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Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast

Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast – While there are a couple of yeasts used for baking, the two most popular types used by home bakers are active dry and instant yeast but have you ever wondered what the difference is between both?  In this post, I will explain when they should be used, how they perform, and their similarities and differences.

Instant vs Active Dry Yeast

The main difference between instant and active dry yeast is that active dry yeast must be rehydrated before it can be used for baking. Other than that, they are very similar in their usage and performance.

Both types of yeast are made with a living organism called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This organism feeds on sugars in the dough, producing carbon dioxide gas. The gas builds up inside the dough and creates tiny bubbles that cause the dough to rise.

What is Yeast?

Baking yeast is a single-celled fungus (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that is used to make recipes that require rising like – sandwich loaves, donuts, pizza crust, bread, and other baked goods where you want to add air bubbles for lightness. But which one is better? Instant or active? The answer depends on the type of dough you’re making and what kind of results you’re looking for.

How does it work?

As an organism, yeast feeds on sugar in your dough when combined with liquid (water or milk). The yeast promotes the fermentation of the dough and converts the sugar and starch into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Then, with the help of oxygen in the moist ingredients, the carbon dioxide gas is trapped within the dough and this causes it to form bubbles. These bubbles make the bread rise.

What is Active Dry Yeast?

Active or regular baking yeast is a dehydrated type of yeast that comes in a granulated texture. It is a much slower-acting form of yeast and must be dissolved in warm water or milk to get activated before adding it to your recipe.

When used in recipes, it needs to be dissolved first in warm water or milk (about 105°F) before mixing with other ingredients such as flour or eggs; this helps activate its enzymes so it can produce carbon dioxide, which makes your bread rise during baking!

What is Instant Yeast?

Instant fast-rising yeast has a finer texture and this type of yeast gives an instant boost to your dough. It does not require rehydration; it can be added directly to the recipe without any prior preparation. This makes it much easier to use because you don’t need to proof it first.

Much like baking soda, instant yeast will begin to activate once placed in liquid. Naturally, the instant yeast has living cells which makes it act faster. Once you add it to the other ingredients, it starts to make the dough rise.

What’s the difference between active and instant yeast?

You need to dissolve it in water to get it activatedYou don’t need water
  It takes a long time to riseIt allows the dough to rise instantly
  It has a granulated textureIt has a fine texture

Can I substitute active dry for instant yeasts? Which is better?

Active dry yeast is not better than instant yeast, nor is instant better than active. You can use anyone that works best for you. It depends on what the recipe you are making calls for and the one that is readily available and convenient to use. Although the rising time is different, they do the same work. You can just add more preparation time when using active dry yeast.

Though both can be used interchangeably in recipes, there are some recipes where one will work better than the other. If in doubt, be sure to ask the recipe creator.

In general, instant yeast works faster than active dry yeast. It can be used in recipes that call for active dry and will usually produce light, fluffy doughs with less time spent rising.

How Do You Substitute?

You can substitute them by the ratio of 1:1. What do I mean? The exact amount of instant yeast you are required to use is the same amount of active dry yeast you can use and vice versa. However, you should note that it will take an additional 15+ minutes for active dry yeast dough to rise where instant yeast would have risen.


Yeast is best stored sealed in its original packet. Once you opened, transfer it into an airtight container like glass or acrylic. Then, store it in the refrigerator or freezer. 

Depending on the expiring date, the average shelf life is between 3-5months from the time you opened it. Additionally, if you keep it in the freezer, allow it to have room temperature before adding it to your recipe.


My yeast didn’t work; what happened? There are different reasons you are experiencing this. First, the yeast is weak because it wasn’t stored properly. Even though the yeast package is sealed, it may not be as fresh as you think. Always check for the expiring date. You should also ensure that the seal is not broken. Once the seal is broken, the best way to preserve it is to store it in the freezer.

If stored in a place with a high temperature, it may lose its effectiveness. Avoid storing in the kitchen because of heat. Heat kills the yeast cells and your dough won’t rise once dead.

For optimal functionality, the temperature must be balanced; not too hot, not too cold, not too acidic, just the right amount of everything. It will work well between a temperature of 105 and 110°F.

Also, the amount of salt and sugar in your dough can affect how your yeast works. Salt and water are osmotic; they draw water away from the yeast cells. So, too much salt will not create a balance that your yeast needs to rise. If you don’t want your dough to rise too fast, you can add a bit of salt. Overall, both sugar and salt should be used moderately.

How to test for freshness?

It is not bad to rely on the expiring date on the package, but do you know how the seller stores it or how long it has been on the shelf? There is a way out if you aren’t sure of the freshness. To test for freshness, you can follow these steps:

  • Get a liquid measuring cup. Add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and ½ cup of lukewarm water.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast and stir together until the granules no longer float.
  • Wait for 5 minutes to activate.
  • After activation, wait for another 10 minutes. You will notice foamy water that has risen to about one cup-size measurement. This shows that the yeast is fresh. It is dead if it doesn’t rise and should be disposed of.

Try these yeast Recipes

Let’s connect on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. I love keeping in touch with you; nothing brings me more joy than seeing pictures of your creations. Tag me @cheflolaskitchen on Instagram and Facebook.


Friday 18th of November 2022

My daughter made a mistake and mixed both yeasts together and I told her to throw it out, but I'm courious could she have used it? Also..... My family absolutey love when i fix your bread recipe, but I would love for you to add a video making cinnamon rolls! Can I use the sweet white bread recipe to make these?... Please keep up the wonderful work, we love it!!

Lola Osinkolu

Thursday 29th of December 2022

No need to throw it away. She could have used it. It will work just fine...I'm glad you love the bread recipe Tori. I have a very good recipe for cinnamon rolls. It will be up shortly.


Friday 19th of August 2022

Not bad i am 11 years old

Chef Lola's Kitchen

Sunday 4th of September 2022

This is lovely. 👍👍❤