This easy-to-follow recipe will show you how to make seitan that's as flavorful and versatile as store-bought but more affordable. This basic seitan recipe is seasoned enough to taste great on its own, but mild enough to use in a variety of dishes that call for seitan as an ingredient. Slice it for sandwiches and wraps, crumble it for tacos and pizza, or cube it for everything from Massaman Curried Seitan to Seitan Bourguignon.
Why You'll Love It
If you haven't ventured into making your own seitan yet, you're in for a treat! Maybe you've been intimidated and under the impression that it's a tricky process? Well, I'm happy to report that making seitan from vital wheat gluten is surprisingly easy AND fun because it gives you total control over the flavor, saltiness, and shape. And then there's the cost...
While I love the pre-made seitan products available in stores, it can get expensive if you're feeding a family. Even though we're only a household of two, Mark and I are not dainty eaters! In fact, he's into some pretty heavy weight lifting these days, and all that muscle requires a lot of calories.
Plus, we just straight up LOVE seitan. So it becomes difficult to justify spending $6 for an 8 ounce package of seitan that may only provide 2 or 3 servings for us.
To give you an idea of how much money you can save by making your own seitan, here's a basic comparison. I'll use Bob's Red Mill brand vital wheat gluten in this example since it's the one you're most likely to see in stores here in the US.
At our local Ingles (a NC-based grocery chain) I can buy a 22 ounce bag of vital wheat gluten for around $7.50. You'll also find it online from sites like Amazon, Thrive Market, and Vitacost for anywhere from $5.50 to $8.
That 22 ounce bag will make FIVE batches of the recipe I'm sharing today, which equates to 5 pounds of cooked seitan! That's 10 times more seitan, y'all!
Even once you factor in the cost of the other ingredients, you can see how much more affordable it is to make your own seitan.
Be sure to keep an eye out for sales because you never know what sort of jackpot you'll come across. At a local discount grocery we've even seen vital wheat gluten on sale for $2.99 a bag.
When you have an opportunity to stock up, store the extra vital wheat gluten in the freezer to extend its shelf life.
Ingredients and How To
You know how most baking recipes call for three basic steps?
- Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.
- Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- And combine the two...
Well, making seitan follows the same basic process!
In the photo above, the following dry ingredients are in the large bowl:
- vital wheat gluten
- garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
- nutritional yeast
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- smoked paprika
- sea salt
And in the glass measuring cup are the wet ingredients:
- vegetable broth
- soy sauce (or shoyu or tamari)
- balsamic vinegar
- apple cider vinegar
- pureed garlic
- olive oil
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir with a large spoon until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to the counter top or other solid surface and knead it for a few minutes.
Is it just me, or does the dough look like a cross between brains and buffalo cauliflower?
The reddish color is from smoked paprika, which is completely optional, by the way. It lends a subtle smokiness, but isn't critical to the recipe. Without it your seitan will have a more standard "white meat" hue.
After kneading the dough, let it rest for a few minutes. Then knead for another 30 seconds or so before stretching it out into a rectangle. Alternatively, you can tear the dough into chunks (keep scrolling for a photo of seitan nuggets).
It will be firm and might not want to stretch out at this point, but just keep working on it. Once you have a ¾-inch-thick rectangle-ish shape, cut it into four pieces.
So now you have 4 seitan steaks that can either be steamed or simmered.
Simmering vs Steaming Seitan
Most basic seitan recipes call for simmering, and honestly, that's how I cooked it for many years. But I've become a big fan of steaming seitan for a few reasons.
- It's quicker. No matter which cooking method you choose, the amount of time will always be dependent on the size of your pieces of dough. But in general, steaming takes about 30 minutes, whereas simmering takes closer to an hour.
- It uses less water. To steam the seitan steaks you'll only need a couple of inches of water in the bottom of a pot versus needing to fill at large pot at least half way for simmering. Plus, simmering uses additional soy sauce or salt because the water needs to be seasoned.
- Steamed seitan stays more dense and doesn't absorb as much water. When simmered, the dough absorbs quite a bit of the cooking liquid, giving it a higher water content. This makes it harder to get a good sear on the outside of the seitan if you're using it afterward in something like a stir fry.
Above are four pieces of wheat gluten dough in a steamer basket, ready to be cooked, and below are some tasty seitan nuggets ready to be steamed!
