Difference between Instant and Active Dry Yeast

January 14, 2017 by Editorial Team

Deciding whether to use instant or active dry yeast can be a dilemma when you are not a professional baker. If the recipe indicates instant yeast but you only have active dry yeast, can you use it as a substitute instead? Will it affect the quality of your baked goods? In this article, the difference between instant yeast and active dry yeast will be discussed.


Instant yeast and active dry yeast granules, respectively

Instant yeast, also known as “quick-rise,” “bread machine yeast,” “fast-rising,” or “fast-acting” yeast, is a type of dry yeast that can be directly mixed into the dry ingredients. It is called “instant” yeast because it does not need proofing, a term that refers to the process of rehydrating yeast by dissolving it in water. It was originally formulated for commercial baking but is now widely available for home bakers as well.

Instant yeast has fine granules which break down easily and activate rapidly. It is concentrated and it contains higher amounts of live yeast cells than other kinds of dry yeast. Because of this, dough that is mixed with instant yeast rises fast and is usually done in 10 to 15 minutes. Baked goods made with instant yeast may have a faint flavor, which grows more intense once placed in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Instant dry yeast is perishable and has a shorter shelf life, which can be lengthened when it is stored in the refrigerator.

Active dry yeast, on the other hand, is a type of yeast that needs to break down in warm water before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. It is specially formulated for home baking.

To produce active dry yeast, manufacturers encase live organisms in dead cells by drying them to make them dormant. To reactivate these organisms, you need to proof the yeast by dissolving it in warm water for about ten minutes. Once proofed, the yeast can be combined with the rest of the ingredients. It is slow acting, which means dough mixed with active dry yeast needs longer rise times, usually about an hour or two.

Active dry yeast has a noticeably coarse texture. It stores longer than other types of dry yeast.


The greatest difference between the two is how they are used and how they affect the rise time of the dough. Instant yeast can be added to the rest of the dry ingredients right away. Active dry yeast needs to be “proofed” first, which means breaking it down in warm water before adding it to the dough. Dough made with instant dry yeast rises in 10 to 15 minutes, while dough made with active dry yeast takes about 2 hours to rise.

In terms of texture, instant yeast has fine granules, whereas active dry yeast has coarse granules. Active dry yeast also has a longer shelf life than instant yeast. Additionally, instant dry yeast was originally made for commercial baking, while active dry yeast was intended for home baking.

Comparison Chart

Instant YeastActive Dry Yeast
Does not need proofing; can be added to dry ingredients right awayNeeds proofing; should be dissolved in warm water before adding it to the rest of the ingredients
Activates rapidly; dough rises in 10 to 15 minutesSlow-acting; dough takes about 2 hours to rise
Easily perishable; long shelf life when stored in the refrigeratorLong shelf life
Fine textureCoarse texture
Originally made for commercial bakingOriginally made for home bakers