Store-bought seitan can be quite good, or it can be shoe-leather tough, to use a non-vegan metaphor. And while it’s not ridiculously pricey, it sure isn’t as much of a protein bargain as beans, or even tofu. This homemade seitan recipe using gluten flour provides an easy and inexpensive route to a great DIY version.
I’ve been tweaking this simple formula for years, and though you’ll find a number of variations in books and around the web (incorporating chickpea flour, nut flours, flavorings, beans, etc.), it’s good to nail this basic recipe first, to get the feel of how to make seitan. Then, by all means, experiment as much as you’d like.
A traditional Asian food used as a meat substitute, you may have had seitan in dishes like Buddhist’s Delight or Mongolian “Beef” in Chinese restaurants. Dense and chewy, this product of cooked wheat gluten is almost pure protein, making it one of the most protein-dense plant foods available. Of course, seitan isn’t for anyone with gluten intolerance or sensitivity or who is celiac. Steer clear!
Vegan Mushroom and Seitan Stroganoff
photo by Hannah Kaminsky
Seitan’s meaty texture lends itself to numerous preparations. It’s great as a substitute for beef chunks in stews, stir-fries, fajitas, and kebabs. It’s great on the grill, too.
Homemade seitan doesn’t require much effort, just a little patience for the few hands-on steps, resting time, and cooking. If you follow the steps outlined, this homemade seitan recipe can yield a more tender and flavorful result than the store-bought variety. Whenever I make this, I freeze half and am always happy to come across it to use later.
For a visual view of the process, see the photos following the recipe. They’re not exactly pretty, but might be helpful for your first couple of attempts.
Transfer whatever portion of seitan you won’t be using right away to a container, then pour in enough stock to cover. Use within a few days or freeze. Seitan freezes very well, thaw out on the counter or in the refrigerator before using. Save any of the tasty stock that remains to use in soups, stews, and gravies.
Transfer whatever portion of seitan you won’t be using right away to a container, then pour in enough stock to cover. Use within a few days or freeze. Seitan freezes very well, thaw out on the counter or in the refrigerator before using.
Save any of the tasty stock that remains to use in soups, stews, and gravies.
Gluten flour, baking powder, and optional nutritional yeast go into one bowl; a specific amount of water plus soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos go into another. No, this isn’t a commercial for Bragg products, though they are good!
Once the wet and dry mixtures are combined, they’re kneaded for 2 to 3 minutes and allowed to rest for 15 minutes.
I like to divide the dough into two parts and stretch into two mini-loaf shapes. It’s not easy to shape and cut this springy dough, so use your muscles and a sharp knife to form, then slice into 1/2-inch segments.
In the meantime, a soup pot is filled with water, which is flavored with vegetable bouillon, more soy sauce or Bragg, and ginger, then brought to a slow boil. The slices of dough are gently dropped in one by one.
The dough puffs up like crazy at first. Use a cooking spoon to push down into the water; they’ll settle down after a while. The dough, which we can now call seitan, is cooked for 30 minutes. Don’t drain the broth; you can use it for other purposes and to cover the seitan when you store it in the fridge or freezer.
Scoop the seitan out of the liquid and cut into strips to use in recipes. Or, you can keep the pieces whole, then bread and sauté them to make cutlets.
Here, I’ve started to amp up the flavor by cooking the seitan strips in a marinade.
OK, this is starting to look better. Super-Easy Seitan and Broccoli Stir-Fry was made with this homemade seitan recipe.
- See more kitchen tips and vegan trends here on The Vegan Atlas.