These vegan ribs are saucy, succulent, meaty, tender, and surprisingly easy to make! If you think seitan ribs sound complicated, don't you worry! I'll walk you through it step by step. From backyard cookouts to weekly meal prep, this award-winning vegan BBQ ribs recipe is one you'll crave again and again.
And if you don't want to include jackfruit (or mushrooms), simply leave them out for an even easier seitan ribs recipe!
I'm SO excited to share these vegan ribs 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 to benefit two animal rescue organizations.
So I decided to enter the competition and have spent the past two weeks working on the perfect seitan ribs.
I started with a recipe for seitan ribz by Susan Voisin over at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. And then, since mushrooms are loaded with umami and make pretty much everything better, I added sautéed mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the mix, as well as jackfruit for texture and a few other flavor enhancers.
Not into mushrooms? No problem! I've also included instructions for making the seitan ribs without mushrooms and/or jackfruit in case you want to simplify the process.
In addition to a vegan BBQ main, we're also required to bring a side dish to the BBQ competition. My stovetop vegan mac and cheese was an easy choice.
Coincidentally, a few years ago I won a vegan mac and cheese cook off with that recipe. I've heard from so many of you who have fallen in love with it, and I hope the same thing happens with these vegan ribs!
UPDATE: these 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 is another widely available brand.
- 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, substitute tahini or 2 tablespoons of oil.
- vegan "beef" 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, head over to the vegan beef broth recipe to see how to make your own. Or use plain mushroom powder.
- BBQ sauce - try my healthier homemade BBQ sauce or use your favorite store-bought sauce to save time. The sauce is a huge part of the overall flavor profile, obviously, so use one that's bold and flavorful.
- jackfruit (optional) - look for jackfruit packed in brine, not syrup. It's usually labeled as "young" or "green" jackfruit. I usually purchase jackfruit at Trader Joe's, but there are several other brands available in stores and online.
- mushrooms (optional) - I tested the recipe both with and without mushrooms. They give the seitan a more savory, moist, and succulent quality, so even though it adds two steps to the recipe (sautéing and blending), we decided it was worth the extra effort.
Don't like mushrooms? See the Notes section of the recipe card for details on a mushroom-free version. It's even faster and easier since there's no sautéing or blending involved.
Full ingredient list and instructions are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Vegan Ribs
To make basic seitan ribs without the jackfruit, skip ahead to step 3.
- 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 pieces that look like shredded meat. Discard the seeds and tough pieces.
Note: you should end up with about 1 ⅓ cups of shredded jackfruit.
- Combine vital wheat gluten and all remaining 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 the 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 seitan dough for 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 large 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 sections of 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.
Measuring Vital Wheat Gluten
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 (290 grams for the full batch). If you don't own a scale, whisk the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
Let 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 eating 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 a 9-inch square pan. An 8x8 pan is okay, too, though the ribs will be thicker and may need a few extra minutes bake time.
As mentioned above, I also tested a mushroom-free version. It was good, but we definitely 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 don't have canned young jackfruit - or you simply want to skip a step - just omit it! It's that easy. When I'm making ribs at home just for us two, I usually skip the jackfruit to save time and money.
If you'd rather not use the Orrington Farms beef flavored seasoning, it's very easy to make your own with mushroom powder, salt, and nutritional yeast. See the Recipe Notes for exact amounts. Or simply use plain mushroom powder.
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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RELATED: If you enjoy the jackfruit seitan combo, definitely try these Vegan Wings!
Tap to play the video to see how seitan ribs are made.
Best Vegan Ribs (Seitan With Jackfruit)
- 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 blend, or use mushroom powder
- 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, optional
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 6 ounces baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced, optional - See Notes for mushroom-free version
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, divided
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup unsalted smooth almond butter - or 2 Tbsp oil
- 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.
- (If not using jackfruit, skip to step 5.) 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 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 the seitan dough for about 1 minute. It should feel somewhat soft (this is a moist dough).
- 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 (I do this in sections, not individually). Brush with another ½ cup BBQ sauce, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until piping hot and sticky.
