How To Make Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour

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 from whole wheat flour

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.

How to make Seitan from Flour
4.67 from 57 votes
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Homemade Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour

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.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Vegan
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 45 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 250 kcal
Author Stacy Spensley

Ingredients

Dough

  • 6 cups whole wheat flour 24 ounces / 900 grams
  • 2 cups cold water

Broth

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or Braggs liquid aminos
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon 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.

About the Author

Stacy Spensley is a healthy life coach who supports overwhelmed men and women to integrate sustainable, step-by-step diet, mindset, and lifestyle changes so they can feel awesome and kick ass at life. She is professionally bossy and an ardent supporter of the Oxford comma, and you’ll easily find her on Twitter and Facebook. She co-wrote the Official Guide to October Unprocessed, and if this post resonates with you, try Stacy’s free 5-day jumpstart e-course.

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Suzy
Suzy
December 1, 2021 6:30 am

I want to make “beef” seitan using the WTF method. My question is, when is the appropriate time to add spices to the whole wheat flour? I’ve researched for a month now and can’t find a direct answer to that question. Thank you so much!

Ray
Ray
February 16, 2021 2:39 pm

Followed recipe got a clogged sink, soupy mess, and possibly ruined pan.

Susan
Susan
December 22, 2020 5:16 pm

I don’t know what I did wrong. All I got was like a ball of wet sand that eventually just watshed away until nothing was left.

Cece
Cece
May 7, 2021 10:05 pm
Reply to  Susan

Me too. I’m not sure why the dough just fell apart. Did you go by gram measurement or cups? Maybe the error with the weight was my issue, there wasn’t enough water at first and I added almost a whole other cup to even get any sort of dough.

Ashley Hooker
Ashley Hooker
July 29, 2021 9:00 pm
Reply to  Susan

Did you use a high gluten flour?

Shira
Shira
November 20, 2020 12:42 am

5 stars
Hi I left my dough ball soaking too long. This is my second time experimenting but my first time working with so much flour. My mixer is at capacity. I’ve added flour to stiffen but it’s not balling up yet. Hoping if I let it rest in the open air tonight, I can revive it tomorrow. Have you ever fixed a soupy dough ball?

Tammy Shuler
Tammy Shuler
February 5, 2021 3:18 am
Reply to  Shira

Mine was like that. Until I washed it under running water all the while squeezing and pulling apart, it soon started getting sort of rubbery when the water started getting clear I’d soak for 5-10 minutes and repeat several times and soon water run clear, I cut it in process and let sit in water until I made broth, then I cooked it for 25 minutes, in that broth i was making but i added fresh- frozen mushrooms a couple slices of ginger and tomatoes juice instead, water, nutritional yeast, rosemary. Im making chicken.

Mirinda
Mirinda
September 12, 2020 1:33 pm

We call it Gluten and hav been eating it since birth! Im wanting to know how to get it spongy inside and not to look like a slice of perfect polony? Do i hav to knead it longer? Or is there another ttick? Whst will happen if i put yeast into the mixture? I made a batch on Wed night soaked till Thurs day night then washed and brothed….tasted like childhood…(my 20yr old son very sentimental coz he ate if after years last?). Regards Mirinda. Cape Town South Africa

David
David
September 3, 2020 8:58 am

There is an error in the recipe: 6 cups of whole wheat flour is 720 grams, not 900.

Dan
Dan
August 11, 2020 12:00 pm

5 stars
This recipe was easy and turned out delicious!! One tip I’d share is after kneading the dough for a bit to wash out the starch, to make sure I removed as much starch as possible, I put the glutenous ball back in a stand mixer with some cold water and mixed on high for a couple of minutes. I was left with gluten “grounds” that easily reformed a tight ball when done. My partner, who is mostly carnivorous, also loved the finished product! Can’t wait to try more batches with different flavorings/additions! If you have any favorites, feel free to share! Thanks again!!

Heather Fleischer
Heather Fleischer
July 9, 2020 9:48 pm

I just made this, and I will DEFINITELY be using King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour next time! SO.MUCH.BRAN. I’m afraid my poor sink drain is going to clog up in the near future. I realized after my 4th rinse that the sink wasn’t draining; when I got it to drain, there was bran completely coating the bottom of my sink. After that, I drained the rest of the rinse water through a reusable produce bag, and even with the first bit going down the drain/in the trash (the stuff that was coating the sink bottom went in the wastebin), it is 1/4 full of BRAN. I’m going to toss it in the dehydrator and see what I can do with it, but it was NOT WORTH all the extra effort, or the sink de-clogging I fear is in my future. I was getting mostly clear water for a while at… Read more »

James
James
May 19, 2020 3:34 am

Thank you Stacy, this looks great. I would have thought that most of the “whole” part of the wheat would wash out, but your seitan looks quite dark some of it must have stuck around.

Question: How did you calculate the calories of the seitan? I’m having trouble doing so since it seems impossible to determine how much starch has washed out or what the water content of the final seitan product is.

Ruth
Ruth
April 11, 2020 5:18 pm

5 stars
Tried this today and came out so good! I just boiled it in veggie broth and my daughter and husband ate it just like that. I put half aside to stir fry tomorrow.

Thank you for simple, easy to follow instructions

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