Are you planning to make a loaf of bread, brioche, or cinnamon roll and wonder how much yeast is in a packet? Yeast is the key ingredient in bread making since it acts as a leavening agent which makes your baked products rise and gives that wonderful fluffy, airy texture we love. Many recipes include "a packet of yeast" in the ingredient list which is perfect when you actually have packets of yeast in your pantry but when you have the yeast in a jar instead, or some leftover yeast from your previous baking, you will need to measure it carefully.
- So how much yeast is in a packet?
- What is yeast
- Yeast vs Sourdough Starter
- Yeast vs Baking Powder vs Baking Soda
- Types of yeast - Pros & Cons
- How to measure yeast
- Conversion between the different types of yeast
- How does yeast work
- How to activate the yeast
- How much yeast do I need for baking
- Why is my dough isn't rising
- What should I do if I added too much yeast
- What should I do if I added too little yeast
- How to tell if the yeast has gone bad
- Yeast purchasing tips
- Yeast storage tips
- Can I freeze yeast
- Yeast FAQs
- My favorite yeast-leavened recipes
So how much yeast is in a packet?
There are 7 grams or ¼ oz of yeast in a packet. This also translates to 2 ¼ teaspoons in a packet of yeast. It’s important to always measure your yeast correctly. You do not want to add too much of it to your dough since it will make your baked goods over-rise and would develop an unpleasant flavor. Equally, not enough yeast would not be sufficient to develop enough volume and airy texture on your bread. In this article, you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about yeast and its role in the baking world, as well as substitution options and so on.
Consider this article as your Yeast 101 Baking Guide, which covers everything one must know about yeast, measuring yeast, substituting yeast, working with yeast, and much more.
💡 Top Tip: To measure your yeast correctly either use a Digital scale, or a teaspoon with the "level it off" method
What is yeast
Yeast is technically a living microorganism that belongs to the Fungi Kingdom. There are different kinds of yeast, and baking yeast is just one of them. Yeast is a vital ingredient in all leavened baked products such as bread, brioche, focaccia, cinnamon roll, babka, rum baba, baguette, croissants, and so on.
Baking yeast or commercial yeast is a strain of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae that has been going through a long manufacturing process. This type of yeast has been honed and scientifically manipulated so it will be beneficial in bread making. To stay alive, yeast feed on sugars and starches, which is basically what bread dough is made of.
They will convert that food into their energy and release carbon dioxide gas and alcohol through a process called fermentation. Do you see bubbles in the bread? Those are the bubbles of carbon dioxide gas produced by the yeast. And that’s what makes your bread rise.
Yeast vs Sourdough Starter
If you’ve been baking for a while, you probably have heard about the sourdough starter. It’s a leavening agent that also helps a bread dough to rise. The sourdough starter also contains yeast which releases bubbles of carbon dioxide that can rise the bread through fermentation. Sound similar to regular yeast, doesn’t it? That’s because the sourdough starter is technically yeast, too. Although commercial yeast and sourdough starters have the same function in bread making, they have several differences to consider.
Simply put, commercial yeast is like the domesticized version of sourdough starter. At a glance, commercial yeast comes in dry, granulated form while sourdough starter comes in liquid. The regular commercial yeast is a kind of yeast that has been manufactured and manipulated in some way so when it’s used in baking, it’s easier to prepare, easier to control, more time-saving, and overall more beginner-friendly.
On the other hand, sourdough starter needs an experienced baker to treat and use them correctly. Sourdough starter is made by combining flour and water. Then, you’re waiting for days if not weeks until the wild yeast occurs naturally before you can start using it in your bread dough. The sourdough starter consists of wild natural yeast and lactic acid bacteria, a symbiotic colony which is called SCOBY.
💡 Top Tip: If you're planning to substitute yeast with sourdough starters, you will need a bigger amount of sourdough starter. Typically, you will need 227g = 1 cup of sourdough starter to replace a packet of instant yeast, depending on the recipe.
