Nutritional yeast, sometimes referred to as “nooch,” is a popular ingredient and topping used in vegan cooking. Also known as saccharomyces cerevisiae, it is the same type of yeast used to brew beer or bake bread, but it’s grown specifically to be used as a food product. It typically comes in flake form and has a savory flavor many folks think resembles cheese, and so is frequently used as a topping on salads, popcorn, and a host of other foods.
In addition to being a savory food additive, nutritional yeast is typically a good source of protein, B Vitamins, and some trace minerals. Depending on the brand, nutritional yeast flakes are sometimes fortified with folic acid and Vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is commonly found in meat, so folks following a vegan diet may benefit from adding nutritional yeast to their menu. We rounded up some of the top brands, then tasted and compared them.
The Best Nutritional Yeast
- Best Overall Nutritional Yeast: Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
- Best for Vitamin B-12: Hoosier Hill Farm Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Most Protein Dense: Anthony’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Best Non-Fortified Option: Sari Foods Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Best Kosher Option: Frontier Co-Op Nutritional Yeast Mini Flakes
Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary.
Nutritional yeast can be an easy way to add vitamins into your diet without having to go out of the way to consume particular kinds of food you otherwise wouldn’t. However, not all nutritional yeasts are made equal.
There is a wide variety of these products on the market, so knowing what vitamins you are aiming to add to your diet will go a long way in helping determine which nutritional yeast from our list you should go for.
The Best Overall Nutritional Yeast
Each one tablespoon serving of Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning contains 5 grams of protein and three grams of carbs. It is an excellent source of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. As a low sodium, gluten and sugar-free flakes option fortified with folate and Vitamin B12, it is an excellent choice for people who follow a vegan diet.
Perhaps among the more well-known brands in the health food market, Bragg offers a very straightforward nutritional yeast seasoning at a competitive price. Devoid of artificial colors or preservatives, this nutritional yeast seasoning has a slightly nutty, but appetizing taste.
With a slightly nutty, savory taste, Bragg’s makes a lovely addition to plain popcorn, though we did add a bit of olive oil to help the flakes stick. It is packaged with a classic-looking bottle that offers both a wide mouth and a narrow opening to make measuring out large amounts or sprinkling flakes on top of prepared food a simple endeavor.
Who Should Buy Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
- Folks looking for an all around balance of added vitamins (specifically Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6).
- People who want to sprinkle nutritional yeast on food rather than mix it in.
- Anyone looking to add additional flavor to casual snacking.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
- People who dislike nutty flavors.
- Folks looking for cheaper nutritional yeast options on the market.
Compared to some of the other items we looked at, this checks in as a bit more expensive on a per serving basis, but it wasn’t enough to keep it from claiming our top spot.
Best for Vitamin B-12
Hoosier Hill’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes are non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan friendly. They are fortified with Vitamin B12, with each two tablespoon serving containing 1,460% of the daily value. With a competitive price tag compared to similar products on the market, it is hard to not post Hoosier Hill on our list.
In our taste test, these had a somewhat muted taste profile compared to some of the other brands, which might be better suited when combining with other foods. However, there was still a slight nutty, even savory taste, making it potentially a better pairing for foods like oatmeal.
Checking in with 3.5g of protein per tbsp serving, Hoosier Hill Farm’s nooch comes in a big plastic jar. This non-GMO, gluten-free vegan ingredient is fortified with folic acid and Vitamin B12.
This product comes in a very wide mouth one pound plastic jar without a scoop, making it a bit awkward to get flakes out if you’re using it as a topping. If you have a set of measuring spoons, those will likely suffice though. At three and a half grams per tablespoon serving, this is among the least protein-dense of the nooch we tested, so if you are looking for a higher protein option, scroll down to the next option.
Who Should Buy Hoosier Hill’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Anyone trying to get a significant amount of Vitamin B12 added to their diet.
- Folks trying to be kind to their wallets.
- Those who want a more subdued flavor profile in their nutritional yeast.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Hoosier Hill’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- People looking for a protein packed nutritional yeast.
- Anyone who doesn’t have access to a measuring spoons or scoop.
All-in-all, Hoosier Hill’s flakes had a pretty big size discrepancy between the biggest and the smallest, making each spoonful of seasoning a bit more unique. This is not necessarily good or bad — that’s more about personal preference — but still a notable difference compared to competitive alternatives.
Most Protein Dense
Anthony’s claims that their product is fortified by natural fermentation and that there are no synthetic Vitamins or nutrients added. These non-GMO and gluten-free vegan flakes are quite small and have an almost dusty quality to them. This means they are easier to mix into batters and the like.
Anthony’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes tout themselves as have a product that is batch tested and verified to be gluten-free. Fortified with Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid, each 1.5 tbsp serving contains 8g of protein.
Each tablespoon contains contain five and one third grams of protein, but a total of eight grams per recommended serving. With a competitive price tag to boot, making the list wasn’t a hard sell for Anthony’s.
Who Should Buy Anthony’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Anyone looking to add a decent amount of protein to their meals.
- Folks who want to mix the nutritional yeast into their food.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Anthony’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- People who dislike strong aftertastes.
- Anyone who hates fidgeting with resealable bags.
It comes in a resealable bag, which is great, but the bag did not reseal all that easily. The only one major knock against these flakes is that they tasted perfectly fine at first, but carried a bit of a pungent after taste after a few bites.
