Active Dry vs Instant: Which is the Best Yeast for Pizza?

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Active dry vs Instant Yeast, which one is the best yeast for homemade pizza dough?

When you decide that you want to make the tastiest pizza, you’ll notice a few different types of yeast for you to choose from.

There are almost always instant yeast and active dry yeast packets among many other varieties in your grocery store, but what is the difference between them?

Is one better than the other, or is each of them made for different foods?

Let’s find out.

How Yeast Works

Yeast is a fungus, and the way it works is actually rather intriguing. By feeding on fermentable carbohydrates in the dough’s ingredients, yeast produces carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide forms air pockets in the dough, and heat kills the yeast during the baking process.

This traps air pockets in the dough, resulting in a light and fluffy pizza crust. When a pizza dough recipe calls for sugar, it’s because the sugar aids in the yeast’s feeding process.

Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast

Why Do You Need to Add Yeast to Pizza Dough?

The answer indeed is simple. We use yeast mainly to make the dough rise, and the better the dough rises, the better the flavor and texture of it will be once it’s finally finished.

Rising is the process where the yeast works its magic. It is technically called the fermentation process.

During this time, the yeast will eat the starches in the flour and release carbon dioxide and alcohol, which will make the dough inflate like a balloon.

This process is essential for giving the pizza crust its delicious flavor and texture. Without yeast, you end up with a flat cardboard type of pizza.

Nevertheless, when it comes to your pizza, the yeast you use must be the right one, because how that pizza crust turns out is what is going to make a difference between a good pizza and the best pizza.

Can you make pizza dough with both active dry and instant yeast?

You can certainly use either active dry yeast or instant yeast to make pizza dough. 

However, the yeast you use for pizza will determine how you mix your ingredients and the time you need your dough to rest.

There are both pros and cons when using the two, and we will go in-depth into each of them.

Still, if a pizza recipe calls for a specific type of yeast, it’s better to go along with that type. The recipe directions will probably already take into consideration the different factors that yeast will affect. 

If this isn’t the case, then you’ll have to decide for yourself which yeast to choose, so here is a recap of both.

Pro Tip


Depending on where you live, during the warmer or more humid months of the year, the amount of water to mix the dough may need to be reduced.

Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast is the most common yeast for pizza dough recipes, and some people consider it the best yeast for pizza overall, although that opinion depends on other factors.

With active dry yeast, the yeasts are not killed but instead are dehydrated so that they become dormant. If you add the yeast to water with temperatures of 95° to 105° Fahrenheit, the yeast becomes active again.

Active Dry Yeast
Active Dry Yeast

Active Dry Yeast Overview

This type of yeast comes in small round granules and must be dissolved in warm water before adding it to the pizza recipe because it is a living organism and is therefore dormant until it is activated.

Another reason for the process of drying out the yeast is to give it more stable shelf life. Active dry yeast lasts typically up to one year and can last up to 5 years when you keep it in the freezer.

One of the reasons it’s such a popular type of yeast for pizza dough is that it is inexpensive, easy to use, and you can find it in most supermarkets.

Instant Yeast Overview

Also called quick-rise or fast-rising yeast, there is nothing dormant in instant yeast, and therefore, you can add it to your pizza recipe without adding warm water first.

Because of these things, you only have to let your baked goods rise once, making them perfect for quick baking projects.

Instant yeast has more live cells than active dry yeast, which is why it is so fast-acting. For people who love to bake things without spending hours in the kitchen, instant yeast can be a life-saver.

instant yeast in metal spoon
Instant Yeast

Active Dry vs Instant Yeast

Instant yeast looks remarkably similar to active dry yeast, except its granules are smaller, and it contains other additives as well.

You might be getting a little nervous by now that you might accidentally use the “wrong” type of yeast the next time you set out to make a great pizza crust, but not to worry.

In most cases, it doesn’t matter which type of yeast you use because, as a general rule, they are interchangeable when used in small amounts.  See below for further details.

That being said, it doesn’t mean your results will come out the same. The two types of yeast usually produce different final results, although the changes are generally minimal.

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Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast – Conversion Tips

If the recipe calls for one type of yeast and you use the other type instead, pay attention to the following tips:

  • If your recipe calls for instant yeast and you use active dry yeast instead, allow for a rise time that is around 15 minutes slower.
  • If your recipe calls for active dry yeast and you use instant yeast instead, you can reduce the rise time by roughly 15 minutes.

Other than that, the two types of yeast do a great job in making a great loaf of bread or pizza crust, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each yeast type.

Pizza Pun


What did Judge Yeast say?

All rise.

How do you substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast?

To make things clear, the conversion rate from Active Dry to Instant is not technically interchangeable. As a general rule, you shouldn’t use the same amount of active dry yeast as you would instant yeast. 

Here is why, is like comparing lemons, let’s say lemon and lime, they are both from the same citrus family, but they are quite different. One is sweeter than the other, the color is different, the texture and its acidity. 

The same principle applies to Active dry yeast and Instant yeast; they are from the same family or in this case from the same species, dry yeast, but they are different. 