Yeast vs Baking Powder vs Baking Soda
Now you have learned that yeast is a kind of leavening agent. So, does it mean that it's the same as baking powder and baking soda? Not at all!
Yeast is a living microorganism that can rise a bread dough through fermentation. It feeds on sugar and starches and it releases carbon dioxide and alcohol as its byproduct. When a dough contains yeast, it will have carbon dioxide bubbles inside of it so the result will be soft and airy on the inside. Yeast is typically used for making bread including sweet bread such as babka, cinnamon roll, brioche, donuts, etc.
Baking powder is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate, an acid element such as cream of tartar, and starch element eg. corn starch. Unlike baking with baking soda, you do not need any more acid in your batter or dough to activate its power, you will only need liquid. Baking powder starts to act as soon as it reacts with wet ingredients so you must get the batter into the oven as soon as you can. Baking powder is the most coming rising agent of cakes.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda, is one of the ingredients of the baking powder but can be used as a standalone ingredient too to help the cakes rise. To activate its leavening power, you will need to add an acidic wet ingredient into the cake batter, eg. yogurt, lemon juice, coffee, etc. Baking soda is used to make various cakes, eg. Ferrero Rocher cake. I regularly use a baking soda+vinegar magic ingredient combination to make my cupcakes extra moist besides using also baking powder.
Can You Substitute Yeast with Baking Powder Or Baking Soda?
Well, actually you can technically if needed, but it is not super common and the result will not be the same especially when we talk about bread making.
Replacing yeast with baking powder can be done 1:1. Simply measure out the amount of baking powder for how much yeast the recipe calls for. Baking powder reacts immediately when exposed to liquid and heat. Unlike when using yeast, using baking powder does not require additional rise time. For this reason, baking powder is more often used to quickly leaven cakes, pancakes, and biscuits as opposed to traditional bread.
Replacing yeast with baking soda can be done 4:1, in additional, you will need to add something acidic such as lemon juice to the dough.So, if your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of yeast, you can replace it with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda plus an acid ingredient.
💡 Top Tip: After a quick calculation, all the above means that technically baking soda is about 4x "stronger" than baking powder. However, any substitution should be considered in an individual case depending on the initial recipe. As a general rule, please try to stick to the recipe and avoid using these substitutions, if possible.
Types of yeast - Pros & Cons
Instant Yeast or Rapid rise yeast
Instant yeast is a kind of dehydrated yeast (dry yeast) that comes in very small granules. A typical yeast packet is equal to 7g = ¼ oz = 2 ¼ teaspoons. Instant yeast or quick-rise / rapid-rise yeast is a common commercial yeast used in baking, especially in the US, however, remember, quick, does not equal best, especially when we talk about the flavor development of bread-type baked products.
Fast rising yeast is meant to be the most beginner-friendly because you do not need to activate it first in a separate jar. A bread machine yeast is also an instant dry yeast that doesn't need to be activated before use. You can directly add it to your dough and let it do its job. While many recipes call for instant yeast packets for its obvious benefits of baking quicker, from a flavor development point of view I tend not to choose this yeast type.
Active Dry Yeast
Active dry yeast is partially dehydrated yeast. One packet of instant yeast is equal to 7g = ¼ = 2 ¼ teaspoons. Unlike instant dry yeast, active dry yeast needs to be activated first before being added to the dough. It contains larger particles that you must dissolve and rehydrate in warm water for the proofing process. You will need to rehydrate it to activate it and it will take a longer fermentation process, hence there is a smaller chance of over-risen dough.
Between rapid rise and active dry yeast, I recommend using the active dry yeast. By activating it in water, you can guarantee that it's still alive, plus with leavened baked products, we are not looking for a quick rise from a flavor development point of view.
Fresh yeast is also known as cake yeast, compressed yeast, or wet yeast. Fresh yeast packages are coming in different sizes and you should always follow the quantity in the recipe in grams or oz.
While instant dry yeast and active dry yeast come in granules and can be stored anywhere in the kitchen as long as it's inside the package, fresh yeast comes in solid blocks and needs to be stored inside the fridge.