- Let the seitan rest in the pan for at least 30 minutes before serving (this allows the seitan to firm up). Preferably, let the ribs cool completely, then refrigerate overnight and reheat the next day using a grill or on the stovetop.
- 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.
These are delicious! So impressed with the texture that is so reminiscent of ribs. Took a while to make but they lasted for 4 days and we loved them even more as leftovers. I appreciated your detailed directions about the jackfruit. It was my first time using it and your picture was very helpful. Will be making these again very soon. Such a fabulous recipe. Thank you!
I was a bit put off by the amount of work involved with the Jackfruit and how little I was able to get out of the whole amount, like half of it wasted as seeds and hard part. I wonder if you have ever tried this recipe using TVP? I may do it and see how that works. Overall, the flavor of the wet ingredients was good, but the VWG dilutes it for me. I may have made them too thin as well, need a deeper, smaller pan (I think my 9x13 pans are gone, I used a 10x15!! oops). Thank you for the recipe, it's always good to try and get an idea of how things go together from other people like you, then I may have to tweek it to my taste (especially since my husband and I can't taste as well as we used to, we're old!! haha)
Hi Harriet, I haven't had that problem before with jackfruit. Maybe you ended up with a bad can that had more tough parts in it.
Yes, it's always fun to experiment with recipes to suit your own tastes. I can assure you I tested the heck out of this recipe last summer before the BBQ cookoff! We find the ribs to be very flavorful. If you accidentally measured too much VWG that would affect the overall flavor. Also since a lot of the flavor comes from BBQ sauce, maybe you'd prefer a different one than you used. Just guessing. Better luck next time!
I just made these and left them in the fridge for a day and night. We warmed in the microwaved them and we had them for dinner. Other than accidentally putting in too much soy sauce, which didn’t affect the taste, i followed the recipe to the letter. The texture didn't seem meaty or dense enough. It was kinda bready. What did I do wrong? Do you think I microwaved them too much, would that have done it? We ate half the bunch so I am going to make sure I do it less tomorrow night. Should I have kneaded it more?
I'm happy to hear the accidental soy sauce overdose didn't hurt the flavor!
As far as the texture goes, that's difficult to diagnose from afar. I'm not sure how familiar you are with seitan, but these are meant to be soft, not very dense or chewy like other types of seitan. But I wouldn't describe them as bready. If your oven runs a bit hot that can sometimes make seitan puffy and bready. And yes, heating them in the microwave will soften them.
You could also try the mushroom-free version described in the recipe notes. And add 3 more tablespoons of vital wheat gluten while reducing the nutritional yeast to 2 tablespoons. Since additions like mushrooms and nutritional yeast disrupt the formation of gluten, those changes will create a firmer seitan.
Thanks for letting us know how they turned out!
I actually got to try them at the vegan BBQ cookoff and they are amazing! Thank you for such a delicious and practical main dish that vegans can enjoy at a summer cook out.
Wow. These are sooooo good. First time cooking with jackfruit. I like the texture it brings to seiten. This was easy to prepare because your instructions are perfection.
Jobie, glad you enjoyed them! And I'm so glad my instructions were helpful. I do try! 😀 Thank you so much for letting us know.
Haha I like your name, Hungry. 😀 Thanks so much for the awesome feedback AND for coming out to the BBQ cook off! So glad you like the ribs.
This is delicious! Time consuming, but worth it because the recipe makes a lot. I love recipes that allow for lots of leftovers!
Lisa in Las Vegas
Looks awesome. You suggest weighing the wheat gluten but there's no measurement anywhere for how many grams or ounces of wheat gluten to use. How much should it weigh?
Thanks! There's a Metric toggle button in the recipe card. Click that and it shows 280 grams.
I should figure out a way to list the weight out beside the cups, but I've done that before and it gets a little confusing if people alter the batch size.
Hope you love 'em!
I'm not a mushroom lover though my mom swears I won't be able to taste them (she loves this recipe). I'd be very happy to know the how to make this sans mushrooms!
Hi Loo, sure thing. I'm happy to add the shroom-free version to the Notes section of the recipe card. I'll get that posted this afternoon.
It's more similar to the recipe that inspired this one (by fatfreevegan / Susan) but with additional seasonings. Hope you enjoy!