6 Best Nutritional Yeast Substitutes (2022): Get That Savory Kick

Over the past year, I’ve written several posts detailing my love of nutritional yeast. Whether you’re looking for a vegan broth thickener or you need a vegan-friendly substitute for parmesan cheese, few things fit the bill like good old-fashioned “nooch.” 

Just because I happen to like nooch, though, doesn’t mean that every other vegan does. I’ll admit, the first time that I opened a bag of nooch, I was less than happy at the smell of the little yellow flakes.

However, the aroma and flavor quickly grew on me, and today it’s an everyday staple in my vegan cooking. 

That being said, I accept that there are plenty of vegans who don’t exactly appreciate nutritional yeast. So today, I’m going to show you the best nutritional yeast substitutes to use that will give your food that savory, delicious flavor you’ve been missing out on. 

It’s time to kick your cooking up a notch! 

Top-Rated
Big Tree Farms Organic Coco Aminos
Big Tree Farms Organic Coco Aminos
  • Strong umami flavor, slightly sweet, similar to thick soy sauce
Editor's Choice
It's Just - Brewers Yeast Powder
It's Just - Brewers Yeast Powder
  • Lightly umami, bitter
Reader's Choice
VEGAN VALLEY Mild Cashew Cheeze Sauce
VEGAN VALLEY Mild Cashew Cheeze Sauce
  • Very cheesy, slightly nutty

What Can You Substitute For Nutritional Yeast? 

Nutritional yeast has two main functions in vegan cooking:

  • As a thickening agent
  • As a seasoning designed to add savory flavors to any dish

Long before vegans started using nooch as a seasoning, non-vegans used it as a thickening agent in cooking. Similar to adding corn starch or wheat flour to a dish, whenever you add nutritional yeast to a broth or sauce, it makes it thicker, heavier, and creamier. 

So, if you’re looking to take advantage of the thickening attributes of nutritional yeast, you’ll need to find a thick, dry ground flour or powder to take its place. Read on to find out my top picks! 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to add a savory kick to your vegan cooking, then you’ll need to search for alternative nutritional yeast substitutes

The nice thing about nutritional yeast is that it strikes a nice blend between “savory” and “cheesy.” Few other vegan seasonings and sauces are able to match that unique blend.

However, there are plenty of nutritional yeast substitutes that are either savory or cheesy. Vegan cheese sauce and soy sauce are prime examples! 

How To Replace The Umami Flavor of Nutritional Yeast

What Can You Substitute For Nutritional Yeast? 

Nutritional yeast is typically described as having an umami flavor profile. Umami is the fifth basic flavor profile that our human taste buds can pick up on.

It’s also the Japanese word for “savory,” something that Japanese cuisine is very well known for. From their meat-laden hibachi to their vegan soy dishes, Japanese food is some of the world’s most savory food. 

Some examples of umami flavor in food include:

Clearly, umami foods like cheese, seafood, and meat aren’t vegan-friendly. However, there are several vegan-friendly ways to get the umami to fix your taste bud’s needs. Some of the most prominent vegan umami food sources are soy, coconut, mushrooms, and fermented foods. 

By adding umami flavoring or umami foods to your vegan cooking, you’ll add a whole new layer of complexity to your food and enjoy it a lot more.

Whether the umami flavor comes from nooch or a nutritional yeast substitute, it’ll satisfy your savory cravings and keep the temptation of meat far from your mind. 

How To Replace The Texture of Nutritional Yeast

Umami Flavor of Nutritional Yeast

While most vegans use nutritional yeast as a seasoning, some also use it as a thickening agent. From sauces to broths, sometimes the mixture can get a little too watered-down.

When you add a dry ingredient like nutritional yeast to the mixture, it absorbs some of the water and creates a thicker, creamier mixture. 

If you’re looking to replace the texture of nooch, some of the best nutritional yeast substitutes are:

  • Corn starch
  • Tapioca starch
  • Chickpea flour
  • Potato starch

These dried starches aren’t quite as healthy as nutritional yeast, but they’ll provide a similar thickening effect when used in cooking. 

Can You Replace Nutritional Yeast With Brewer’s Yeast? 

One of the most common mistakes that first-time vegans make when shopping for nutritional yeast is that they accidentally buy brewer’s yeast instead. Brewer’s yeast is similar to nooch, but it tastes a little bit more bitter and isn’t quite as savory. 

That being said you can use brewer’s yeast as a nutritional yeast substitute. I wouldn’t exactly sprinkle a heavy portion all over my vegan pasta, but a little dash here and there will add a bit of savory flavor if you’re in a pinch. 

What’s The Difference Between Nutritional Yeast & Brewer’s Yeast? 

