Nooch Your Diet! The Secret Ingredient in Your Favorite Vegan Dishes

Published on

Heads up: this page includes affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products or equipment I have personally vetted.

Nooch isn’t just for vegans anymore! Slang for nutritional yeast, nooch is a nutrient powerhouse. Learn how to add its delicious cheesy flavor to your favorite meals.

Nooch Your Diet

Heads up: this page includes affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products or equipment I have personally vetted.

Nooch is a vegan nickname for nutritional yeast. While it’s often used as an alternative to dairy products in vegan recipes, it has hit the mainstream running recently and is growing in popularity.

This article will discuss what nooch is, its nutritional profile, what it tastes good on, and why you should add it to your diet whether you’re vegan or not.

So come along and let’s nooch your diet!

What is Nooch?

Nooch is vegan slang for nutritional yeast

Nooch is vegan slang for Nutritional Yeast. It has been a staple in plant-based diets for decades, but its popularity has been on the rise recently, making more and more non-vegans wonder what it is.

Nutritional yeast is similar to baker’s yeast, but it’s deactivated, differentiating it from the leavener used in bread making.

It contains glutamate, giving it a nice umami flavor profile, along with both salty and savory flavors alike. It has a nutty, cheesy taste that makes it a great alternative to cheese, and it’s delicious sprinkled on pretty much anything.

It’s packed with nutrients, fiber, B vitamins, minerals, and it’s a complete protein.

Nooch does not come from any animal or wheat products, making It one-hundred percent vegan-friendly and gluten-free, and it can be found in pretty much any grocery store nationwide.

Basically, it’s a nutritional powerhouse, that’s delicious and, well, nooch-y.

How is Nutritional Yeast Made

Nutritional yeast is made from living saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.

How is Nutritional Yeast Made

The yeast is stored in large fermentation chambers and fed sugar (specifically a glucose-rich carbohydrate, usually from corn dextrose or beet molasses), where it will grow for about two weeks.

Next, it undergoes heating, pasteurization, and drying. These steps deactivate the yeast, breaking down their cell walls and releasing amino acids.

You’ve heard of MSG, right? The G stands for “glutamate,” which is one of the amino acids (glutamic acid) released during these processes. This gives nooch its classic cheesy, umami flavor. But all-natural!

Finally, the yeast is dried, pressed into flakes or ground into powder, and then packaged and ready for sale!

How to Use Nutritional Yeast

Eat it raw, or cook and bake with it! Nooch is your vegan go-to for all things cheesy!

Sprinkle it over popcorn, potatoes, or broccoli, use it as the base of a homemade cheesy sauce or dressing, or blend it with ground cashews to make an incredible vegan parmesan.

I’m including my favorite recipes using Nutritional Yeast below!

Nutritional Yeast is a Great Vegan Cheese Substitute

Nutritional Yeast as a Cheese Substitute

Nutritional yeast is a great plant-based alternative to cheese, its taste and texture very similar to parmesan cheese

My whole life I’ve loved pasta with meat sauce, meatballs, spicy Italian sausage, and those green canisters of dried parmesan cheese. Figuring out alternatives to meat sauce and meatballs was one of the first substitutions I made as a vegan.

But it took me a bit of time to figure out a good alternative for parmesan cheese. Then I discovered Nooch. My spaghetti was finally complete. Seriously. Give it a try!

Nooch is not only great on pasta dishes, it goes well with rice dishes and is perfect on mashed or baked potatoes. Or use it to make a delicious vegan Mac & Cheese. Yum!

Cheesy soups, alfredo sauces, nacho cheese dips, the cheesy-goodness recipes are endless!

Even if you eat dairy, nutritional yeast is still a delicious, healthy alternative for you to try. It tastes like cheese but is very low in fat and sodium, has a complete amino acid profile, and has 4 grams of fiber in every 2 tablespoons! And only 1 in 10 people eats the daily recommendation for fiber according to the CDC. Remind me where the fiber in cheese is. (1)


Nutritional Yeast is Great on Popcorn

I rarely eat popcorn. My wife and kids love it! They eat it all the time. It’s not that I don’t like the taste, I just hate getting all the little pieces stuck in my teeth and between my teeth and gumlines. It just never seems worth it to eat it.

However, sprinkling nooch on popcorn is possibly its most popular use.

When my wife pops her own popcorn, she adds 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast for every 1 cup of popcorn kernels. She’ll pop the popcorn, add the nutritional yeast, a little bit of oil, and a small amount of black pepper. It’s incredible.

Dress Up Your Vegetables

I’m vegan and I love veggies! Eating vegetables was never a big deal to me. Even as a kid I’d eat my broccoli or peas.

But that doesn’t mean I want them to be boring. Dress them up a bit!

Sprinkling some nutritional yeast flakes on top of vegetables gives them a little burst of saltiness and cheesiness (even though it’s cheese and sodium-free!). But you can add nooch at any point in the cooking process. Add before cooking, during cooking, or on your finished product.

Add to Your Tofu Dishes

I eat tofu most nights of the week. I love it, and I want the protein. But mostly I eat tofu because it’s so easy to make.

Drain the water from a block of firm tofu, cube it, and toss it in a pan. It’s just such a simple way to get in a great source of protein for dinner.

My kids like tofu cooked and then simmered in Braggs Liquid Aminos.

But here is my personal favorite tofu recipe:

Dress Up Your Tofu With Nooch

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons coconut aminos

Cube your tofu and toss it in a pre-warmed skillet on medium heat. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over top of the tofu and use your spatula to agitate the cubes until they are all covered on all sides. Finally, pour in the coconut aminos and mix it all up.

