Every home baker knows how tricky baking bread can be, especially when it comes to yeast. Yeast is responsible for getting bread to rise and obtain its light, airy texture. Choosing the perfect yeast for next baking project will ensure your baked goods come out soft and fluffy every time.
Our favorite yeast for baking bread is SAF's Instant Yeast. It's fast-acting and doesn't require proofing, so you can immediately mix it with your dry ingredients. If you're looking for more options, we've also collected nine more outstanding picks for you to check out. Not sure where to begin? How about reading our buying guide reviewed by a professional chef first to help you get started.
Jim Quast (JQ) is a lifelong professional restaurant and corporate R&D chef that loves everything food-related and the tools both big and small to make those great food memories. He's a super huge BBQ, grill, and kitchen gadget fanatic. JQ has spent the last 30+ years trying to figure out what works to make your kitchen life easier and fun. If you can use it to slice it, dice it, cook it, smoke it or store it, he's been there checking it out. Food = Life! https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-quast-59769011/
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Table of Contents
With yeast being such an essential ingredient when baking, it's important to understand how to use it in order to get the best results. In this buying guide, we'll explain the difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast, share options that are suitable for sweeter recipes, and also advise you on how to maintain the yeast's quality.
Active dry yeast and instant yeast both cause doughs to expand, but there's one big difference in how they are made. Knowing how to use each type of yeast will help you choose the type that suits your needs best.
Active dry yeast is the original type of yeast, and it has been used by generations of bakers. It comes in the form of fine granules.
If active dry yeast is near its expiration date or hasn't been stored in ideal conditions, you'll want to prove it's alive with a pinch of sugar and warm water around 105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If bubbly foam rises to the top after 10 to 15 minutes, your yeast is still alive. This means you can go ahead and use it! However, if the mixture doesn't bubble, that is a sign that your yeast is dead.
If you'd like to save time, consider using instant yeast. Since it is ground into even finer granules, it dissolves quickly and is designed to be added directly to your dry ingredients. You don't have to proof instant yeast at all.
Due to its fast-acting nature and quick absorption rate, instant yeast is ideal for dough that will be proofed at room temperature. It is also commonly used in bread machines and allows you to make bread with just one rise.
If you're planning to bake sweet treats, such as cinnamon rolls or brioche, you might want to purchase osmotolerant yeast.
In a small amount, sugar can help accelerate the fermentation rate. But when the amount of sugar is more than 10 percent of the flour weight, it can hinder the fermentation process by taking water away from the yeast.
Therefore, sweet doughs take a while to rise or might even end up not rising at all. But osmotolerant yeast is a special kind of yeast that can grow in low water conditions and, therefore, works particularly well in sugary doughs.
However, most brands don't specifically label their yeast as osmotolerant. You'll have to read the product's description and see if it's designed for sweet doughs with a sugar level exceeding 10 percent.
If you don't have yeast specifically for sweet doughs on hand, you can still use regular instant or active dry yeasts. Simply increase the amount of regular yeast by about 30 percent.
Products that claim to be rapid-rising often use extra enzymes or artificial additives to boost the activity of the yeast. Specifically, ascorbic acid (E300) is an artificial additive commonly used to help create an acidic environment for the yeast to work faster and yield a better rise.
So if you are looking for a product that works a little faster and helps your dough rise higher, screen through the ingredient list of a product and make sure that there are additional enzymes and artificial additives.
Many people assume that packaging is not important, but it's actually a crucial factor that helps ensure the yeast's quality.
The packaging needs to protect the yeast from being affected by oxygen or moisture. Otherwise, the yeast is likely to lose its activity and this will eventually negatively affect its fermentation performance.
Most products are packed in a vacuum-sealed bag to preserve the quality. But the packaging of some is not resealable, so you will have to transfer the contents into an airtight container after you open it.
Some products come in a dark-colored glass container to help protect the yeast from direct sunlight and moisture. Meanwhile, others come in individually-sealed envelopes that are quite easy to use. A standard packet often contains two-and-a-quarter teaspoons of yeast.
Many recipes actually call for one whole packet of yeast, so if you use these, you won't have to worry about storing the rest. If you do have some extra yeast, just pop it into the fridge or the freezer. Usually, yeast can last up to six months in the fridge or a year in the freezer.
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Best Versatile Instant Yeast for Baking Bread
Instant Dry Yeast
Best Fast-Acting Instant Yeast
Active Dry Yeast
Best Active Dry Yeast for Refrigerated Doughs
Instant Dry Yeast
Best Instant Yeast for Sweet Breads
Bread Machine Yeast
Best Fast-Acting Yeast for Bread Machines
Instant Dry Yeast
Best Instant Yeast That Comes in a Resealable Package
Instant Premium Yeast
Best High Power Instant Yeast You'll Need Less Of
Active Dry Yeast
Best Instant Yeast for Lean Doughs
Best Quick Rising Instant Yeast
Active Dry Yeast
Best Instant Yeast for Pizza Dough
This instant yeast comes in a one-pound vacuum-sealed bag and can go straight into your dry ingredients. The granules disperse easily and uniformly throughout the dough for quick baking. Plus, this yeast can handle recipes with both high and low sugar content.
