Fondly referred to as “nooch’, nutritional yeast is a cornerstone of vegan diets everywhere. Its rich flavor delivers a cheesy quality to any dish it is sprinkled into, and as the name suggests, it provides a boost of nutrition to boot!
With the ever increasing popularity of plant based eating, there is certainly no current shortage of nutritional yeast products on the market. This seasoning, supplement, and recipe ingredient comes in a range of preparation styles and flavors, making it a bit tough to know which to reach for next time that cheese craving hits or you're in need of a pantry restock!
To help you out, we gathered, sampled, and compared 15 different varieties of nooch. From them, we chose our top 6 favorites and we're here to tell you how and why they won us over!
What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast is made from a strain of yeast known as saccharomyces cerevisiae. This is the same type of yeast that other products such as baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast are made from. However, the distinguishing factor about nutritional yeast is that it is inactive, meaning the yeast cells are no longer living, and therefore can no longer perform any fermentation.
In addition to containing important nutrients such as folic acid, iron, potassium, and several B vitamins, nutritional yeast is also a good source of complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids that the human body is unable to synthesize on its own.
What is Nutritional Yeast Used For?
Due to a high concentration of amino acids like glutamate, nutritional yeast has a strong umami flavor, making it a popular choice for replicating a savory, cheesy flavor in vegan recipes. It can be used in the creation of various vegan food options such as: Tofu Scramble, Chickpea Cauliflower Tater Tots, and can even be used to make a convincing Vegan Substitute for Bacon!
Nooch is also used as a means to boost the nutritional value of whatever it is added to, as it is an easy way to sprinkle on an extra dose of protein, fiber, and vitamins.
Types of Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeasts come in several different preparation styles, each of which falls into either of 2 main camps: fortified nutritional yeast vs. non fortified nutritional yeast. You may see nutritional yeast in flake, granule, or powder form and there are both plain and flavored options!
Nutritional Yeast Brands We Tested
In order to determine the best nutritional yeast on the market, we tasted and evaluated the following 15 nutritional yeast brands and varieties:
- Anthony's Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Bob's Red Mill Large Flake Nutritional Yeast
- Bragg Nutritional Yeast
- Bragg Nutritional Yeast-Roasted Garlic
- Bragg Nutritional Yeast-Smoky BBQ
- Frontier Co-Op Premium Nutritional Yeast
- Frontier Co-Op Premium Nutritional Yeast-Nacho Spice
- It's Just! Fortified Premium Yeast Flakes-Nothing Else!
- Kal Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Nature's Promise Nutritional Yeast
- Noble Made by the New Primal Nutritional Yeast-Original
- Red Star Savory Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Shiloh Farms Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Simply Organic Nutritional Yeast
- Trader Joe's Nutritional Yeast
Note on vegan labeling: You’ll notice that none of the aforementioned products specifically say “vegan nutritional yeast”. This is simply because all nutritional yeast options are widely considered to be suitable for a vegan diet!
There of course could always be exceptions, especially in the case of flavored or blended nutritional yeast options, so be sure to check pertinent packaging before considering any product to be vegan.
Ranking the Best Nutritional Yeasts: The Methodology
We grouped our each of our nooch brands into the following 6 categories for review: Best Fortified Nutritional Yeast, Best Non Fortified Nutritional Yeast, Best Flavored Nutritional Yeast, Best Nutritional Yeast for a Budget, Best Premium Nutritional Yeast, and Best All-Around Nutritional Yeast. We scored the contenders for each category according to the following criteria:
- Flavor: seeing as one of the main reasons that folks turn to nutritional yeast is as a flavor booster, good taste is our most important piece of criteria!
- Texture: including matters of flake size, mouthfeel, and how well the nooch melts into or onto the foods it is added to.
- Nutrition Content: looking specifically at nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, and sodium as well as important vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, and all of those B vitamins.
- Value: calculated out to the price per ounce.
- Unique Characteristics: including any distinguishing factors such as special flavors, packaging, or important details about the company behind each product.
As far as serving sizes go, most of the products we tested had a serving size of two tablespoons. However, there were a few products that were measured in grams or teaspoons, so we are sure to make note of these differences in serving size when applicable. We also standardized many of our measurements into per tablespoon portions for simplicity.
Best Fortified Nutritional Yeast: Red Star Savory Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Chances are, fortified nutritional yeast is the variety that most folks think of when considering the stuff. With its golden yellow coloring and cheesy taste, fortified nooch is unbelievably rich in vitamin content. Bear in mind that these extra nutrients are synthetic, as they are added on top of those nutrients which occur naturally in the yeast. However it is still a great option for getting some extra B vitamins into your diet!
