This homemade vegan turkey roast is the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table and can be cooked in the Instant Pot or baked in the oven. Complete with herb-rubbed skin, seitan turkey is moist and tender, and it even shreds! Leftovers taste fantastic in sandwiches and sautés.
This summer I shared an easy Seitan Roast with a focus on simple prep and ingredients. Today's "turkey" roast introduces a few new techniques. Both are 100% perfect for the holiday season, and really, this one isn't that difficult either!
To help you decide which roast you want to make this Thanksgiving (or this weekend just for fun), here are a few differences between the two recipes:
- Color - this roast incorporates tofu for a pale color more similar to turkey, while the other roast is soy-free.
- Texture - just like the other roast, this one slices beautifully, but it also shreds! Check out the "twist and fold" technique below. I learned it from Malin of Seitan Kitchen. This method is very easy to do and can be incorporated into pretty much any seitan recipe where you want the gluten going in different directions, similar to actual muscle fibers (except ours is fun, not cruel).
- Skin - in today's recipe I'll show you how to use a portion of the seitan dough to create a smooth outer "skin" for your roast. (This technique also came from Malin's recipe.)
- Kneading Method - I've only tested this turkey roast using a food processor, but my other seitan roast is kneaded by hand.
- Size - the other roast is larger, while this one is perfect for serving up to 4 or 5 people.
Step By Step Process
- Puree the tofu, water, and seasonings in a large food processor I use a 14 cup model; if using a smaller machine try working in batches.
- Add vital wheat gluten, and process for 1 minute. You'll see the gluten strands forming, but the dough will still be fairly soft and sticky.
- Place dough on a flat surface.
- Cut in half, then in half again. One quarter of the dough will serve as the turkey skin. Set that quarter aside.
- Return three-quarters of the dough to the food processor, and process for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
- Place the "skin" in the food processor. Add 1 more tablespoon of vital wheat gluten, and process for 1 minute. It should be warm and shiny. Set aside.
- Take the larger piece of dough, and shape it into a log. This will become the body of the roast. Twist it as pictured below left.
- Fold one end of the dough over the other like you're going to tie a knot. Now it looks like a ribbon.
- Tuck the right tail underneath, then tuck the left tail underneath. Now repeat steps 7 - 9, doing the "twist and tuck" again (the dough will be more firm than when you began).
- Holding the dough with both hands, smooth the surface by gradually working the outer edges underneath. Once the top appears fairly smooth, set aside.
- Take the "skin" piece of dough, and, like you're handling pizza dough, carefully stretch it into a rectangle as shown below. Lay the skin out flat. (Alternatively, you can drape it over the top of the roast, then flip the whole thing over.)
- Place the roast top-down on the skin. Begin folding in the edges of the skin, pinching it together, until the entire roast is fully wrapped.
- This is how the underside of the roast will look; the top will be smooth (and look surprisingly similar to raw turkey or chicken). Pinch together any holes or open seams.
- Rub the entire roast with a small amount of oil. If using the optional herb rub, sprinkle it onto the roast, both top and bottom. Do the same with salt and pepper. Use your hands to lightly pat the seasonings into the skin.
- Wrap the seitan turkey tightly in cheesecloth or a layer of parchment followed by a tight layer of foil. Now it's time to cook!
3 Cooking Method Options
Add just enough water to the Instant Pot to reach the bottom of the trivet. Place the roast on the trivet, and cook on high pressure for 1 hour 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.
Oven, Wrapped in Cheesecloth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add about 1 inch of vegetable broth to a baking dish or roasting pan.
Place the cloth-wrapped roast in the pan, and cover the dish tightly with foil so that all the steam is held inside. Bake for 1 hour, then carefully remove the foil and flip the roast. Replace the foil, and bake for another 45 minutes. Add more broth to the dish as needed to prevent scorching.
