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
4.71 from 48 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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Timbo jones
Timbo jones
March 29, 2013 12:09 am

Just made this today, never had seitan before, I just boiled it in low sodium broth, what is it suppose to taste like? Anyone please 🙂

Chfplz
Chfplz
June 26, 2018 10:15 pm
Reply to  Timbo jones

Seitan when executed correctly has the texture of chicken thigh. So, what you include in the dough and stock flavors it. Check the net for “how to” seasoning recipes, and create what you enjoy.

Annette
Annette
March 21, 2013 11:35 am

The flavor of truly homemade seitan (from flour)is so much better than using vital wheat gluten. And you can use a food processor for the kneading portion to cut down on some of the labor!

Patricia Wheeler
Patricia Wheeler
November 21, 2019 5:42 pm
Reply to  Annette

how do U use the food processor for the kneading?

chrisfff
chrisfff
September 29, 2020 8:38 am

Use a dough hook

Brian
Brian
January 18, 2013 10:28 am

Hey there. Would it be possible to make spelt seitan!

Jodie
Jodie
August 3, 2014 5:41 pm
Reply to  Stacy Spensley

4 stars
I’ve used spelt and it works great!! I’ve also used kamut. And of course whole wheat. I couldn’t tell one was better or worse than the other.

Erin
Erin
January 16, 2013 8:23 pm

What would happen if I replaced the flour with corn meal?

Mary Blackledge Corroo
Mary Blackledge Corroo
January 7, 2013 12:17 pm

5 stars
My boyfriend and I made this today. (He did dishes and helped squeeze.) It was very good! I made my own lazy broth lol A1 Steak Sauce in water. I followed the instructions for making the seitan. After it was done I dredged it in my usual rub(sugar, cumin, chile powder, etc) and cooked it in a nonstick skillet in a little oil. It glazed up like bbq sauce and was fabulous with potato salad. I’ve made seitan-ish meatloaf with vital wheat gluten, pureed beans and besan. So I ‘get’ that it’s easier. But this was pretty darn easy too. It was way more economical too! And I got some exercise too! This method/food is a keeper. Thanks for showing me how!

Diana B.
Diana B.
December 19, 2012 9:39 am

5 stars
Thanks to my fb friend in U.K. My curiosity has got me on a path, I didnt know I may be going. for my health, for my self, for Sprituality. Thank you for your healthy, political and interesingly healthy web page!! Blessings, cheers, Freedom Diana

Nish
Nish
December 14, 2012 2:17 am

4 stars
Hi Stacy…Thanks for this…I guess I’ll have to give it a couple of shots before I come close to perfecting it but it does sound great way to help incorporate more protien in my breakfast 🙂

Archie Rae McFaland
Archie Rae McFaland
December 13, 2012 9:02 pm

I Have been making meat substitutes using Tapioca, Sodium alginate, corn masa and texturised soy protein with excellent results except I want to make the Sting cheese fiber texture before adding any major flavors.

Your prompt response is appreciated

Archie Rae McFarland senior wellness science and professional food technologist

Justin
Justin
October 21, 2012 9:01 pm

You can circumvent a lot of this process and buy gluten flour. Just add water and spices and you are away! Takes about two minutes to prepare and about 1/2 hour to simmer.

Aaron
Aaron
October 18, 2012 9:46 am

5 stars
Thanks for this easy recipe. Seitan is no longer a mystery. I also appreciate the hint about adding spices after the rinsing process. I now feel like I can make anything I want. My first batch turned out like dumplings. Apparently I didn’t rinse enough of the starch out. Thank goodness flour isn’t very expensive.