Active yeast vs. instant yeast

While shopping for yeast one can find at least two different options: rapid raise instant yeast and active yeast. As a beginner baker I was curious to understand what was the difference. So, I researched and experimented a bit.


So, according to

RapidRise Yeast

  • Also known as instant yeast
  • Saves time – only requires one rise
  • Simply add to dry ingredients, then follow your recipe – no need to hydrate in water
  • Works great in bread machines
  • Gluten-Free

Active Dry Yeast

  • The original dry yeast
  • Highly stable and valued for its reliable performance
  • Simply dissolve in warm liquid (100°–110° F), then follow your recipe
  • Not recommended for recipes that call for instant or Rapid Rise Yeast
  • Gluten-Free

The difference between these types of dry yeast is simple: active dry yeast has a larger granule and needs to be dissolved in water before using, while instant yeast has a more fine texture and can be mixed right into dry ingredients. (

According to, the difference is minimal, and the two can be used interchangeably—with slightly different results. Active dry yeast compared to instant yeast, is considered more “moderate.” It gets going more slowly, but eventually catches up to instant—think of the tortoise and the hare. Many bread-bakers appreciate the longer rise times Active dry yeast encourages; it’s during fermentation of its dough that bread develops flavor.

Lately I have been using only rapid raise instant yeast. This is bread that I made recently.

Couple of other things to keep in mind about yeast:

  • Ensure your yeast is fresh by checking its expiration date. Once a package or jar of yeast is opened, it is important that the remaining contents be immediately resealed and refrigerated or frozen for future use. Often dough that fails to rise is due to stale yeast.
  • The following test can be used to determine if your yeast is stale and inactive.
    Place 1⁄2 cup of lukewarm (110º F to 115º F/43º C to 46º C) water into a liquid measuring cup. Stir 1 teaspoon of sugar into the water and then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of yeast over the surface. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes undisturbed.
    The mixture should foam and rise to the 1 cup mark. If this does not occur, discard this yeast and purchase fresh yeast.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Joyfull Mom says:

    Good post! Helpful information. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nancyruth says:

    I forgot that the Rapid Rise was an instant yeast.This is good information for bakers of bread. I have a large packet bought from the warehouse stores and it keeps in the fridge very well. I just have to remember to measure it each time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I normally buy it in a regular grocery store, but I will try to check warehouse stores as well. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bakerista says:

    Very interesting! Good to know especially since I didn’t have to do the research! Haha

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. This was really interesting to read. I have used both types of dried yeast, and didn’t know about refrigerating it once opened, so I am going to try that and see what difference it makes to the rise. One of our local bakers does sell fresh yeast to customers, and said its ok to freeze that if you don’t use it all at once, but I wouldn’t have thought of doing the same with dried, so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! I would also like to give it a try and bake bread with fresh yeast.


  6. afrilly says:

    I was wondering about this too! Thanks for the super informative post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kindkrafting says:

    I hate when recipes call for yeast – can never get it to work out for me! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sweetartisan says:

    Thanks for the helpful tips…..I usually neglect the opened yeast packets

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome! Enjoy baking!

      Liked by 1 person

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