And can you substitute one for the other?

By Corey Williams
Updated April 02, 2020
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The wonderful world of yeast is vast and confusing. But it’s really not that complicated—you just need to know a few basic facts about the yeast you’re using before you commence bread-baking.

Two of the most common yeasts, active dry and instant, produce extremely similar results (FYI: Yeast leavens bread and creates a light texture).

However, they are different ingredients and need to be used in different ways. Here’s what you need to know:

What Is Active Dry Yeast?

Credit: Nebasin/Getty Images

Nebasin/Getty Images

You’re probably most familiar with active dry yeast. It’s sold in most grocery stores and is called for in most bread recipes.

Active dry yeast consists of coarse, oblong granules.

It can be stored at room temperature for a year or frozen for more than 10 years. Though it’s more shelf stable than other yeasts, it is also more susceptible to thermal shock (this can occur in response to a rapid temperature change).

How Does It Work and How Do You Use It?

Most packets of active dry yeast will tell you that it must dissolve it in lukewarm water before adding it to the rest of your ingredients. This is because, since it’s a living organism, it’s dormant until activated.

Once you add the dissolved yeast to the rest of your ingredients, it will cause the dough to rise.

Recipes With Active Dry Yeast

What Is Instant Yeast?

Credit: bhofack2/Getty Images

bhofack2/Getty Images

Instant yeast, also called quick rise or fast rising yeast, looks like its active dry counterpart—but the granules are smaller.

Because of its fine texture and other additives, instant yeast activates much more quickly. It’s best for quick baking projects, because it allows you to make bread with just one rise.

How Does It Work and How Do You Use It?

Instant yeast has more live cells than active dry yeast. This is what allows it to be so fast-acting.

Unlike active dry yeast, instant yeast does not need to be dissolved before it’s added to the other ingredients.

Recipes With Instant Yeast

Can You Substitute One for the Other?

Yes! You can absolutely substitute instant yeast for active dry yeast or vice versa. However, since each yeast reacts differently and produces slight differences in the final products, you should know what you’re doing.

If you’re substituting active dry for instant yeast, you should be prepared for a slower rise time (by about 15 minutes).

If you’re substituting instant yeast for active dry, reduce your required rise time by about 15 minutes.