The Difference Between Active Dry Yeast and Instant Yeast

Delicious and comforting, there's nothing like biting into a slice of homemade bread dressed with a little bit of butter. Baking bread is the hottest trend right now according to every Facebook and Instagram post. Americans have been confined to their homes and stress baking is at an all-time high. Not only is baking bread a way to stretch resources, but bread making also takes time (kneading, proofing, baking), making it a great activity to do. However, taking on a bread recipe for the first time can be completely overwhelming with all the choices of ingredients, specifically yeast! What's the difference between active dry yeast vs. instant yeast?

Active Dry Yeast vs. Instant Yeast

Active Dry Yeast vs. Instant Yeast
Hayley Burginger

Usually sitting side-by-side of each other at the grocery store, active dry yeast and instant dry yeast are different. While they both make the dough rise, both types of yeast need to be prepared differently. Active yeast must be added to warm water to activate the yeast before using while instant yeast can be directly added to the dry ingredients.

How to Use Active Dry Yeast

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Found in small packages and in jars, active dry yeast requires rehydration in lukewarm water (about 110F) to wake up the yeast. A pinch of sugar helps as well. After about 10 minutes the water mixture should smell yeasty. If it's bubbly and smells like bread dough, it is good to add to your dry ingredients and continue the bread recipe. This yeast is best used for slow rise bakes like sourdough or pizza dough.

How to Use Instant Yeast

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Known as rapid-rise yeast, quick-rise yeast, or bread machine yeast, instant yeast is dried more quickly and milled finer than active dry. Because of this, this yeast doesn't need a warm liquid to dissolve, rather this type of yeast can be added directly to the flour when bread baking. This yeast is best used for fast-rising bread like sandwich loaves.

How To Substitute Instant Yeast for Active Dry Yeast?

Did you pick up the wrong yeast for what your recipe calls for? No worries! Thankfully the dry yeast types can be interchanged one-for-one. If you are using instant yeast reduce the rise time by 10 minutes, and if you are using active dry yeast increase the rise time by 10 - 15 minutes. You'll never know the difference!