I Have a Whole New Appreciation for This Common Vegan Ingredient

Turns out, not all yeast is created equal.

January 28, 2020

Related To:

Vegan Mac n “Cheeze”, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Vegan Mac n “Cheeze”, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Lauren Volo

Lauren Volo

Get The All-New Food Network Kitchen App

Download Food Network Kitchen now to sign up and take advantage of the latest offer and get 40+ live classes a week, hundreds of on-demand cooking classes, in-app grocery ordering and so much more.

In this series, we're showing off some of the coolest recipes, tips and tricks we've learned from chefs in the all-new Food Network Kitchen app.

When it comes to food, I’m not one to write anything off – including vegan dishes. But the one thing I just can’t seem to get behind? Nutritional yeast.

Much to my surprise, I really like vegan mac and cheese. And while vegan and cheese rarely go together, where vegan mac and cheese is lacking in dairy products it makes up for in flavor. That flavor more often than not comes from none other than nutritional yeast.

Despite my enjoyment, every time I’ve ordered mac and cheese off a vegan menu, seeing nutritional yeast – a staple vegan ingredient – listed below the menu item just makes my stomach turn. I’ve simply tried not to think too deeply about what something called “nutritional yeast” looks or tastes like. (Let’s be honest, the name doesn’t exactly sound appetizing.)

Then I decided I wanted to make my own vegan mac and cheese at home.

Alyssa Gagarin's Vegan Mac n “Cheeze”, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Alyssa Gagarin's Vegan Mac n “Cheeze”, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Lauren Volo

Lauren Volo

It felt like a daunting task until I watched Alyssa Gagarin’s class on Vegan Mac N “Cheeze” on the Food Network Kitchen app. In her 15-minute demo, Alyssa goes step-by-step, breaking down how to turn vegetables and cashews into an ooey, gooey cheese-like sauce. That all seemed like it was reasonable enough. In fact, I thought the “cheese” mixture already looked good enough to be tossed in pasta.

But – I should’ve known this was coming – she then shared that nutritional yeast was essential to this dish. For texture, vegetables will do. But for a cheesy flavor? That’s where the nutritional yeast comes in.

Bracing myself for some complicated, hands-on process involving soaking the yeast in water and letting it grow for three days, I was so surprised when all she did was take out a store-bought jar of yellow powder and add a few spoonfuls to the sauce mixture. (I now know that nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, so it can’t be bloomed or used to make anything rise.)

Yes, it’s that easy. No strange magic here.

Just good old-school mac and cheese made the vegan way, nutritional yeast and all.

Download the new Food Network Kitchen app now to experience this exclusive class for yourself!

Related Links:

Next Up

I Tried 3 Popular Methods for Cleaning My Silicone Baking Mats and This Is the One I Swear By

That slippery residue that won’t budge no matter how much you scrub? Yeah, it’s gotta go.

The Best Vegan Cheeses

If you’re looking for swaps for melty mozzarella, creamy ricotta or grilled-cheese cheese, we’ve got you covered.

How to Eat Healthfully, Even When You're Sick of Cooking

Here's what to do when you just can't make another meal.

Does Drinking Cold Water Boost Your Metabolism?

We take a look at whether the temperature of your drinking water affects metabolism.

Do You Need an Air Purifier In Your Kitchen?

With all the buzz around gas stoves, you might be wondering if an air purifier is the appliance your kitchen is missing.

How to Shop for Meat on a Budget, According to Butchers

We asked butchers across the country for their secrets on saving money at the meat counter.

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

How much water should you drink a day -- 8-10 glasses, right? Well, as it turns out, there’s no scientific research to back up this number. Learn the best way to figure out how much water you should be drinking.

8 Common Garden Problems and How to Solve Them

Keep these fixes in mind for a successful garden bloom.

How to Eat a Satisfying Plant-Based Diet on a Budget

With this budget break-down and our handy meal planning tips, plant-based eating is totally within reach.

8 Common Herb Gardening Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Growing herbs is easy, if you avoid these basic blunders. Get advice for growing culinary herbs like basil, rosemary, cilantro, dill and more from herb gardening experts.