Replacing the distinctive umami flavor of nutritional yeast is quite challenging. Although a popular ingredient among vegans, it is not easily accessible. So, if you are struggling to find a substitute for nutritional yeast or have run out of it, this article is for you.
Nutritional yeast is a variety of fungi, different from the quick-rising yeast that is used to produce bread. It is a deactivated form of yeast available as flakes or powder.
With a powerful aroma and strong flavor, nutritional yeast is similar to maize starch which acts as a thickening agent when used in soups and sauces. It carries strong hints of cheesiness, nuttiness, and umami flavor.
To help you replicate the flavor, texture, and consistency of nutritional yeast in your dishes, we have curated a list of highly recommended substitutes that you can use in a pinch.
10 Best Substitutes for Nutritional Yeast
1. Parmesan Cheese
If you do not mind consuming dairy products, parmesan cheese is one of the best non-vegan alternatives to nutritional yeast.
The two components have a rich nutty, earthy, and salty flavor with the same thickening potential. Parmesan cheese also has a crumbly and flaky feel that suits well when used in sauces.
It is a fantastic substitute for salads, stews, soups, and even popcorn. However, remember that nutritional yeast has more health benefits than parmesan cheese.
How to substitute: An equal amount of parmesan cheese can be used to replace nutritional yeast.
2. Brewer’s Yeast
Produced from the same yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, brewer’s yeast is a good replacement for nutritional yeast. While it is a by-product of the beer brewing process, nutritional yeast is created particularly as a food ingredient.
Both products have a comparable texture and their flavors differ a tiny bit. Brewer’s yeast can be slightly bitter, whereas nutritional yeast has a more nutty and cheesy flavor.
Brewer’s yeast works wonders as a thickening agent and can be used in recipes to prepare thick soups and sauces.
How to substitute: Replace one tablespoon of nutritional yeast with two teaspoons of brewer’s yeast.
3. Coconut Aminos
Looking for a vegan alternative that will replicate the flavors of nutritional yeast? Coconut aminos might be the ideal substitute for you. It is manufactured from fermented coconut tree sap and contains a lot of glutamates.
In terms of color and texture, it resembles soy sauce but tastes milder. Coconut aminos are a good replacement for nutritional yeast because of its similar umami flavor. It works best when used in dishes like broths or soups.
Vegans love the flavor of coconut aminos. It is free of gluten and soy and has a lower salt level, making it a healthier alternative.
How to substitute: Use half quantity of coconut aminos to substitute nutritional yeast.
4. White Miso Paste
Prepared from fermented soybeans, white miso paste can nicely replace nutritional yeast in any recipe. It has a thick texture and umami flavors, making it a great vegan cheese complement.
Although white miso paste is the best option for replacing nutritional yeast, all varieties of miso paste have that distinctive umami flavor. However, white miso is preferred because of its milder taste and nuttier flavor.
Its slightly acidic undertone makes it an excellent nutritional yeast substitute in creamy vegan cheese sauce. It also contains a significant amount of probiotics and vitamin K that give your recipe a healthy edge.
How to substitute: One-third quantity of white miso paste can satisfactorily replace nutritional yeast.
5. Soy Sauce
Easily available in grocery stores and a staple in most households, soy sauce is a fantastic option to consider while replacing nutritional yeast. In addition to having a cheesy taste, it contains a comparable umami flavor.
However, soy sauce also has a significant amount of salt that nutritional yeast lacks. Hence, you will need to modify the amount of salt you add to your dish.
How to substitute: Use a half teaspoon of soy sauce to replace one teaspoon of nutritional yeast.
Prepared from yeast extract, marmite has savory, salty flavors with a cheesy undertone. It is an ideal replacement for dishes like sauces, soups, and broths.
Marmite gives your dish a cheese flavor but does not work as a thickening agent. We do not recommend using marmite in recipes where nutritional yeast must be added to a breading mixture or sprinkled on top of your meal because it has the consistency of a thick paste.
How to substitute: To replace one tablespoon of nutritional yeast, use two teaspoons of marmite.
7. Chickpeas Flour
Another delightful substitute for nutritional yeast is chickpea flour. It provides a comparable flavor and powder texture for topping popcorn or baked potatoes.
Also known as gram flour, it is rich in protein and B-complex vitamins, much like nutritional yeast. It is ideally added to recipes that call for a high quantity of nutritional yeast to thicken sauces.
Browning the flour before using brings out its savory flavor and earthy undertones. This browned powder can be combined with some onion powder, brewer’s yeast, and other seasonings to create a delicious topping for savory dishes and snacks.
How to substitute: Use a two-thirds cup of chickpea flour to replace one cup of nutritional yeast mentioned in your recipe.
8. Dried Mushrooms
Mushrooms might appear to be a distant alternative to nutritional yeast, but in reality, they work fairly well. Dried mushrooms have an earthy, umami flavor, making them an ideal replacement.
The best substitutes for nutritious yeast are chanterelle, oyster, shiitake, and porcini mushrooms. Each of these has a distinctive earthy flavor also present in nutritional yeast. Overall they have a less cheesy and more broth-like taste.
You can either dry your mushrooms or purchase them pre-dried from grocery stores. In either case, grind them into a powder before substituting them for nutritional yeast in your recipe.
How to substitute: Dry mushrooms can either be chopped up or pureed before being used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
9. Dried/Fried Onion Flakes
As onion flakes contain a substantial amount of fat, it is the best substitute for your cheat days. It has a perfect texture and savory flavors that serve as the most delicious popcorn topping.
You can garnish your food with dried onion flakes or include them in sauces, stews, and soups. For a thicker consistency, combine the onion powder with chickpea flour.
However, the drawback of using dried onion flakes is that they add an acidic flavor to your dish, losing the cheesy undertones of nutritional yeast.
How to substitute: A pinch of onion flakes can be used to replace nutritional yeast in your recipe.
On grounding, cashews produce a delicious, creamy paste that can be used as a substitute for nutritional yeast.
While cashew paste is often used as a base for sauces, semi-ground cashews are utilized as a garnish to add a nutty taste to your dishes.
Cashews can also be used as a topping for pasta and steamed vegetables. When processed into cheese or butter, it even works well in sweets and pastries.
How to substitute: An equal amount of cashew paste can be used to replace nutritional yeast.
Nutritional yeast is famous for its umami flavor that is extremely hard to resist. But with these substitutes for nutritional yeast, you will never have to compromise.