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Yeast: Active Dry vs. Instant vs. Rapid Rise vs. Bread

Many bread and baked goods recipes call for yeast as a leavening agent to help them rise and become airy. But these days, the number of yeast options at the store is getting kind of ridiculous. So, what does it all mean? Here’s a handy quick guide to deciper the labels on yeast:

  • Active Dry Yeast: the traditional dry yeast that needs to be dissolved in warm water with a sprinkle of sugar to activate.

  • Instant Yeast: contains activators so you can add it straight to recipes without dissolving. Use 25% less if the recipe calls for active dry yeast.

  • Rapid Rise Yeast: contains a high concentration of activators so it works very quickly. Not preferred by artisan bakers who want a slower rise.

  • Bread Yeast: exactly the same as Instant Yeast but in a different package.

For most of your purposes, a good active dry yeast or instant yeast should be perfect and you can (kind of) use them interchangeably. Just make sure to pay attention to which the recipe calls for and check out the usage directions on the package. (Thanks to Carrian of Sweet Basil for theĀ inspiration for this tip.)