Learn how to activate yeast, a simple yet crucial element in baking recipes. Here’s everything you need to know to be successful.

A glass measuring cup with yeast activating in warm water.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. How to Activate Yeast Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients for how to activate yeast (yeast and warm water).

Ingredient notes

  • Water: For best results, use water that is heated to 110 – 115 degrees Fahrenheit and use a thermometer. Any temperature between 75 degrees and 130 degrees should work, but yeast dies at 138 degrees. Some recipes use milk instead of water to activate yeast, so just follow your recipe.
  • Sugar: Optional food for the yeast. Use the sugar from your recipe amount, not additional. If the recipe doesn’t call for sugar for blooming the yeast, you can still add it. Adding 1 teaspoon of sugar to a recipe that doesn’t call for it, for the purpose of feeding your yeast, won’t affect the overall taste of the bread. Honey or agave syrup work too.
  • Yeast: Active dry yeast lies dormant and needs a warm liquid to become “activated.” Instant yeast, also known as quick-rise or rapid-rise yeast, does not need to be activated or “bloomed” before using. It’s ready to go as-is and simply gets incorporated right into your dry ingredients. Fresh yeast is not easily available, but if you happen to have the small cakes or bars of it, just crumble it into warm water like active dry yeast to activate.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, heat water to 110 degrees. Stir in sugar until dissolved and remove from heat. Add to a measuring cup and stir in yeast.
A glass measuring cup with yeast activating in warm water.
  1. Set aside to bloom until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
A glass measuring cup with yeast activating in warm water.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: The measurements in this recipe are a guide to explain the process. Please follow the measurements in your particular recipe.
  • Storage: Store open jars of yeast in the refrigerator for up to 4 months or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Use straight from the freezer (no need to thaw). Unopened packets of yeast can be stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Expired: Your yeast should be bubbling and foamy within 5-10 minutes of activation. If it looks like nothing is happening, the yeast may be expired. Discard and try again with a fresh batch.
  • Yeast freshness test: In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in ½ cup warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees). Stir in 2 ¼ teaspoons (or 1 packet) yeast. After 10 minutes, the yeast should have risen to or above the 1-cup marker on the measuring cup.

Soft Yeast Dinner Rolls

When nothing but homemade bread will do, try these easy Soft Yeast Dinner Rolls. They are perfect at your holiday table, piled with any kind of meat, or on the side of Sunday Supper.

2 hours 20 minutes
View Recipe

More yeasted breads

A glass measuring cup with yeast activating in warm water.

How to Activate Yeast

Learn how to activate yeast, a simple yet crucial element in baking recipes. Here's everything you need to know to be successful.
5 from 2 votes
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Servings 16 servings
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup water (or the amount in your recipe, see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (see note 2)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet, see note 3)

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, heat water to 110 degrees. Stir in sugar until dissolved and remove from heat. Stir in yeast and set aside to bloom until foamy and bubbling, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Notes

  1. Water: For best results, use water that is heated to 110 – 115 degrees Fahrenheit and use a thermometer. Any temperature between 75 degrees and 130 degrees should work, but yeast dies at 138 degrees. Some recipes use milk instead of water to activate yeast, so just follow your recipe.
  2. Sugar: Optional food for the yeast. Use the sugar from your recipe amount, not additional. If the recipe doesn’t call for sugar for blooming the yeast, you can still add it. Adding 1 teaspoon of sugar to a recipe that doesn’t call for it, for the purpose of feeding your yeast, won’t affect the overall taste of the bread. Honey or agave syrup work too.
  3. Yeast: Active dry yeast lies dormant and needs a warm liquid to become “activated.” Instant yeast, also known as quick-rise or rapid-rise yeast, does not need to be activated or “bloomed” before using. It’s ready to go as-is and simply gets incorporated right into your dry ingredients. Fresh yeast is not easily available, but if you happen to have the small cakes or bars of it, just crumble it into warm water like active dry yeast to activate.
  4. Yield: The measurements in this recipe are a guide to explain the process. Please follow the measurements in your particular recipe.
  5. Storage: Store open jars of yeast in the refrigerator for up to 4 months or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Use straight from the freezer (no need to thaw). Unopened packets of yeast can be stored in a cool, dry place.
  6. Expired: Your yeast should be bubbling and foamy within 5-10 minutes of activation. If it looks like nothing is happening, the yeast may be expired. Discard and try again with a fresh batch.
  7. Yeast freshness test: In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in ½ cup warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees). Stir in 2 ¼ teaspoons (or 1 packet) yeast. After 10 minutes, the yeast should have risen to or above the 1-cup marker on the measuring cup.

Nutrition

Calories: 6kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 16mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 1mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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