Active Dry Yeast vs Instant in Gluten Free Baking

Active dry yeast and instant yeast are two different types of yeast commonly used in gluten free baking. Here’s a comparison between the two:

active dry yeast in a glass jar

Active Dry Yeast:

Active dry yeast is made up of live yeast cells that are deactivated and dried during the manufacturing process. It is granulated and has larger particles compared to rapid rise yeast.

 Active dry yeast needs to be activated or proofed before use. This involves dissolving the yeast in warm water (around 105°F to 115°F or 40°C to 46°C) with a small amount of sugar to help the yeast activate and foam. Proofing usually takes around 5-10 minutes.

Since active dry yeast requires proofing, it typically has a longer rising time for the dough. It needs more time to fully activate and ferment the dough, usually requiring a first rise (bulk fermentation) and a second rise (proofing) before baking.

Active dry yeast is a versatile option used in various recipes, including bread, rolls, pizza dough, and more.

instant yeast in a glass jar

Instant yeast (rapid rise):

Instant yeast is also made up of live yeast cells, but it is processed differently than active dry yeast. It has smaller particles and is designed to dissolve and activate quickly.

Instant yeast does not require proofing. It can be directly mixed with the dry ingredients in a recipe and then combined with liquids. This convenience makes it popular for quick baking.

Instant yeast is known for its fast rising capabilities. It can significantly reduce the overall rising time of dough, making it ideal for recipes that call for a shorter proofing period.

Instant yeast is well-suited for recipes that require quick preparation and baking, such as bread, rolls, and other yeast-based products.

When using instant yeast in a gluten free recipe that calls for active dry yeast, you typically need to use less rapid rise yeast. 

It’s important to note that the choice between active dry yeast and instant yeast depends on the recipe, rising time constraints, and personal preference. Both types of yeast can produce excellent results when used correctly.

What temperature should the liquids be when using instant yeast?

When using instant yeast, it is recommended to use liquids to be warmer than when using active dry yeast. The temperatures should be between 120°F (49°C) and 130°F (54°C). 

The specific temperature can vary slightly depending on the brand or product instructions, so it’s always best to check the packaging or follow the guidelines provided by the yeast manufacturer. 

Using liquids within this temperature range helps activate the yeast and promote proper fermentation in a shorter time than traditional yeast. 

It’s important to avoid using liquids that are too hot, as extremely high temperatures can kill the yeast and prevent it from properly rising the dough.

2 glass jars filled with active dry yeast and instant yeast

Is dry yeast gluten free?

Active dry yeast and instant dry yeast are typically gluten-free. Yeast itself is a microorganism and does not contain gluten. However, it’s important to note that cross-contamination can occur during the manufacturing process. 

Some yeast brands may be produced in facilities that also process gluten-containing products, which could lead to small traces of gluten in the yeast. 

To ensure that the yeast you’re using is gluten-free, it’s always best to check the label or contact the manufacturer for specific information about their product and production processes.


Can too much sugar or salt affect the rise of gluten free dough?

Yes, too much sugar and too much salt can affect dough’s rise.

Sugar: Sugar provides food for the yeast, aiding in fermentation and carbon dioxide production, which is responsible for the rising of the dough. However, using excessive amounts of sugar can have an inhibiting effect on yeast activity. High sugar concentrations can dehydrate the yeast cells and slow down their growth, resulting in a weaker rise or slower fermentation process. It’s generally recommended to use sugar in moderate amounts for optimal yeast activity.

Salt: Salt is important in regulating yeast activity and controlling fermentation. While a small amount of salt is necessary for flavor and dough structure, too much salt can harm yeast growth. High salt concentrations can dehydrate the yeast cells, and slow down fermentation. This can result in a weaker rise and denser texture in the final gluten free baked goods. It’s best to follow the recommended amount of salt in a recipe to ensure proper yeast performance.

To achieve the best results, it’s important to maintain the right balance of sugar and salt in your dough recipe, by following the recommended measurements. The specific amounts may vary depending on the recipe and desired outcome, so it’s always a good idea to refer to a recipe or baking guidelines.

yeasted dough in a bowl showing a dough hook

Is instant yeast better in gluten free baking?

Instant yeast is designed to work faster than active dry yeast, so it can help speed up the rising time in gluten-free baking. This can be particularly advantageous since gluten-free doughs tend to be less elastic and may require additional support from the yeast for proper rising. However, it’s important to monitor the dough closely and not let it overproof, as gluten-free doughs can be more delicate and may collapse if left to rise for too long.

Some gluten-free recipes may specifically call for active dry or instant yeast. It’s best to follow the recipe as it has likely been tested and optimized for the particular type of yeast mentioned. If a recipe does not specify the type of yeast, you can choose based on personal preference.

Should you add baking powder to gluten free yeasted dough?

 Some recipes may include yeast and baking powder in gluten-free baking, where achieving a light and airy texture can be more challenging. Combining the two leavening agents helps compensate for the absence of gluten, which provides structure and elasticity.

If a recipe calls explicitly for yeast and baking powder, following the instructions to achieve the best outcome is essential.

Can you use dry yeast past the expiry date?

Using yeast past its expiry date is not recommended. Yeast is a living organism, and its viability decreases over time. The expiry date indicates when the yeast is expected to lose a significant portion of its activity.

When yeast is fresh and within its expiry date, it is more likely to be active and produce a good rise in your gluten free baked goods. 

However, once it has expired, the yeast cells may have weakened or died, reducing fermentation activity and a less effective leavening process. This can result in a dough that doesn’t rise properly or baked goods that turn out dense and flat.

To ensure the best results, use yeast within its expiry date. If you’re unsure about the viability of your yeast, you can perform a simple test called a “yeast proof” before using it in a recipe. This involves dissolving the yeast with a small amount of sugar in warm water and waiting for it to become frothy and bubbly. If the yeast doesn’t show signs of activation during the proofing process, it’s likely that it has lost its effectiveness and should be replaced with fresh yeast.

By using fresh yeast within its expiry date, you can maximize the chances of achieving a successful rise and desirable texture in your baked goods.

Here are some of our favorite gluten free recipes using yeast.

Gluten-Free Homemade Italian Bread

Gluten-Free Parker House Rolls

Homemade Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns

Easy Gluten Free Beignets

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Roll Cake

French Baguette Recipe

Gluten Free Milk Rolls

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Many thanks!

Kristina xx