Week 22: Nutritional Yeast

A reader requested that I write about nutritional yeast. This piqued my interest because while I’d eaten nutritional yeast before, I have to admit I didn’t really know what it was and I’d only had it on top of popcorn.

I discovered nutritional yeast in college, on the counter of my university’s student-run Coffee House (the cafeteria), which is affectionately called the CoHo. At the time, I saw the yellow flakes and wondered what they were. The flakes look remarkably like fish food but have a strong cheesy and nutty flavor (although who knows what fish flakes taste like). Nutritional yeast is popular among vegetarians and vegans due to its nutritional benefits and flavor. A complete protein, it is also high in vitamins, including B-complex vitamins, and is low in fat and sodium.

Made by culturing yeast with sugarcane and beet molasses, you can often find nutritional yeast in the bulk section of natural food stores. A little goes a long way, so buying in bulk is especially nice with this interesting food. It’s often used as a condiment, as it was intended to be at the CoHo. Try it on top of popcorn, potatoes, eggs, or tofu. It’s also used in cheese substitutes, which is what inspired me to try making “cheesy” vegan breadsticks.

The breadsticks, although they had no actual cheese in them, actually tasted quite cheesy! The onion and garlic also add some nice flavor and they are especially good with a dipping sauce.

Vegan “Cheese” Breadsticks

Makes 18 breadsticks.

Prep time: around 40 minutes

Baking time: 10 minutes

  • 1 T yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t garlic, diced
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 4 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Combine yeast and sugar in small bowl. Pour warm water over and whisk for a moment to mix together. Let sit in a warm place (a turned-off oven works well) for 10-15 minutes, until yeast and sugar are dissolved and mixture has expanded and become frothy.

In a small saucepan sautee onion and garlic in a little olive oil until onion becomes translucent. Add this to the yeast mixture, along with the rest of the ingredients. Knead dough until soft and divide into 18 even pieces. Roll pieces into skinny sticks and place on oiled baking sheets. Let sit in warm place until they have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400Ā°F. Bake breadsticks for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with ranch, marinara, or your favorite dipping sauce.

14 Comments on Week 22: Nutritional Yeast

  1. Andrea Groves
    May 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm (12 years ago)

    Every time I look at your blog, I realize there are so many things I haven’t eaten – even though I try to be an adventurous eater. This nutritional yeast sounds very interesting – hopefully I run into it someday!

    By the way, great pictures! I need to get me some white square plates.

    • Stephanie
      May 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm (12 years ago)

      Yay, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do!

      Thanks – these plates are from Cost Plus World Market.

  2. Monet
    May 31, 2010 at 6:32 am (12 years ago)

    This recipe made me so happy! I’ve just recently discovered nutritional yeast, and I love it! I can’t wait to try these breadsticks…my vegan friends will be in heaven, and Ryan and I will too. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  3. lisasfoods
    May 31, 2010 at 7:15 am (12 years ago)

    Thanks for the recipe – I have never tried to bake with nutritional yeast before, but I bet it would add a cheesy kind of flavor.

    I discovered nutritional yeast in college too, when I was vegan. I would top it on pasta and rice dishes, adding a cheese flavor, plus loads of B vitamins.

  4. Vegan Piggy
    July 30, 2010 at 8:19 am (12 years ago)

    Great recipe! Thank you for sharing. I’m trying to transition my cheese loving kids as much as possible away from cheese whenever possible. One of them absolutely loves breadsticks šŸ™‚ I’ll have to try these out ASAP!

    • Stephanie
      July 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm (12 years ago)

      Give it a try! I hope they like them.

  5. Tiffany
    July 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm (12 years ago)

    The CoHo was also where I first came across nutritional yeast, and thought they looked like fish food, too! Haha.

    This sounds like a great recipe! I love baking bread and am always eager to have an excuse to do it. šŸ™‚ Anything that promises to be both vegan and “cheesy” will always draw me in, so I’ll certainly have to give these breadsticks a shot.

    • Stephanie
      July 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm (12 years ago)

      That’s so funny, what a coincidence! Give a try and let me know how you like it.

  6. Jessica
    July 30, 2010 at 8:50 pm (12 years ago)

    I’m afraid I might make these way too often and my waistline would not be too happy! They look delicious, I can’t wait to give them a try. My waistline will just have to “chill!” lol

  7. kim g.
    August 6, 2010 at 12:33 pm (12 years ago)

    I’m addicted to nutritional yeast, and I can’t wait to try these breadsticks! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Hugz
    July 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm (11 years ago)

    I use nutritional yeast in my lactation cookies as it is suspected galactagogue. It adds a nutty yeasty (duh) quality to the cookies that I really really like. I never really got the “cheesy” taste thing, but it is definitely a different ingredient.

  9. Kayla
    July 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm (10 years ago)

    I just made these bread sticks today and their very very yummy!
    I’ve never used nutritional yeast before but I’m addicted! Its so cheesy tasting, mmm.
    I had a little trouble with the dough. Mine was very crumbly and dry so I added a few more tablespoons of water and it shaped up nicely.
    I only got 10 bread sticks which were fluffy and fat instead of thin and crispy. Such a delicious treat šŸ™‚ Thanks!

  10. Allison
    March 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm (8 years ago)

    These were so good! My husband and 4-year-old couldn’t get enough. I also only got 10 sticks, but they were 10 yummy sticks. They were fluffy and had great flavor. We are not vegan but I love nutritional yeast. I’ve made “cheese” sauce for dipping homemade pretzels, “cheese” crackers and even pasta carbonara with nutritional yeast. So glad to add another great recipe to the list. Thank you!


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  1. […] attempts at baking with my Malaysian oven has left me a bit scarred and bitter. But when I saw this recipe floating around on Pinterest, I decided to muster up all the courage I could to try and bake again. […]

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