So, what makes them different? Mostly water content. 

Instant yeast consists of 98% solids and 2% water, while Active Dry yeast consists of 93% solids and 7% water. Water will evaporate during the cooking process, so you end up with a 5% difference in solids between the two yeasts. 

Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast

Difference in Content

Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast

Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast Differences

There are other differences as well when comparing active dry yeast vs instant yeast, such as the coating and the processing methods. But water content is the most significant difference making Instant Yeast more concentrated and potent than Active dry yeast. 

This is why it is also faster acting.

  • So, if a recipe calls for Active Dry Yeast but you have Instant, use 5% less of the required yeast.
  • On the other hand, if the recipe calls for Instant and you have Active dry just use 5% more of what the recipe calls for.

Here is the caveat, when it comes to making homemade pizza, there is not going to be much difference in terms of volume or weight, on which type of yeast you are using when only small amounts of yeast are required.

For example, our Neapolitan Dough Base recipe calls for 10 grams of active dry yeast or 2% of bread flour (500g). If you were to use instant yeast, you would need 9.5 grams of yeast (5% less). The difference between the two is not significant. Is it going to make a difference in your homemade pizza? 

Probably not.

If you want to save the trouble of doing the numbers, you can substitute 1 : 1 only when you are handling small amounts of yeast.

However, when making large amounts of pizza dough, pay close attention to your numbers depending on the recipe

What Happens If You Don’t Dissolve Active Dry Yeast?

Really not much happens. Active dry yeast now comes in smaller granules that help the yeast grow even when added directly to dry ingredients. The key is to let the dough ferment for a longer period.

If you are accustomed to dissolving dry yeast in water first or need to make sure your yeast is alive, keep doing that; it will save you time and flour if the yeast is not alive.

However, if you want to take the risk, you can. Just skip the whole activation process and add the yeast directly to the bread flour.

What happens if you proof instant yeast?

Instant yeast is meant to be mixed with dry ingredients, in this case, with flour.

However, if you want to hydrate it, you can.

Place the yeast in an amount of water that’s five times its weight at 95°F.

For example, if you are using 5 grams of yeast to hydrate it, you should use 25 grams or milliliters of water. Note the temperature is lower than for active dry yeast.

That is because instant yeast is susceptible to water temperature.

Keeping track of the temperature is essential, a variation of as few as 5°F can result in some loss of the fermentation process. Once the instant yeast is hydrated in the 95°F water, it can be combined with the rest of the water that will go into your dough mixture.

Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast

Is Active Dry Yeast Better?

If you’re curious about the real difference between instant yeast and active dry yeast, the latter does provide one significant advantage.

Activating Yeast

Activating Yeast

When you dissolve this yeast in warm water, it will start to bubble. These bubbles are the best way to tell if your yeast is still alive. If there is no bubbling, that means your yeast is dead, and you should not use it in your recipe.

Adding instant yeast to flour

Adding Instant Yeast

Since there is no dissolving instant yeast in warm water before adding it to your recipe, there is no way to tell if the yeast is dead or alive.

If you make a batch of pizza dough with instant yeast and the yeast is dead, you won’t know it until you try to bake the pizza crust, at which point it will be too late, and you would have to throw it all away.

This flour-saving tip is the main reason why experienced pizza-makers usually recommend that only active dry yeast be used when making pizza dough.

The Best Yeast for Pizza Dough

Active Dry vs Instant Yeast

When having to choose between active dry vs instant yeast for homemade pizza dough, the winner is Active Dry Yeast.  

Active Dry Yeast is perfect for pizza makers. Its moderate regular gassing power provides the fermentation tolerance required for slow and cold fermentation. Its reduced power makes it easy to shape the pizza, thus avoiding the shrinking effect.

For homemade pizza, we would recommend avoiding Quick-Rise or Rapid-Rise Yeast altogether. These are meant primarily for bread machines. It defeats the whole purpose of keeping the proofing process as slow as possible.

Let us know what you think, we would love to know.  Do you get better results with instant yeast?; if so send us your recipe and we will post it and try it out.  Submit your recipe here.

Here’ s what the PRO’s at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

Tips for Using Yeast for Pizza


Yeast is a fundamental microorganism that has been employed in the food industry for years. Even though it is so widely used, it may take a few tries to get the feel of it.

We’ve gathered some recommendations to make your yeast experience as painless as possible:

  • Yeast thrives in temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It begins to perish at higher temperatures and becomes dormant at lower temperatures.
  • If your yeast starts to bubble, it’s alive and well. You’ll have to start over if it isn’t bubbling.
  • Even instant yeast takes time to proof once it has been introduced to the dough.
  • Proof your dough in a clear, airtight container.
  • When adding salt to the dough mixture, be careful not to kill the yeast.
  • Extra sugar in the dough can assist feed the yeast, although it isn’t always essential.

Where to Buy Yeast?

Either active dry yeast or instant yeast is readily available in local supermarkets, bakery supplies stores, or online.  See below for details.

Additional Yeast Resources

Enjoy!

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