10 Best Nutritional Yeast Substitutes

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Nutritional yeast has become more popular over the past decade, but it can still be hard to find in some grocery stores. Whether your area is lacking nooch or you just ran out, these 10 best nutritional yeast substitutes will work in a pinch. Best of all, most of them are staples you likely already have in your pantry.

Nutritional Yeast Alternatives

Here are my top ten recommendations for substitutes to replicate the cheesy, nutty, umami-like flavor of nutritional yeast.

1. Brewer’s Yeast

Both brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast are made from a yeast species called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. So it makes sense that one would be a decent substitute for the other.

While nutritional yeast is made specifically for use as a food ingredient, brewer’s yeast is actually a by-product of the beer brewing process. For this reason, this dry yeast has a noticeable beery flavor and a bitter taste. But, like nutritional yeast, it does a good job of thickening sauces.

For this reason, brewer’s yeast is my number one recommendation for use as a nutritional yeast replacement in cheesy vegan sauces.

I highly recommend looking for “debittered” brewer’s yeast, which has a much more pleasant flavor and works better for cooking.

2. Yeast Extract

Another yeast product that works well when you’re plum out of nutritional yeast is yeast extract, also known as marmite or vegemite. 

This dark brown spread is most commonly used in the UK and Australia, but you can find it at some supermarkets in the US. Like dried brewer’s yeast, yeast extract is a byproduct of beer brewing. But unlike brewer’s yeast, it has a more savory flavor and fewer bitter notes. 

Because it is only available in a sticky, spreadable form, it is not a good option for garnishing dishes. But it works wonderfully as a nutritional yeast alternative in recipes and sauces.

3. Soy Sauce

When it comes to adding some umami oomph to vegan dishes, nutritional yeast isn’t the only candidate. Soy sauce (and tamari) has long been celebrated as a vegetarian umami flavor enhancer. 

Of course, soy sauce also comes with a hefty dose of salty flavor that nooch doesn’t. When using it in a recipe, this is easy to overcome simply by cutting the amount of salt added. You’ll also want to use about half as much soy sauce in the recipe as you would nutritional yeast, due to its stronger flavor.

4. White Miso Paste

Miso paste is another umami staple in Asian culture. This sticky paste is made from fermented soybeans, which also means it comes with a hefty dose of probiotics and is a good source of vitamin K.

All types of miso paste have that signature umami flavor, but white miso paste is the best choice for substituting nooch. It has a nuttier flavor profile and a milder taste. Like soy sauce, the umami flavor in miso is much more concentrated than in nooch, so you only need about a third as much in your recipe.

5. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos is a liquid flavor additive that looks very similar to soy sauce. But it doesn’t have nearly as much of a salty taste as the better-known condiment and has a slightly sweet finish. Like nooch, it has a unique nutty taste and savory flavor that makes it a decent vegan substitute.

If you are eating a restricted diet or have food allergies, coconut aminos is a good choice. This food is gluten-free, soy-free, and yeast-free. It is made from fermented coconut tree sap and has a high amount of the amino acid, glutamate, which gives it that signature umami flavor.

Because it’s a liquid, it is best suited for use in sauces and within recipes. The flavor isn’t as intense as others on this list, but the added sweetness and saltiness mean you should start sparingly and increase as needed.

A similar option to coconut aminos is Bragg Liquid Aminos. This product is made from fermented soybeans but has a very similar flavor.

6. Cashews

If you’ve ever made vegan cheese sauce, then you know how well cashews and nooch go together. This nutritious nut provides a creamy texture to the sauce while bringing its own hefty dose of nutty flavor. 

When you’re out of nutritional yeast, cashews can be used to create a decent topper for pasta, steamed veggies, and more. Used alone, you’ll get the nuttiness and a bit of an added crunch. Used with garlic powder, brewer’s yeast, and a little salt, and you’ll have something similar to a parmesan substitute that would usually be made with nooch.

7. Dried or Fried Onion Flakes

For those nooch recipes that are a touch on the indulgent side, fried onion flakes can make a great substitute. These crispy flakes have the right texture to replace nooch flakes and a ton of that savory goodness. But they also pack a fair amount of fat and take extra time to prepare.

You can also use dried onion flakes in place of nooch. Again, the texture is about right and you get the savory aspect of onions. 

But it comes with an added tangy flavor and you miss out on those cheesy undertones. But, in a pinch some onion flakes will do, just make sure you don’t overdo it!

