instant vs active dry yeast


What is the real difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast? I used active dry (which I keep a container of in the fridge) in a recipe that called for instant (the crust for Chicago-style deep dish pizza) and it turned out just fine. I did add a tiny pinch of sugar and the water then walked away for a few minutes before continuing and adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing when I realized I was using active, not instant. Is that the only real difference? That it needs a little extra time to start working?

badge posted by: MamaTess on October 10, 2010 at 12:17 am in Baking, yeast
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reply by: brooksiefan on October 10, 2010 at 8:56 am

I think you hit on the answer yourself. You don't have to proof instant yeast--just throw it in with the rest of the dry ingredients and mix away. I think that instant yeast is more vigorous than active dry and I use less of it, but that is probably just superstition on my part.

Plus-- a pound of instant yeast ordered from KAF is wayyyyyy cheaper than buying active dry at the store. Pour out a little in a small jar--what you will use in the next few weeks--and stash the rest in a bigger jar in the freezer. It will last forever.

reply by: Mike Nolan on October 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm
Mike Nolan

It's always been my understanding that you CAN proof instant dry yeast (IDY) but you don't have to.

reply by: kittykat3308 on October 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Instant yeast has more live cells in it. You can use it straight from the freezer, no need to keep some separate. I go through about two of the SAF instant yeast in a year. I hope this helps


reply by: MamaTess on October 11, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Most of the baking I do is in a bread machine and all those recipes call for active dry, so I keep a small container of it in the fridge. If I wanted to keep instant on hand, instead, then, do I just use a little less in the machine? I'm starting to try my hand at more outside the machine and it seems like a lot of those recipes want instant.

reply by: Mike Nolan on October 11, 2010 at 10:55 pm
Mike Nolan

I don't think I've ever made a bread machine recipe that called for active dry yeast, which has to be proofed. I'm not sure I've even SEEN one, and I've got at least a half dozen books with bread machine recipes in them.

IDY is just easier to use and 99% of the time I can't tell the difference. I've found ONE recipe where it makes a significant difference, and that was James Beard's Monkey Bread recipe. It's a slow riser, and with IDY it's a REALLY slow riser.

BTW, usually I go through a pound of IDY in about two months here, (less during the summer when I don't bake as much.)

I keep it in the freezer and just add it straight out of the freezer. If I'm making several things in the same day, I usually don't bother to put it back in between batches.

If a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, I'd probably use 1 3/4 teaspoons of IDY. I'm not sure that's enough to make a noticeable difference in either how much it rises or how it tastes, though.

reply by: kaf-sub-swanmore on November 05, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I believe that the yeast cells collapse and die off more quickly in IDY. Active dry yeast works well with slow rise bread (which I think tastes much better :-)


reply by: silkenpaw on November 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Here's the difference, according to Harold McGee in "On Food and Cooking," 2004 edition:

"Active dry yeast [has] a protective coating of yeast debris. [...] can be stored at room temperature for months. [Needs to be reactivated by soaking] in warm water, 105-110ºF." I've also read (in Corriher, I think) that putting yeast in cold water is a good way to kill them.

"Instant dry yeast [takes up water more rapidly than 'active,'] does not need to be prehydrated before mixing with other dough ingredients, and produces carbon dioxide more vigorously than active dry yeast."

I have to say that I use them interchangeably, store both in the freezer and do not prehydrate either. I use yeast mostly to make bread, not so much sugar-containing doughs. It might make more of a difference in the latter.

Hope that helps.