I love nutritional yeast. I love it on popcorn, pasta, and salads. I make vegan mac and cheese with it, and I even use it for savory oatmeal. With all this nooch experience (nutritional yeast is called “nooch” for short), I have some opinions on which brands you should check out!
Here are my picks for the 3 best nutritional yeast brands, with links to buy on Amazon:
Before I explain why exactly these 3 brands are so good, let’s discuss the overall factors to consider when picking out your nooch.
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Nutritional Yeast Flakes vs Powder
One factor that makes a big difference in nutritional yeast is texture. So before we get to specific brands, let’s talk about flakes vs powder.
Most nutritional yeast exists as “nutritional yeast flakes.” They’re small and delicate flakes. They look kind of like fish food.
Occasionally, you’ll also find nutritional yeast powder. But I would not recommend these.
In my opinion, the flakes are much better. Granted, in some applications (like making a cheesy sauce), it won’t matter which one you choose. It will just be absorbed into some liquid. But for other uses, the flake texture really adds to the dish.
For example, when eating popcorn with nooch flakes stuck onto them, the subtle texture of the flakes really add to it. Nooch powder just doesn’t have the same special “it factor” for popcorn.
Flake size: Sometimes you’ll see “large nutritional yeast flakes,” or you’ll see “micro-flakes.” Personally, I like them large, and that seems to be the standard. But it doesn’t make a huge difference—a lot of the bigger flakes get broken up anyway.
So I recommend flakes, not powder. Now, what about taste differences between brands?
Honestly, out of all the nutritional yeast brands I’ve tried, there hasn’t been significant differences in the taste.
They all taste great.
Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy taste that’s really hard to explain, easier just to taste for yourself. But yeah, there aren’t major differences between brands.
So I wouldn’t look to taste to distinguish between nooch brands. What should you look at instead, then?
3 Brands With Detectable Lead Levels (!?)
If you’re shopping for nutritional yeast in California, you may find some brands contain a Prop 65 warning sticker, suggesting there could be a cancer-causing or otherwise unsafe ingredient. What is this about?
Turns out, some nooch brands contain detectable levels of lead.
A few years back, Dr. Michael Greger of Nutrition Facts did some research into these lead levels. The full results are laid out in “Three Brands of Nutritional Yeast Contain Detectable Lead Levels But the Risk is Minimal.”
Here’s the summary: they tested 8 different brands of nutritional yeast, and 3 of the brands had detectable levels of lead.
Nutritional yeast brands that had detectable lead levels:
- Whole Foods
Nutritional yeast brands that had no detectable lead:
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Red Star
- Dr. Fuhrman
- NOW Foods
But should you really be concerned about lead in nooch? You’d have to eat quite a lot of nutritional yeast before this would actually become a health factor.
Reasonable serving sizes of any nutritional yeast brand will still fall well within safety limits. The overall amount of lead is very, very low, and most people do not need to be concerned.
That said, Dr. Greger still suggests pregnant women should choose completely lead-free brands if eating over 1/3 cup of nooch per day.
Fortified vs Non-Fortified Nutritional Yeast
Most nutritional yeast is fortified with extra B-vitamins. In fact, if you eat enough, it will turn your urine to a bright neon yellow from the extra water-soluble vitamins you’re excreting.
Most brands of nutritional yeast are fortified with these B vitamins. This can be helpful for vegans because it includes B12, which is not normally present in our diet otherwise. And the other B-vitamins are all water-soluble, too, so there is not a big concern with toxicity.
Note: I still recommend vegans take a B12 supplement or a multivitamin that contains B12—here’s a review of the one I take. B12 absorption can be spotty from food sources, so it’s best to get extra and get it consistently with a supplement.
Some people prefer non-fortified nutritional yeast for a few reasons, though. For one, it’s more natural. “Fortified with extra nutrients” is not really the way nature intended or built any food to be.
Secondly, some people may have specific reasons to not want extra B-vitamins. For example, there is some evidence that excess vitamin B6 and B12 can cause acne. These are both present in high amounts in fortified nutritional yeast.
Side note: If you really want the scoop on acne and nutrition, though, you really need to read my full blog post on how I cleared up my acne. It took me years of studying and experimenting on myself to learn what I share in that post!
Anyway, back to nutritional yeast. There are a growing number of brands to consider when it comes to non-fortified nutritional yeast. Here are Amazon links to a few:
Nutritional yeast can be pretty expensive. As you can see from the picture, it’s currently $12.99 per pound in the bulk bins at my grocery store. And if you buy pre-packaged nooch in the store, it could cost up to $27 per pound.
The cheapest common brand of nutritional yeast, from what I’ve seen is Red Star. It’s a long-standing brand that I’ve had many times—it’s good.
If you’re buying nutritional yeast in bulk online, then you will often see the cheapest options are stocked with Red Star.
The cheapest online bulk nutritional yeast I found after spending my morning searching was Country Life Natural Foods. They sell one pound of nooch starting at $8.95, but their prices get all the way down to $5.60 per pound (if you’re buying 50 pounds at a time!).
If you want more details on the price comparisons, I actually made a whole separate post about “How to Get the Cheapest Nutritional Yeast” because this section was getting too long!
The 3 Best Nutritional Yeast Brands (In My Opinion)
So, when considering all these various factors, what are my top nooch picks?
1. Red Star
Red Star is one of the classic, well-known nutritional yeast brands. There are at least 5 reasons this is probably my favorite nooch brand:
- Cost. In the store, Red Star shakers are cheaper than Bragg shakers. And if you’re buying bulk, Red Star is often the cheapest brand, too.
- Reputation. Red Star has a long-standing reputation for nutritional yeast. They’re a trusted name!
- Bulk availability. It makes financial sense to buy your nutritional yeast in bulk if you eat it regularly (which I do). And Red Star is the king of bulk.
- Shaker availability. Sometimes when traveling, you can’t find a good store with bulk bins—but you may still find a couple of shakers of nooch, including Red Star.
- No detectable lead levels. Dr. Greger’s research showed that Red Star contained no detectable lead, so you don’t have to worry about any negative health effects.
Revly is a brand owned by Amazon, so again, it comes from a reputable company. Here are the two reasons why Revly is an intriguing choice to me:
- Non-fortified. There are pros and cons to getting fortified vs non-fortified nooch. But if you want non-fortified, this is one of the most affordable brands.
- Affordable. One of the cheapest pre-packaged nutritional yeast products I have found. The only way to get cheaper is with bulk buying.
Here’s the Amazon page to buy Revly nutritional yeast.
Bragg is another great choice, which I’ve gotten many, many times. Here are a few of the reasons you might choose it:
- Reputation. Bragg is one of the most recognizable leaders in the nutritional yeast space, with thousands (!) of positive reviews on marketplaces like Amazon. They also make other great health products they’re known for, like their Liquid Aminos.
- No detectable lead levels. Dr. Greger’s research showed that Bragg contained no detectable lead, so you don’t have to worry about any negative health effects.
- In-store shaker availability. From what I’ve observed in the U.S., Bragg is the most commonly available brand of nutritional yeast in stores.
Here you can buy a 2-pack of Bragg nutritional yeast on Amazon.
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