How To Make Seitan

October 31, 2011 5:00 am
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Stacy Spensley is a holistic health coach and theatrical stage manager who blogs about healthy homemade vegetarian food at Little Blue Hen. She is still entertained by the year-round growing season of Southern California and uses her CSA produce to make food that is both delicious and healthy, and still enjoyed by her omnivorous husband. Stacy will also make things at home, just to prove that she can (case in point: See below). You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

How to make Seitan from Flour

When I stopped eating meat about fifteen years ago I relied, like many new vegetarians, on processed meat substitutes: frozen soy burgers, fake “riblets,” and “chik” nuggets in brightly colored packages. For many people these products ease the transition to a new way of eating, but using them can also become an additive-laden crutch. Over the years I’ve transformed my own diet and, I have abandoned the freezer section for the kitchen with delicious, simple, unprocessed results.

The meat substitute I make most often is a batch of spicy black bean burgers, so tasty my omnivorous husband requests them regularly. But he also enjoys (and has even made) seitan.

Seitan. Mock duck. Wheat meat. Whatever you call it, seitan originated in Asia where vegetarian Buddhists used it in place of meat for centuries. Its spread in popularity is credited to the macrobiotic food movement which began in Japan. The word is not actually Japanese, but based in it, which is why I pronounce it “say-TAHN,” not “Satan.”

What is seitan?

Seitan is simply wheat gluten, spiced and simmered. My previous method used store-bought vital wheat gluten as a shortcut, but Andrew learned that the process to make vital wheat gluten is not replicable at home. Undeterred and not without a little spite, I set out to make it from scratch: Flour and water, here I come! After reading mopey stories about how time-consuming the process was, I was pleasantly surprised that the actual hands-on time was little more than the “shortcut” method, and I enjoyed the end product more than previous batches.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat which, when mixed with water, forms into long stretchy strings that give bread its structure. When you develop those strands, rinse off the starch, and cook the gluten bits, you get seitan. The chewy texture is quite similar to meat — I’ve definitely had seitan-based dishes that I’ve had to double-check that they were actually meat-free.

How to make seitan at home

The process is simple, but does take some time. Make a large batch and freeze the extra.

Mix whole wheat flour and water into a stiff dough to develop the gluten. I used my stand mixer.

How To Make Seitan: Flour Dough

Cover with cold water and let soak for a few hours or overnight. This both allows the gluten to develop and the starch to “loosen up.”

How To Make Seitan: Soaking the Dough

Knead the dough and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. It takes about 10 minutes. I used a mesh sieve to help.

How To Make Seitan: Knead and Rinse the Dough

You’ll be left with only the gluten, which is considerably smaller in volume than your starting mass of flour. This was a smaller batch than the recipe lists, and 12 ounces of flour yielded just over 5 ounces of seitan.

How To Make Seitan: Strain the dough

Those stringy strands are exactly what we want.

Form the gluten into a ball; squeeze out as much water and air as possible. The smaller you can shape the piece of gluten, the firmer texture your finished seitan will have. Cut the gluten into pieces using a bench scraper or sharp knife.

How To Make Seitan: The finished homemade Seitan!

Bring a pot of broth to a boil and drop in the pieces of gluten. Simmer the gluten for about half an hour until the broth is almost gone.

I like to sauté my seitan before using it, or you can store it refrigerated, covered in the broth (add more water if needed) for about a week.

This is a very basic recipe, but you can add spices to the dough when mixing, or play with your broth ingredients to add flavor components at any stage.

My favorite ways to eat seitan are on BBQ mock duck pizza, curried mock duck banh mi, in stir fries and fajitas. Leave the packaged “strips” on the shelf and with just a little effort, make your own unprocessed seitan.

4.9 from 16 reviews
Homemade Seitan
Author: 
 
Vegan, the opposite of gluten-free. Yields approximately 10 ounces seitan, drained (4-6 servings).