8. Dried Mushrooms

Mushrooms might sound like an odd choice for a nooch substitute, but don’t forget, like yeast, mushrooms are a type of fungus.

The four types of mushrooms that work best in place of nutritional yeast are porcini, oyster, shiitake, and chanterelle. Each of these has a distinct earthy savoriness that can also be found in nooch. The overall effect is more broth or meat-like than cheesy, which works better in some situations than others.

You can buy your mushrooms pre-dried or dry them yourself. In either case, use a coffee grinder to pulverize them into a powder before adding them to your recipe in place of nooch.

9. Chickpea Flour

Like nutritional yeast, chickpea flour is packed with B vitamins and protein. In powdered form, it also captures the texture of powdered nooch perfectly.

What chickpea flour lacks are the cheesy taste and umuminess. Browning the flour before use will help bring out a touch of that savoriness and a lot of nutty and earthy undertones. Mixing the browned powder with a little onion powder and brewer’s yeast makes for a very noochy topper for pasta, popcorn, and other savory snacks and dishes.

10. Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Back when nooch first took the vegan world by storm, commercial vegan cheese was still relatively hard to find. Today, there are so many vegan cheese brands that finding vegan parmesan is almost as easy as finding nutritional yeast. 

If your grocer is out of the latter but flush in the former, then you’ve got a great nooch substitute right there.

More so than standard vegan cheeses, vegan parmesan has that slight bitterness and extra savory flavor that makes for a great topper. It also works pretty decently in many cheese sauce recipes.

Expert Opinion: What’s the Best Nutritional Yeast Substitute?

The best nutritional yeast substitute depends on what kind of recipe you are using the ingredient in. To help you find your best option, here is a quick reference table:

UseBest Nutritional Yeast Substitute
Vegan Cheese SauceDebittered Brewer’s Yeast
In Savory RecipesYeast Extract
ToppingDried Onion or Commercial Vegan Parmesan
SeasoningBrowned Chickpea Flour with Onion Powder

If you don’t have these ingredients on hand, don’t forget to check the list above for more potential alternatives.

FAQ

What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a product derived from yeast cultured in a high sugar medium then deactivated and dried. Nutrients added to the culture, and sometimes during the drying process, give this product a unique nutritional profile that makes it a healthy and tasty addition to a vegan diet.

What does nutritional yeast taste like?

Nutritional yeast has a unique savory, umami flavor. The nutty undertones and touch of maltiness give it a similar flavor to fresh parmesan. 

Looking for the best-tasting nooch? Here are our favorite nutritional yeast brands.

Can I Use Cornstarch Instead of Nutritional Yeast?

No, cornstarch does not make a good substitute for nutritional yeast. While this yellow powder may look similar to powdered nooch, the flavor profile is very different. 

Additionally, cornstarch is a powerful thickener. While nooch has a slight thickening effect in sauces, cornstarch will rapidly soak up all the liquid in your recipe causing an intense textural change.

Can I Use Flour Instead of Nutritional Yeast?

No, flour does not make a great substitute for nutritional yeast. Like cornstarch, flour lacks the umami, cheesy taste of nooch. Almond flour provides the nuttiness and could be used in a pinch, but most grain flours are not going to bring the right texture or flavor to your recipe.

Other Vegan Ingredient Substitutes

Cooking with a bare pantry or trying to avoid animal ingredients? Here are some more ‘best vegan substitute articles’ worth bookmarking.

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Cooking with Nutritional Yeast Substitutes

There are a lot of options when it comes to substituting nutritional yeast. But most only work in certain situations, so be sure to reference our list above.

If you do happen to have some nutritional yeast on hand or want to try a great cheese sauce substituting debittered brewer’s yeast for nooch, check out the recipe below.

In the meantime, have you tried any of the above substitutes? Which is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments section at the end of this post.

Nutritional yeast cheese sauce.

Nutritional Yeast Cheese Sauce

If you're lucky enough to have some nutritional yeast on hand, give this easy cheese sauce a try. It's a flexible recipe that works as well with mac and cheese as it does with nachos. Unfortunately most of the substitutions on our list above won't work here, but you might have some luck substituting with brewer's yeast.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
1 Rating
Print Rate it Now Pin Recipe
Course: Condiments & Sauces
Diet: Vegan
Keyword: nutritional yeast, nutritional yeast substitutes
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 3
Calories: 55kcal
Author: Sara Seitz

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and whisk together over high heat until it reaches a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 55kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 428mg | Potassium: 157mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CleanGreenSimple or tag #CleanGreenSimple!

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