Reviewing Red Star Savory Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Here is how Red Star Savory Nutritional Yeast Flakes scored in each of our criteria categories:
- Flavor: 5.0/5.0
- Texture: 4.7/5.0
- Nutrition Content: 4.9/5.0
- Value: 4.7/5.0
- Unique Characteristics: 4.6/5.0
- Overall Score: 4.8/5.0
From one company whose name is most synonymous with yeast products for baking, it should come as no surprise that Red Star has a bit of a foothold in the nutritional yeast department as well!
Red Star Nutritional Yeast comes in a shaker bottle which is actually convenient for the fact that it has nice, wide holes that the yeast flakes can be easily shaken from. Or, you can pop open the other half of the lid for faster pouring or to insert a spoon for scooping! The flavor of this nutritional yeast was hands down one of our top scorers, with a perfectly nutty, umami taste that left us wanting more.
As one would expect from the winner of our “Best Fortified” category, this nutritional yeast boasts one of the most impressive nutritional profiles of those we evaluated. It provides the highest amount of vitamin B12, with a whopping 333% daily value per tablespoon and respectable amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1) with 226% daily value and 276% daily value, respectively. It also provides moderate amounts of iron, potassium, riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3), as well as 6% your daily value of zinc. And, this nutritional yeast from Red Star is non-GMO certified.
We did notice that this nutritional yeast is markedly lower in folate content as compared to the others, providing just 63% your daily value. In the big picture, this is of course still quite a decent dose but nevertheless, something worth noting! Also, we weren’t the biggest fans of the texture of the Red Star Savory Nutritional Yeast, as it had a bit of a chalky feel on the tongue as opposed to flaky and melty.
- Comes in a convenient bottle with adequately sized holes for shaking and a wide mouth side for spooning.
- Has an especially delicious savory flavor--top taste scorer here!
- Boasts a superior nutritional profile, providing plenty of B vitamins!
- Also provides decent quantities of iron, potassium, and zinc.
- Does not provide as much folate as the other fortified nooch options we reviewed.
- Not the best texture, taking on a chalky consistency as opposed to creamy.
Best Non-Fortified Nutritional Yeast: Shiloh Farms Nutritional Yeast Flakes
So, with all the hubbub about those added vitamins and extra nutrients that fortified nutritional yeast has to offer, why would anyone opt for unfortified nutritional yeast? The fact is, some folks may choose to avoid relying on synthetic vitamins, instead preferring to consume naturally occurring nutrients and trace minerals as much as possible. Also, the inclusion of these synthetic nutrients does affect the final flavor profile of the products, and this may not be suited to everyone’s tastes.
Reviewing Shiloh Farms Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Here is how Shiloh Farms Nutritional Yeast Flakes scored in each of our criteria categories:
- Flavor: 4.⅘.0
- Texture: 4.5/5.0
- Nutrition Content: 4.⅘.0
- Value: 4.⅘.0
- Unique Characteristics: 4.8/5.0
- Overall Score: 4.5/5.0
One look at this stuff and you can tell that you’ve got some non fortified nooch on your hands! The color is a natural beige as opposed to the bright yellow boasted by its fortified counterparts, and in the same fashion, its flavor is much more pure as well. Shiloh Farms Nutritional Yeast Flakes are on the smaller size as far as nutritional yeast flakes go, and we find this to be rather nice as it makes the product easier to sprinkle and disperse.
This product is USDA certified organic and non-GMO verified, as well as sports the highest protein content of all the non-fortified yeasts we evaluated--providing 2 full grams per tablespoon! One of the things we love most about this nutritional yeast has not to do with the yeast itself, but rather is all about the parent company. With a bit of research into the Shiloh Farms website, we found several impressive standards and policies including a “Commitment to Organics”, an “All-Natural” declaration, and a “Clean Processing Policy”. Statements such as these are a key indication of the overall level of quality and care that this company puts into their products and that gives us plenty of good vibes!
Unfortunately, Shiloh Farms seems to be not the most commonly available brand of nutritional yeast, and we didn’t locate it in any of our nearby major supermarkets or big box grocery stores. You’ll probably have to head to a health food store to get your hands on a bag of this stuff or order online from a specialty retailer or directly from their website!
We also noticed the texture of this nutritional yeast was not as uniform as the others and there were some clumps in the mix. And, it has one of the highest sodium contents of all of the nutritional yeasts we tested, with a full 120 milligrams per tablespoon.
- Features pure, natural flavor and color--no synthetic flavors or fake yellow here!