This is a very basic recipe. Add spices to the flour before mixing, or change-up the broth for different flavors. You can use homemade or store-bought vegetable stock, or mix up the quick broth outlined below.
Ingredients
Dough
  • 6 cups (24 ounces / 900 grams) Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 cups Cold Water
Broth
  • 4 cups Water
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • ½ chopped Onion
  • 1 Tbs. Miso Paste
  • 1 medium Tomato, cut in quarters
  • 2 cloves Garlic
Instructions
  1. Combine flour and water. Mix until a stiff-but-cohesive dough is formed. Use a dough hook and a stand mixer if possible.
  2. Form dough into a ball, place in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Cover and let stand 4-8 hours.
  3. Knead the dough and rinse until water runs clear, about 10 minutes. Squeeze dough and press out as much liquid and air as possible. Use a sharp knife or a bench scraper to cut the gluten into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Combine ingredients for broth (or use your preferred vegetable stock) and bring to a boil. Drop gluten pieces into boiling broth and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, turning gluten pieces occasionally, until the broth is mostly absorbed and reduced, about 30 minutes. Discard onion and tomato pieces.
  5. To use seitan right away, drain and sauté in a little oil. To store, cover with broth and keep refrigerated up to a week, or frozen. Thicken and reduce broth as a gravy if desired.

71 Comments on "How To Make Seitan"
  1. Comment left on:
    November 4, 2013 at 11:13 pm
    Odette says:

    I’m a vegetarian and VERY allergic to soy so to date I’ve just been using beans / legumes to make my meat subs. But I’ve heard good things about seitan and want to give it a go.

    Just one question, do I have to use whole wheat flour? Will this work with high protein bread flour?

    Regards,
    Odette

    • Comment left on:
      November 5, 2013 at 12:42 am
      Sam says:

      Hi Odette,

      I’m almost certain this will work ok with any high protein flour – after all, you’re trying to get rid of the rest of it (bran and all) anyway. I’d say give it a shot ::)

    • Comment left on:
      December 25, 2013 at 6:31 am
      Ron says:

      I have been a vegan vegetarian for many years. I often make mock chicken, turkey, duck, pork, and beef using vital wheat gluten, which is available at about any health food store, or Online. Using vital wheat gluten is much easier than the time consuming mess of using wheat flour. Following is a You Tube video that will help you make mock meat using vital wheat gluten:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwsLl3uQ0ms

      To make fake chicken, turkey, duck, pork, or beef, you simply use different meat flavor powders and seasonings. Add a TBSP of vegetable oil to the dough for mock duck. I also add a 1/4 cup of tapioca to my dough to help make the end product moist like meat instead of like a clump of rubber. :)

  2. Comment left on:
    November 23, 2013 at 10:57 am
    Sue says:

    I was recently turned on to Seitan and love it. The stores around here don’t usually carry it as they told me ” no one buys it”. I am trying your recipe and hope to be eating some homemade Seitan for dinner tonight.

  3. .
    December 9, 2013 at 11:10 am

    […] in the fridge in an airtight container with its own leftover broth. If it’s store bought, just use water. Stored this way, seitan should last for about a week in the […]

  4. Comment left on:
    April 30, 2014 at 7:30 am
    Jill says:

    Thanks for this recipe and for the photos which reassured me when I had doubts. I used strong white bread flour and mixed it and the water in the bread maker on the pizza dough setting and stopped it half way – it made a lovely smooth dough. I then left it overnight in water in the fridge. After the rinsing stage I’m now cooking the seitan in a slow cooker in a Persian inspired broth. I tend to use seitan for tagines after we had one in Eat and Two Veg years ago – it will be interesting to use one that hasn’t got a background flavour of mock duck…

  5. Comment left on:
    May 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm
    Char says:

    I would like to make this from scratch as vital wheat gluten is a bit expensive. Do I had the spices to the flour before making it a dough or after when all the starch is taken out?

    • Comment left on:
      June 1, 2014 at 11:23 am
      George Deane says:

      Char:

      If you want to buy a large can of vital wheat gluten go to website of HONEYVILLE. This is a company which sells vital wheat gluten at a reasonable price.

  6. Comment left on:
    May 10, 2014 at 5:52 am
    Eboni says:

    Is it possible to bake the gluten after it is extracted and grind it up into a powder to have it work like the store stuff?

    • Comment left on:
      July 11, 2014 at 6:18 am
      Eli says:

      If you bake it, it won’t work. But if you put it in a dehydrator after the seive step (where it’s all in small bits), and then grind it when it’s dry, maybe it would work.

  7. Comment left on:
    May 31, 2014 at 6:42 am
    Erica says:

    Love it

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