An impressive homemade seitan roast that's loaded with flavor and surprisingly easy to prepare. This generously sized vegan roast is perfect anytime, from holiday dinners and special occasions to weekly meal prep (leftovers make awesome sandwiches)! Bake in the oven or cook in the Instant Pot in about half the time. Soy-free, no nutritional yeast, nut-free option.
Like most things, making seitan is only as complicated as you want it to be. If you've never tried your hand at it before, maybe you're under the impression that it's ALWAYS complicated. But no way! There are actually a lot of ways to enjoy seitan, like sausages and filets, that are pretty darn simple.
And then there are the aficionados who insist that washing your own flour to strip away the starch (versus starting with store-bought vital wheat gluten) is the only way to go. Some skilled folks out there have even carefully mastered various kneading and cooking techniques to create a stringy, shredded seitan "meat" texture.
Sometimes I'm all about that science-y stuff. In fact, I have a new vegan turkey recipe that uses a few of those more complicated methods. But today's recipe is about simplicity and easy-to-find ingredients! My goal is to help you create a gorgeous, protein-packed, moist, and delicious seitan roast in the easiest way possible, and I think you're going to love it! This roast is:
- made with ingredients you can find in most grocery stores
- as easy to prepare as kneading pizza dough
- FREE from soy and nutritional yeast (with a nut-free option)
- almost 100% hands-off during cooking!!!
- and shhhh, don't tell anyone I said this, but... it's so much better than those store-bought vegan holiday roasts!
Tips and Planning
Every detail you need is in the recipe card below. So I won't drone on and on here. But for those of you who really like to feel prepared before you dive into a recipe, I'll point out a few things to get you started.
Any blender will do! No need for a fancy high-speed one with this recipe.
A lot of seitan roasts call for wrapping the roast in foil since that keeps the moisture locked inside. But since we're using steam cooking methods (either in a roasting pan in the oven or in the Instant Pot), we can wrap ours in cheesecloth.
I prefer cheesecloth because it makes it easier to feel the firmness of the roast after cooking to determine whether it's done. There's nothing more disappointing than cutting into underdone seitan! See, seitan expands as it cooks, so foil can end up feeling very tight, fooling you into thinking the roast is good to go. But cheesecloth is a bit more forgiving, so when you press the center of the roast with tongs at the end of the cook time, you can actually feel the firmness of the roast itself.
Cheesecloth is also great for anyone who prefers not to have aluminum foil in contact with their food.
Tying the roast with twine is really just for fun, to give the seitan the appearance of a tied roast. But as long as the ends of the cheesecloth are tucked underneath, with the weight of the roast keeping it secured, the twine isn't necessary.
Size of the Roast
If you have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend using it for this recipe. It's so easy and probably more dependable than the oven (since oven temperatures can vary quite a bit). Just make sure the roast will fit inside your IP. I have the 6 quart model linked above, and this massive roast barely fits.
You'll shape the seitan into a log about 9 inches long and 3 ½ inches wide. So if you plan to bake it, keep this in mind when choosing a baking dish. I used this 10-inch Staub gratin dish, which worked perfectly.
You have options! Either keep it simple and knead the dough by hand, or use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
Now that I've given you a few tips and things to keep in mind, let's review the basic process.
- Add vital wheat gluten to a large bowl.
- Blend the other roast ingredients.
- Pour the blended mixture into the vital wheat gluten, and stir until a dough forms.
- Now it's time to knead the dough to develop the gluten. Knead for about 5 minutes by hand or 3 to 4 minutes with a stand mixer on low speed.
- Shape the dough into a log approximately 9 inches by 3 ½ inches. If cooking in the Instant Pot it's okay if the roast is a bit shorter and thicker than this, but for oven cooking try to stay close to this size.
- Mix together the herb rub. Coat the outside of the roast with oil, then apply the rub.
- Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to wrap around the roast a few times and with enough excess on the ends so that they can be securely tucked underneath. See photos below. If using twine, cut 3 to 5 pieces (however many you want), and tie around the roast. You want them to be only lightly snug, not super tight.
- Now your roast is ready for the oven or Instant Pot.
- Add broth to the cooking vessel. If baking, cover the dish with foil.
For the best flavor and texture, I recommend refrigerating the cooked roast overnight. Straight from the fridge you can slice it for sandwiches and pile it onto salads, noodle dishes, and grain bowls.
If serving this as a whole roast, I think it looks extra special with a quick sear in a pan. After browning the "skin," brush on a mixture of maple syrup and olive oil just before serving. This gives the roast a dark, golden glisten.