It's called "Fresh" or "Wet" yeast because it is not dry, which means it contains moisture. Remember that moisture is one of the perfect living conditions for yeast to thrive. So, if you do not store fresh yeast correctly, it can go bad sooner. Fresh yeast is the most common type of yeast used by professionals, including in my sweet bread recipes.
Fresh yeast is super reliable in the baking process and provides the most delicious result, and I consider fresh yeast as the "best yeast".
💡 Top Tip: All the above yeast works slightly differently and requires different treatment when it comes to temp, rising time, etc. so please make sure to follow the recipe instructions you are making
How to measure yeast
You can measure yeast the way you measure baking soda or other small-needed baking ingredients. So, grab your Digital scale! Then, open a packet of yeast, and use a teaspoon to gradually add the yeast to the scaling bowl. Do this carefully, little by little until you get the desired amount.
What if you don't have a scale? If you enjoy baking, you definitely should get a Digital scale, however for measuring dry yeast, feel free to use a teaspoon! 1 packet of yeast equals 7 grams and approximately equals 2 ¼ teaspoons. So, if your recipe calls for half a packet of yeast, it means you will need 1 ⅛ teaspoon of yeast, but seriously, please consider using a Digital scale!
💡 Top Tip: If your recipe needs less than one packet of yeast, it means that you will have the remaining amount of yeast in your packet and you will need to close the packet securely so the air (a.k.a. moisture) won't bother the yeast dormancy during the storage
Conversion between the different types of yeast
If you're thinking about substituting a type of yeast for another one, it is absolutely possible but you need to adjust the amount. As a general rule, if the recipe calls for fresh yeast, use 50% of the weight in active dry yeast and 40% of the weight in instant yeast. For example, if the recipe calls for 20 g fresh yeast, you can substitute it with 10 g active dry yeast or 8g instant yeast, but it is best if you check the package as it usually indicates the conversions.
Considering the above, the conversion of active dry yeast to instant yeast is 5:4. If you want to substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast, add 25% more of the amount. So, if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of instant yeast, you can use 1 ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast instead. On the other hand, if you want to substitute instant yeast for active dry yeast, just reduce the amount by 20%. So, if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast, you can use a bit more than ¾ tablespoon of instant yeast instead, or use a digital scale, to be able to measure it correctly.
💡 Top Tip: Please note that the above conversions are the general rules, to be on the safe side, always use the type of yeast that is required by the recipe and/or check the recommended conversions on the package or manufacturers´ website.
How does yeast work
Yeast consumes sugar and starches. Yeast has the ability to convert sugar and starches into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Since yeast is contained inside the bread dough, the carbon dioxide gas is trapped and causing the dough to rise.
Remember that yeast is alive. This means that they can reproduce so the yeast colony in the bread dough can grow significantly in numbers as long as they have food to consume and are placed in a perfect condition. This fermentation process happens during bread proofing. You might have experienced that if you let the bread proof too long, your bread dough will rise too much since they have too many air bubbles inside.
To stop the proofing process, you will need to bake the bread dough, as effectively the oven heat will stop the fermentation process because yeast is killed at a hot temperature. Always follow the proofing recommendation of the particular recipe you are making.
💡 Top Tip: If you ever overproof your bread dough, usually knocking the air out and starting the entire proofing process again will work fine and you won´t waste that batch of dough
How to activate the yeast
Since yeast is a living microorganism, the manufacturer package the yeast in a certain condition that makes them lack moisture and food. It makes them dormant or "sleeping". Instant dry yeast doesn't need the activation process; you can throw it directly into the dough.
However, if you want to make a bread dough eg. babka using active dry yeast or fresh yeast, then you will need to "wake up" the yeast or activate them. You will need to place the yeast in the best condition for their living. Provide them with moisture at the right temperature and also give them the right food so they can thrive.
