How to Bake With Dry, Instant or Fresh Yeast


The Spruce

You can use dry and fresh yeasts interchangeably in recipes calling for one or the other. This quick tip tells you how.

How to Substitute Active Dry Yeast for Instant Yeast

Active dry yeast was the common dry yeast up until the late 20th century. It must be rehydrated in liquid before being added to the dough; use some of the water from the recipe to do this. Often, you can test the yeast with a pinch of sugar as it rehydrates (proofing). If bubbles or foam form on the surface of the liquid within about 10 minutes of adding the water (110 to 115 F) and stirring your yeast is still alive.

active dry yeast vs instant yeast
The Spruce Eats / Julie Bang

Active dry yeast is commonly packaged in small envelopes and sold in grocery stores in the U.S. and Europe. It is not as concentrated as instant yeast, so you need more active dry yeast when substituting:

  • 1 package active dry yeast = about 2 1/4 teaspoons = 1/4 ounce = 7 grams

To use active dry yeast instead of instant (bread machine) yeast in a recipe, multiply the amount of yeast by 1.25.

  • 1 teaspoon instant (bread machine) yeast = 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast.
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast = 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 package instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons or 7 grams) = 1 1/4 package active dry yeast (2 4/5 teaspoons or almost 9 grams).

How to Substitute Instant Yeast for Active Dry Yeast

Instant yeast, also known as fast-rising, rapid rise, quick rise and/or bread machine yeast, is a clone of yeast with slightly different attributes than good-old active dry yeast. It absorbs water a bit quicker so the little yeast cells can get their machinery going quickly, enhancing the bread's rise. The dried yeast is also made into much finer particles, again hastening rehydration.

Instant yeast is usually more expensive and can be directly added to the dry ingredients without rehydrating or proofing first. Because the dry ingredients absorb some of the heat from the lukewarm water, you can use water that is somewhat hotter, 120 to 130 F, to make your dough unless the recipe calls for colder water (delayed rise). You can choose to proof this yeast if it is older or past its expiration date. Use some of the liquid for the recipe to do this.

  • Multiply the amount of active dry yeast in the recipe by 0.75 to figure out how much instant yeast you should use.
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) = 1 2/3 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast = 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast

How to Substitute Dry Yeast for Fresh Yeast

Fresh yeast, also known as cake yeast (because it is pressed into a cake or block) or compressed yeast, is a lovely product. It enhances baked goods with a subtle yeasty, flowery aroma that dry yeast does not. It might respond a bit quicker than active dry yeast, but the difference is minimal. Beyond that, yeast functions in the same way, whether fresh or dried.

Fresh yeast has been grown in a nutrient broth, the broth then is removed by centrifugation, and the yeast is packed very tightly into small squares. It has a short shelf life of a few weeks, compared to months or even years (in the freezer) for dried yeast. Fresh yeast is more expensive than dried yeast and unavailable in many areas in the U.S. It is often used in bakeries. In the U.S., 0.6 and 2-ounce packages of yeast are sold in the refrigerated section, usually near the milk and butter.

Because fresh yeast has moisture in it, you should use 3 times the fresh yeast in weight for the same rising ability of instant yeast and 2.5 times the amount of active dry yeast.

  • 7 grams instant yeast = 1/4 ounce instant yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast = 21 grams fresh yeast or 1 1/4 blocks (0.6-ounce size) or about 1/2 block (2-ounce size) fresh yeast.
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast (3 grams) = 1/2 block (0.6 ounce size) fresh yeast.
  • 7 grams of active dry yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast = 17.5 grams fresh yeast = 1 block (0.6-ounce size) or 1/3 block (2-ounce size) of fresh yeast.
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast = 1/3 block (0.6-ounce size) of fresh yeast.

Proof the fresh yeast by crumbling it into warm water (110 F) with a pinch of sugar. Stir to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes and check for foam building.

To use fresh yeast in a recipe, you can make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, crumble the fresh yeast into the middle, cover with warm liquids and stir up a little of the dry ingredients into the liquids. Wait until bubbles form, then continue mixing.

You can also dissolve fresh yeast in a little of your liquid and add it to the bowl with the rest of the liquids. Proceed as usual with kneading and proofing. Always soften or dissolve fresh yeast in liquids before mixing, or it will not distribute evenly throughout the dough.