6 Delicious Nutritional Yeast Alternatives to Add Extra Protein to Your Meals

If you're following a vegan diet or simply trying to reduce your dairy intake, you may have purchased nutritional yeast from the health food aisle of your grocery store before, as it's known for its cheesy flavor. If you can't stand its flaky texture or are looking for a similar cooking option, there are many nutritional yeast alternatives.

Learning more about nutritional yeast can help you make an informed decision when choosing a replacement. Dr. Beth Warren, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of "Jewish Girl Secrets," says this dairy-free yeast provides a rich source of protein. "Just two tablespoons provides 10 grams of protein," she says. Or even better? It is also rich in B vitamins, including B12 and folate. Unlike baker's yeast, nutritional yeast is inactive and has a cheesy, nutty flavor.

Because nutritional yeast sets the bar so high for its rich vitamin and mineral content, most alternatives can't compete when it comes to health. However, they each bring their own benefits. Registered dietitian Marisa Moore tells Bustle that if you typically get your vitamin B12 intake through nutritional yeast, "you can't expect to get the same amount of vitamin B12 from an alternative."

Still, Warren points out that despite the difference in texture, most alternatives still have the same umami and salty taste and provide a good source of protein. Whether your kitchen is plant-based or not, here are a range of expert-approved nutritional yeast alternatives to try.

1. Brewer’s yeast


This alternative is definitely most closely related to nutritional yeast. Warren said brewer's yeast is involved in alcohol brewing and is also very high in B vitamins and protein. As for the taste, it tastes similar to nutritional yeast, but more nutty and bitter.

"If you want to increase the vitamin content and get a deeper umami flavor, you can use it in something like a smoothie," suggests Warren.

2.Miso paste

If your favorite appetizer is miso soup, you're in luck with this appetizer. Similar to nutritional yeast's salt and umami flavor, miso paste is also rich in probiotics and protein, Warren says. Since miso is fermented soybeans, the fermentation process gives it the salty flavor commonly found in nutritional yeast.

3. Yeast extract spread

Contrary to what you might think, yeast extracts such as Vegemite and Marmite are actually quite tasty. Just ask your Australian friends. Spreads like Vegemite are made from leftover brewer's yeast and have a mushy texture with the same delicious salty flavor combination as nutritional yeast - although it doesn't have as much protein compared to other alternatives.

When it comes to any ingredients that go through the fermentation process, be extra careful if you have high blood pressure or follow a low-sodium diet, as they tend to be high in sodium. Warren says these ingredients are often high in sodium because the process extracts lactic acid, a food preservative. By the same token, fermentation also contributes to rich flavor and probiotic benefits – so it’s all about balance.

4. Chickpea Flour with Onion and Garlic Powder

When it comes to nutritional yeast alternatives, sometimes you have to get creative: That means not all alternatives are one ingredient. On its own, chickpea flour doesn't taste like nutritional yeast, but Moore says pairing it with different spices, such as onion and garlic powder, can create something more comparable. (Pro tip: This particular mixture tastes great sprinkled on popcorn.) Plus, chickpea flour is high in protein.

Her tip? Don't be afraid to mix unique combinations of ingredients to create the perfect umami flavor and flaky consistency of nutritional yeast.

5. Dried mushrooms


Once chopped and grated, dried mushrooms can give you a mealy, granular texture comparable to nutritional yeast. This alternative has the same umami flavor while also providing important vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, antioxidants and potassium, as well as some protein.

Moore says mushroom powder (rather than whole mushrooms) works best as a nutritional yeast substitute, but can be difficult to find in grocery stores. Just buy dried mushrooms and grind them yourself.

6. Parmesan cheese

If you don't want to avoid dairy, Parmesan cheese is an ideal substitute for nutritional yeast because it captures the flavor of the cheese, Moore says. Parmesan cheese is one of the cheeses with the highest protein content, which also makes it more comparable to sourdough.

"If you're making popcorn and want to add a cheesy flavor, you can definitely use Parmesan cheese, which will have a dry consistency," she says. You can also sprinkle it on salads or vegetables, just like you would with nutritional yeast.


Beth Warren, MS, RD, RDN, and author

Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, registered dietitian nutritionist