The ideal water temp for yeast (to get activated) is 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit / 40-46 degrees Celcius. Or, if you don't have access to one, just remember that it's a kind of lukewarm water. Here is how to activate active dry yeast:
- Grab a cup, glass, or jar and fill it with lukewarm water
- Add some sugar to feed the yeast
- Add the correct amount of yeast to the water
- Stir gently
- Wait for a few minutes until it "blooms". You will see small bubbles like the ones in carbonated water (because indeed this water contains some carbon dioxide gas!)
After your yeast is successfully activated, you can add it to the dough.
💡 Top Tip: Use a thermometer to measure the water temperature for the best result. If the temperature of the water is a bit too hot, it can kill the yeast. If the temperature of the water is a bit too cold, it will only slow down the yeast-activating process
How much yeast do I need for baking
Always read the recipe thoroughly to make sure that you're adding the right amount of yeast to your dough. However, if you're experimenting, or developing a new recipe, you might want to know how much yeast you need for baking.
So how much yeast per cup of flour is needed? Typically, 1 packet of dry yeast (7g) which equals 2 ¼ teaspoons can raise up to 4 cups = 544g of flour. That equals about a little bit more than ¾ packet of rapid yeast and 14 g fresh yeast. Please note that the exact quantity might vary depending on the recipe and other ingredients of the recipe, whether it is bread, babka, focaccia, or more like a French brioche that is loaded with butter.
Remember also that more does not mean better. There is an exact science behind adding just the right amount of yeast to your flour so always follow the quantity recommended by the recipe.
💡 Top Tip: While baking with yeast, avoid yeast directly contacting with salt as salt can draw the water out of the yeast cells
Why is my dough isn't rising
There are 5 main factors that can prevent dough rise:
- Yeast is expired or dead - Shelf life on yeast is a delicate matter. Remember to check whether the yeast is live by "activating it" before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. Solution: Unfortunately, you will most probably have to start over with a new packet of yeast
- The water in the dough was too hot, which killed the yeast - As mentioned above the ideal water temperature to activate the active dry yeast is 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit / 40-46 degrees Celcius, anything warmer can kill the yeast. Solution: Unfortunately, you will most probably have to start over with new yeast
- Too much salt in the dough, which killed the yeast - Salt, just like warm water, can kill the yeast, so be careful when measuring it. Solution: Unfortunately, you will most probably have to start over with new yeast
- Kitchen temperature is too cold - Dough rise requires a stable not too warm, not too cold kitchen temperature, about 75 degrees Fahrenheit / 25 degrees Celcius is ideal without direct sunshine. Solution: Move the dough to a warmer spot in your house, but never attempt to proof your dough in the oven
- Yeast is measured incorrectly - I cannot emphasize enough that baking is science, and as such, accuracy is key. I recommend measuring the yeast by a digital scale. Solution: Wait a bit longer and move the dough to a warmer spot of your house, it might be rising eventually, but slower
What should I do if I added too much yeast
Yeast feeds on starch and sugar in bread dough. So, when your bread dough contains too much yeast, it means that the "eater" comes in a larger amount than it's supposed to be. If you let it happen this way, the yeast will be happily growing and releasing tons of carbon dioxide gas very quickly which can cause your dough to raise too rapidly and eventually collapse since the flour isn't ready to expand. It can also develop a strong unpleasant smell.
So what to do if you added too much yeast? You can try to lower the temperature of your dough in order to slow down the fermentation process. With this method, you're allowing the bread dough to mature and prevent the yeast to release too much carbon dioxide. Other than that, expect the final bread to rise bigger than it is supposed to, but unless you added a significantly higher amount of yeast, probably it will be still delicious to eat.
What should I do if I added too little yeast
When you add too little yeast, your bread might not achieve its maximum potential of rising. Well, it might be able to raise well but it will take a longer time. When it happens too long, your bread might be drying out and the gluten becomes too strong. If this happens, the dough can collapse too.
So, what to do when you added too little yeast? To save your bread dough, you can help speed up the fermentation process by moving your dough somewhere warmer. However, you will need to do it carefully since yeast can be killed when the temperature is too hot.
How to tell if the yeast has gone bad
If you want to find out the viability status of your yeast, you can simply check the expiration date.
