Nutritional yeast has become a bit of a staple ingredient in a balanced vegan diet.

It’s delicious, flavoursome, and pretty nutritious too (hence the name!).

But what if you don’t like it or prefer to avoid it for other reasons?

Can you still create yummy meals without it?

You absolutely can.


Here are our top 12 favourite plant-based nutritional yeast substitutes.

  1. Brewer’s Yeast
  2. Salt-reduced soy sauce
  3. Vegetable broth
  4. Dried mushrooms
  5. Herbs and spices
  6. Chickpea flour
  7. Dried onion flakes
  8. Miso paste
  9. Seaweed flakes
  10. Marmite
  11. Nutty Parmesan
  12. Mustard Powder

Find out more about why we recommend these and how to use them below.


What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a type of edible yeast that has a nutty flavour.

Nutritional yeast (or “nooch” as many vegans affectionately label it) is a type of edible yeast that has a savoury, nutty, and cheesy taste.

It is made by growing cultures of saccharomyces cerevisiae (a type of yeast) that are fed a diet high in glucose.

Once the yeast cultures have grown they are then heated, pasteurised, and dried – which kills them.

The cheesy flavour originates from glutamic acid which is released during the cooking process.

A nutty flavour also arises from the toasting process, when the yeast becomes thin and flaky.

The finished product is then packaged up and made available on supermarket shelves.


Why do some people avoid nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast may not always be the best option for some people.

There are many reasons why someone might avoid eating nutritional yeast in their diet.

These are just a few of the reasons why you might wish to substitute nutritional yeast for something else:

  • It’s usually quite expensive. The price tag is often a huge factor in whether or not someone decides to include nutritional yeast in their weekly grocery haul. Unfortunately, nutritional yeast is one of those foods that does seem to come with a higher cost in comparison to other flavour options.
  • It can cause digestive issues. If nutritional yeast is introduced into a diet that was originally low in fibre, it can cause some stomach discomfort due to its very high fibre content. For this reason, it is suggested that nutritional yeast is introduced in small amounts at a time. Nutritional yeast can also aggravate digestive problems for those with existing gastrointestinal issues.
  • The taste may not be appetising for some. Nutritional yeast has a pungent taste that may not appeal to everyone. Some people may choose to find a nutritional yeast substitute simply because they do not like the taste of it.


Best Plant-Based Alternatives For Nutritional Yeast

If you’re searching for a plant-based alternative for nutritional yeast, then look no further.

Here are our top 12 suggestions for substituting nutritional yeast:

1. Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer's yeast makes a great alternative to nutritional yeast.

This one is a great alternative for those who are not sensitive to yeast but just looking for a slightly different flavour.

Brewer’s yeast gets its name from the fact that it is used to make beer.

It has a much more bitter taste than nutritional yeast and is regularly used to make bread.

Why should you try it?

  • It’s very nutritious. Just like nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast comes with a ton of nutritional value. It’s packed with important nutrients such as protein, selenium, potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It also contains a wide range of B vitamins which are important for brain function and cell health.
  • It’s similar in texture. Brewer’s yeast comes in much the same form as nutritional yeast so it’s easy to substitute it in your favourite dishes where you would normally use nutritional yeast.
  • It’s easy to use. All you have to do is sprinkle the flakes into your favourite food dishes or mix it with water and add it to sauces/smoothies to enhance their nutrient content.

Tips

  • Make sure you look for brewer’s yeast and not brewing yeast. Although they are similar in names, the latter option is used for the beer making process and contains live cultures which will cause gastrointestinal upset if consumed.
  • There is some evidence to suggest that brewer’s yeast can act as a natural stimulant for lactation for breastfeeding mothers. If you’re a new mother, adding brewer’s yeast to your diet can also help to fight fatigues and baby blues.

2. Salt-Reduced Soy Sauce

Salt-reduced soy sauce is a great substitute for nutritional yeast.

The flavours that we can get from nutritional yeast can be replicated with salt-reduced soy sauce in some dishes.

If you’re looking for something with a salty taste that works well in savoury dishes, then salt-reduced soy sauce might be your best option.

Why salt-reduced?

