Cooking decorumWhy active dry yeast instead of instant yeast?

Subject line pretty much is all, but I note on looking at various online recipes that they specify to use active dry yeast and watch to “proof” it in warm water. But there is no need to proof with instant yeast. Is there some advantage to active dry yeast that I’m missing?

I don’t think there is an advantage to active dry yeast IMHO. I use Instant almost exclusively (but don’t really use rapid rise). I’ll be curious to hear others opinions. I’m traveling for a few weeks but I’ll check what my Modernist Bread says about the whole thing when I get home too (if I remember).

Here is a link to someone else’s take too.

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Some bakers might have specific preferences/prejudices, but I think in this case, they’re saying what amounts to “if you use active dry yeast, then proof it”, without further adding that if you instant dry yeast, you should just add it to the dry ingredients (and/or if you use fresh yeast, use more, and also proof that)…

Instant yeast is a much “younger” invention than active dry, and until The Interwebz, wasn’t at all well-known to most home cooks. So to the extent it may be more common in home-oriented recipes, I think it’s just habit…

I tried various times to make pizza dough . I’m just not good at it . One of those things. Active dried yeast has to be proofed . Instant yeast can be mixed with dry ingredients without proofing. I have used both.

Here’s a thread from last year …My reply is the same now as it was back then.

Yeast Query htt

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My own thread, no less, Miss_belle! I guess the result was not conclusive enough to stick in my memory.

I wish I could find fresh yeast to try. I use only instant and sourdough.

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Right before Christmas, I was surprised to find cake yeast (fresh yeast) near the butter at my supermarket. The wrapping was comprised on the first batch of cakes I saw, so I didn’t buy any. The second time, the wrapping was pristine but I had already baked.

Maybe markets in some places carry cake yeast seasonally? If so, I wonder if your local supermarket might still have some after people’s holiday baking binges.

Disclaimer that I am far from terribly knowlegable here. But I started to dabble in bread last year and noticed that depending on the recipe I use (sandwich bread different than artisanal for instance) there is an inverse ratio between amount of yeast and time to proof. And an inverse relationship between time to proof and how much flavor the bread has. So the breads with the least yeast (I have a recipe that uses about 1/4 tsp for a loaf) take the longest to proof and have the most inherent flavor without adding extra ingredients that lend flavor like eggs, sugar, or fat. So I’m thinking that if you use instant and thereby don’t proof at all, it will be the quickest to make and have the least amount of flavor. Just extrapolating here without having tried it myself.


I use instant yeast but proof 10-28 hours, or sometimes “retard” the dough in the fridge for an extra day; I think it’s time that matters most for flavor. Small amount of yeast.


I totally agree it’s the time to develop the flavor, and not the amount of yeast. I guess I just assumed that using either a lot of yeast, or the instant yeast, meant that someone wouldn’t give the dough time. I’m curious then why would you use instant yeast with such a long proof? Is it cheaper? More readily available?

I’ve actually been longing to attempt a sourdough starter, but I’m never at home for 2 wks straight…

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I use active dry yeast primarily. Why? It’s way cheaper. I can buy a two pound bag at Costco or Smart and Final, put it in the fridge and it lasts for two years - for about $6 total. Yes, it’s a tiny bit inconvenient to have to proof the yeast in water to get the same rise speed as instant but it’s way WAY more convenient for me to have a big jar of yeast at my disposal so that whenever I want to bake or stir up dough, it is there.

For a long rise, I often just stir it in without proofing and it’s been dandy.

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One thing I’ve never been able to discern from this thread or the other one is whether instant yeast can go bad like active dry yeast does. Regardless of expiration date. Nothing online about it. Guess I’ll just continue to proof ADY knowing it’s alive or not and let the IY crowd find out the hard way if it’s not. Only takes one time.

Haven’t tried fresh yeast and probably never will.

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Because it’s freeze-dried (iirc) (and so dried more quickly than "active dried), the instant is supposed to have more live cells per unit weight/volume than active dry, which also implies that it should have a longer ultimate shelf life (though it will (also) gradually  decrease in “strength” over time). But both types last so long in the freezer - where I’ve always kept the bulk of mine - that for practical purposes it’s a moot point unless you’re planning to leave it your heirs…:wink:

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I get a vacuum-sealed brick of SAF instant yeast (about 1 pound?), and once opened, I’ve kept it up to two years in a Tupperware container in the fridge. It never has seemed to go bad or even slow down on me. Sometimes, I’ll replace it just on speculation that maybe it’s past its prime.

The brick-pack is not easy to find in supermarkets. but I do find it at Food Service stores, maybe Costco. At maybe $5 or so, the yeast is massively less expensive than those little packets or jars one sees is supermarkets.

BTW: so far as I can tell, instant yeast and “bread machine yeast” are identical.

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Thanks for the link. I think this is the answer to why the bagels I made a few weeks ago did not turn out so well. According to this article instant rapid rise yeast does not work well in long rise recipes. Which makes sense. I was not thinking when I grabbed it to make the bagels which have an overnight rise in the refrigerator. I thought instant was instant. I have made them before with no problems. This time they cam out flat. They looked good all the way through the boiling process but flattened in the oven. I could not figure out what went wrong. Maybe it was this.

It always hard to trouble shoot bread, but looking good and collapsing at the very end is usually a sign of over proofing in my experience. If you used rapid rise, that would make sense too since it would be more likely to over proof even in the cold overnight rise. That is kind of the “perk” of using a rapid rise . . . . but not so much in this case.

Don’t give up! Home made bread is the BEST!

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I haven’t looked for it there recently, but I’ve bought it - and the “gold” version for sweet doughs - at Whole Foods (at normal, non “whole paycheck”, prices…)

I haven’t had trouble using the instant for long, slow rises but when I do that, I always use a small fraction of the amount called for in a recipe written for a shorter proofing period. I mean, it’s not as if the yeast you “add” to the recipe is what’s doing the bulk of the work (like baking powder), it’s the total amount of yeast that “grows/multiplies” from that original amount. If you use the “regular” amount called for in a shorter-rising recipe, I wonder if it’s not overgrowing the readily available carbs in your dough, and so “bottoming out” before you’ve finished proofing it?

That might not be the best way to put it, since you can use more yeast to begin with if you want a very short proofing period, at the expense of what some people consider an “excessively” yeasty flavor And for the most part I agree about that, but sometimes, I actually kind of lack that flavor, especially in pancakes or waffles, for example…

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Thank you for the encouragement. I had decided to give up on bagels after this happened but will try one more time trying to do it exactly the same way but with non-rapid rise yeast instead.

I have had baguettes collapse in the past and assumed it was over proofing though I would always make it using the same procedure and sometimes it would fall and sometimes it would not. Now I am wondering if sometimes I used the wrong yeast.

The good part of bread baking is that even if does not come out as intended, it is usually still tastes good. I liked my flat bagels better than any I can buy where I live.


I have an involved French bread recipe that calls for ‘platinum superior’ yeast. Not sure how much it differs as I don’t make a lot of breads.