How To Make Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour

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.

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.

Homemade Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
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.
  • 6 cups (24 ounces / 900 grams) Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 cups Cold Water
  • 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
  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.

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78 Comments on "How To Make Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour"

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October 31, 2011 8:23 am

ok, i am trying this! seitan from the store is never what i hope for and a coworker recently shared some seitan she made this way

Stacy (Little Blue Hen)
November 1, 2011 7:57 am

I hope you do! Somehow seeing the process makes the lump of brown squish more accessible. It’s got a much stronger flavor than tofu, but the texture lends itself wonderfully to so many dishes.

October 31, 2011 8:26 am


Stacy (Little Blue Hen)
November 1, 2011 8:41 am

With all the steps illustrated it looks way more complicated than it is. Because of the rinsing, you barely have to knead to develop the gluten. It’s really simple!

October 31, 2011 11:36 am

This sounds like a great option, but I have two questions. When you freeze it do you place it in broth first, or just freeze the strips. Also, if I wanted to make a recipe like this where you bake and not boil the seitan, would you mix in the seasoning before soaking in the water for a few hours, or after you have rinsed it and before squeezing it? Thanks for the great article 🙂

Stacy (Little Blue Hen)
November 1, 2011 8:39 am

Hi Jen, great questions! I would freeze it in the broth.

For the “ribz,” I would add the flavoring after soaking and rinsing, squeeze it out pretty well so it’s not going to drip your spices out, and then knead the seasoning in. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, that might work really well to contain everything.

Glad you enjoyed it. =)

JJ @ 84thand3rd
November 1, 2011 8:32 pm

Wow, thanks for this! I have always made my own from purchased Vital Wheat Gluten but had wondered how exactly they got it ‘out’ of the flour… Definitely trying the unprocessed way. Cheers!

November 20, 2011 11:21 pm

That is it? I didnt know it was so simple! I’m making it on my own next time. Thank you for sharing!

November 28, 2011 6:33 am

Thanks so much for this! I’ve always used TVP (texturized vegetable protein) or tofu in the place of meat, and I didn’t even know what seiten was! I think I’m going to try this. Thanks!

George Deane
George Deane
February 8, 2012 3:41 pm

I have mde seitan manytimes but a recurrent problem I have is that it comes out rubbery and tough. Can anyone explain what I am doing wrong. Seitan should not have a rubbery consistency but on the contrary be tneder.

George Deane
George Deane
February 8, 2012 3:44 pm

Many times when I have made seitan the result has been a consistency that is rubbery and tough. Does anyone recognize the symptom and does anyone have a cure?

Stacy Spensley
February 10, 2012 7:32 pm

Hi George,

Seitan does have a fairly hearty tooth to it, however, it shouldn’t be soft.

Maybe it’s too dry, or you’re squeezing out too much liquid? Or, you could be overdeveloping the gluten. Last thought it maybe you’re cooking it longer than it needs. Do any of those sound helpful?

January 8, 2013 4:00 pm

My vegan pal swears that adding a little nutritional yeast to the dry ingredients zaps the rubbery-troll. As she’s vague about the proportions, I’ve been too chicken to try it myself. But she claims it’s a sure thing…

March 5, 2012 9:04 pm

First off, I’m not a vegetarian or health concious. What I am is a frugal wife, mother, and student living off only my husband’s income until I graduate nursing school.

I am constantly looking for ways to modify our diet to stretch what we have further and this helped! I used what I had on hand to try it out. I used regular AP flour and when I boiled it up, I used brown gravy and four cups of water. When it was done cooking, I added two cans veg-all and another brown gravy pack. I’m sure I could have done a lot to make it healthier and prolly will later – but to test it out and see how it was – it’s really remarkable and will take the place of meat in a lot of our dishes.


May 13, 2012 1:41 pm

Thank you so much for this! I am so excited to try this. I am vegetarian and have fallen into that college convenience of prepackaged veggie burgers and such. I have seen so many recipes using seitan but could never find it in the store. I googled for a recipe and this came up! I am so excited to try this! Thanks again!

June 6, 2012 9:48 am

Absolutely awesome, so fun to squish… Definitely soak overnight, though; the process of separating the gluten, bran and starch is intensive enough as it is. Thanks for this!

June 16, 2012 7:35 pm

Thank you for this recipe. I am looking forward to trying this. I have been living a vegan life since Late December and just recently tried BBQ seitan and fell in love. Now to be able to make it myself is a blessing. Thanks again.

July 4, 2012 11:42 am

Thsnks for this. You mention that you can add spices etc in to the dough before rinsing- do they not just get washed out again?

July 7, 2012 6:57 pm


I tried this using whole wheat flour, but when I started to wash out the dough it completely disintegrated. It didn’t stay whole, so I had to transfer it to a sieve to get the milky water out. any ideas where i went wrong?

Older Generation
Older Generation
July 23, 2016 4:15 pm

For those of you who grind your own wheat, do not use golden wheat. I got some from Azure Standard, and it works well for yeast bread, and other recipes, and is quite nice, but it does not have enough gluten for wheat meat. The other detail is that during the kneading and washing process, it does come apart for awhile, and then sticks together again, as the starch washes out. (Unless you used that golden wheat flour. Sigh.) I do use a sieve to hold it while it is coming apart during the washing process.