Nutritional yeast is one of those things that you either love, hate… or have just never heard of. Versatile as a flavor enhancer and a nutritional supplement, nutritional yeast has been a popular health food ingredient for almost 100 years, and Trader Joe’s finally hopped on board by introducing this product about five years ago.
Keep reading to find out all about Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast.
After decades of popularity among vegetarians, vegans, and health food enthusiasts, Trader Joe’s finally released their own brand of nutritional yeast in 2017.
Each 4 oz. bag of Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast costs $2.99.
So… what exactly is nutritional yeast? Made from the familiar Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain of yeast used in baking, brewing, and winemaking, nutritional yeast is simply a deactivated form of yeast that has been cultured in a nutrient medium.
Wait… what? Basically, nutritional yeast is baker’s yeast that has been soaked with a bunch of vitamins and (sometimes) minerals, then “deactivated” (heated up to kill off the living component of the yeast), cleaned, and packaged.
Now, if you’ve never tasted nutritional yeast, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The name doesn’t exactly make it sound all that delicious (after all, the words “nutritional” and “yeast” aren’t usually associated with amazing flavors).
But nutritional yeast is hands down one of the tastiest things on the planet. Buttery, cheesy, and nutty, nutritional yeast is popular as an ingredient in cheese and dairy alternatives, as well as being legendary as a tasty topping for popcorn.
Of course, some people can’t get into it, but to each their own. If you ask us, nutritional yeast is top shelf when it comes to flavor.
Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast Nutrition Facts
Of course, with a name like “nutritional yeast,” we can expect this stuff to pack a punch nutritionally. But let’s see exactly how it measures up.
As far as ingredients go, this stuff is pretty simple. It contains only one main ingredient (inactive nutritional yeast) with a handful of fortifications, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, as well as folic acid.
Nutritionally, this stuff contains 20 calories per tablespoon, which offers 10 mg of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 3 grams of protein (bonus: nutritional yeast is a complete protein containing all 9 amino acids that the human body cannot produce).
Nutritional yeast is naturally fat free and sugar free.
One common question about the healthful nature of nutritional yeast is whether it contains MSG. This is a tricky one to answer. To put it simply first, nutritional yeast does not contain any added MSG (monosodium glutamate). However, due to the way it’s processed, nutritional yeast does likely contain glutamic acid (which is a naturally occuring form of what is essentially MSG).
But don’t jump to any conclusions about how this impacts the overall value of nutritional yeast. Despite getting some pretty bad press for many years, scientists and nutritionists have come to the conclusion in recent years that MSG isn’t actually unsafe or unhealthy to consume in reasonable quantities.
Is Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast Fortified?
On its own, the yeast used to make nutritional yeast doesn’t actually have much nutritional value. So, the “nutritional” part comes in through the process of fortification.
Trader Joe’s nutritional yeast is fortified with B vitamins and folic acid. It is not, however, fortified with iron like some other nutritional yeasts.
Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast Vs Bragg’s
By far the most common and popular brand of nutritional yeast on the market comes from a company called Bragg. Often referred to simply as “Bragg’s,” Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast is fairly similar to Trader Joe’s version, but there are some key differences to be aware of.
When it comes to macronutrients, Bragg’s yeast is almost exactly the same as Trader Joe’s brand, except that it contains zero sodium.
However, on every other front, Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast actually comes out ahead. TJ’s brand “nooch” (as it is colloquially called) contains at least twice the amount of B vitamins and folate as Bragg’s, which we were super surprised to find.
Bragg’s yeast is also quite a bit more expensive, coming in at $6.99 for 4.5 oz. from most suppliers (including buying direct from Bragg). This is more than twice as expensive as Trader Joe’s brand for a less nutritionally dense product.
After looking at these facts, it’s pretty clear that Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast is the superior product.
Here’s an extra tip: If what you’re looking for above all is value, then try checking out your local food co-op, health food store, or natural grocer for bulk nutritional yeast. If you have a bulk natural foods supplier near you, you might be able to get larger amounts of nutritional yeast for even cheaper than what’s available at Trader Joe’s, but you’ll have to check the nutrition facts to see how the products measure up.
How To Use Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast
If you ask me, nutritional yeast tastes good on literally everything. (Well, maybe not everything. But pretty close.)
Here’s a list of things that taste absolutely delicious sprinkled with a little bit (or a lot) of nutritional yeast:
- Toast with butter
- Any savory entree
- Avocado toast
- Tuna melt
- Potato salad
- Rice and beans
- Macaroni and cheese
- Any pasta dish
Okay… you get the point. Nutritional yeast just makes everything better.
For a real treat, try this 5-star recipe from Healthier Steps for Vegan Mac and Cheese made with nutritional yeast.
Contrary to what you might assume from the name, nutritional yeast isn’t actually used for baking. Despite being made from yeast, nutritional yeast has been “deactivated,” meaning that the yeast is no longer alive and can’t be used to leaven breads or other baked goods.
Nutritional yeast also has a distinctly savory taste, so unless you’re baking savory scones or pizza, you probably wouldn’t want to mix it in with your baking experiments.
Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast Review
Once in a while, we come across a product that frankly just doesn’t get negative reviews, and Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast is one of those products.
Check out these 5-star reviews left by users on Influenster.com. There were a ton more, so we had to stop ourselves from sharing them all!
Does Trader Joe’s nutritional yeast have B12?
Yes! While not all nutritional yeast varieties contain this critical vitamin, Trader Joe’s fortifies their yeast with B12, packing in 3.1 mcg per tablespoon.
Can Trader Joe’s nutritional yeast be used for bread?
No. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast and cannot be used for leavening bread.
Is Trader Joe’s nutritional yeast gluten-free?
Yes. Nutritional yeast is naturally gluten free.
Is there a shortage of nutritional yeast?
Despite a widespread shortage of nutritional yeast reported by the National Council of Nutritional Yeast Cultivators in 2016, we were not able to find any current information indicating an ongoing shortage. As far as we can tell, nutritional yeast is readily available in most markets in 2022.
How long does nutritional yeast last?
Impressively stable, nutritional yeast should last up to two years on average. It does not need to be refrigerated but should be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
If your nutritional yeast has gone bad, you might notice it take on a darker color (brown as opposed to yellow). It might also show visible spots of green mold and/or have a clumpy (as opposed to dusty or powdery) consistency. Spoiled nutritional yeast should not be consumed.
If you ask us, nutritional yeast makes everything better. And the fact that you can buy nutritional yeast at Trader Joe’s just sweetens the deal even more. Whether you’re a long-time fan of this nutritious flavor enhancer or you’re curious to try it for the first time, head on over to your local TJ’s to find a bag of this delicious seasoning. And for all you Bragg-faithfuls out there: consider switching to this even more nutritious and affordable brand of our beloved nooch.