10 Protein-Rich Recipes That Use Nutritional Yeast, the Cheesy Vegan Seasoning Linked to Improving Your Mood

Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff
Meandering through the spice aisle at the grocery store (or gazing over your own supply) and coming across a bottle of nutritional yeast is striking seasoning gold. That goes double if you're vegan or dairy-free.

Nutritional yeast, a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is often used in cooking to add a cheesy, slightly nutty taste to food—yet it isn't made with any animal products whatsoever. But it's not just the taste of nutritional yeast that makes it so great. The seasoning is a particularly great source of vitamin B12. In fact, a single tablespoon contains about 65 percent of your recommended daily value when fortified.

Vitamin B12 is one of those nutrients many people don't think much about but is actually crucial for the body. Not only does it play a role in nerve function and blood cell formation, but it's important for brain health, too. “B12 is also involved in producing neurotransmitters that affect your mood, which may be why some research suggests that vitamin B12 may be helpful for people prone to depression,” registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty, MS, RDN, previously shared with Well+Good. Besides being high in vitamin B12, nutritional yeast also has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source.

It's also pretty foolproof to use. Just sprinkle it into any dish that could benefit from its cheesy-nutty flavor. Or, use the ten nutritional yeast recipes rounded up here to start experimenting.

Nutritional Yeast Recipes

vegan quiche
Photo: Jessica In The Kitchen

1. Vegan, gluten-free quiche 

Traditionally quiches are made with eggs and cheese—that means it's off the menu for vegan eaters. But this version gives it a 100 percent plant-based makeover. Tofu is used in place of the eggs and yep, you guessed it: The nutritional yeast is used to give this breakfast its cheesy flavor. Garlic and turmeric amp up the flavor even more, so make sure to have those handy.

Get the recipe: vegan, gluten-free quiche 

breakfast egg muffins
Photo: The Healthful Ideas

2. Cheesy breakfast egg muffins

If you do eat eggs, the protein plus nutritional yeast is *chef's kiss.* This recipe shows how to make a batch of eggy muffins so you'll have a protein-packed breakfast prepped for the entire week. Besides nutritional yeast, reach in your pantry for garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, and dried basil.

Get the recipe: cheesy breakfast egg muffins

avocado toast
Photo: Simple Vegan Blog

3. Avocado toast

Sprinkling nutritional yeast on your avo toast gives it a whole added layer of flavor. This just might be your breakfast gamechanger. Follow this simple recipe to see exactly how much to use, plus a few other key ingredients, for avocado toast perfection.

Get the recipe: avocado toast

nutritional yeast recipes
Photo: Oh She Glows

4. 7 vegetable and "cheese" soup

Besides being made with heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast, this soup is full of fiber. (The "7 vegetable" name probably gave that away, right?) Top it off with pumpkin seeds for protein and satisfying crunch.

Get the recipe: 7 vegetable and "cheese" soup

vegan egg salad
Photo: From My Bowl

5. Vegan "egg" salad

If you're looking for a vegan egg salad that actually tastes like the real thing, this is it. Pro tip: Use medium-firm tofu to replicate the texture of eggs. Another trick is blending cashews with the other ingredients when making the dressing. This makes it extra creamy. Besides nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, turmeric, lemon juice, and chives are combined for a savory, tangy flavor.

Get the recipe: vegan "egg" salad

tuscan soup
Photo: Healthier Steps

6. Tuscan soup

This soup is full of kale and potatoes, which give great fiber, and cashews are blended with the nutritional yeast (and a few other spices) to create a rich, creamy sauce. You'll be making this one all winter long.

Get the recipe: Tuscan soup

nutritional yeast recipes pasta
Photo: I Can You Can Vegan

7. Vegan cashew alfredo

Every pasta lover needs a good alfredo recipe in their repertoire. The nutritional yeast is a key ingredient in this one, along with onion powder, lemon juice, almond milk, vegan butter, and soaked cashews. You'll be licking up every last bit.

Get the recipe: vegan cashew alfredo 

cheesy broccoli

8. Oven-roasted broccoli

This cheesy, garlicky broccoli complements pretty much any entree. All you need to make it are five simple ingredients. It only takes five minutes to throw together and 20 minutes to cook, making it a weeknight win.

Get the recipe: oven-roasted broccoli

Photo: Minimalist Baker

9. Vegan Cheez-Its

Make a batch of these to have on hand when a craving for something cheesy and salty hits. These nutritional yeast-sprinkled crackers only take 15 minutes to bake. Kids and adults will love 'em!

Get the recipe: Vegan Cheez-Its

nutritional yeast popcorn
Photo: Gimme Some Oven

10. Nutritional yeast popcorn

Seasoning your popcorn with nutritional yeast is a classic way to use the golden flakes. Popcorn is already a healthy snack because it's high in fiber. Now, you'll be getting your B12 in with each handful.

Get the recipe: nutritional yeast popcorn

Get more healthy recipes in Well+Good's Cook With Us Facebook group.

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