Reviewers said the yeast flavor was not too strong, but it was noticeable. A majority of buyers said that the yeast was fast-acting and worked for all types of breads. People baked a variety of bread, such as white bread, rye bread, dinner rolls, and no-knead bread, and found the results absolutely delicious.
Fleischmann's Instant Dry Yeast is a fast-acting yeast that conveniently doesn't need to be activated beforehand. It comes in a vacuum sealed bag to ensure freshness, and this product doesn't contain any preservatives. This yeast can also be used in bread machines and is certified kosher.
The majority of buyers commented that the yeast was highly active and helped their dough rise nicely. Reviewers were able to make pizza and bread without any issues. Many said it works great in their bread machine recipes.
Red Star's Active Dry Yeast comes housed in individual packets that are easy to use and store. This yeast provides a slow and steady leavening rate that makes it a great choice for overnight and refrigerated doughs. This dough can also be used in bread machines.
Although some buyers had trouble getting their yeast to bloom, this product was rated highly by many reviewers because of its high activity and stable performance. Overall, buyers were satisfied with the performance of the yeast, and were also successful when they used this yeast in a bread machine.
This instant yeast from Bellarise is the ideal option for baked goods with a sugar content of more than 10 percent, such as sticky buns, danishes, and doughnuts. The yeast is cultivated in sweet beet molasses and comes in a vacuum sealed package. It's kosher and halal certified.
Overall, many reviewers said it was highly active and helped their dough rise beautifully. They were able to make pizza, biscuits, and sourdoughs. Even though the Gold version is designed for sweet doughs, reviewers said it seemed to work fine for many types of baked goods.
If you own a bread machine, you might want to keep some of this yeast on hand. It's specifically designed for bread machines, but works well for all other conventional recipes. Without the need to proof it, you can get started baking right away.
Buyers appreciated that the glass bottle made the product easier to store and measure compared to individual packets. According to many reviewers, the bread made with this yeast turned out fantastic. They had no rising issues at all.
This instant dry yeast comes in an airtight, resealable bag, eliminating the need to transfer the yeast to another container. This yeast is a great choice for dough with sugar content over 10 percent. It also works well for all kinds of bread recipes, including bread machine ones.
Overall, the majority of reviewers said the yeast fermented quickly and that their bread turned out fluffy and had a great flavor. They also like the packaging, saying it made it easy to scoop out the yeast with a measuring spoon.
This premium instant yeast can be used in doughs with a sugar content of up to 12 percent of the total flour weight. It's recommended for the quick setting on bread machines and for better performance in colder doughs. SAF also says most recipes can use up to 30 percent less yeast and still get the same results.
A lot of reviewers said the bread they made with this product had a fantastic texture. Most buyers were also pleasantly surprised with the yeast's rising power, mentioning that a small amount produced a great rise.
This instant dry yeast comes vacuum sealed and is ideal for bread low in fat and sugar, such as French and Italian breads. It's packed in a non-resealable bag, but it can keep for over a year if stored in an airtight container in the freezer. This yeast is also non-GMO certified.
Most reviewers verified that the yeast gave fantastic results. They said their bread came out soft, fluffy, and delicious. Others had good results with crusty bread, bagels, rolls, and buns.
This instant yeast is perfect for quick baking projects. You can add this yeast directly to your dry ingredients, and it can reduce rising times by 50 percent. Plus, this yeast can be used in bread machines for an even easier and faster baking experience!
Most bakers were pleased that their bread came out super fluffy, and that this works great for pizza dough, too. They also said the glass jar was very convenient.
This instant yeast is designed specifically for pizza dough. It comes in individual pre-measured packages and can be added directly to your dough mixture. This yeast also contains L-cysteine, which relaxes the dough and allows you to shape it immediately after kneading.
Reviewers were satisfied with the yeast and were happy that they didn't have to wait for it to rise. They also appreciated the pizza dough recipe printed on the packaging.
If you're in a rush and don't have time to wait for the dough to completely rise, we have a few tips that can help speed up this process. One way is to cover your dough with a damp, warm towel and place it in a warm spot. The moisture from the towel and the heat will help accelerate the rising process.
You can also proof dough in a microwave. First, heat a cup of water on high for about two minutes. After that, put your dough in the microwave, but don't turn it on. The existing heat from the microwave and the moisture from the water will create a warm, humid environment to help the dough rise.
There are some ingredients that you can add to help with the rising process. First, you can add a quarter of a teaspoon of ginger to the water that you'll use for proofing the yeast.
Another method is to use unsalted potato water in lieu of warm water or milk. Make sure that the potato water is heated to the optimal temperature (105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit) for proofing the yeast. The starch in the potato water will help strengthen the gas bubbles and make the dough rise higher.
You can also try adding two tablespoons of dry milk powder to the flour. This ingredient will help hold the moisture within your bread, keep it soft, and help it rise higher. Dry milk powder will also help form a golden-brown crust.
If you're searching for baking equipment that can make your time in the kitchen much easier, look no further! Check out our product guides to learn more about the types of bakeware that can accommodate your baking needs.
If you're looking for something outside of our best 10 list, feel free to browse Amazon's best-selling baking yeasts. You'll see a few of our choices alongside some other incredible options.
The descriptions of each product are referenced from content available on manufacturer, brand, and e-commerce sites.
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