Best Non-Fortified Option
Sari Foods Nutritional Yeast Flakes are not fortified with any synthetic Vitamins, making it entirely natural. It is marketed as a “low sodium salt substitute.” This topping is gluten and dairy-free, non-GMO, and vegan. The manufacturer claims that these flakes deliver all eighteen amino acids and are a good source of Vitamin B.
For folks looking for an all natural, non-fortified nutritional yeast option, Sari Foods may be worth considering. This non-GMO product does not contain any synthetic vitamins.
These flakes come in an easily resealable pouch. With a relatively even consistency and an almost crystal-like appearance, these flakes function well as a topping.
Who Should Buy Sari Foods Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Those looking for an all natural yeast.
- Anyone who plans to use nutritional yeast as a topping (e.g. like sprinkles).
Who Shouldn’t Buy Sari Foods Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Folks who want the vitamins that come from fortification, such as B12 and folate.
- People who want to steer towards the more affordable options on the market.
Taste-wise, they’re not overpowering, but provide a delightful savory, salty addition to otherwise plain snacks. On a per ounce basis, they are a bit more expensive than most of the other nooch we looked at. Since it’s not fortified, this product contains no Vitamin B12 or folate.
Best Kosher Option
Frontier Co-Op’s Nutritional Yeast is available at a very competitive price. These mini flakes are dairy-free, certified Kosher, and sustainably grown without pesticides, toxins or irradiation in Estonia.
For folks looking for the best deal on Nutritional Yeast, it may be worth considering Frontier Co-Op’s mini flakes. These certified kosher, non-irradiated flakes are sold by a member owned co-op that’s been selling health foods since 1976.
These flakes are a bit smaller on average than some of the other nooch competitors on the market, but pack a pleasant, almost herbal taste.
Who Should Buy Frontier Co-Op Nutritional Yeast Mini Flakes
- Anyone who follows a kosher diet.
- Folks who value product transparency from manufacturers.
- People who appreciate a less imposing flavor profile.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Frontier Co-Op Nutritional Yeast Mini Flakes
- Anyone who doesn’t appreciate a strong scent.
- People who appreciate visually aesthetic packaging.
These nutritional yeast mini flakes are delivered in a big, rather utilitarian foil bag, so you’ll probably want to store them in your own container. Frontier Co-Op’s nooch has a more pungent smell than some of the other competitors, which may not be appealing to everyone. Barring that, they can be a solid buy.
How We Decided Our Picks
Nutritional yeast flakes are a very popular vegan ingredient, often used in place of cheese or other salty toppings. Often rich in Vitamin B-12 and folic acid, “nooch” has seen increasing popularity in recent years, ad more and more folks turn to vegan diets. When deciding between all the nutritional yeast options on the market, there are a few key things to consider.
Fortified or Non-Fortified
Most nutritional yeast is fortified with additional supplements, usually folic acid and Vitamin B12. Since Vitamin B12 is most commonly found in meats, vegans may have a tricky time getting enough of it in their diets, which makes fortified nutritional yeast a useful tool.
Non-fortified nutritional yeast may be more appealing to those who wish to avoid any synthetic nutrients.
Nooch is often about 50% protein. Take a look at the nutrition facts on the label to see how much protein is listed per serving. Note, however, that not all serving sizes are created equally; some are based on one tablespoon, others on one and a half, and other on two tablespoons.
To get a sense of how much bang you’re getting for your buck, divide the total cost of the item by the amount of ounces. The serving size may vary from product to product so try not to use that as a shortcut. Measuring via ounces across the board will give you a way to accurately compare products.
Nutritional yeast comes in a variety of container types, ranging from huge bottles to small shakers to resealable bags. Though you don’t need to refrigerate nutritional yeast, you’ll want to think about where in your kitchen you intend to store it, and if you have room for a bulk-sized container.
What to Consider Before Buying
This likely goes without say, but the diet you are following is likely to be the primary factor influencing your choice of nutritional yeast. If you need more protein, there’s an option for that. Upping the fiber content or looking to add in a bunch of Vitamin B12? There are options for that. Knowing specifically what you are adding the nutritional yeast for will help heavily sift the market down to what is best for you.
There are some nutritional yeasts that have potent flavors and others with more subdued flavor profiles. If you are someone happy to have a pungent nutty flavor added to your savory meal, then good news for you is there are many an option that can fulfill that need. On the other hand, if you want close to no added flavor and are hoping to just get the nutritional benefits of yeast without the strong aftertastes, there are choices available and they are what you should decide between.
If you are eating certain kinds of food and will add nutritional yeast, then the texture of the yeast is going to influence the experience of the dish. If you are using large flakes, expect the yeast to become texturally part of the dish. If you want to mix the yeast into the food without in playing to big of a roll texturally, then perhaps it is better to go with a powder.
When it comes to nutritional yeast, there are options available that can make it function as a mix-in, an add-in, or a topping. Between powders, large flakes, and mini flakes, there is likely one that will enhance your dish rather than just being something thrown in for health reasons.
Though nutritional yeast is certainly and definitionally not cheese, it can be used to give a salty, savory flavor to a number of snacks. If you’re transitioning to a vegan diet, check out the wealth of recipes available online; many folks have been experimenting with nutritional yeast for years and have found innovative ways to use it in cooking.
Nutritional yeast has a salty, almost nutty quality to it. Though a lot of folks use it to replace cheese in vegan dishes, its unique nutritional and flavor profile make it a valuable addition to a healthy menu.