a little more earthy. Its unique profile can be hard to pin down, but it’s easy to recognize once you’ve tried it. Apples taste like apples — and, well, nooch tastes like nooch.
Not Just for Vegans — Wellness Benefits of Nutritional Yeast
We often get the question, "Is nutritional yeast vegan?", and the answer is yes. Nutritional yeast has long been a staple of vegan and vegetarian diets thanks to its high protein content — a single serving can pack a whopping 9 grams! So not only is it tasty, nutritional yeast is good for you . It also contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein like other elite superfoods such as quinoa and green tea. And depending on the kind of nooch you’re using, it can be fortified with additional vitamins like B-12.
For vegans, vegetarians and omnivores with allergies and sensitivities to gluten, soy and/or dairy, nooch offers an easy and delicious way to get nutrients they can’t find elsewhere. But it’s not only good as a substitute for things you can’t have — it brings something entirely new (and delicious) to the party.
Frontier Co-op Nutritional Yeast is Kosher certified and is naturally:
- Gluten free
- Wheat free
- Sugar free
- Cholesterol free
- Dairy free
- Nut free
- Corn free
- Vegan friendly
- Kosher certified
How It’s Made — Where Does Nutritional Yeast Come From?
This savory treat has surprisingly sweet origins. Frontier Co-op cultivates our nutritional yeast in certified non-GMO molasses. But there’s no actual sugar in the finished product. Once the yeast is ready for harvesting, we wash it, pasteurize it, then dry it with heat to deactivate it. From there, we crumble it into flakes or a fine powder.
Types of Nooch
All nooch is made from the same species of yeast — Saccharomyces cerevisiae — but it can come in a variety of forms:
Flake Vs. Powder
Nutritional yeast comes in both flaked and powdered forms. While the type you use often comes down to personal preference, a recipe might specifically call for one or the other — although they’re typically interchangeable.
Powdered nutritional yeast is generally a good choice when you’re adding it to sauces, soups and other liquid-y applications where it needs to dissolve and mingle with other ingredients. On the flip side, big, flaky nooch makes for a more appetizing, Insta-worthy garnish.
That said, you should be able to use either form for either application with equally satisfying results. Just keep in mind that a little of the powder goes a long way — you only need about half as much as the flakes. (1 tablespoon flakes = 1/2 tablespoon powder.)
Fortified Vs. Unfortified
Nutritional yeast is already rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but fortified blends offer additional nutrients, including the holy grail of vegan supplements — B-12. Since B-12 is usually only found in animal products, many people who don’t (or can’t) eat meat, seafood, dairy or eggs turn to fortified foods and supplements to round out their diets.
If your reasons for using nutritional yeast go beyond adding yummy umami flavor to your favorite snacks, consider using a fortified blend.
Blended Vs. Unblended
Powdered or flaked, nutritional yeast packs a wallop of flavor — all on its own — to whatever you put it in. But it also plays well with other herbs and spices. In fact, Frontier Co-op offers three ready-to-use, pre-seasoned blends that feature some of our favorite flavor combinations: Himalayan Sea Salt & Apple Cider Vinegar, Dill & Vinegar, and Nacho Spice.
Nutritional yeast is equally good in its unblended and blended forms. But if you’re looking to shave some time off your meal prep, blended nooch can save you the step of measuring out multiple spices and cleaning all those little spoons.
Frontier Co-op Nutritional Yeast Blends
Himalayan Sea Salt & Apple Cider Vinegar Nutritional Yeast – features a bold, tangy pop of Himalayan sea salt and apple cider vinegar that’ll wake your taste buds right up! Try it in a creamy, lemony dressing and drizzle over kale for the most insanely nutritious and outrageously delicious salad you’ve ever tried. Mom would be proud.
Dill & Vinegar Nutritional Yeast – this nutritional yeast blend packs a delightfully zesty punch with dill and vinegar notes that shine through. This blend is begging for popcorn, but it also makes for a nice surprise in your favorite Chex mix recipe.
Nacho Spice Nutritional Yeast – adds savory cheese flavor with accents of onion, garlic and cayenne. Sprinkle anywhere you could use some spicy nacho goodness, including tacos, dips and non-dairy “cheez” sauces.
Where to Buy Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast can be found at most natural grocery and health food stores. You can also buy our wide selection of nooch directly from us.
Nutritional Yeast Recipes
Nooch is great sprinkled on popcorn on mixed with mashed potatoes but it can be a key ingredient in many recipes. Our favorite recipe is vegan sweet potato macaroni and cheese.
Want more recipes?
Download our free ebook for even more great tasting recipes. You’ll discover how to make seven amazing nutritional yeast recipes including easy nacho-style cheez and Caesar dressing.
Discover even more uses of nooch with the handy recipe booklet, featuring seven delicious recipes.