Are you ready for saucy, succulent, tender vegan ribs? Oh, and they're easy, too! If you think making seitan ribs sounds complicated, you're in for a treat! From backyard cookouts to weekly meal prep, this is an easy vegan BBQ recipe to return to again and again.
I'm SO excited to share this recipe with you! As much as I enjoy experimenting with seitan, I'm not sure why it took me so long to try a ribs recipe. I wasn't a huge fan of ribs before going vegan, so I suppose I was missing the necessary nostalgic motivator. But...
This weekend a local brewery is hosting a vegan BBQ cook off benefitting two animal rescue organizations. So I decided to throw my hat into the ring and have spent the past two weeks working on these vegan ribs.
I started with a recipe for Seitan Ribz by Susan Voisin over at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. And then, because I'm a sucker for mushrooms and think they make everything better, I added some sautéed shrooms, onion, and garlic into the mix, as well as jackfruit and some other flavor enhancers.
With the recipe finalized a few days early, I thought I'd ahead and share it here. This way, if anyone asks about the recipe at Saturday's event I can send them right over.
In addition to a vegan BBQ main dish, we are also required to bring a side. My Best Vegan Mac and Cheese was an easy choice. Coincidentally, two years ago that recipe won a local vegan mac and cheese cook off. I've heard from so many of you who have fallen in love with that mac over the past two years, and I hope the same thing happens with these seitan ribs.
There are a few steps involved in making this recipe, but it's really not difficult at all. So let's get to it!
UPDATE: the ribs won 1st place at the BBQ cook off! Turnout was amazing, and we had a blast while raising money for two local animal rescue organizations.
Vital Wheat Gluten - I use this one by Anthony's. Bob's Red Mill brand is widely available and also great.
Jackfruit - look for jackfruit packed in brine, not syrup. It's usually labeled as "young" or "green" jackfruit. I buy jackfruit at Trader Joe's, but there are several other brands available in stores and online.
Mushrooms - I tested this recipe twice with mushrooms and twice without. Mushrooms give the ribs a more savory, moist, and succulent quality, so even though this adds two steps to the recipe (sautéing and blending), I decided it's worth it.
Don't like mushrooms? See the Notes section of the recipe card for details on a mushroom-free version. It's even quicker and easier since there's no sautéing or blending involved.
Almond Butter - a small amount of added fat is important for the overall texture of the ribs. Almond butter is nice because of its neutral, roasted flavor. If you avoid nuts, replace this with 3 tablespoons of tahini or 2 tablespoons of oil.
Beef Flavored Seasoning - for 3 of the test batches I used Orrington Farms Vegan Beef Flavored Powder; I also tested one batch using a homemade beefy seasoning with mushroom powder, and it turned out great! So if you don't have the Orrington Farms product, see the Notes section of the recipe card to learn how to make the homemade "beef" seasoning.
Barbecue Sauce - try my healthier homemade BBQ sauce or use your favorite store-bought sauce to save time.
Step By Step Instructions
Full ingredient list and instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Drain the can of jackfruit, and place the pieces on a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel, and squeeze it over the sink to remove as much of the brine as possible.
- Use your hands to separate the seeds and tough pieces (the pile at top of photo 2) from the stringy parts of the jackfruit (the pile at bottom of photo). We're only using the stringy part that looks like shredded meat. Discard the seeds and tough pieces.
Note: you should end up with about 1 ⅓ cups of shredded jackfruit.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and whisk very well.
- Toss the shredded jackfruit in the dry mixture.
- Saute the onion and mushrooms until dry, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add minced garlic, and cook for another minute. By the way, your pan will look more full than this. I was making a half-batch when I took that photo.
- In a blender combine the sautéed mixture with the remaining wet ingredients, using only ½ cup of the barbecue sauce. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the blended mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Knead the dough for only about 30 seconds, until fully combined. This is a fairly soft seitan dough and should not feel overly firm.