- Flakes are on the smaller size, excellent for sprinkling on snacks or mixing into recipes.
- USDA organic and non-GMO verified.
- Provides 2 full grams of protein per tablespoon!
- Comes from a company that takes care to uphold several important standards and policies in regards to product quality and environmentalism.
- Not as readily available as other nutritional yeast brands, requiring a trip to the health food store or special order from online.
- Overall not uniformly textured, with several clumps in the mixture.
- Has one of the highest sodium contents of all, with 120 milligrams per tablespoon.
Best Flavored Nutritional Yeast: Bragg Nutritional Yeast-Roasted Garlic
As we’ve discussed, nutritional yeast is inherently tasty and savory thanks to all of that glutamic acid. With a few additional ingredients though, uniquely flavored nutritional yeast seasoning can be made and there are many such products out there on the market! We spotted flavor options ranging from pizza to nacho spice to lemon dill, and we happily sampled several of these ingenious creations for our “Best Flavored” category!
Reviewing Bragg Nutritional Yeast-Roasted Garlic
Here is how Bragg Nutritional Yeast-Roasted Garlic scored in each of our criteria categories:
- Flavor: 4.9/5.0
- Texture: 4.8/5.0
- Nutrition Content: 4.6/5.0
- Value: 4.6/5.0
- Unique Characteristics: 5.0/5.0
- Overall Score: 4.8/5.0
After establishing themselves in 1911--yes, 110 years ago!--the brand name Bragg soon became deeply associated with health food and wellness products. You may recognize their name from those well-known bottles of apple cider vinegar but they also produce a slew of other goodies from vitamins and supplements to olive oil and of course, nooch!
The classic version of Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes was at the top of our score sheets as well, but we were thrilled to discover that their Roasted Garlic flavor option is, in a word, yum! The super tasty hint of roasted garlic is nice and savory but far from overpowering. If you like the taste of classic nutritional yeast sprinkled on your popcorn, we urge you to give this a shot as it will surely take your snack to a whole new level! It would also be great for making some “cheesy” garlic bread or toast, topping casseroles, or in our Vegan Stuffed Zucchini Boats.
Across the board, we found the flavored nooch options to be a bit lower in nutrients than the classic versions, but this one still had a decent amount of added vitamins packed into it, including thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin B12, and even some biotin! It provides 5 grams of complete protein per serving (2.5 grams per tablespoon) and is a non-GMO verified product of the USA. We also love how the packaging clearly states it is free from each of the following: sugar, egg, milk, gluten, wheat, starch, soy, animal derivatives, artificial colors, artificial preservatives. Three cheers for transparency in product labeling!
Unfortunately, like many things that are uber-delicious, Bragg Nutritional Yeast-Roasted Garlic contains quite a bit of sodium, providing 200 milligrams per serving. Also, we were only able to find this special flavor of nutritional yeast for sale in a 2-pack with another of Bragg’s flavored options. Though the price was better on both in this bundle, this isn’t so convenient if you’re not interested in the other flavor choice, which in our pack, happened to be a smoky BBQ style flavor that didn't score as well.
- Hails from one of the biggest names in the health food and wellness item space--Bragg!
- Super tasty roasted garlic flavor is very special, giving this nooch an even more savory flavor than the plain stuff.
- Contains the most nutrients out of our flavored options including lots of vitamin B12, folate, and even some biotin!
- Provides 5 grams of complete protein per serving.
- Packaging clearly states several items it is guaranteed to be free from, including soy, wheat, egg, artificial colors, and more.
- Pretty high in sodium, with a full 200 milligrams per serving.
- Is most readily available for purchase only as part of a 2-pack with a different flavored nutritional yeast by the same brand.
Best Nutritional Yeast for a Budget: Trader Joe's Nutritional Yeast
If you’ve been eating a plant based diet for some time, or are otherwise already a nutritional yeast aficionado, you already know that this stuff can be quite expensive! Perhaps due to the fairly involved process it takes to grow, harvest, and dry the yeast cells or maybe it’s that high price tags are expected in any “health food” sector of the market. Either way, not every bottle or bag of nutritional yeast we sampled was budget friendly, but thankfully, there were several options that rang in under the umbrella of affordability!
Reviewing Trader Joe's Nutritional Yeast
Here is how Trader Joe's Nutritional Yeast scored in each of our criteria categories:
- Flavor: 4.6/5.0
- Texture: 4.6/5.0
- Nutrition Content: 4.8/5.0
- Value: 5.0/5.0
- Unique Characteristics: 4.⅘.0
- Overall Score: 4.6/5.0
Good ol’ Trader Joe’s, doing us a solid once again by providing a quality product at a stunningly affordable price point!