If you’re in a hurry while you’re shopping it’s easy to mistake the two popular types of yeast. So, here’s a quick table outlining the key differences between nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast: 

Nutritional YeastBrewer’s Yeast
Nooch is deactivated and pasteurized, so the yeast organisms are no longer alive. Brewer’s yeast is also deactivated.
Nutritional yeast is used as either a seasoning or a thickening agent in food. Brewer’s yeast is primarily used to add flavor to beer. It’s also used as a food additive for nursing women who want to increase their breast milk production
Has a savory, cheese-like flavor. Has a bitter, savory flavor. 
Comes in large flakes. Is usually a fine-ground powder. 

The 6 Best Nutritional Yeast Substitutes For Great-Tasting Vegan Food

Now that you know a little bit more about nutritional yeast and its uses in vegan cooking, it’s time to show you the best nutritional yeast substitutes.

Although I still love my nooch, I’ve incorporated all of these substitutes into my vegan home cooking at one point or another. Sometimes, I even use them alongside nutritional yeast! 

Flavor Profile: Strong umami flavor, slightly sweet, similar to thick soy sauce

If you’re looking for a delicious alternative to soy sauce, then Big Tree Farms’ Organic Coco Aminos is an excellent choice! I recently found this at a small health foods store, and it’s since become one of my favorite sauces. 

The first time I ate it with food, I thought it was some form of soy sauce. Then, I read the label a little bit closer and discovered that it’s actually made from coconut blossom nectar!

To my knowledge, the nectar is distilled in a way that’s similar to soy sauce, which results in its rich umami flavor. Then, special Balinese Salt and water are added to create the final product. 

So, why should you use coco aminos over soy sauce? 

Well, for one coco aminos have a lot less sodium than traditional soy sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I love soy sauce just as much as the next gal, but it’s not exactly heart-healthy.

One serving of soy sauce has close to 900 mg of sodium, while a single serving of these coco aminos only has 490 mg of sodium, which means it has almost 50% less! 

Last but not least, coco aminos have a lightly sweet, floral flavor on the backend that adds a super-complex flavor to any dish. If you’ve never tried coco aminos before, I 100% recommend them! 

If you’re looking to get creative in the kitchen, here’s a quick video by Big Tree Farms on how to use Coco Aminos to make fresh veggie stir fry:

What I Like About It:

  • Low-sodium alternative to soy sauce. 
  • Made with organic coconut blossom nectar. 
  • Has a sweet, floral aftertaste. 
  • 100% organic.
  • No added preservatives or chemicals. 
  • A little bit goes a long way. 

Where It Falls Short:

  • It’s a little on the expensive side. 
  • The wide spout makes it easy to accidentally pour too much. 

Flavor Profile: Lightly umami, bitter

Above, I mentioned that you can use brewer’s yeast as a substitute for nutritional yeast. While It’s Just Brewer’s Yeast doesn’t have quite the same flavor profile, it does provide a similar texture and a light umami taste.

The main difference is that brewer’s yeast is a fine-ground powder instead of nooch’s flakey texture. 

It’s Just is a small food company that focuses on making simple, organic, wholesome foods. They primarily market their brewer’s yeast to women, who use it to improve lactation and may use it in smoothies or baking to make “lactation cookies.” 

Most of the time, I far prefer real nutritional yeast over brewer’s yeast, but if you need a nutritional yeast substitute with similar health benefits, then this is as close as it gets. It does have a slightly bitter flavor, but it’s not overpowering if used in small amounts. 

What I Like About It:

  • It provides similar nutritional value to nutritional yeast. 
  • It has a light umami flavor. 
  • It can help lactating mothers. 

Where It Falls Short:

  • It has a bitter aftertaste if you use too much. 

Flavor Profile: Very cheesy, slightly nutty

I’ll be honest, one of the hardest decisions I faced when going vegan was giving up cheese. After talking with several other vegan friends of mine, they all agreed that cheese was one of the hardest animal by-products to give up. 

If you’ve been stressing about giving up cheese, though, fear no more! Vegan Valley’s Mild Cashew Cheeze Sauce is the closest vegan sauce that I’ve gotten to real nacho cheese. Except, it’s completely dairy-free and made from cashews instead. 

Curious about the ingredients? It’s made from water, organic cashews, tapioca, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic, onion, cassava, sunflower lecithin, and a bit of organic rosemary extract for added flavor. 

While it does contain nutritional yeast, the flavor is a lot different. What really surprised me was how Vegan Valley somehow figured out a way to make cashews taste like cheese!

Best of all, this product is made using only organic ingredients, contains no GMOs, and is 100% plant-based. It contains zero artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

It’s an incredibly versatile vegan cheese sauce that can be used as a dipping sauce for chips and veggies or added to a full-fledged meal as a creamy cheese sauce. One time, I even used it to make my own vegan alfredo sauce for pasta! 

What I Like About It:

  • It’s 100% organic. 
  • It tastes almost like real cheese. 
  • It’s dairy-free. 
  • It’s made by Vegan Valley, a vegan-exclusive company. 
  • It’s incredibly healthy and nutritious. 

