Delicious ways to use nutritional yeast

I'm here to make the case for why you should consider sprinkling nutritional yeast on all the things — well, almost all the things. Yes, the name is totally disconcerting, and yes, it sounds like something you might consume for health reasons but certainly not for taste. News flash! It's actually darn tasty and has downright magical powers. Commonly used in vegan cooking, nutritional yeast manages to approximate both the taste of cheese (amazing) and the coveted umami flavor found in broths and other savory sauces.

This deactivated yeast is grown on a food source, like molasses for instance, before getting harvested, heated, dried, and crumbled into the form you see sold in stores. Unlike baking yeast, it is inactive and does not make dough rise. As a so-called complete protein, nutritional yeast is a good source of essential amino acids, fiber, and B vitamins that help your body get the most energy from the foods you eat. In addition to its health benefits, nutritional yeast is favored by vegans for its uncanny ability to replicate the flavor of cheese.

Nutritional yeast isn't just for hippies or vegans or hippy vegans. Once you start incorporating it into your food, you'll soon discover how much better your favorite dishes taste. Don't be shy! To get you started, here are some easy and delicious ways to start using nutritional yeast ASAP.

Rice and creamy pasta dishes

Please do yourself a favor and start adding nutritional yeast to all your rice dishes and bowls of creamy pasta. It has a fabulous way of transforming a plain Jane pot of rice into one that threatens to steal the show from the main dish. The grains become infused with a uniquely rich umami flavor you might get from cooking them in homemade bone broth, but nah. You simply added a few sprinkles of nutritional yeast. On the other hand, when you add it to pasta dishes, you get a Parmesan-like flavor that ups the cheesiness factor in the grandest manner possible.

This vegan, gluten-free Alfredo recipe from Minimalist Baker shows how nutritional yeast can transform everyday pasta into dreamy perfection.

Breads

My new thing I'm doing these days? I like to sprinkle a little nutritional yeast on my morning toast. Game changer. These strange flakes pair well with all kinds of breads add such savoriness. Try adding it to sandwich bread along with your other fillings for that undefinable oomph you deserve come lunchtime. It's a great way to lend bready meals flavor as well as nourishing vitamins and a dose of good-for-you fiber. Nutritional yeast is equally tasty added to gluten-free foods such as rice cakes, so let your taste buds do the experimenting.

Make any of these toast concoctions from Bon Appetit and sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top. At least your most immediate dreams will be realized.

Beans

You don't always need a fancy way to add nutritional yeast to your diet. Oftentimes, I enjoy using it as I would a condiment. That is, I sprinkle it onto simple dishes for extra savoriness and depth of flavor. For example, nutritional yeast pairs delightfully well with hearty legumes like beans and lentils. While you should most certainly incorporate the flakes into dishes that contain beans, I also thoroughly enjoy eating a side dish of cooked beans topped with nutritional yeast, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Simple works well!

This easy recipe from Bonzai Aphrodite shows you the simplest way to dress a plate of beans with nutritional yeast, and I approve heartily.

Soups

If you love thick and creamy soups but don't want them to be laden with fatty dairy ingredients such as heavy cream or milk, try adding some nutritional yeast instead. Even if you aren't deliberately trying to cook vegan soups, doing so lends them a rich, decadent texture while keeping the caloric damage pretty minimal. The next time you're preparing your favorite creamy soup, try skipping the dairy. Give nutritional yeast a chance and you'll find the cheesy flavor so addictive you may never turn back.

This recipe from Oh She Glows uses nutritional yeast to make a faux cheese vegetable soup that I'm all in favor of.

Curries

Curries get their great depth of flavor from that elusive umami. One great way to increase that coveted taste? Add nutritional yeast to your next pot of curry and you'll get a sense for how much depth of flavor it brings to the dish. It has the ability to mingle well with traditional curry spices, enhancing them without overpowering. Whether you're making a vegan curry or just want to amp up the flavors, you'll love what nutritional yeast can do for your most beloved recipes.

Try this recipe from One Green Planet if you're craving a hearty veggie curry. Full of protein and totally warming, this one is a great starting point for creating other curry concoctions that use nutritional yeast.

Popcorn

Sprinkling nutritional yeast on popcorn is the right thing to do no matter who you are and what walk of life you come from. That's a fact, by the way. Doing so renders every popped kernel unbelievably savory, with just the right amount of subtle cheesiness. About a gazillion times less fatty than dousing your popcorn in butter, adding nutritional yeast is an easy, fast, and guilt-free way to have it all in life. Nutritious popcorn that tastes like a dream come true.

Gimme Some Oven just gets me. This recipe for butter-free popcorn wields nutritional yeast like a delicious secret weapon.

Salads

Another way to use nutritional yeast as a condiment? Try sprinkling some flakes on top of a salad. Sad desk lunches begone. It comes off quite subtle and tastes like you decided to indulge in extra Parmesan cheese, instantly making any bowl of greens infinitely more appealing. Whether you're faced with a plain side salad or simply want more savory flavor in your midday meal, you can get what you want by stowing away some nutritional yeast and having a jar at the ready. You can also make your own dressings incorporating nutritional yeast. Will wonders never cease?

Try this dressing recipe from Epicurious to get a taste of what nutritional yeast can do for a simple salad.

Eggs

I eat scrambled eggs for breakfast at least twice a week. It's a habit I'm totally comfortable with. When I make my scramble for other people, they sometimes ask me for my secret because among my friends, I'm kind of #egggoals. Since I'm pretty open about sharing culinary gems, I always divulge my strong reliance on nutritional yeast. Add a few sprinkles to your scrambled eggs and you too will have people clamoring at your doorstep.

Here's a healthy scrambled eggs recipe from Colorful Palate that will get you as addicted to nutritional yeast as I am.

Vegetables

Easiest meal ever? Roast some seasonal vegetables until they're perfectly caramelized and just at the point of being crisp-tender. Garnish them with a dash of nutritional yeast and enjoy. You can also steam or stir-fry your veggies. The point is that knowing the secret to quickly elevating a plate of vegetables means you'll always have a delicious meal ticket in your back pocket. Never go hungry again.

Check out this recipe from Bon Appetit to get started on your veggies-plus-nutritional-yeast journey of deliciousness.

Dips

The same reason nutritional yeast makes creamy pastas more decadent holds true for its effects on all your favorite dips. When the urge to snack hits or you need to throw a quick party with your closest friends, start whipping up those creamy dips. The only difference is the next time you do this, you'll add nutritional yeast to them and completely blow everyone's socks off. Pro tip.

Try out this black bean dip recipe from Food & Nutrition. It's made with nutritional yeast, and it's heavenly.

I hope these suggestions help you feel emboldened to start using nutritional yeast on the reg. Your life will be tastier and more flavorful, that's for sure.