organic vegetarian meals for the trail

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast powder
Nutritional Yeast is valued for its excellent source of B-complex vitamins and minerals.

We often are asked why we use nutritional yeast in some of our products. Nutritional yeast is a concentrated source of protein and B-complex vitamins and is prized for its creamy, cheese-like flavor. It makes an excellent condiment to take backpacking because it requires no refrigeration and has a long shelf-life. It makes a versatile sauce for various dishes, such as pasta, or as a topping to sprinkle on snack foods, such as popcorn. It also contains very low sodium.

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.  Unlike the live yeasts used in bread making and brewing, nutritional yeast has no fermenting or leavening power.  Since Nutritional yeast does not contain active yeast, it is acceptable in moderate amounts for those following a diet designed to manage Candida albicans.

Brewers yeast versus nutritional yeast

While brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast provide similar nutrition, there is a significant difference between brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast.  Brewer’s yeast is a by-product of the beer brewing industry and has a bitter hops flavor. Nutritional yeast is grown on molasses for the purpose of a food supplement and has a pleasant, cheese-like flavor. Nutritional yeast often has added B12, which is usually not added to brewer’s yeast; Brewers’ yeast contains chromium, of particular importance for the diabetic or hypoglycemic diet

After the nutritional yeast has fermented, the culture is pasteurized and drum dried to destroy the live yeast. You never want to consume live active yeast (i.e. baking yeast) as a food supplement because the live yeast will continue to grow in the intestine and deplete the body of nutrients. However, once the yeast is inactivated through pasteurization, it provides excellent nutrition. Hence, nutritional yeast is sold in the form of supplements, and as a food source in the form of powders, flakes, and as spreads – such as Vegemite, a sandwich spread commonly used in the UK & Australia. Nutritional yeast also referred as “vegetarian yeast,” “savory yeast,” or “hippie dust” adds flavor and nutrition to dishes.

How Nutritional Yeast is Made
How Red Star Nutritional Yeast is Made.  Source: Lesaffre Yeast Corp

What to look for when purchasing nutritional yeast

  • Fortified with B12, a vitamin lacking in most vegetarian/vegan diets. Not all brands of nutritional yeast have B12 added.
  • Processed at low temperatures. High-temperature nutritional yeast products yield elevated concentrations the by-product of glutamic acid (a natural form of MSG) naturally present in the yeast.
  • A dark yellow color, indicating it contains a high amount of riboflavin (vitamin B2).
  • Dissolves easily.

Nutritional yeast as a food

Keep in mind that both nutritional yeast/brewers yeast are considered a super food because they are very concentrated in nutrients. Therefore, you do not need to consume very much of it (1 – 2 TB is a sensible serving). We stand by our philosophy that it is better to consume raw foods naturally present in nature instead of man-assisted/processed foods.

Nutritional yeast in food is used much like you might add cheese to dishes. Common uses in food:

  • Sprinkle on popcorn, instead of butter and salt.
  • Add in pasta and casseroles to give a cheesy flavor.
  • Add to soup, gravy or sauces to give a creamy taste without the use of milk.
  • Use it with baked or mashed potatoes.
  • Add to scrambled tofu/eggs instead of cheese.
  • Add to smoothies to boost nutrition.
Nutritional yeast can be found in powder or flaked form in health foods stores across the U.S. The flakes are used as a condiment to sprinkle on pizza or pasta (as you would parmesan cheese) and the powder works well for popcorn, gravy, sauces, and casseroles.

Is nutritional yeast high in sodium?

No! Outdoor Herbivore uses Red Star Vegetarian support nutritional yeast in all of our meals that contain this supplement. It contains very low sodium – 5mg per 1.5 tablespoon serving. This allows you to enjoy a robust flavor without the need for excess salt.

Ingredients in Red Star Nutritional Yeast:

Inactive dry yeast, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, selenium


Per 1.5 Tablespoon Serving



Total Fat

1 gram


7 grams


4 grams


8 grams


5 milligrams

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

640% Daily Value (DV)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

560% DV

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

280% DV

Vitamin B6

480% DV

Folic Acid

60% DV

Vitamin B12

130% DV


30% DV


20% DV

The dehydrated backpacking meals that we produce containing nutritional yeast include Basil Walnut Penne‘Cheddar’ Mac, Pesto Presto MatchsticksPesto HerbiliciousPinto Smash, and Dehydrated Pasta Sauces.
Outdoor Herbivore’s ‘Cheddar’ Mac made with nutritional yeast instead of dairy.  The result is a lower in sodium dish with more nutrients; the texture is creamy; the flavor is cheddary.

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3 thoughts on “Nutritional Yeast”

  • I also want to know which brand, if any, has no folic acid. I saw that Bob’s Red Mill listed Folate in the nutritional info, but in the ingredients it listed Folic Acid. Pretty sneaky there. I couldn’t find any folic acid free products that were also enriched with B12.

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