Their nutritional yeast has that characteristic bright yellow you’ll be looking for if you seek to use it for a pot of vegan mac and cheese or our Cashew Cheddar Cheese Spread! It comes in a nicely sized 4-ounce pouch, a pleasant diversion from a few of the 8 and even 16-ounce packages ended up with from some of the other brands. The resealable zip-top bag features not just any old zipper either, rather it’s a cool plastic velcro-style seal which is easy to close and open. Even more importantly, the design of the seal allows it to seamlessly continue functioning even when some nooch flakes or dust get caught up in the seam! Needless to say, this packaging was well thought out.
Hitting our wallets at just $0.75 per ounce (just $2.99 for the entire bag at our store!), Trader Joe's Nutritional Yeast is by far the most affordable out of all of the nooch brands and varieties we sampled. In addition to moderate nutrition content across the board, it also contains a boost of zinc where many of the other nutritional yeast brands don’t--not a detail to sneeze at during this cold and flu season!
Out of all of the nooch options, this one unfortunately carried the most extreme allergen warning, boldly stating that the product may contain traces of soy, almond, cashew, coconut, hazelnut, macadamia, and walnut. Clearly not the best choice of product for anyone who suffers from a tree nut allergy. In addition, our bag was a fairly uneven mix of textures. While larger flakes of nutritional yeast floated at the top, the yeast towards the bottom was almost fully ground into a fine powder as if it had suffered a bit of abuse during transit.
- Packaged in a moderate 4-ounce pouch--perfect size if you ask us!
- Velcro-esque style zip top makes resealing the package a cinch, even if nutritional yeast flakes and debris get caught in the seal.
- Is the most affordably priced of all nutritional yeasts we evaluated, costing us just $0.75 per ounce.
- Contains an added boost of zinc above and beyond other nooch varieties, giving you 6% your daily value in each and every tablespoon!
- Comes with a pretty broad allergen warning, cautioning that it may contain a variety of tree nuts, coconut, and soy products.
- The nooch flakes in the bottom of our bag were pretty crushed up and ground to a powder, giving the product a pretty incohesive texture.
Best Premium Nutritional Yeast: Simply Organic Nutritional Yeast
While all of the nutritional yeasts we tested would do just a fine job at seasoning food while simultaneously providing a nutrient boost, there are of course some discrepancies in quality between the different products. If high-quality is what you’re after, the “Best Premium” category is the place to be!
Reviewing Simply Organic Nutritional Yeast
Here is how Simply Organic Nutritional Yeast scored in each of our criteria categories:
- Flavor: 4.8/5.0
- Texture: 5.0/5.0
- Nutrition Content: 4.⅗.0
- Value: 3.9/5.0
- Unique Characteristics: 4.7/5.0
- Overall Score: 4.5/5.0
Simply Organic is a product line that is actually a division of Frontier Co-Op, makers of a few other nutritional yeast varieties we included in our study. As the parent company designation suggests, this group is indeed co-op in nature meaning it is member owned and operated. In addition to closing the gap in the relationship between corporation and consumer, this type of structure also helps the company to successfully support philanthropic efforts such as combating food insecurity and promoting organic farming practices.
As far as the nooch itself, we immediately noticed the natural brown coloring of this one, which is a nice diversion if you’re not a fan of the falsely fluorescent yellow that the fortified versions take on. We also completely fell in love with the size and texture of these large flakes as they were so pleasantly crisp and, well, flaky!
This one is USDA certified organic, a trait not all that common among the nutritional yeasts we tested, and it also is packaged in a glass bottle as opposed to the plastic tubs and pouches that many of the other options came in. We’re all for reducing the amount of single use plastic as possible!
Along with a premium title comes a premium price tag of course, and this one ran us over $10.00 per ounce! Also, while we love the fact that the convenient shaker bottle is made of glass as opposed to plastic, the metal cap was insanely hard to remove for some reason--requiring multiple attempts and additional tools. And, the holes in the shaker lid were far too small for any of the nooch flakes to actually fall through!
- Parent company is a co-op which directly benefits its own members and consumers as well as carries out many different philanthropic efforts.
- Has a texture which is by far our favorite, with big crispy flakes that have a melt-in-your mouth consistency!
- USDA organic.
- Packaged in a more environmentally friendly glass bottle as opposed to plastic tubs or bags.
- In comparison to most other nooch varieties, the price tag on this one seems a bit extreme--over $10.00 per ounce!
