The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recipe calls for instant yeast but I only have active dry yeast. Can I swap?

DrPr's picture

Recipe calls for instant yeast but I only have active dry yeast. Can I swap?

I'm making pizza dough following Reinhart's BBA recipe, which calls for overnight refrigeration.  I thought I had instant yeast but I only have a jar of active dry yeast. The recipe calls for mixing the yeast and other ingredients together at once using cold ingredients, and doesn't call for rising.  Can I use the active dry yeast? If so, what should I do differently than I'd do with the instant yeast?  Thank you all in advance (again!!)

bassopotamus's picture

The big difference is that you should use about 25% more. They are the same strain of yeast, instant is just ground finer so it packs more densely. It's like the difference between kosher and table salt measured by volume. You get more salt in a tsp of table salt. The other thing you might consider is mixing the yeast into the water first and allowing it to sit for 5 minutes or so before you mix in the flour. Then you should be good to go.

DrPr's picture

Thank you. I will try that.

swtgran's picture

I use them interchangably.

LindyD's picture

DrPr, there's a very good FAQ on yeast here - listed in the "FAQs" at the top of the page.

DrPr's picture


KenB's picture

I don't have instant yeast either; I just go ahead and use my active dry yeast. I do as bassopotamus suggests above -- I proof the yeast for five minutes or so in a quarter-cup of 85F water before I add it to the rest of the ingredients I'm mixing up (the quarter-cup is a portion of the total water called for in a recipe, not over and above that amount). I've made several BBA recipes this way, actually, and they've turned out fine.


Maverick's picture

You could also use the same amount and just expect the rise time to be slightly longer. Besides the size difference, active dry has more dead yeast than the instant, so there is less activity. Just make sure to hydrate the yeast first as others have mentioned (instant allows you to skip this step).

noyeast's picture

I also use them interchangably.

By the way that pizza dough recipe and cold storage Idea is great.  It makes the best pizza bases I've tried yet ! ( and I've tried a few )  With this method, I dont think you would notice any difference between the two forms of yeast you've mentioned.    The dough, when warmed to room temp and left to proof bake real well, IMO the yeast amount is not critical.    ( I may be shot down for this comment hehe )


ejm's picture

I use active dry yeast and I too use them measure for measure - and sometimes use even less, in spite of the fact that most guides say to use less instant yeast (I never use instant yeast; I use only cake or active dry yeast...).

As the others have already said, active dry yeast has to be rehydrated before being added. Use a portion of the water called for in the recipe and mix it in a small bowl. It should be no hotter than what you can comfortably put on the back of your wrist. If the water temperature is higher than 49C(120F), the yeast will start to die. [Edit: And it can certainly be colder than what you can comfortably put on the back of your wrist. The yeast just has to be rehydrated.] Set this aside as you mix the rest of the ingredients for the bread, then add the yeasted water after mixing everything else. (This might not be considered as correct procedure, but it works for me.)

For more details, please see my reply to the thread "Active Yeast vs. Instant Yeast": re: yeast conversions


P.S. I didn't know that active dry took any longer to rise than instant. Ignorance is bliss....

[[second edit: When you shoot Paul down, shoot me down too. When I make pizza dough I use a "scant" teaspoon of active dry yeast. I know the amount varies from pizza to pizza but the results are always stellar.]]

DrPr's picture

Thank you for all of the advice, everyone. I am horrible at math and ended up using 1.25 tsps of active dry yeast. The dough came out wonderfully and both dinner companions proclaimed it the best homemade pizza they'd had.  I know it's not because of my special powers- it's the great recipe and the overnight retarding.

So now I'm going to make Silverton's parmesan bread, and she calls for fresh yeast, so here I go again! I would like to find fresh yeast somewhere, but if I can't, I will have to figure out how to convert active dry to fresh. I will look at the FAQ (hope it's there)!

LindyD's picture

Have you checked the dairy section of your local supermarket?  Where the eggs, butter, etc. are stashed?  I was surprised to find fresh yeast in that section in the local supermarket here in the boonies.  

ejm's picture

I had to do a conversion for the sweet saffron buns I have made at Christmas time. (The original recipe calls for fresh yeast that is not easy to find and/or is on the expensive side when I do locate it.)

I see that I cleverly added the conversion I used to my notes:

  • 2½ tsp active dry yeast  (or 50g fresh yeast)

In her post about various yeasts and their equivalents, Susan (Wild Yeast) wrote something quite different, indicating that you can fool around with the amount of yeast called for in the recipe and the bread will still rise:

1 cake fresh = 3 tsp active dry = 2.25 tsp instant

(excerpt from Let Us Now Praise Instant Yeast)

...which may or may not be helpful, considering that a cake of yeast can be many different sizes. As far as I can tell, there are two standard sizes for cake yeast in the USA: .6oz(17gm) and 2oz(57gm) (...I know I've ranted about this before... aha, here it is: how many gms (or oz.) in a cake of yeast?)

How much fresh yeast does Silverton suggest to use in her parmesan bread? (I'm surprised there isn't a yeast equivalents table somewhere in the book.)