Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product. It is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment.
Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese. It can be used in many recipes in place of cheese, such as in mashed and fried potatoes, and atop scrambled tofu
. Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn.
In Australia, it is sometimes sold as "savoury yeast flakes." In New Zealand, it has long been known as Brufax. In the United States it is sometimes referred to as "nooch" (also spelled nüch), or "yeshi," an Ethiopian name meaning "for a thousand". Though "nutritional yeast" usually refers to commercial products, inadequately fed prisoners of war have used "home-grown" yeast to prevent vitamin deficiency. Nutritional yeast is different from yeast extract, which has a very strong flavour and comes in the form of a dark brown paste.