If you want to be on the safe side, you will need to test your yeast. Learning how to proof yeast can help you decide whether or not your yeast has expired. Proofing a yeast also means activating the yeast. So you will need to prepare lukewarm water inside a jar or glass. Then add the sugar and the yeast, and stir. After ten minutes, see if the yeast granules are starting to boom. If not, your yeast might have gone bad and it is better to test another packet yeast than to destroy your entire loaf of bread.
💡 Top Tip: Some yeast might still be good after the expiration date if you store them well. At the same time, some yeast might have gone bad if it's stored in an unsuitable condition. So, it is better to test your test before using
Yeast purchasing tips
In order to get the best yeast for your bread, you will need to purchase the right yeast so first and foremost, check if the recipe has called for a certain type of yeast. Otherwise, understand the three different types of yeast and find the one that suits your purpose.
If you're looking for an instant or active dry yeast, just make sure that it's still a long time until the expiration date. Do not buy yeast that is almost expiring. If you're shopping for fresh yeast, again make sure it is not close to the expiration date. You want to find one with a beige or cream color. It has a fresh smell and it easily crumbles. Make sure that there are no dark spots on it.
💡 Top Tip: All dry types of yeast can typically be found in the grocery store baking aisle, next to other dry ingredients like baking soda, flour, and baking powder. If you are looking for fresh yeast, search in the refrigerated section!
Yeast storage tips
Now that you understand how important it is to keep your yeast alive, it's a wise idea to store your yeast in the right way. If your yeast package is opened, it is better to store it inside the fridge or freezer. If your yeast package is still sealed, you can store it either inside the fridge, freezer, or at room temperature.
Pantry/cabinet storage: Always try your best to avoid the yeast contacting with moisture. Place the sealed yeast package inside an airtight container and it should last at least two years before it's expiring. Always check the expiration date before using.
Fridge storage: Once the yeast package is open, place it inside an airtight container and you should expect at least four months until it goes bad. If it's fresh yeast, you will need to place it in an airtight container, and remember that it's highly perishable you can expect around two weeks before it's expiring. Always check the expiration date before using.
Can I freeze yeast
Sure, you can! In fact, it's a great idea to store yeast in the freezer so it can last longer, even longer than the actual expiration date.
Freezer storage: Both fresh yeast and dry yeast opened or unopened can be kept inside the freezer. If you're storing opened yeast, seal the package and place it inside an airtight container before placing it inside the freezer. Later, when you want to use the yeast, let the yeast defrost before using it. Freezing will not kill the active ingredient in yeast and can significantly expand the expiry date.
Dry yeast can last for about five months inside the freezer. If it's unopened yeast, you can comfortably place it directly inside the freezer and expect it to last for about 2 years. Fresh yeast is a highly perishable kind of yeast however you can prolong its life by storing it inside the freezer and expecting it to be expiring after about three months.
A packet of yeast equals 2 ¼ teaspoons
A packet of yeast equals ¾ tablespoon
2 teaspoons of yeast contain about 6.2 grams of yeast which nearly reaches a packet of yeast.
A teaspoon of yeast contains 3.1 grams. Hence, 1 gram of yeast equals 0.32 teaspoon or close to ⅓ teaspoon
The temperature to activate yeast is 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit / 40-46 degrees Celcius. Use a thermometer for the best result.
To activate one packet of yeast, normally you will need about ¼ cup of warm water.
The ratio of active dry yeast to instant yeast conversion is 5:4. So, if the recipe calls for 1 packet (7g) of active dry yeast, you can use a little bit more than ¾ packet (5.6g) of instant yeast instead
Using expired yeast means using "dead" yeast. It simply won't work. It's just like adding non-living microscopic organisms to your bread dough. Sorry, but you need to buy a new one.
Now you know that 1 packet yeast equals 7 grams or ¼ oz of yeast. This also translates to 2 ¼ teaspoons in a packet of yeast. You have also learned how to measure yeast, how to activate the yeast, and how to store it in order to keep it good longer. Yeast is a fascinating baking ingredient. Use it in the correct amount to help your bread rise well!