Find out what nutritional yeast is and if it’s safe for a gluten-free diet. Plus get a list of gluten-free nutritional yeast brands.
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If you’ve been following a gluten-free diet for a while and have found products with the term nutritional yeast, you may have wondered about this product. Especially if you’ve been looking to pull back on the dairy in your diet in addition to gluten, nutritional yeast may have started showing up more in your review of ingredients lists lately.
If you’ve had questions about nutritional yeast, know you’re not alone. After all, yeast sounds like something you’d find more likely in a bread recipe than as a flavoring on popcorn or a box of mac and cheese.
Find out everything you need to know about this ingredient that’s so popular in dairy-free and vegan cooking and products. In this post, we’ll discuss what nutritional yeast is, what it’s made from, and used for. We’ll also go over the details of what types of yeast are gluten-free, which aren’t, and answer the question “Is nutritional yeast gluten-free?”
By the end of this post, you’ll have the answers to all those questions, plus a list of gluten-free nutritional yeast brands to look for and shop for next time you’re at the store.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is an ingredient that is popular in vegan cooking, because of its strong cheese-like flavor. This type of yeast is loaded with health benefits, like 5 grams of protein per two teaspoon serving.
It also provides a good source of B vitamins, like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and B12. There are also beneficial trace minerals in nutritional yeast, like zinc, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum.
What is nutritional yeast made from?
Nutritional yeast is made from the same type of yeast that’s used for baking and brewing beer. The main difference between these other common types of yeast and nutritional yeast is that nutritional yeast isn’t “activated,” meaning it’s not alive and won’t function like active yeast will.
Nutritional yeast is used almost entirely as a seasoning ingredient and is manufactured in a way that the bacteria are killed so it can’t be used interchangeably with other yeast products that produce bubbling or fermenting. Because of how it is made, you can’t bake or ferment with nutritional yeast in the same way you can baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast.
Nutritional yeast is a healthful ingredient that is plant-based, vegan, and offers a savory flavor to many different dishes, including vegan cheese sauces, cheesecakes, and a plant-based seasoning to keep a dish free of dairy products.
What is nutritional yeast used for?
Nutritional yeast is used mainly for vegan cooking and adding extra protein to dishes. With its strong cheese-like flavor, it can be made into a vegan cheese sauce that’s great on pasta or vegetables. Many vegan mac and cheese and cheesecake recipes call for nutritional yeast.
Many people add nutritional yeast to their soups, salad dressings, or sprinkle it on salads. You can add nutritional yeast to top your pasta dishes as a replacement for parmesan cheese.
Read on: Dairy-free alfredo sauce
Read on: 25 gluten-free dairy-free mac and cheese recipes
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, and therefore is impossible to strip away from the grain. If a grain naturally has gluten in it, there’s no way to make that food gluten-free.
Is yeast gluten-free?
Depending on the type of yeast, some are gluten-free while others aren’t. The ones you mostly associate with baking, active dry yeast and instant yeast, are gluten-free and safe to enjoy and use in your baking.
For example, these types of yeast are considered gluten-free and safe for folks avoiding gluten:
- Active dry yeast
- Instant yeast
- Torula yeast
- Autolyzed yeast
- Nutritional yeast
These types of yeast are generally considered not gluten-free:
- Yeast extract
- Brewer’s yeast
- Autolyzed yeast extract
Read on: Is yeast gluten-free?
Read on: Is torula yeast gluten-free?
Read on: Is yeast extract gluten-free?
Is nutritional yeast gluten-free?
Nutritional yeast is grown on sugar beet molasses or cane sugar, making it naturally gluten-free. This ingredient is used as a dairy-free and vegan alternative to creating a “cheesy” flavor without any dairy products. It’s great on salads, soups, dips, pasta, potatoes, and popcorn.
If you follow a gluten-free diet and are looking for a way to make your own dairy-free dips, sauces, or add to salads, know that nutritional yeast is an ingredient you can confidently add to your diet.
You can also enjoy gluten-free foods that contain nutritional yeast as an ingredient as long as all the other ingredients in the product are gluten-free as well. You can easily determine this by looking for a gluten-free label on the brand packaging of the product.
Read on: Gluten and dairy-free diet: 17 condiments to stock your kitchen
Read on: Gluten and dairy-free diet: How to stock your pantry
Brands of nutritional yeast
Though this isn’t a complete list of nutritional yeast brands, this will give you a starting point for what to look for when seeking out a gluten-free option at your local grocery store or online. You can use any of these brands in your cooking and baking for your gluten-free diet.
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Food to Live
- Foods Alive
- Great Value
- Hoosier Hill
- Red Star
- Simply Organic
- Thrive Market
- Trader Joe’s
- UPrise Foods
Is Bragg nutritional yeast gluten-free?
Yes, according to the Bragg’s website and the labeling on the packaging, this brand of nutritional yeast is gluten-free.
If you have been wondering if nutritional yeast is an ingredient you can eat in your gluten-free diet, I hope that this post has given you the information you’ve been looking for to make a decision that works for you and your diet.
Nutritional yeast is naturally gluten-free and can be used if you’re looking to cut back on the dairy in your diet or love to season your food with an ingredient that offers multiple health benefits.
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