Basic Home-Made Seitan

Seitan is one of my favourite meat-free alternatives. Cooked right, it has the most succulent, chewy texture which makes it perfect for adding to any kind of meal where meat typically takes centre stage, like kebabs and steak. Store-bought seitan can be expensive and not so easy to come by here in the UK, so I choose to make my own. In this post, I’m sharing my favourite basic seitan recipe. It’s really easy to prepare and takes only 15 minutes hands on time.

Seitan (also known as ‘wheat meat’) is made with vital wheat gluten, which is the protein part of the wheat seed, milled into flour. Per 100g, vital wheat gluten flour contains a whopping 75g protein. It’s also low in fat and contains zero cholesterol, making it a healthier alternative to animal products.

Here in the West, seitan’s had somewhat of a resurgence in the past couple of years (thanks to the explosion of plant-based lifestyles), but it’s been popular for centuries in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. You may have seen ‘Mock Duck’, ‘Mock Beef’ and similar on the menu in your local Chinese restaurants and take-aways, or the canned varieties in Chinese supermarkets. These products are typically made with wheat gluten.

There are a variety of ways to prepare seitan. You can boil, steam, bake and pan fry it. Each method produces a different texture. How you choose to prepare your seitan comes down to personal preference, so I highly recommend trying a few recipes and seeing what works best for you. A couple of years ago, I first tried my hand at making seitan, but I wasn’t keen on the flavour. The recipe included a fair amount of chickpea (gram) flour and this is what I could detect in the final product. Since then, I’ve chosen to omit the flour and I find the seitan tastes much more palatable.

While steaming is probably the most popular cooking method, I personally prefer to simmer it in a pan of broth. I don’t even wrap it in any foil. Boiling it direct in the broth, I find the seitan takes on a lovely flavour and soaks up the broth, leaving it succulent. When I’ve steamed it or wrapped the seitan before simmering, it does stay a neater shape, but it’s a bit drier and chewier. For me, the taste and texture is the most important features of seitan so I don’t mind it looking a bit ugly and bumpy on the outside. It doesn’t stay whole for long anyhow as I slice it into strips for kebabs or sandwiches.

You can flavour seitan in myriad ways using different combinations of herbs and spices. The basic seitan I’m sharing today can be eaten as it is, without any additional flavouring, however pan-frying it in a little olive oil will enhance its flavour.

When making my vegan version of doner kebabs, I like to spice up the seitan strips with smoked paprika and ground cumin, which I sprinkle in as I’m pan-frying it. I’ll be sharing my doner kebab recipe very soon, so I’ll link to it here once it’s ready… here it is

If it’s your first time making seitan, I would recommend making a half batch of the recipe below (no need to split the dough into two pieces; keep it as one) and see how you get on. (This is what I did for the first handful of times I made it, then I started to double the quantities). I tend to make one batch of seitan each week, which I store in the fridge in an airtight container. I have heard that seitan is freezable but I’ve yet to try it as ours never hangs around for very long!

Basic Home-Made Seitan

This recipe produces a seitan that is succulent and versatile. It can be eaten as it is, or pan-fried in a little olive oil to enhance the flavour. For doner kebabs, I like to fry strips of seitan with 1 tsp each of smoked paprika and ground cumin. I sprinkle a little spice at a time – stir frying as I do so – to ensure the strips are evenly coated.
5 from 1 vote
Hands-on Time 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Servings 700 g / 25 oz (approx)

Ingredients
  

Seitan Dough

    Dry Ingredients

    • 270 g / 2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
    • 22 g / 6 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes
    • 2 tsp onion powder
    • 2 tsp garlic powder or fine garlic granules
    • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

    Wet Ingredients

    • 160 ml / ⅔ cup water
    • 4 TBSP soy sauce
    • 4 TBSP fresh lemon juice
    • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

    Broth

    • 1.9 litres / 8 cups water
    • 4 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
    • 2 TBSP soy sauce

    Instructions
     

    • Fill a large saucepan or stockpot with the broth ingredients, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer.
    • Place the dry seitan ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir through to combine.
    • Add the wet ingredients to a jug and whisk with a fork to combine. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir with a spoon until the mixture starts to come together. Use your hands to knead the mixture into a dough ball. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Knead each piece for 3 minutes, then shape into a rectangle. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
    • Carefully lower the seitan into the broth. Partially cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes. Make sure that the water stays at a very gentle simmer. You should only see a bubble surface now and then. (If the water boils, the seitan will become very bubbly and holey on the inside).
    • After 45 minutes, turn the heat off, remove the lid and leave the seitan to rest in the broth for 15 minutes.
    • Place the seitan in a strainer to drain off the excess liquid. Once completely cool, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge, where it will keep for a week.
    • Before serving, pan fry the strips of seitan in a little olive oil. Add seasonings, to taste. For kebabs and curries, I like to flavour the home-made seitan with 1 tsp each of smoked paprika and ground cumin.

