Substitutes for Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a wonderful accompaniment in the vegan cuisine and it provides a delicious cheesy flavor to meals. It is used to make vegan Parmesan and it tastes great as a pizza topping. Nutritional yeast is an important staple in the vegan kitchen, but what do you use if you have a yeast allergy or intolerance and you can’t consume it? Recently, I was asked about substitutes for nutritional yeast, and it got me thinking.

substitutes for nutritional yeast

How can this staple be replaced and still provide delicious – or even cheesy – flavor to meals? Let’s take a look at the following yeast-free options.

Dried Chopped Mushrooms

Personally, I love mushrooms, and they will make a great substitute for nutritional yeast, given that they have so much flavor. Have you ever had dried shiitake mushrooms? They are to die for! Well, that is just me. Someone else might say, “ew shiitake mushrooms”, but I could eat the dried version every day, and when I had a large bag of them, that’s what I basically did 😉 When I finished the bag I went out and bought another one. I was hooked.

shiitake mushrooms

Of course, when it comes to mushrooms, there are many varieties and flavors. So, which ones are the best to replace nutritional yeast with?

  • Yes, you guessed correctly! Shiitake mushrooms. With their mild flavor their dried, chopped up version makes a nice accompaniment
  • Oyster mushrooms also have a nice, mild flavor, probably even a little lighter than shiitake mushrooms
  • Porcini mushrooms: dried porcini mushrooms provide a more powerful and hearty flavor
  • Chanterelles: these have a very distinctive flavor and also make a flavorful addition

Spices and Herbs

herbs and spices

Can spices and herbs replace nutritional yeast? Yes, some spices and herbs have excellent flavors that could come close to a hearty accompaniment on pizzas, lasagnas, or any other dish you are preparing. Let’s take the following for example:

  • Basil and oregano: great for tomato, pastas, or bread-based dishes, they offer a wonderful, zingy flavor. Obviously, they don’t taste like cheese like nutritional yeast does, but they do add strong flavor.
  • Paprika: this colorful spice adds vibrant color to any dish, and although its taste is mild and not cheesy at all, it does bring a good flavor to your dishes. You can also sprinkle it over your meals as a garnish.
  • Dried onion flakes: they are very savory and will add much flavor to any dish. Moreover, their texture is similar to the texture of nutritional yeast.


Anything else?

Yes, there are some other good alternatives that will replace the texture and/or flavor of nutritional yeast.

  • Chickpea flour offers a similar flavor to nutritional yeast, and the texture is nearly the same. Additionally, it is also high on protein and it provides some of the B vitamins that nutritional yeast contains. If you slightly fry chickpea flour it will have a great nutty flavor.
  • Soy sauce is my favorite sauce, period. I know, it is high on sodium, but if you’re taking the low-sodium version, this is also a sublime substitute for nutritional yeast. But that unmistakable and unique taste of soy can work wonders on your taste buds (well, it does on mine 😉 ). Soy sauce makes a great nutritional yeast substitute in sauces. download-free-vegan-meal-prep
  • Vegemite is not a favorite of mine, but I include it, because taste is subjective and many people love Vegemite (not me, though, you could chase me out of the room with that, haha). Although it is still a yeast extract and therefore a no for anyone who is intolerant to yeast, its high salty flavor can still be a good substitute. However, – and I’m being biased here – I’m not sure how much I should recommend this, since it still has yeast extract.
  • White miso paste: this is a great substitute if you’re looking to use it for creamy cheese sauces, and thanks to a little hint of acid it gives a wonderful cheesy flavor, making it a good addition to your meals.
  • Vegetable bouillon: being an intensely flavorful vegetable concentrate, this is great for soups and stews. If you need less fluid, you can use stock cubes and sprinkle it on veggies or pizza. Just bear in mind that it is extremely salty and it may still contain some yeast extract.

