Instant yeast is a crucial ingredient in many baking recipes, from bread to pastries.
However, sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you don’t have any on hand.
Whether you’re out of yeast or just looking for a different flavor or texture, there are several substitutes you can use to achieve similar results.
This article will explore the 6 best substitutes for instant yeast that you can use in your baking recipes.
By understanding the properties of each substitute and how they work in different recipes, you can make delicious baked goods even when you don’t have instant yeast on hand.
What is Instant Yeast?
Instant yeast, also known as rapid-rise, fast-acting, or bread machine yeast, is a type of dry yeast that is specially formulated to work more quickly than traditional active dry yeast.
It is made by a different process that alters the yeast cells, making them more active.
This allows the yeast to begin fermenting the dough more quickly, which can result in faster rising times and a more consistent rise.
Instant yeast is also more tolerant of higher temperatures and can be added directly to the dry ingredients, rather than needing to be dissolved in water first.
It is commonly used in bread making and other baking applications.
The 6 Best Substitutes For Instant Yeast
Instant yeast is a great ingredient for baking, but sometimes it can be hard to find.
So if you’re in need of an alternative, here’s a list of six substitutes that will still give you the same flavor and texture:
1 – Baking Powder
Baking powder is a leavening agent that is commonly used in baking to help dough and batter rise.
It is a mixture of an alkali (such as sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda), an acid (such as cream of tartar), and a moisture-absorbing agent (such as cornstarch).
The alkali and acid are kept separate until they are activated by the moisture in the dough or batter.
When they come into contact with liquid, they react and produce carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough or batter to rise.
Baking powder is a great substitute for instant yeast because it is a dry, shelf-stable ingredient that can be easily stored in your pantry.
It is also a quick-acting leavening agent, meaning that it starts working as soon as it comes into contact with liquid, so you don’t have to wait for dough to rise like you would with yeast.
Additionally, baking powder can be used in recipes where the acidity level is important, since it can neutralize the acidity and provide a neutral taste.
2 – Baking Soda and Acid
Baking soda and acid are another common leavening agent combination used in baking as a replacement for instant yeast.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a base, while acid can come in many forms such as cream of tartar, lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, etc.
When baking soda and acid are combined in a recipe and come into contact with liquid, they react and produce carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough or batter to rise.
3 – Sourdough Starter
Sourdough starter is a natural fermentation mixture that is used to make sourdough bread. It is a live culture of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that is used to ferment flour and water.
To make a sourdough starter, a mixture of flour and water is left out at room temperature to capture wild yeast and bacteria naturally present in the air.
The mixture is then fed with more flour and water on a regular schedule to keep it active.
To use sourdough starter instead of instant yeast, you would use a small amount of the starter in place of the yeast in your bread recipe.
The sourdough starter will provide the yeast and bacteria necessary to ferment the dough and create the characteristic tangy flavor of sourdough bread.
The fermentation process will take longer with a sourdough starter than with instant yeast, typically around 8-12 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity.
It’s important to note that when using a sourdough starter, you need to refresh it (feed it) at least every 24 hours. If you’re not planning to bake bread frequently, you can store it in the fridge and refresh it every 7 days.
Also, it’s important to remember that the amount of sourdough starter you use in your bread recipe will depend on its strength.
A strong starter will require less than a weaker one.
4 – Active Dry Yeast
Active dry yeast is a type of yeast that is commonly used in baking. It is made by dehydrating cultured yeast cells and is sold in the form of small granules or flakes.
These granules are dormant and need to be rehydrated before use, which is typically done by dissolving them in warm liquid (usually water) along with a bit of sugar.
Once rehydrated, the yeast becomes active and begins to ferment, releasing carbon dioxide and ethanol, which causes the dough to rise.
Active dry yeast is a popular choice for home bakers because it has a longer shelf life than fresh yeast and can be stored in the pantry or refrigerator for several months.
It is also more forgiving than other types of yeast, as it can be used in a wide range of temperatures and is less sensitive to variations in water temperature and sugar content.
When using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, the process of rehydration is necessary. Instant yeast, also known as rapid-rise yeast or bread machine yeast, does not require rehydration and can be added directly to the dry ingredients.
Active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water (about 110°F) with a pinch of sugar for about 5-10 minutes, until the mixture becomes frothy, which indicates that the yeast is active and ready to use.
It is also important to note that active dry yeast and instant yeast are not interchangeable in a 1:1 ratio.
When substituting active dry yeast for instant yeast, use about 25% more active dry yeast than the recipe calls for instant yeast.
5 – Fresh Yeast
Fresh yeast, also known as cake yeast or compressed yeast, is a type of yeast that is sold in small cakes or blocks.
It is made from live yeast cells that are harvested, washed, and then compressed into a cake form. It is perishable and needs to be stored in the refrigerator.
Fresh yeast has a higher moisture content and a more delicate cell structure than instant yeast, which means it requires more time to activate and proof.
It is also less active than instant yeast, so more of it is needed to achieve the same rise in dough.
Fresh yeast is a good replacement for instant yeast in certain baking applications because it has a stronger and more complex flavor than instant yeast.
This can be beneficial in breads, such as sourdough, that rely on a strong yeast flavor to contribute to their overall taste.
Additionally, fresh yeast is more suitable for some traditional bread-making methods, such as the “pre-ferment” method, where a small amount of dough is fermented overnight to develop a more complex flavor before being mixed with the final dough.
It should be noted that fresh yeast is not as reliable as instant yeast and it has a shorter shelf life, so it should be used as soon as possible after purchase.
Also, it’s harder to find in some places as it’s not as popular as instant yeast.
6 – Brewer’s Yeast
Brewer’s yeast is a type of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast that is commonly used in the brewing of beer.
It is also known as a nutritional yeast, as it is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
The yeast is grown on a substrate, such as barley or molasses, and then harvested, washed, and dried to create a powder or flakes that can be used for food or nutritional supplements.
Brewer’s yeast can be used as a good replacement for instant yeast in baking.
This is because it has a longer shelf life and is more tolerant to variations in temperature and humidity than instant yeast.
In conclusion, instant yeast is a great ingredient to have in your pantry for making breads and other baked goods.
But if you don’t have any on hand, there are several other ingredients you can use in place of it.
The best substitutes for instant yeast are baking powder, baking soda and acid, sourdough starter, active dry yeast, fresh yeast, and brewer’s yeast. Each of these ingredients has its own unique flavor and texture, allowing you to experiment and find the perfect substitute for your recipes.
Using these substitutes can help you create delicious and flavorful breads and pastries, even if you don’t have instant yeast on hand.
The 6 Best Substitutes For Instant Yeast
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda and Acid
- Sourdough Starter
- Active Dry Yeast
- Fresh Yeast
- Brewer's Yeast
- Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
- Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.