The seitan nuggets are a different color because I omitted the smoked paprika and onion powder in this batch and added one teaspoon of poultry seasoning. Delicious!
In the photo below you can see a previous batch that was simmered. Another issue with simmering that often trips people up is keeping the simmer low enough.
If the seitan boils, it will get puffy and lose some of the desirable, dense, and meaty texture.
Tips for Seasoning Seitan
The seasonings in this recipe are meant to be neutral and versatile. I wanted to create a basic seitan that's flavorful enough to stand on its own but not SO strongly seasoned that it can't transition into something else, like an Asian stir fry or our favorite fancy dinner, Seitan Bourguignon.
I didn't necessarily try to replicate the flavor of Westsoy's seitan, but making a product similar to that is what I had in mind with this recipe.
Recently a friend emailed saying she was making seitan for the first time. Her goal was then to use it in Seitan Bourguignon. The basic seitan recipe she used was the one on the package of Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten, which unfortunately turned out to be much more bland than she was expecting.
So I started thinking about the likelihood that many people's first experience with homemade seitan is probably with that same recipe on the Bob's Red Mill package, as well as how different that is from pre-cooked, store-bought seitan.
So I decided to create a basic seitan recipe that's not quite SO basic. None of the seasonings in this recipe would prevent you from being able to take it in different directions, like Asian, Italian, or Mexican dishes.
And if you want to add spiciness or something like a poultry seasoning blend, go for it! The one major thing to consider is the amount of salt. Keep the final dish in mind.
If you plan to eat the seitan as is, you'll want to include a bit more salt (as described in the recipe). But if you plan to use it in a dish that includes a salty sauce, reduce the amount of salt in the dough. Make sense?
Ways to Use It
Slice the seitan for sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
Use a food processor to pulse the cooked seitan into a ground texture. Add it to tacos and burritos, and sprinkle it on pizza.
And here's an easy veggie sauté idea:
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of oil and some diced onion, mushrooms, peppers. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent, then add some crumbled or cubed seitan. Cook until the veggies are as done as you like, stir in some salsa, and serve with rice or quinoa. So easy, yet so delicious.
Check out this Vegan Thai Larb recipe using crumbled seitan.
I hope you enjoy this basic homemade seitan recipe as much as we do! As you can see, it's really versatile and fun to make.
If you try the recipe I would love to hear from you! Be sure to leave a comment and star rating below to let us know.
More ways to use vital wheat gluten:
Easy Seasoned Seitan
- 1 ¼ cups vital wheat gluten (150 g) - Weigh if possible. Otherwise, whisk the flour, then spoon into a measuring cup and level off the top.
- 3 Tbsp chickpea flour (22 g)
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika, optional - For "chicken" nuggets (as mentioned in post) replace with 1 tsp poultry seasoning.
- ¼ to ½ tsp fine sea salt, depending on final use/dish - *Use less salt if you plan to pair with a salty sauce.
- ⅔ cup vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane zester
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- For steaming the seitan: add a few inches of water to a large pot and set up a steamer basket. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the basket. Bring the water to a simmer.*See Notes for the simmering cooking method.
- In a large bowl whisk together the vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and salt.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the broth, soy sauce, both vinegars, zested/pureed garlic, and olive oil.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine. Transfer to a solid surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should start to feel tough and more resistant. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead a few more times. If making nugget-style chunks, tear off pieces of seitan from the dough ball. For larger steaks, use your hands to stretch the dough into an approximately ¾-inch-thick rectangle (refer to photos above).
- Cut into 4 equal-sized pieces and place in the steamer basket. Cover the pot, and set a timer for 15 minutes.
- At the 15 minute mark, flip the seitan (be careful of the steam), and set the timer for 15 more minutes. Use tongs to remove one piece, and place it on a cutting board. The center should feel very firm when pressed with the tongs. You can also slice it through the center to check for doneness. If needed, steam for another 5 to 10 minutes. *Steaks usually require about 5-10 minutes longer than smaller chunks.
- Transfer to a plate to cool. Use in your favorite saute or stir fry, or refrigerate for later use. After chilling overnight, the seitan will be even meatier and firmer.
Storage: Store cooked seitan in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Seitan can also be frozen for up to one month.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.