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Types of Yeast for Baking

Just like air, yeast can be found throughout nature. Yeast is in our food we eat, in the air we breathe, in our bodies, on our skin, and in the earth. Below, you will get to know everything related to yeast and types of yeast for baking.

While I’m writing this piece of the post, my only intention is to answer every question you have ever had about yeast. Regardless of whether you’re a newbie or a pro baker, I urge you to read through the post because it will be a lifesaver for you.

Now, let’s get into the business!



types of yeast for baking

Proofing Yeast to prepare for baking


What is Yeast?

Yeast is an alive, egg-shaped, single-cell organism and belongs to the fungi kingdom. It has various types. Some are harmful to us, some cause food to spoil, and some are incredibly good to use to prepare food and beverages, such as bread, beard, wine, etc.

It produces two bi-products (carbon dioxide and alcohol) by metabolizing sugar for energy. The production of carbon dioxide makes yeast useful in baking (to make the baked good rise). On the flip side, alcohol production helps add flavor to baked goods, winemaking, and beer brewing.

Quick Scientific Facts About Yeast

  • There are about 1,500 species of yeast.
  • Yeast can be found throughout nature.
  • Yeast can also be found on humans and animal bodies.
  • It takes twenty-billions (20,000,000,000) yeast cells to weigh one gram.

Although there are about 1,500 species of yeast, what species I’m going to discuss here is “Saccharomyces Cerevisiae,” which means “Sugar Fungus.”

This yeast species contains baker and brewer’s yeast strains responsible for the production of our favorite food and beverages.

So, how yeast is used for baking?

Benefits of Yeast

Some common benefits of yeast include;

  • Foods rich with yeast offer plenty of protein and vitamin B.
  • Yeast helps keep the digestive system healthy and balanced.
  • The right amount of yeast in your body strengthens your immune system.
  • Yeast also helps you absorb minerals and vitamins from your food and the fight against diseases.

Yeast for Baking

The type of yeast that is used for baking is known as Baker’s yeast. It acts as a leavening agent, which causes the baked food to rise (expanding the baked food to become light and soft). It is because it transforms the fermentable sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol.

There are three main types of yeast for baking;

  • Active Dry Yeast.
  • Instant Yeast.
  • Fresh Yeast.

Although all of these yeast types for baking serve as a leavening agent, each type has slightly different characteristics. Let’s discuss each of these yeast types in detail.

Types of Yeast for Baking

1-      Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast is the most popular type of yeast for baking. It is made by separating the water from live yeast and then grinding it into the granules. It requires to dissolve in warm water with a sugar pinch. If you notice it foaming and bubbling, it means it is alive, active, and can be used. However, it doesn’t expand its size or become foamy after 10 to 15 minutes; it means it is no longer viable.

Generally, it is sold in a 4 oz. Tinted glass jar or ¼ oz. Packs. They are incredibly sensitive to heat and should be stored at room temperature. In average temperatures, these dormant yeast cells can live for months until their expiry date.

When storing, ensure that you keep it away from excessively warm areas until the time you need them for baking. The easiest way to store sealed packets of dry yeasts to extend their lifespan is by putting them in an airtight bag in the fridge. It will make sure that the yeast is in a particular suspension state.

Note: Active dry yeast will no longer be active once exposed to a temperature greater than 120°F.

Since active dry yeast has a more extended fermentation process as compared to other yeasts, it is an excellent pick to use for dough recipes that require a double rise and an ample proofing time.

2-      Instant Yeast

Known as Rapid Rise, Bread Machine Yeast, and Instant Yeast, this type of yeast for baking is more shelf-stable, reliable, consistent, and active than active dry yeast. One of the most popular instant yeast brands that pro bakers prefer to use is SAF-Instant and available in only a 16 oz package. It is also better than active dry yeast since it has more refined, smaller grains.

Not only it extends surface area allows for a quick rehydration process, but it also can be used in recipes without the need to bloom in a liquid. However, I still suggest to bloom it to make the even distribution in the dough sure.

Since it has a shorter fermentation time and higher potency, its ¾ teaspoon is equal to 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast when used in substitution. You can store it in the freezer containing it in the airtight container for a more extended period (2 years approximately).

3-      Fresh Yeast

The third type of yeast for baking is fresh yeast. It is also known as compressed yeast and cake yeast. You can have it either in small, individual cubes or in a big block package. Fresh yeast is also the only commercial yeast form that is not hydrated. It has a crumbly eraser texture and can be found in the grocer’s dairy sections.

Though it has the same organism as Instant and active dry yeasts, its shelf life is shorter than the other two yeasts. It means it is an extremely perishable product; it requires refrigeration and lasts about only two weeks that too if the conditions are ideal. You should avoid placing it in a humid and uncleaned container, or it might start developing tufts of mold within a week, which will make it unusable.

However, if you want to store it for more extended periods, make sure to divide it into portions and wrap each of its portions using a plastic wrap before storing it in the freezer.

Because of its vibrant yeasty perfume, pro bakers prefer to use fresh yeast in sweet recipes, like donuts. When using it in substitution, 1 oz of it is equivalent to 0.33 oz. of instant yeast and 0.4 oz. of active dry yeast. You should use 2/3 oz. of fresh yeast to substitute a ¼ oz. of active dry yeast. Similarly, for the substitution of ¼ oz. of instant yeast, you have to use ¾ oz. of fresh yeast.

What About Nutritional Yeast?

Like other yeast types for baking listed above, nutritional yeast is not something you can use for baking. It is an inactive yeast and generally used as a health supplement because it is rich in B vitamins. However, sometimes it is used to season foods because of its nutty flavor. This means if you cannot use nutritional yeast for baking, you cannot use baking yeast as a nutritional supplement, either.

Osmotolerant Yeast

Are you planning on backing an incredibly sweet dough like brioche, danishes, cinnamon rolls? If yes, consider using Osmotolerant yeast. Sugar doughs tend to take some time to rise or don’t rise at all; using a special yeast would help to get light, airy bread.

However, you might struggle to find it at grocery stores since it isn’t always readily available. But if it does, it is likely not labeled as Osmotolerant yeast. So, what to do? Look for SAF Gold Instant Yeast instead. Moreover, it also has a steep price tag as compared to other yeasts. If you are not willing to spend much, use dry active or instant yeasts by increasing the amount up to 30%.

Wrapping Up

These were the common types of yeast for baking. I have explained each type in detail. Although using baking soda can also help you in leavening certain baked items, it doesn’t have enough lifting power and can leave a soapy, bitter aftertaste. So, to prevent unpleasant taste, using Baker’s yeast for baking something is excellent.


Q: What are the common types of yeast?

Ans: There are four common types of yeast – Nutritional Yeast, Baker’s Yeast, Brewer’s Yeast, and Distiller & Wine Yeast.

Q: Is it okay to use baking powder instead of baking yeast?

Ans: Yes! You can use baking powder for baking something. However, the leaveing effects of powder will not be as sound as those of yeast.

Q: Is it necessary to dissolve active dry yeast?

Ans: Making dough with active dry yeast without dissolving it first will fill the dough with granules. This can be anything but good looking. Moreover, the dough will not rise much as well.




Fresh pressed yeast, dry instant yeast, and active wheat sourdough starter (wild yeast)


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