- Lightly oil a 9x13-inch glass or ceramic casserole dish. Press the dough evenly into the pan. Use a butter knife to cut into 16 or 20 pieces, depending on how wide you want the ribs to be. For very thin ribs cut into 24 pieces.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and brush with ½ cup BBQ sauce.
- Bake for another 25 minutes, then remove from oven. Use a spatula to flip the ribs, and brush with another ½ cup BBQ sauce. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until piping hot and sticky. Let rest for at least 1 hour before serving. Preferably, refrigerate overnight, and reheat the next day using a grill, stovetop grill pan, or microwave.
Tips and Substitutions
Making seitan is very much like baking, so having the correct wet-to-dry ratio is important. I recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh the vital wheat gluten flour. Click the "Metric" button in the recipe card to see the weight (280 grams for the full batch). If you don't own a scale, whisk the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
Letting Seitan Rest
The texture of the seitan ribs improves with rest. Straight from the oven they will be soft. After cooling for even just one hour you'll see an improvement, but an overnight rest is even better.
This recipe makes a large amount, about 5 to 8 servings depending on everyone's appetite. But even in our 2-person household we had no problem taking down a full pan of ribs over the course of a few days. Believe me, they're great for meal prep!
For a half batch (3 to 4 servings), divide all ingredients by 2, and bake the ribs in an 8- or 9-inch square pan.
As mentioned above, I also tested a mushroom-free version. It was good, but we preferred the ribs with the sautéed mushrooms and onion. I've added details on how to make the mushroom-free version to the Notes section of the recipe card below.
If you'd rather not use the Orrington Farms beef flavored seasoning listed, it's very easy to make your own with salt, nutritional yeast, and mushroom powder. See the Recipe Notes for exact amounts.
I hope you LOVE these vegan ribs as much as we do! If you try the recipe be sure to comment below and give it a star rating. Hearing from you makes my day, and your feedback helps others.
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Seitan-Jackfruit Vegan Ribs
- 2 ⅓ cups vital wheat gluten Click "Metric" above to see weight in grams.
- 2 tablespoons Orrington Farms Vegan Beef Flavored Powder See Notes for a homemade version.
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (20 oz) can young jackfruit in brine
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 6 ounces baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, divided
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup unsalted almond butter I used raw but roasted should be fine.
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13 casserole dish with oil.
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk very well so that the spices are fully incorporated.
- Drain the can of jackfruit, and place the jackfruit on a lint-free tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel, and squeeze it over the sink to remove as much brine as possible. Use your hands to separate the seeds and tough pieces from the stringy parts of the jackfruit. The seeds and tough parts can be discarded. Once you have a pile of the meaty, stringy part of the jackfruit, make sure it is well shredded and separated. You should end up with about 1 ⅓ cups of jackfruit.
- Add the shredded jackfruit to the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, cook the onion and mushrooms until dry, about 7 minutes. Add minced garlic to the pan and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
- In a blender combine the sauteed mushroom mixture, ½ cup of the barbecue sauce, water, nut butter, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and soy sauce. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the blended mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Knead in the bowl for only about 30 seconds, just to make sure everything is fully incorporated. The seitan dough should feel fairly soft.
- Press the dough evenly into the casserole dish, and use a knife to cut into 16 or 20 pieces, depending on how wide you want the ribs to be (refer to photos above). Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with ½ cup BBQ sauce, and bake for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and use a spatula to carefully flip the ribs. Brush with another ½ cup BBQ sauce, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until piping hot and sticky.
- Allow to rest in the pan for at least 1 hour before serving (this allows the seitan to firm up). Preferably, allow the ribs to cool, then refrigerate overnight and reheat the next day using a grill, stovetop grill pan, or microwave.
- 1 Tablespoon mushroom powder
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- and a few dashes each of onion and garlic powder
- omit the onion, mushrooms, and cloves of garlic (and skip step 5, obviously).
- increase onion powder and garlic powder to 4 teaspoons each.
- increase water to 1 cup.
- decrease soy sauce to 4 teaspoons.
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. For the most accurate nutrition information we recommend calculating it yourself to reflect the specific ingredients used in your dish.