Press the center of the roast with tongs. When done the vegan turkey should feel very firm. If you think the center might not be done, return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Oven, Wrapped in Foil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using foil instead of cheesecloth there's no need to place the roast in broth. Simply wrap very tightly in foil and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 1 hour, then flip and bake for another 45 minutes.
Press the center of the roast with tongs. When done it should feel very firm.
Let stand for a few minutes before carefully unwrapping. Let the roast cool completely before storing. See tips below.
Tips and Planning
- The texture of seitan greatly improves after cooling and refrigerating overnight. This can actually come in handy if you're making this roast for a special occasion! Your kitchen and oven will be free for preparing all of those yummy holiday side dishes and desserts like vegan cornbread dressing, perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin and pecan pies.
- The next day, remove the seitan turkey from the refrigerator so it can warm to room temperature. Then do the glaze/broil step.
- If you can't make the roast a day in advance, try to cook it early on the day you plan to serve it. Then let it rest for a few hours.
- Before serving, brush the top of the roast with the maple glaze, and place under the broiler for 7 to 10 minutes.
The recipe calls for super firm tofu, which does not need to be pressed and is different than extra firm tofu. I use the high-protein tofu from Trader Joe's. If you don't have access to that brand, look for a tofu that is vacuum-packed, dense, and contains very little water. Do not use soft or silken tofu.
If you can't find super firm tofu, you can substitute extra firm, but it will need to be pressed to remove the excess water. An easy way to do this is to place the entire block of tofu on a tea towel. Gather up the ends, then squeeze out as much water as possible.
With super firm tofu you'll use about ⅔ of a 16 ounce package. With pressed, extra firm tofu, use approximately ¾ of a standard 14 ounce package. Too much tofu may result in a squishy vegan turkey.
Chicken Flavor Seasoning
Orrington Farms Chicken Flavored Seasoning can be purchased online (these are Amazon affiliate links). Or feel free to use one of the options listed below.
Edward & Son's Not-Chicken is available online and usually carried by Whole Foods and well-stocked grocery stores. To substitute, use approximately 2 bouillon cubes in place of the 3 tablespoons or Orrington powder.
Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Base is also great for this recipe. Use 1 ½ tablespoons bouillon paste to replace 3 tablespoons of Orrington Farms powder.
If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment below. And if you try the recipe, be sure to rate it and let us know how your vegan turkey turned out!
More favorite seitan recipes:
Vegan Turkey Recipe (Shreddable Seitan With Skin)
For the Roast:
- 10 ounces super firm tofu - Such as Trader Joe's vacuum-packed variety. Ten oz is approx ⅔ of the package. See Notes.
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Flavored Powder, dry - Or similar product; see Notes
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary (not powdered)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (not powdered)
- ½ teaspoon ground sage
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
- ¾ cup water
- 1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten, divided
- ½ teaspoon refined coconut oil or other neutral flavored oil
Herb Rub (optional):
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- black pepper
Glaze (just before serving):
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil or olive oil
Broth for Baking (optional):
- approx. 2 cups vegetable broth or water + bouillon
- Crumble the tofu into a large food processor with the standard S-blade (see Notes re: food processor). Add all remaining roast ingredients EXCEPT vital wheat gluten and coconut oil. Process the tofu and seasonings into a smooth slurry. Add 1 ½ cups vital wheat gluten (180 g), and process for 1 minute.
- Remove dough from food processor, and place on a work surface. Shape into a rectangle. Cut it in half, then cut one of the halves in half again. Set one of the smaller pieces aside (¼ of the dough) - this piece will serve as the turkey skin. Return ¾ of the dough to the food processor, and process for 1 minute. Transfer it to the work surface and knead by hand a few times to make sure it feels firm. Set aside to rest.
- Place the "skin" piece of dough back in the food processor. Add 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten, and process for 1 minute. It should look shiny and smoother than the other piece of dough. Set aside.
- Shape the larger piece of dough into a log. Twist it until it begins to break or resist (see photo). Fold the twisted log so that it resembles a ribbon. Tuck the right tail underneath, then tuck the left tail.
