new to the gluten free journey?


Is Yeast Gluten Free?

Starting your gluten free journey can be overwhelming and confusing. There are so many different foods to evaluate and labels to decode, and it can be hard to differentiate what you are told contains gluten vs. what is actually gluten free.

Many people confuse yeast extract with baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and nutritional yeast. This article will discuss the important differences as well as answer the question – Is Yeast Extract Gluten Free?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains. While many resources highlight only wheat, barley, and rye as sources of gluten, the reality is that all grains contain gluten.

People who are gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease have an autoimmune reaction that is triggered when gluten is ingested. This causes Inflammation in intestinal tracts and other parts of their bodies with other harmful side effects.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is a common household item used in baking. It is a single-cell organism that is classified as a fungus. When yeast is fermented it can convert sugars and starches into carbon dioxide and alcohol. This is what has made it such a popular baking and brewing product. In baking, as things like bread heat up in the oven, the yeast ferments and releases carbon dioxide into the dough, making it rise. Similarly, in brewing yeast is added to turn sugars into alcohol, this process is used most in making mead.

Is Yeast Gluten Free?

There are a number of different yeast products that perform a number of processes. However, is yeast gluten free? The basic answer is…kind of? While yeast is meant to be gluten free, it is often mixed with ingredients that are not safe for those with a gluten intolerance. Let’s explore some of the different kinds of yeast to help discover which yeast might be safe to eat if you’re gluten intolerant.

  • Brewer’s yeast: Brewer’s yeast – AKA Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is used in the process of brewing beer. The bitter dead yeast cells that are left over from the brewing process are taken by some as a nutritional supplement. For example, some people take brewer’s yeast to help lower blood glucose in cases of diabetes. Another popular use is by breastfeeding women in an attempt to increase milk production. However, brewer’s yeast is not gluten free, and both supplemental uses can be addressed through other means.
  • Baker’s yeast: Baker’s yeast can be confused with brewers yeast since both brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast are made from strains of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae fungus. However, they come from different strains of this species. Baker’s yeast is commonly used as a leavening agent in the production of bread. When mixed with sugar, baker’s yeast releases carbon dioxide that expands the dough and makes it rise.  Although baker’s yeast is gluten free, the bread it helps make is not.
  • Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast also comes from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain but it is grown specifically for use as a food product. The yeast cells are killed during manufacturing, which makes it inactive, so it cannot be used to bake bread. Nutritional yeast is used in cooking or as a seasoning to impart a savory and cheesy flavor. It is often fortified with vitamins. Nutritional yeast may or may not be gluten free depending on how it is made.

What is Yeast Extract?

Yeast extract is a byproduct of the brewing process, resulting from spent brewers grain. It also appears on labels as autolyzed yeast extract. Yeast extract is often used as a food flavoring agent or additive, It is also found in cosmetic supplements. 

In a study published in the research journal, Foods, researchers analyzed the gluten content of brewers yeast and yeast extract, and found it to contain gluten. Additionally, an independent researcher and dietician, Tricia Thompson, performed an analysis of gluten in common yeast extracts.  Her findings are summarized here, but the bottom line is that she found unsafe levels of gluten in several yeast extract products.

Bottom line – Because yeast extract is a by-product of a process that  involves gluten, wheat, barley, and other common grains found in beer and brewery products, it is not recommended for those following a gluten free diet for health purposes.


So, is yeast extract gluten free? No, it is not. We recommend that you read labels carefully and avoid yeast extract if you have a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease.

New to the Gluten Free journey?  Take our Sensitivity Test

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sing up to our newsletter for 10% off your first order!

Receive the latest strain releases, exclusive offers and 10% OFF welcome discount.