Nutritional yeast shares a common link with baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast: All are derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nutritional yeast has very different application in the kitchen, however.
Brewer’s yeast — which results from a fermentation process that includes hops — is quite bitter, while nutritional yeast, grown on molasses, has a savory flavor similar to cheese. Nutritional yeast is deactivated through a pasteurization process that kills the microorganisms responsible for metabolizing sugars, while baker’s yeast remains alive. As a result, nutritional yeast does not rise in the oven.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent source for many nutrients, including amino acids, minerals and other vitamins. Some nutritional yeast products are fortified with vitamin B12, providing a non-animal source of this essential nutrient.
Nutritional yeast is sold in powdered and flaked varieties. Sprinkle small amounts over popcorn, salads and soups, and use larger amounts to make vegan “cheese” sauces or “cheesy” eggless scrambles.