Serve with your favorite roasted vegetables, mushroom gravy, and fresh sprigs of rosemary or thyme.
More Vegan Holiday Recipes
Easy Mushroom Gravy
Caramelized Shallot Dip
Sweet Potato Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette
Modern Cauliflower Gratin
Mama's Cornbread Dressing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic Glaze
Best Stovetop Mac & Cheese
Healthy Pumpkin Pie
Vegan Gluten-Free Pie Crust
Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie
Apple Layer Cake
Cranberry Citrus Tart
For a gluten-free vegan holiday main dish, check out this Beyond Meat Meatloaf with Shiitake Stuffing!
UPDATE: Check out this new Vegan Turkey Roast
I love hearing from you! If you try the recipe be sure to leave a comment and a star rating below to let us know how it turned out.
Vegan Seitan Roast (Baked or Instant Pot)
For the roast:
- 2½ cups vital wheat gluten
- ¾ cup Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained Or sub pintos or other white bean.
- ⅓ cup raw walnut halves For nut-free, sub 2 Tbsp olive oil.
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1½ teaspoons dried rosemary Not powdered.
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 3½ cups vegetable broth, divided 1½ cups are for the roast, the rest is for cooking.
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
- 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Optional glaze for serving:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Before you begin: If cooking in an Instant Pot, ensure it's large enough to hold the roast, which is approx 9 inches long. I use this 6 quart model. If cooking in the oven, locate a baking dish that can hold the roast, about an inch of broth, and that can be tightly covered with foil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
- Add vital wheat gluten to a mixing bowl, and set aside. In a blender combine the beans, walnuts, garlic, onion powder, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, 1 ½ cups broth (354 ml), vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Blend on high speed until smooth.
- Pour blended mixture into vital wheat gluten, and stir until a dough forms. Move dough to a flat surface and knead by hand for 4 to 5 minutes. The dough will continue to firm up as you knead, and you'll see the gluten strands forming. *Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to do the kneading. Let it run on low (speed 2) for 3 to 4 minutes.
- On a flat work surface use your hands to shape the dough into a log approx. 9 inches long and 3 ½ inches wide. Note, this will barely fit in a 6 Qt. Instant Pot; for the IP you can make it a bit shorter and wider if needed.
- In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the herb rub. Coat the outside of the roast with oil, then apply the rub. Let the seitan rest for a few minutes.
- Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to wrap around the roast several times and with enough overhang on the ends to be securely folded underneath (the entire roast should be contained). Refer to photos in post if needed. Wrap the roast, then tightly fold the ends underneath. Optional: wrap with 3 to 5 pieces of twine to create a "tied roast" appearance.
- If cooking in an Instant Pot, place trivet inside the insert, and add just enough of the remaining broth to reach the bottom of the trivet. Place wrapped roast on trivet, close and secure the lid. Cook on high pressure for 65 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release remaining pressure. Carefully remove Instant Pot lid. Let roast cool for a few minutes, then lift out by trivet handles and place on counter to cool.If cooking in the oven, place wrapped roast in baking dish and add remaining 2 cups of broth. Flip the roast a couple of times so that the cheesecloth gets saturated with broth. Cover dish tightly with foil, crimping the edges. You want to contain as much of the steam as possible to keep the roast moist. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, flipping the roast at the 1 hour mark.
- To test for doneness, use tongs to press the center of the roast. It should feel very firm. It's okay if it feels slightly less firm than the ends, but if the center feels at all squishy, cook for another 5 minutes in the Instant Pot or 10 minutes in the oven.
- The roast can be served after cooling for about an hour, but the texture is best the next day. To store, remove the cheesecloth and allow roast to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight storage container, and refrigerate overnight.
- If using for salads or sandwiches, the roast can be sliced and eaten cold. See Notes below for tips on reheating. If serving as a whole roast, remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving so that it can warm up. Then, pan-sear as described below.
- Preheat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of oil, and sear the top of the roast until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip the roast, and sear the underside. If desired, hold in place with tongs to sear the sides, as well. Place on a serving platter. Stir together the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the maple syrup. Brush onto the outside of the roast, and serve.
ReheatingUse care when reheating seitan as it can dry out easily. Here are a few options for easy reheating:
- Briefly reheat individual slices in the microwave.
- Generously baste with broth, cover and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until hot.
- Reheat on the stovetop as part of sautés, soups, or stir fries.