Continue cooking, stirring every 2 minutes or so, until the tofu is cooked to your liking.


Where to buy Nutritional Yeast?

You should be able to find nutritional yeast at your favorite local grocery store. Health food stores will pretty much always have it, but you shouldn’t have to make a special trip. Check in the bulk foods or Health foods sections the next time you go shopping.

If none of the stores in your area carry it, it’s really easy to find online.

There are two types of nutritional yeast you may find in the store: fortified and unfortified.

Fortified nutritional yeast has synthetic vitamins added to boost its nutrient content.

Unfortified nutritional yeast does not have any added vitamins or minerals. It only has the vitamins and minerals that are naturally produced by the yeast.

You want to buy fortified. Unfortified is still incredibly healthy, but it won’t have B-12.

The two most popular brands I can find pretty much everywhere are Bob’s Red Mill and Bragg. And of course Trader Joe’s has their own as well.

Like all brands, each of these has a slightly different taste, and I think most people end up preferring whichever one they choose first.

Bragg is my favorite! It’s also probably the one you’ve seen on the shelf in your local store. If you have the option, make this one your first purchase.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B002863BIW&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=herbivoremusc 20&language=en US

Nutritional Benefits of Nooch

Nooch is a good source of protein, fiber, minerals, and B vitamins.

It’s a Complete Protein

Proteins are made up of various combinations of amino acids. And, as you know, we use these proteins to build structures within our own bodies, like muscles, hair, skin, and nails.

There are 20 amino acids in all. 9 of the amino acids are termed “essential” because we cannot make them on our own. We have to get them from food.

Any food that has protein has all 9 essential amino acids, but plant foods are typically low in one or two. This is why for years, people believed you had to combine different plant foods at every meal in order for your body to make a complete protein.

Nooch is awesome because it has all the amino acids we need, no matter how much of it we eat! So it’s a great addition to any meal for vegans, and a nice little protein boost for non-vegans as well.

It Contains B Vitamins

Especially B-12! It’s important to note that nutritional yeast has to be fortified with B-12. It’s not a naturally occurring part of the food.

B-12 is made by bacteria. Our ancestors got their B-12 by eating foods straight from the ground, with bacteria still on them. Today, however, we spray our soil and wash our food. This makes it really hard for vegans to get the B-12 they need. Non-vegetarians get their B-12 from meat because the animals eat their food straight off the ground.

Oh, and the feed the cows eat is typically fortified with B-12 as well.

B-12 is incredibly important. It helps to keep our energy levels up, supports our nervous system, and helps us make new red blood cells. It is vital to our health, and vegans must have a reliable source of B-12 regularly. Your central nervous system depends on it. (6)

Nutritional yeast has more than the daily recommended intake in one tablespoon, but because B-12 is poorly absorbed it’s a good idea to use your nutritional yeast a couple of times a day.

To learn more about B-12, read Essential Vegan Nutrients.

Along with B-12, nooch is also a good source of other B- vitamins like thiamin and riboflavin.

It Contains Trace Minerals That Vegans Need

Nutritional yeast contains the minerals zinc, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum.

These are all minerals that can be hard to get on a vegan diet because we typically get them by eating meat (except molybdenum, which is found in abundance in beans and whole grains).

Zinc is important for a healthy immune system, selenium supports thyroid health, manganese is needed for strong bones and teeth, and molybdenum helps our bodies process toxins. (2, 3, 4, 5)

Nutritional Yeast, Brewer’s Yeast, and Baker’s Yeast. Are They All the Same?

Nutritional yeast comes from the same type of yeast that’s used to make bread, saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.

But it’s heated, pasteurized, and dried, so it’s no longer alive.

This is an important distinction because nutritional yeast, since it’s not alive, will not help bread rise. And it’s a different kind of yeast than brewer’s yeast.

Brewer’s yeast is bitter and is used for brewing beer. It’s an important ingredient in the fermentation process.

Brewer's yeast is used to make beverages like beer, and has a bitter taste

Baker’s yeast is alive, which is why it makes bread rise. The yeast cultures feed on the starches (flour) in the dough and release carbon dioxide, making the bread rise.

Baker's yeast is alive when baking begins, which allows the bread to rise

Nooch is no longer alive, distinguishing it from baker’s yeast, and it’s not bitter like brewer’s yeast, making nutritional yeast its own distinct offering.

Nooch Your Diet Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to add some extra protein and B-12 to your diet, nooch is a great option. Nutritional yeast is packed with nutrients, including all the essential amino acids, trace minerals, and B- vitamins. It’s also fortified with B-12, making it a reliable source of this important vitamin. Even if the vegan lifestyle isn’t your thing, give nooch a try. Add it to your meals today!

What’s your favorite way to use nutritional yeast?


  1. “Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Nov. 2017,
  2. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Zinc.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
  3. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Selenium.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
  4. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Manganese.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
  5. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Molybdenum.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
  6. “Office of Dietary Supplements – B12” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

*Author's Note: The content on this website is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The content of our articles is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It's always best to speak with your doctor or a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, or exercise routine, or trying a new supplement.

Photo of author
Matt Walter, CHN, M.A.T
I studied Food Science and Human Nutrition at Washington State University and interned as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the WSU football team. I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and former personal trainer and competitive CrossFit athlete. My mission is to make embracing and adopting a healthy vegan lifestyle simple and fun!

Leave a Comment