I have a recipe for rolls where the first stage calls for 2 packages active dry yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water to be mixed until the yeast is proofed, and then 1/4 cup cubed butter is added to the proofed yeast. Then all of that is added to half of the flour (2 cups) and 2 tsp salt and allowed to do the first rise.

If I wanted to use rapid rise yeast instead of active dry, could I skip the proofing step? Would I need to add the butter at all? Could I just mix all the dry ingredients, add the warm water and start the dough that way? What effect would this change have?

3 Answers 3


First off, it's good to understand the difference between active dry yeast and rapid rise yeast. Active dry yeast is a larger granule of yeast in which the outer shell is composed of mostly dead cells entombing the dormant nougaty goodness inside. It has to be proofed to seperate out all the cells and rehydrate the interior active cells.

Rapid rise yeast is a typically a combination of 2 different strains of yeast (so those with a very discerning palate might be able to tell the difference, I've never really tried). The granules of yeast are smaller and dried slower to preserve more yeast cells. Ascorbic acid is also added to push the yeast into overdrive a little faster.

A great video that helped me a lot is http://how2heroes.com/videos/dessert-and-baked-goods/yeast-101 I have noticed before issues with Rapid Rise yeast not proofing very well the second time around. Apparently it's designed to give you one really good proof and then die out (play hard and die young). Instant yeast however is Rapid Rise yeast without the hardcore party attitude. It's what they use at the King Arthur bakery test kitchen, so that's good enough for me! They say to use them interchangeably, but many other sites I see show a difference of about 20%.

2 Tbsp Active Dry yeast ≈ 1.6 Tbsp Instant Yeast

  • Rapid Rise yeast also calls for a slightly high temperature on water (120°-130°), probably to counter the temperature change when adding the warm water to the cold dry ingredients. breadworld.com/RR_vs_ADY.aspx
    – FoodTasted
    Nov 22, 2010 at 16:57
  • 1
    Other shell = outer shell?
    – Aaronut
    Nov 22, 2010 at 19:36
  • @Aaronut Good call! Thanks for the spot check. That's what I get for trying to write after having just waking up.
    – FoodTasted
    Nov 22, 2010 at 19:40
  • The ascorbic acid also serves to counteract the reducing (weakening) effect on gluten that any dead yeast cells may cause (they contain glutathione, a reducing agent which can weaken gluten structure).
    – NSGod
    Jul 21, 2019 at 17:47

When using instant yeast (rapid rise), you can skip the proofing step. You should use warm (about 110 degree) water when pouring it in, but your yeast should be added with the dry ingredients.

The butter is added to the proofed yeast not for anything yeast related, but probably to soften the butter. I'd add it to your warm water. I'd continue to leave the butter in, because otherwise you will be dealing with unenriched dough, which has a different texture and flavor.

According to every source I've seen (my primary source being the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook), use 25% less instant yeast than active dry yeast. If you use the same amount, you will want to use more salt to counteract some of the more powerful yeast.

  • How much more salt?
    – KatieK
    Nov 24, 2010 at 18:27
  • @KatieK - maybe 25% more by weight, but it is an area where you would have to experiement. You can also use less rising time or a cooler rising temperature. You just want to make sure that your yeast doesn't overproof.
    – justkt
    Nov 24, 2010 at 18:29

Usually when using live yeast, you need to use a little more than dry yeast, usually it's about 4/3 of the quantity.

Butter has nothing to do with yeast nutrition, it's probably part of the recipe already, so it doesn't matter which yeast you use for that. The difference will be that your yeast won't need to be activated, and you can skip the sugar and warm water part.

  • 1
    please site your source for your first statement. I have not seen this in any authority or experienced it myself.
    – justkt
    Nov 22, 2010 at 13:39
  • @justkt - For example davidlebovitz.com/2010/04/chocolate-bread-recipe
    – SurDin
    Nov 22, 2010 at 13:43
  • the OP is discussing instant yeast, which is not fresh yeast. They are different. Instant yeast (rapid rise) is more powerful than active dry.
    – justkt
    Nov 22, 2010 at 13:52
  • Sorry, then I misunderstood the question. I even mention it in the answer.
    – SurDin
    Nov 22, 2010 at 15:19

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