    Notes

    Recipe adapted from ‘Simple Seitan’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero in Veganomicon
    Keyword Seitan, Vegan Kebabs, Vegan Sandwiches

    Pin for later ⬇️

    Big thank you to Suma for supplying me with their lovely products which I used to create this recipe:
    Suma Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, which is available for customers in the UK to purchase from independent health food shops and online.
    Suma Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Suma Organic Vegetable Bouillon Powder / Marigold Vegan Bouillon Powder
    Suma Organic Garlic Granules
    Clearspring Tamari Soya Sauce
    Marigold Engevita Yeast Flakes with B12
    – Onion powder, which I purchase from my local independent health food shops or online

    If you try this recipe, please come back and leave a review. It’s so helpful to me (and other readers) to hear your experiences and ideas for variations. Thank you! ❤️

    And by the way, if you ever find yourself in Camden Market, London be sure to head to the Young Vegans Pie & Mash cafe. Their seitan steak and ale pie is so good! It has the most tender ‘melt in your mouth’ texture.  Hands down the best seitan I’ve tried so far!

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    14 thoughts on “Basic Home-Made Seitan

    1. These are really tasty; filling too! I couldn’t eat more than a couple although I might give it a try when no one is looking.

      1. So pleased you like them! They are very filling. I can manage about 1.5 but luckily there’s always someone happy to taking the remaining half off me 😊

    2. That’s amazing that you’re trying to create a gluten-free alternative to seitan. Yes, don’t give up. It will be an incredible achievement if you can master it. Be sure to come back and let me know xx

    3. So good to find someone else who loves seitan as much as I do! Yours looks really scrummy, Sharon.

      I’ve been introducing it to my customers too, and they all love it. Some haven’t believed me when I’ve said that it’s completely vegan!

      Happy birthday, BTW – hope you’re having a lovely weekend! xx

    4. I just made seitan for the first time and can’t believe I’ve never made it before. I love it! So good. I used it to make souvlakia with homemade whole wheat pita bread and vegan yogurt tzatziki. I must admit I haven’t been successful with the yogurt, but everything else was wonderful.

      1. YAY! I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying the home-made seitan! Your souvlakia with home-made pita sounds absolutely delicious! I’ve never made souvlakia before so I’m definitely putting it on my ‘to try list’ ☺️ Do you have a recipe you could share? Thank you so much for the inspo! ✨

    5. Actually, I didn’t exactly use a recipe. I made some BBQ sauce with tomato’s brown sugar and balsamic vinegar all cooked together until it made a sauce. Added some cumin and chili powder. Sliced up the seitan and marinated it in my sauce, then put on parchment paper in the oven until it was hot and sticky. I made some whole wheat pita bread, which you can usually buy, but I’m in Costa Rica during isolation so I made my own, made home made yogurt with soy milk…honestly haven’t really gotten the hang of that yet, it was lumpy, the mixed it with lemon and cucumber and dill. Added lettuce and tomato and some minced scallions et viola, my own version to be sure, but it was delicious and I have nothing but time on my hands.

      1. Oh thank you so much for sharing how you made the souvlakia. Sounds absolutely wonderful! ❤️ I’m definitely going to give it a try when I’m next able to get my hands on vital wheat gluten!
        Stay safe and well!
        Much love xx

    6. This is really a foolproof recipe and very forgiving. I’ve made 3 batches of this now and each time it’s a little different because I substitute for things I’m out of. Each time it’s been delicious! I was nervous to try making this at home but didn’t have a choice as none of the supermarkets where I am in Scotland carry seitan. So glad I’ve mastered a homemade version and I basically know the recipe by heart now! Thank you

      1. YAY!! I’m so pleased the home-made seitan worked out for you Catherine! 🙌 I rarely find seitan in my local shops either and, when I do, it tends to be pretty expensive. Home made is definitely the way to go!

    7. Can I simmer or steam the seitan in one piece as opposed to cutting it into two? I’d like to make this for Thanksgiving & want to shape it to look like turkey breast. Is this possible?

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