Where It Falls Short:

  • It’s pretty expensive for cheese sauce. 

Flavor Profile: Savory, vegetable, salty

One of the best alternatives to nutritional yeast I’ve found is Orrington Farms’ Vegan Vegetable Broth Base and Seasoning. Technically, it’s designed to be used as a broth base, which makes it perfect if you’re trying to make your own homemade soup.

Simply mix the powder down with some water, heat the mixture, and you’ll have a savory soup mix in minutes! 

However, since it comes as a powder, it can also be used as a vegan seasoning. It’s very concentrated, so a little bit goes a long way. If you’re looking to give your plate of food a more savory profile, simply add a small dash on top, “Salt Bae style.” 

This vegetable broth/seasoning is made from maltodextrin, sea salt, vegetable powder (tomato, carrot, onion, and garlic), potato flour, soybean oil, celery salt, spices, tapioca starch, yeast extract, and a bit of citric acid. 

While it’s not quite as “natural” as nutritional yeast is (thanks to the citric acid and maltodextrin), it’s still a great way to add a savory kick to your meals. Orrington Farms also offers their broth powder in vegan chicken, vegan ham, and vegan beef, for those looking for a more meat-like flavor. 

What I Like About It:

  • It can be used as a seasoning or to create your very own vegan broth. 
  • It’s 100% vegan and is made with real vegetable powder. 
  • You only need a little bit. 
  • Contains no artificial colors or flavors. 

Where It Falls Short:

  • It contains citric acid, which is natural, but not very healthy. 
  • It contains maltodextrin, which is used as a drying agent. 

Flavor Profile: Parmesan cheese (but vegan)

The first time I tried NOOCH IT! Cashew Grated Cheeze, I fell in love. Even though it’s made using a bit of nutritional yeast, the flavor is far more complex and agreeable. I’ve never had something that tasted this close to real parmesan cheese. 

This cashew grated cheese is made from cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, hemp seeds, brown rice flour, and sea salt. Oh, and all of the ingredients are 100% organic, which is another great reason to love this delicious seasoning.

To top it all off, the cashews are even Fair-Trade Certified, which means they come from farms where workers are treated well and paid fairly. 

It may seem like a seasoning such as this would be pretty sodium-heavy. However, that’s not the case, and a single serving of NOOCH IT! Only has 80 mg of sodium, which only accounts for 3% of your daily required value. 

I’ve used this seasoning on sandwiches, pasta, soup, salad, and just about everything in between, and it’s one of the go-to staples that I always keep in my kitchen cabinet. 

What I Like About It:

  • Tastes just like parmesan cheese. 
  • Made with 100% organic ingredients. 
  • No GMOs, whatsoever. 
  • Low-sodium. 
  • Tastes great with everything. 

Where It Falls Short:

  • It does contain nutritional yeast, so if you’re trying to avoid nooch completely, this may not be the right product. 

Flavor Profile: Umami, mushroom

If you remember from my description of umami above, mushrooms are one of the most common vegetables associated with having a savory, umami flavor profile.

Organisulmte’s Savory Shiitake Mushroom Seasoning is a great way to add a delicious, earthy, umami flavoring to any dish you’re making. 

This seasoning is made with a few simple ingredients: shiitake mushroom powder, salt, mushroom extract (for flavoring), and calcium. It contains no artificial flavoring, MSG, or non-vegan flavoring, so it’s completely safe for vegans. 

Unlike most seasonings, this shiitake mushroom seasoning is actually healthy for you. For one, it’s very low-calorie. Secondly, it’s rich in dietary fiber, which is great for your digestion. Lastly, shiitake mushrooms are known for their immune-enhancing benefits

My favorite way to use this seasoning is with stir fry. The texture of the granules is similar to sesame seeds and it tastes great when sprinkled over fresh vegetables. I’ve also added it to soup and salads as well! 

What I Like About It:

  • It’s made with four simple ingredients. 
  • Shiitake mushrooms are very good for your health. 
  • No artificial flavors or MSG. 
  • High in dietary fiber, which is good for digestion. 

Where It Falls Short:

  • It contains 250 mg of sodium per serving (11% of your daily value). 

In Conclusion – How To Find The Best Nooch Substitute

There you have it! Those are hands down, some of the best nutritional yeast substitutes I’ve ever tried. Out of the list, I’d say my most-used items are the Coco Aminos, Cashew Cheeze Sauce, NOOCH IT!, and the shiitake mushroom seasoning. 

The best place to find specialty ingredients like these is on Amazon. I’ve tried to find these products in grocery stores, but almost always fail. To make your life easier, though, I included a link to each Amazon product above. 

All of these products have one thing in common – they all taste great with tofu! To learn more about it and where to buy high-quality vegan tofu, check out one of my latest posts here

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Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you.

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