Normal soy sauces contain very high amounts of salt that can be detrimental to your health when used regularly.

For this reason, it is best to get the salt-reduced option where possible.

Why should you try it?

  • It’s very tasty. There’s a reason soy sauce is a main ingredient in almost every delicious Asian dish. It’s incredibly flavoursome and can really enhance the taste of a dish.
  • It has some health benefits. Reduced salt soy sauce has some reported health benefits including the ability to reduce allergies, promote digestion, reduce blood pressure, and enhance gut health.  
  • It’s cheap. Soy sauce is a much cheaper option than nutritional yeast and due to its popularity is available much more widely.

Tips

  • Opt for organic tamari soy sauce as this usually contains less additives than standard soy sauce varieties.
  • If you’re sensitive to gluten at all, then make sure you choose soy sauce varieties that are gluten free.

3. Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth makes a great substitute for nutritional yeast.

Vegetable broth can be a good substitute for the savoury flavours that nutritional yeast provides.

For the healthiest option, you can make your own vegetable broth simply by blending your favourite vegetables, herbs and spices, and water.

Alternatively, salt-free vegetable broth or vegetable bouillon cubes found in most health food stores are a great, more convenient option.

Why should you try it?

  • It’s flavoursome. Anyone who has ever added vegetable broth to a dish could likely testify that it is delicious. Vegetable broth can really improve the flavour of most savoury dishes.
  • It can be nutritious. If you make your own vegetable broth it can be very nutritious. This is because you can get the benefits of all the vegetables without the added salt and preservatives.
  • It lasts a long time. A little vegetable stock goes a long way. It can also easily be frozen and used at a later date, which is super convenient.

Tips

  • Make your own vegetable broth to avoid all the negatives of store-bought vegetable stock. We personally recommend Dr Michael Greger’s Vegetable Broth recipe which you can find here. Make a huge batch once and freeze the rest for later use.
  • Look for salt-free or salt-reduced options where possible as this is much better for your health.

4. Dried Mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are a great way to add some flavour to plant-based dishes.

If you’re looking for a nutritious equivalent to nutritional yeast that has a spectacular umami flavour, then you simply cannot go past dried mushrooms.

Dried mushrooms are dehydrated mushrooms (i.e. their water content has been removed).

Dried mushrooms can pack a serious flavour punch and are perfect for anyone looking to replicate the earthy flavour of nutritional yeast.

Why should you try it?

  • They’re seriously delicious. The dehydration process really enhances the flavour of mushrooms and can take any savoury dish to the next level. In fact, dried mushrooms are often a key ingredient in many high-end restaurant dishes because of their flavour value.
  • They’re really good for you. Mushrooms are a food that everyone should aim to eat – the health benefits are practically endless. In addition to being packed with tons of essential nutrients, mushrooms can also provide many health benefits such as improving heart health, boosting immune system function, and fighting cancer cells.
  • They are very versatile. Dried mushrooms can be added to almost any savoury dish to enhance its flavour. They can work wonders in soups, stir fries, sauces, and curries.

Tips

  • Dehydrated mushrooms can be found in most health food stores or in the Asian section of your local supermarket.
  • If you’ve got time to spare, you can dehydrate your own mushrooms at home using this process.

5. Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great nutritional yeast substitute.

If you’re looking to add more flavour to your favourite dishes then you needn’t go past herbs and spices.

Herbs and spices can really add a culinary kick to your cuisine so why not experiment with a few and see what takes your fancy?

Finding the right mix of herbs and spices can help to replicate certain flavours that you would otherwise achieve with nutritional yeast.

Why should you try it?

  • There are so many different ways to add flavour. The right combination of herbs and spices can really take a dish from bland to grand. While it might not offer the exact same flavour as nutritional yeast, you can tweak your concoction until you like the taste.
  • They’re cheap and easy to find. Herbs and spices are one of the most consistently priced plant foods. You’re likely to always find them to be cheap and available at most grocery stores.

Tips

  • If you’re looking to replicate the cheesy flavour of nutritional yeast try blending some mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and a bit of salt (or miso paste).
  • Dr Michael Greger has a great recipe for a savoury spice blend which you can find here (just sans the nutritional yeast).

6. Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour is one of the closest substitutes for nutritional yeast.

Chickpea flour is made from milled chickpeas and is one of the closest substitutes for nutritional yeast.

It is also nutritiously dense and full of fibre so you’ll feel fuller for longer after consuming it.

Chickpea flour is typically used for baking due its ability to work well as a combiner but it also works wonders in savoury dishes too.

Why should you try it?

  • It’s the closest in texture to nutritional yeast. Chickpea flour can be sprinkled into dishes to add flavour in much the same way as nutritional yeast. This makes it an easy switch to make.
  • It’s good for you. Chickpea flour is rich in a variety of important nutrients such as iron, fibre, and manganese. One cup of chickpea flour contains more than enough of your daily intake of folate – which is especially important for pregnant women in ensuring the healthy development of their babies.
  • It can help you lose weight. Chickpea flour contains much less calories than regular flour. This means that you’ll be more likely to hit your weight loss goals as you won’t overdo it on calorie consumption.

Tips

  • Lightly toast chickpea flour in the oven for a few minutes to really enhance its flavour.
  • Chickpea flour works best in soups and curries and can assist in thickening up sauces.

7. Dried Onion Flakes

Dried onions flakes are a great nutritional yeast substitute.

Substituting nutritional yeast with dried onion flakes is another great way to add flavour to any savoury dish.

Don’t be fooled by their tiny size – they pack a huge punch when it comes to flavour. 

Why should you try it?

  • They’re tasty. Dried onion flakes are commonly used to add the strong flavour of onion in many beloved dishes. They’re super delicious and combine well with most other flavours.
  • They’re cheap. You can find dried onion flakes in the same place as most herbs and spices. This means that they’re usually similar in price and super easy to find.
  • They’re relatively healthy. Dried onion flakes contain some key nutrients required for a healthy balanced diet. This includes such things as antioxidants to help with heart health and anti-inflammatories to help fight off infections.

Tips

  • A little goes a long way when it comes to onion flakes. Don’t overdo it or you might have stinky breath for days!
  • Use onion flakes in much the same way as nutritional yeast and sprinkle them on your favourite dishes to enhance the flavours.

8. Miso Paste

Miso paste is a healthy option for substituting nutritional yeast.

This beloved Japanese invention is a real game-changer for those who want to avoid nutritional yeast.

Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans.

It has a sticky texture and is super salty.

The paste also comes with a range of benefits and is one of the greatest nutritional yeast substitutes for the reasons below.

Why should you try it?

  • It’s just like salt without the negative health consequences. There is some solid research evidence to suggest that the salt in miso paste doesn’t have the same negative effect on our health as regular table salt.
  • It’s versatile. Just like traditional table salt and nutritional yeast you can add it to almost any savoury dish and it will take the dish to another level.
  • It’s good for you. The process of fermentation required to make miso paste comes with some great health benefits. It allows the abundance of nutrients to be absorbed much faster and aids in digestion.

Tips

  • Slowly dissolve miso paste into soups and broths for a delicious salty flavour.
  • Opt for white miso paste (over red or black miso paste) if you’re trying to replicate nutritional yeast as it has a slightly nuttier flavour.
  • Use red miso paste to add a much stronger umami flavour to dishes.

9. Seaweed Flakes

Seaweed flakes are delicious and can be used to enhance the flavour of most savoury dishes.

Another marvellous Japanese staple ingredient to spice up your favourite savoury meals are seaweed flakes.

Seaweed flakes are simply tiny shavings of seaweed used to add flavour to dishes by sprinkling them in.

They make a great replacement for nutritional yeast due to their flavour and texture being relatively similar.

Why should you try it?

  • It’s a healthier alternative to salt. Just like miso paste, seaweed flakes make the perfect alternative to table salt. They are naturally salty to the taste but don’t come with any of the negative health effects of table salt.
  • It’s a great way to boost your iodine. Iodine deficiency is a widespread problem amongst the global population and can cause thyroid issues, fatigue, and constipation. Seaweed is naturally high in iodine, which makes it a great source of this essential nutrient.
  • It could help you lose weight. There is some evidence to suggest that seaweed can aid in weight loss due to its high fibre content and fat-burning properties.