- Package does not feature the best design as the holes were far too small for any of the nooch to be shaken from, and the metal lid was beyond difficult to remove from its factory sealed state.
Best All-Around Nutritional Yeast: Anthony's Nutritional Yeast Flakes
With all of the different factors to weigh when shopping for nutritional yeast, it can be tough to determine which to prioritize! To satisfy the demand for a solid middle of the road nutritional yeast option, we settled on one variety as our “Best All-Around” winner.
Reviewing Anthony's Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Here is how Anthony's Nutritional Yeast Flakes scored in each of our criteria categories:
- Flavor: 4.5/5.0
- Texture: 4.6/5.0
- Nutrition Content: 4.8/5.0
- Value: 4.9/5.0
- Unique Characteristics: 4.9/5.0
- Overall Score: 4.7/5.0
Anthony’s is an impressively broad company, offering all sorts of organic and natural products, from pantry staples like oats and specialty flours to supplements and even cereal marshmallows!
While not all of these products are vegan friendly, their vegan nutritional yeast was by far one of our favorites from our group of test subjects! The packaging states that this nutritional yeast is “batch tested and verified gluten free”, putting to rest any worries of gluten cross contamination. It is non-GMO and made in the USA, and seems to be widely available with many avenues of distribution.
Nutritionally speaking, this nooch is at the top end as far as protein and fiber content, providing 4 grams and 1.5 grams per tablespoon, respectively. In addition, the nutritional panel indicates that the vitamin B12 in this nutritional yeast is produced by way of natural fermentation and is not a synthetic additive. Pretty cool if you ask us! We also love the cheeky attitude tucked into the copy on the packaging itself--because there’s no reason that reading the information provided on a food product should be boring!
Though this company is well-known for its economical bulk packaging, we found the heft of this 1-pound bag of nutritional yeast to be a little overwhelming. Unless you are a household of multiple nooch aficionados, it’s going to take quite a long time to get through a bag of this stuff.
The large size also makes it difficult to sprinkle the nooch straight from the bag itself, so be ready to get those measuring spoons out in order to scoop it out of there. Anthony's Nutritional Yeast Flakes were also at the top of the charts in terms of calorie content, coming in at a full 30 calories per tablespoon!
- Batch tested and verified gluten free.
- Made in the USA.
- Contains 4 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of dietary fiber per each and every tablespoon!
- All vitamin B12 in this nooch is naturally produced, not synthetically added.
- The product details and writing on the packaging is done in a fun, friendly tone which makes the information panel fun to interact with.
- Only comes in a big 1-pound bag, which although economical for the wallet, is tough to get through that much nooch in a reasonable amount of time.
- At the high end in terms of calorie content, with 30 calories per tablespoon.
Best Nutritional Yeast FAQs
Does Nutritional Yeast Contain Lead?
There have been studies which returned detectable lead levels in certain brands of nutritional yeast. Despite this detectable presence, the levels are low enough that they were deemed safe. However it is still advisable that pregnant women or sensitive individuals avoid these products in high quantities.
Does Nutritional Yeast Need to be Refrigerated?
Nope! Even after opening, nutritional yeast is shelf stable at room temperature. Be sure to store it in a cool, dry place in your kitchen and keep the package tightly sealed when not in use. When properly stored, nutritional yeast should last for up to 2 years.
Keep in mind that bulk bin nutritional yeast has a slightly shorter shelf life as compared to the pre-packaged nooch brands and varieties we’ve reviewed here.
Can You Have Too Much Nutritional Yeast?
For most folks, there’s probably no such thing as too much nooch! The vitamins and minerals in nutritional yeast are safe to consume in large quantities as the body can easily eliminate any excess of these nutrients.
For some individuals however, consumption of yeast can pose a problem and should be avoided in great quantities or perhaps altogether. For people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease or other digestive issues, it’s worth speaking to a healthcare provider before introducing nutritional yeast into your diet.
Final Thoughts on the Best Nooch Options for You!
The ultimate choice in which nooch you choose will of course come down to your own personal taste preferences and diet considerations. Maybe you prefer the all-natural flavor and hue of non-fortified nooch, or perhaps you love that cheesy yellow coloring of the fortified stuff and all of the nutrient goodness that comes along with it!
No matter which product you choose, any of the best nutritional yeast brands featured in our review are solid choices for seasoning, snacking, cooking, and experimenting with. Try using your new favorite nooch variety to make a big batch of Vegan Eggplant Parmesan with some authentic style Focaccia Bread to accompany it. Just like that, dinner--with plenty of nutrition of course--is served!