5 Best Nutritional Yeast Substitutes

Often, nutritional yeast is thought of a substitute for parmesan or other cheese, taking its place on popcorn and in salads. Perhaps that's because you're looking for a healthier lifestyle, or perhaps because you are vegan, or even allergic to cheese. Or maybe you simply know the truth: Nutritional yeast is absolutely delicious.

No matter your reasoning, what happens when you run out of that delicious gold dust?

Nutritional yeast is a dried yeast that comes by its name honestly: It's packed full of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a whole lotta protein. It's actually saccharomyces cerevisiae, the same type of yeast that bread and beer are made from (although we don't recommend brewing up anything with it).

The good news is, you shouldn't run out of nutritional yeast very often. It typically comes in large containers and, if stored in a cool, dry place, lasts more-or-less forever—or up to two years, according to official sources. But when a tried-and-true pantry staple goes missing, that's the time we often don't know where to turn in the kitchen.

Never fear: We present 5 vegan, dairy-free substitutes for when you're at the bottom of your nutritional yeast barrel. Even better? You're likely to have most of them already in your kitchen.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce and beans

This umami-packed sauce is made from fermented soy beans, and has been flavoring Chinese dishes for thousands of years. Although it doesn't provide the exact same "cheesey" or "nutty" flavor that so many seek in nutritional yeast, it's potent savory qualities will provide some of the oomph you're looking for.

Remember, when substituting in a recipe—a vegan gravy, for example—be sure to adjustment the wet-to-dry ingredient ratios accordingly, as soy sauce is a liquid (obviously), and nutritional yeast is not.

White Miso Paste

Similar to soy sauce, miso paste is made from fermented soybeans and is full of umami. However, it can be much less sharp than soy sauce, while still packing a flavorful punch. It's also a paste, rather than a liquid, which might work better in certain applications. Just be sure to purchase white miso paste, rather than red, as the rust-colored paste will have a much stronger taste.

Dried Mushrooms

Dried porcini mushrooms in wooden bowl on a rustic wooden table

If soy sauce and miso paste don't provide the appropriate texture, or simply contain too much sodium, dried and ground mushrooms provide a solid alternative. With an earthier flavor than any other substitute, they also lend a savory depth to whatever dish they're added too. Some types of mushrooms, such as porcinis, may overwhelm dishes, while others, like shiitakes, will be milder. Like nutritional yeast, they also come with quite the functional bevy, as they're full of potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin B.


Cashews hold great potential as nutritional yeast substitute, as it provides a similar nutty flavor and can be used in a number of different applications. Ground cashews can function very similarly to nutritional yeast, and can often be directly substituted in a one-to-one ratio. You can also soak and blend the nut into a vegan cheese-sauce, rounding out the totality of nutritional yeast's flavor profile.

Vegetable Bouillon

Dehydrated bouillon cubes

Whenever you're looking for a little umami, a bouillon cube can make all the difference in the world. You have many options: Crush the cube before adding to your dish, steep into a flavorful broth, or even mash into a paste. Just beware: Depending on the brand of bouillon you're using, they can be on the salty side. Be sure to adjust the rest of your recipe accordingly.

READ MORE: 10 Alternatives for When You Run Out of Soy Sauce