- Now you have a rough ball shape. Repeat the process of stretching out into a log, twisting, folding, and tucking. Holding the dough with both hands, smooth the surface by gradually working the outer edges underneath. Once the top appears fairly smooth, set aside.
- Take the "skin" piece of dough, and, like you're handling pizza dough, carefully stretch it into a rectangle (or circle; it doesn't have to be perfect) larger than the roast. Lay the skin out flat. Place the roast top-side (smooth-side) down, on the skin. Begin folding in the edges of the skin, pinching it together, so that all of the seams are closed and the entire roast is fully wrapped. Try to avoid creating air bubbles between the skin and roast.
- Rub the outside of the skin with the refined coconut oil. This helps the herbs stick, if using, and keeps the skin moist. If using the herb rub, combine parsley and thyme. Sprinkle onto all sides of the roast. Now season it with salt and pepper. Use your hands to lightly pat the seasonings into the skin.
- Wrap the seitan tightly in cheesecloth (or parchment + foil, or foil lightly coated with oil to prevent sticking). Make sure there's enough excess on the ends so you can twist and fold the cheesecloth underneath the roast. The weight of the roast will hold the cloth in place.
- Instant Pot method:In a 6 quart or larger Instant Pot, add just enough water to reach the bottom of the trivet. Place the roast on the trivet. Secure the lid, set to sealing, and cook on high pressure for 1 hour 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.Oven, wrapped in cheesecloth:Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add about 1 inch of vegetable broth to a high-sided baking dish. Place the cloth-wrapped roast top side-down in the broth, and cover the entire dish tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour, then carefully remove the foil and flip the roast. Add more broth as needed so the dish doesn't dry out and burn. Replace the foil, and bake for another 45 minutes. Remove foil to check whether more broth is needed. Press the center with tongs; it should feel very firm. If you think the center of the roast is not quite done, leave uncovered and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the center feels firm.Oven, wrapped in parchment + foil: No need for any cooking liquid. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make sure the roast is wrapped completely so that moisture doesn't escape during baking. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour. Flip the roast and bake for another 45 minutes. To test for doneness you may need to unwrap the foil (carefully! It's hot.) and press with tongs.
- Let roast cool for about 15 minutes then remove the cheesecloth/foil. For the best texture allow roast to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight in an airtight container. The next day, let the roast come to room temperature before completing the next step and serving.
- For the glaze stir together the maple syrup, soy sauce, and oil, and brush onto the roast. Set oven broiler to 500 degrees, and place roast on a baking sheet. Place on rack in middle of oven so the top of the roast is about 6 to 7 inches from broiler. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on it, or until the skin is golden. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice and serve.
- The roast can also be shredded or sliced straight from the fridge and used in sandwiches, salads, sautes, and stir fries.
Food ProcessorI use this 14 cup Cuisinart. If using a smaller machine, work in batches as needed after adding the vital wheat gluten. Process each batch for slightly less time than called for, around 45 seconds.
Substitution NotesTofu - Do not use a soft or silken tofu. If at all possible use vacuum-packed SUPER firm tofu for this roast. If you can't find super firm tofu, substitute extra firm and press it first. An easy way to do this is to place the entire block of tofu on a tea towel. Gather up the ends, then squeeze out as much water as possible. With super firm tofu you'll use ⅔ of a 16 ounce package. With pressed, extra firm tofu, use approximately ¾ of a standard 14 ounce package, or weigh out 10 ounces after pressing. Chicken Flavor - Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Seasoning can be ordered online. Sub a similar product if needed. Two options that may be more readily available in stores are Edward & Son's Vegan Not-Chick'n bouillon cubes and Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Base. If substituting Edward & Son's use 2 bouillon cubes; for Better Than Bouillon paste you'll use approximately 1 ½ tablespoons (or 4.5 teaspoons).
Storage and FreezingStore leftover seitan in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen. Wrap tightly to protect from air, and thaw overnight before re-heating individual portions in a skillet or sauté pan.
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.