If you’ve been wondering how to make seitan yourself rather than paying $4 for a tiny box of it at Whole Foods, then this is the recipe for you! This is my go-to, easy, basic homemade seitan recipe that I make in batches and then use throughout the week.
If you’re not familiar with seitan (I haven’t shared any seitan recipes in a while!), it’s a vegan meat analogue made from wheat gluten. After wheat berries are ground up and the starches are washed away, what’s left is called vital wheat gluten.
Seitan is very high in protein, and it’s also really chewy. Some might even call its texture… meaty. But it doesn’t taste like meat! It’s mostly a blank slate, with a hint of wheat-y flavor. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s tasty!
You can technically make seitan from flour yourself, but I’ll save those instructions for another day. I’ve done it before and it’s a big pain ;). By starting with vital wheat gluten, this becomes a very easy recipe and is much more economical than purchasing seitan in the store.
Also, maybe I’m biased but I think it tastes better. Both because it’s fresh and because we’re going to add some umami to it, which isn’t present in all store-bought seitan. This recipe also calls for a bit of chickpea flour to mellow out the wheat flavor.
Some more advanced seitan-making methods call for baking it, but those have a tendency of exploding in the oven. To protect you from that horror, in this recipe we will be steaming it and it is unlikely to explode. You can then use it in any recipe calling for seitan.
After the homemade seitan is steamed and ready, you can slice it up into cubes or “steaks”, season it and add it to everything from stir fry to chili! Slather it in BBQ sauce… fry it chicken style… do your thang. (I’ll share a recipe suggestion soon :))
Basic Homemade Seitan
An easy recipe for homemade seitan, also known as seasoned wheat gluten. A versatile vegetarian and vegan meatless protein that can be used in stir-fries, curries, and beyond! (Recipe times do not include rest time.)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or any oil)
- 1 large yellow or white onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp blackening seasoning (or any other seasoning blend, or additional paprika)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce (optional; omit for soy-free)
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 and 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is softened slightly.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is softened and fragrant. Add the sweet paprika and other spices to the pan, stir, and cook for 60 seconds or until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
Use a spatula to transfer the onion-garlic mixture, including oil, to a blender or food processor. Add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, soy sauce if using, chickpea flour, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. (Raw chickpea flour tastes terrible so I don't recommend sampling this).
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the vital wheat gluten, then stir until evenly combined. Once stirred, use your hands to knead the mixture until it becomes more firm and a little bit springy, about 2 minutes.
Prepare boiling water and a steamer (see notes for a description of my setup). Be sure to add plenty of water since this will be steaming for a long time. Form the dough into a vaguely log-shaped blog and then roll it up tightly in a piece of tinfoil, twisting the ends tightly. Depending on the size and shape of your steamer, you may need to separate it into two pieces.
Once the water is boiling, steam the wrapped gluten dough for 1 hour, carefully flipping it over halfway through using tongs.
Let the cooked seitan cool to room temperature, then unwrap it and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. For best results, slice the seitan as needed for recipes rather than pre-slicing it. The homemade seitan in log form will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
STEAMER SETUP: I don't own a bona fide steamer. I use a mesh colander placed over boiling water in my regular ole' saucepan, and then cover it with the usual lid for that saucepan. That doesn't give me a lot of space, so rather than challenge myself to roll one perfectly shaped seitan log, I split mine into two.
SEASONING BLEND: If you keep any all-purpose seasoning blends around, use them here. I still had leftover blackening seasoning from my blackened chickpeas so I used that this time. In the past I've also used berbere, Old Bay, jerk seasoning, Trader Joe's 12 Seasoning Salute, etc. in this recipe. An equal mix of garlic and onion powder would also work well.
SALT LEVEL: If you use unsalted vegetable broth and omit the soy sauce, increase the salt to 1/2 tsp. Reduce the salt a little bit if your seasoning blend includes salt; mine does not.
FREEZING: The steamed and cooled seitan freezes well for 3-4 weeks. I have not yet tried freezing it for longer.
Recipe adapted from a variety of sources, but especially Teff Love (one of my absolute favorite vegan cookbooks!).
P.S… if you like this recipe you might also enjoy my seitan-based homemade vegan meatballs!