Final Thoughts

Nutritional yeast is one very important staple in the vegan kitchen. I love its cheesy flavor and its many nutrients are a great bonus. If you, however, have a yeast intolerance or the doctor forbade you any foods with yeast, then not being able to use nutritional yeast on a vegan diet could present a slight problem. Fortunately, there are many alternatives and I hope that the above mentioned options will be of some help.

Please let me know if you have any doubts or questions, and if you have any other alternatives that you like to use, I will be happy to hear about it. Let me know your thoughts.

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16 thoughts on “Substitutes for Nutritional Yeast”

  1. Great article, I do my own veggie pizza at home and I’m going to try nutritional yeast, with my gluten-free flour I have trouble digest maybe it will help. Thank you for sharing, you have very good posts from this website, I like reading them.

  2. Haha thanks for the article my guy! I think nutritional yeast is a very good product that does a lot more than just make bread rise lol. However, in the unfortunate event that you cannot have yeast, I think these substitutes should be just as effective, maybe a little bit worse. Thanks for enlightening us! 

    • Hello,

      I’m not a guy, I’m a gal, you can tell from the photo. Nutritional yeast is not like yeast and is certainly not used to bake bread. These substitutes will not work to make bread but they will for all other meal preparations as I stated in this article … 

  3. Wow, you’ve provided so many alternatives to nutritional yeast! I personally am not a vegan, but I do have a friend who is, and I know that he used vegetable bouillon instead of chicken bouillon in a soup recipe I gave him, and he said it turned out wonderfully.

    I had no idea that nutritional yeast was even a thing, to be honest, so this article was super informative. I wonder how it tastes like cheese!

    • Hi Jade,

      Nutritional yeast is very versatile, and its flavor wich resembles cheese a lot is due to its umami flavor that makes one crave more of it.
      Thank you for your comment!

  4. Hey Christine, this definitely is an article that is helpful for my husband to think of substitutions for yeast.

    We both love mushrooms, although the fresh ones are not always available, depending on the seasons. I have never thought of a dried version, duh. 🙂 So that’s a good addition to look into! As are the spices.

    What you have listed in the paragraph ‘Anything else’ poses more of a challenge. Chickpeas are also forbidden in Tom’s diet against gout. And soy we never use for environmental reasons. We never eat salt either. Yes, I know, we are difficult consumers! 😉

    What’s left are Vegemite and white miso paste. Never heard of those, so we will definitely look into them.

    Thank you so much for the trouble of making this list. I loved reading it and I really appreciate your willingness to think about replacements of certain food elements.

    • Hi Hannie,

      I’m glad that this list is helpful for you and your husband. I’m not a fan of vegemite, but I love miso (red and white, there are two versions). Miso has a nice, tangy taste and I love using it for soups and sauces.
      Thank you for your comment!

  5. Hi Christine,

    Thanks for this article showing us what to use substitutes for yeast, although I don’t have a yeast allergy. 🙂

    Among all your recommendations, I like a few things. For example, I am a big fan of soy sauce, and this comes from my parents. Ha…We eat almost every food with soy sauce since my childhood, so I can relate to why you said it’s a great substitute.

    And, white miso paste, what a creative idea, we only use it for miso soup at home. Next time, I will suggest my mom substitute yeast with miso paste to bring more fun to cooking.

    Thanks for sharing ideas that my mom &I never thought of in the past. It’s good to get inspiration from you today.


    • Hi Matt,

      I think that soy sauce is my favorite sauce, I use it a lot as well 🙂 I’m glad that you and your mum are going to substitute yeast with white miso paste. Miso is also very delicious.
      Thanks for your comment!

  6. Thank you so much for the alternatives to nutritional yeast! I personally don’t like the flavor or scent of it; whenever I use it, it smells too much like peanut butter (odd, but true). Lol. I’ve thought of just leaving it out of the sauces that call for it but I love miso, so maybe I’ll try that. Thanks again for sharing! 🙂


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