Tips

  • Seaweed powder packs more of a flavour punch than seaweed flakes but it does have less nutritional value.
  • Dulse seaweed has been heralded as one of the most flavoursome and has a ‘bacon-like’ taste that many people absolutely love.
  • Because seaweed is so high in iodine it’s best not to consume too much of it during the day or you can risk some side effects that come with overconsumption of iodine.

10. Marmite or Vegemite

Marmite or vegemite makes great alternatives to nutritional yeast.

One of the best substitutes for nutritional yeast when it comes to flavour is Marmite or Vegemite.

These salty pastes that are made from yeast extract have a slight cheesy hint to them especially when added to dishes with complementary flavours.

While they may not look appetising, Marmite and Vegemite can really add a delicious flavour to savoury dishes – so much so that you might just forgive their appearance!

Why should you try it?

  • It’s packed with B vitamins. Marmite and Vegemite are a great way for vegetarians and vegans to get a good dose of important B vitamins that they might miss otherwise. B vitamins are important in regulating your energy levels, maintaining brain function, and improving cell health.
  • A little goes a long way. One jar or Marmite or Vegemite can last months at a time. This is because only a small amount of the paste is required to get a decent flavour. This means you’ll save yourself a lot of dollars over time.
  • It can be used in many different ways. Marmite and Vegemite can be added to soups, stir fries, and practically any savoury dish that needs a hit of salty goodness. You can also make like an Australian and spread it on your toast!

Tips

  • Opt for the salt-reduced options if you’re conscious of your health as unfortunately the regular varieties are high in added salt.
  • Add a little bit of the paste to dishes at a time. It’s better to underestimate the amount you need than overestimate it, as Marmite and Vegemite can very quickly overpower other flavours.
  • A teaspoon of Vegemite or Marmite can be used to replace stock cubes.

11. Nutty Parmesan

Nutty parmesan can be used to enhance the flavours of a dish.

This one takes a little more prep work than the others, but trust us, it’s worth it!

Nutty parmesan acts as a great nutritional yeast substitute as it can have a very similar texture and flavour.

Nutty parmesan requires blending together your favourite nuts with some herbs and spices added.

Dr Michael Greger has a great recipe for it which you can try here – you can just remove the nutritional yeast as an ingredient and it still works well.

Why should you try it?

  • It works on almost everything. Add a sprinkle to the top of your favourite pasta dishes, salads, soups, stir fries, and curries. Nutty parmesan is incredibly versatile and easy to use.
  • It’s delicious. Nutty parmesan on the top of a dish can really add a classy kick of flavour to a dish.

Tips

  • Blend up ½ cup almonds, ½ cup cashews, and 2 teaspoons of savoury spice blend (without the nutritional yeast) for a nice nutty parmesan.
  • Make a large batch and then keep the nutty parmesan in an airtight container – it will last you a few months this way.

12. Mustard Powder

Mustard powder can be used as a nutritional yeast substitute.

Mustard powder shares a similar texture and colour to nutritional yeast and can be used to add flavour to various savoury dishes.

The popular powder is made by grinding mustard seeds until they become a fine grain.

It has a slightly stronger flavour than nutritional yeast but can complement the ingredients in dishes in much the same way as nutritional yeast can.

Why should you try it?

  • It’s really good for you. Mustard powder contains lots of the good stuff when it comes to nutrition, including antioxidants to help fight inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids to boost heart health, and a variety of important minerals such as iron to aid in maintaining overall health.
  • It can help your hair to grow. Some evidence suggests that mustard powder contains properties that stimulates hair growth. So if you’re conscious of your hairline then try adding the powder to your lunches or dinners.

Tips

  • Like most other potent foods you should be wary of consuming too much mustard powder. Some side effects of the consumption of large amounts of mustard powder can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and gut inflammation.
  • Mix mustard powder with other spices to create a delicious marinade.


Final Thoughts…

These 12 nutritional yeast substitutes make great additions to any plant-based dish. 

Which are your favourite nutritional yeast substitutes?

Not a fan of beans either? Check out our article “But I don’t like beans! Other vegan protein substitutes” here.