Seitan

« LAST UPDATE: 10 February 2022 »

PUBLISHED: 31 July 2015

Seitan (pronounced SAY-TAN) is a fan favorite among vegans who love its chewy, toothy texture and ability to mimic almost any animal-based meat. Despite its popularity as an ingredient in store-bought vegan meats, many people don’t know much about this protein-packed food.

I’m here to change that.

First, I’ll cover the basics and answer a few frequently asked questions. Then it’s time to go shopping. There’s a brand guide to help point you in the right direction once you get to the store.

Next, you’ll find cooking basics along with vegan seitan recipes to try. Finally, I’ve included a few video tutorials.

Let’s dig in.

QUICK FACTS

» Category: Food & Drink Guides
» Minutes to Read: 5
» Recipes to Try: 10

Seitan

PUBLISHED: 31 JULY 2015  »  LAST UPDATE: 10 February 2022

Seitan (pronounced SAY-TAN) is a fan favorite among vegans who love its chewy, toothy texture and ability to mimic almost any animal-based meat. Despite its popularity as an ingredient in store-bought vegan meats, many people don’t know much about this protein-packed food.

I’m here to change that.

First, I’ll cover the basics and answer a few frequently asked questions. Then it’s time to go shopping. There’s a brand guide to help point you in the right direction once you get to the store.

Next, you’ll find cooking basics along with vegan seitan recipes to try. Finally, I’ve included a few video tutorials.

Let’s dig in.

QUICK FACTS

» Category: Food & Drink Guides
» Minutes to Read: 5
» Recipes to Try: 10

 

What is Seitan?

It has a huge fanbase and is almost universally loved, but what is it?

A close up of a bowl of seitan and a side of soy sauce sitting on a blue/green background.

Uncooked seitan / Source

Origins

Seitan originated in China and Japan more than 1,000 years ago.

Traditionally prepared by Zen Buddhists, it was used as a substitute for meat or fish. It comes from the Japanese words “sei,” meaning “to be, become, made of,” and “tan,” as in tanpaku, which means “proteins.”

Freely translated, it means: “made of proteins.”

It’s Made From Gluten

Seitan is the protein part of the wheat flour, also known as gluten or wheat gluten.

It comes from washing wheat flour dough with water to remove all the starch granules, leaving a sticky, insoluble gluten mass. The spices and flavorings come next, then cooked.

Trust me; it tastes much better than it sounds.

What Does It Taste Like?

By itself, seitan has little to no flavor at all.

It absorbs flavorings extraordinarily well and has a toothsome, chewy texture that is similar to animal meat. This toothy texture makes it an excellent choice for people who are looking for alternatives to the familiar foods of their pre-vegan days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some store-bought versions come packaged in broth. You can drain it if you want or not; it’s up to you.

These versions can be heavy on sodium, so be sure to taste it before adding it to recipes.

Yes! Gluten is not a water-soluble plant protein; it’s stretchy enough to cope with water crystals forming. So, go ahead and freeze without worry. Freezing either store-bought or homemade, with or without the broth, does not change its consistency or texture.

Preparation Tip: Get the thinnest slices possible using a serrated knife on partially frozen seitan roasts.

No. Because it contains gluten, it’s off-limits for anyone with Celiac Disease or who otherwise needs to be gluten-free.

 

Shopping Guide

Here are all the things you need to know before heading to the store.

Find Seitan in Stores

You’ll find premade seitan refrigerated sections of grocery stores, health food stores, or Asian markets. Look near where the tofu and similar products are for seasoned blocks, strips, or other shapes.

Seitan Brands

  • Love Seitan (UK)
    Pepperoni, Chilli & Garlic, Classic, Chyck’n, Smokey Dokey
  • Sweet Earth Natural Foods
    Traditional Slices, Strips, or Grounds, Chipotle Grounds or Strips, Tuscan Savory Grounds, Barbecue Savory Grounds, or Curry Satay

Homemade Seitan-Making Supplies

If you want to make your own, look for powdered gluten — sometimes called vital wheat gluten or gluten flour— and it’s essential to get the right product. You want to look for a vital wheat gluten that contains 75% or more protein.

Another essential ingredient in homemade versions is stock. Cooking in stock is a great way to start building flavor in an otherwise flavorless product. I will use homemade stock whenever I can, but pre-made or made from bouillon is fine too. I use and love the no-chicken style bouillon from Better Than Bouillon, which adds a nice flavor base.

Since every recipe is different, be sure to check the ingredients list before heading to the store. (This is my most-missed step, is it yours too?)

Do you make a vegan product that isn’t listed? Contact me.

 
 

Vegan Seitan Recipes

Are you ready to get cooking? Here are a few recipes to inspire you.

10 Recipes to Try

1. Vegan Pepperoni
Your Daily Vegan

2. BBQ Ribs
Veganosity

A serving of Burek on a white plate
Two bowls of colorful fresh foods sitting on a table surrounded by napkins, cutlery, and condiments
Light green plate filled with various foods
Blue bowl of seitan "beef" served with white rice and broccoli

6. Mongolian Seitan “Beef”
Yup, It’s Vegan

Two burgers on a bun with all the fixings sitting on a wooden cutting board

7. Grillable Vegan Burgers
The Cheeky Chickpea

White plate filled with green beans, mashed potatoes, tomatoes, and seitan steaks

8. Tender Vegan Steak
Vegan Blueberry

White plate of breakfast sausage and orange slices sitting on top of a wooden platter next to a pitcher of orange juice

9. Maple Breakfast Sausage
Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen

Outstretched hands holding a hot dog

Recipes to Try

 

Video Tutorials

Because sometimes it’s easier to watch a video.

Watch & Learn

Unfortunately, I could never link to all the creative videos or tutorials on this topic.

I chose the following ones because I’ve personally tried each, resulting in awesome-tasting food.

Truth in Advertising

I am committed to providing accurate information to the vegan community. Meticulously researched, the vegan topic explored in this guide contains the information available at the time of publishing.

I don’t just say it; I source it too.

Please contact me if you find incorrect data.

Photo Credits

Article photos via Getty Images.
Recipe photos via recipe creators and used with written permission.