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How to Use Nutritional Yeast

How the Heck Do You Use Nutritional Yeast Anyway?! Here's Your Answer

Out of all the staples in my kitchen, the one that people ask me about the most is nutritional yeast, an inactive yeast strain that's packed with vitamin B12, which is predominantly found in seafood, and which even contains a couple grams of protein per serving. You can usually find it in the health food aisle of your local grocery store, and it looks like a pile of weird, orange flakes. Weird, but totally delicious and useful for just about anyone's diet.

But if you don't know what to do with nutritional yeast, which is sometimes affectionately referred to as nooch, it can seem like a scary thing. As an amateur vegan cook, I've had a lot of experience with nutritional yeast, so I know what it's good for — and what it's not (it does not, I repeat, does not belong in anything that's meant to taste sweet). These are the four primary ways I use nooch on the regular. Time to get cooking!

Make a Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce

Vegan mac and cheese would be nothing without nooch. Whether the base for your dairy-free cheese sauce is soaked cashews, cooked pumpkin, or roasted butternut squash, nutritional yeast lends a cheesy flavor (and natural orange color) that is absolutely necessary in this classic comfort food.

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For example, this recipe for vegan pumpkin mac and cheese calls for two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, which may not sound like a lot, but it's the perfect amount to get the creamy cheesiness you're looking for in mac and cheese.

Sprinkle It on Savory Snacks and Side Dishes

Every time I make popcorn, I sprinkle on some nooch, along with my favorite spices like chipotle chili, paprika, and salt. Any other salty snack or side dish could benefit from a little nutritional yeast as well, like roasted potatoes, bean dips, french fries, and kale chips. Sometimes I'll even sprinkle it on my tempeh or seitan sandwiches for an extra kick of flavor; it's kind of like having a slice of cheese on there (only without the gassy consequences of eating dairy).

Use It in an Asian Sauce

Cheddar cheese isn't the only flavor that nutritional yeast can replicate. It also has a naturally savory, yeasty (duh) taste that goes really well in Asian dishes. Sometimes I'll put it in the blender when I make a peanut sauce or I sprinkle it into my homemade Korean BBQ sauce. It enhances the delicious umami flavors that thrive in Asian food.

Toss It in Marinades

Nooch goes well in just about any marinade and with just about any flavors, whether it's Italian, Mexican, or Asian. Even if I'm following a recipe that doesn't call for nutritional yeast, if I feel like it could use some extra flavor, I toss it in there anyway. It's the ultimate thing to incorporate in your cooking if you want to impress your dinner guests!

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