June 19, 2023

RECIPE METHOD: Shredded Seitan

Seitan (pronounced SAY-tan) is one of those "weird vegan foods" that I swore I'd never cook. I had absolutely no clue what it was until I attempted to make it for the first time. I learned that making seitan is more of an ART than anything else--getting the texture and the taste right is a lot more difficult than I thought.

First, if you don't know what seitan is, I'll explain in a very tiny nutshell: Seitan is a vegan meat alternative that is made out of vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is what is left when you remove *everything* but the gluten from wheat flour. Gluten holds things like dough together and makes things stretchy (think pizza dough). This is what vital wheat gluten looks like:

It looks like flour, basically, but it's "springy"--which sounds odd until you see it for yourself. Anyway...

All seitan has one common ingredient: vital wheat gluten. But there are a million recipes out there for different flavors and textures of seitan. You can make it taste like pretty much whatever you'd like, based on what seasonings you use. Depending on what you add to it, you can get all sorts of different textures. Usually, the recipes involve adding some sort of protein (like tofu or beans), lots of seasonings, and vital wheat gluten. The only other thing you need is a blender or food processor.

I tried what felt like ten billion recipes for seitan and something was always off. Each time, though, I learned something else I might be able to tweak for next time. When I mentioned this several weeks ago on my blog, someone asked for the recipe--and naturally, I forgot to share! However, I made some seitan today, so I took pictures for the post.

This recipe for seitan is meant to replace shredded chicken. I tried so hard with other recipes to get the shredded texture and it just wasn't happening. This recipe is where it finally came together for me. Then I tweaked it to my preferences in taste and method. This recipe isn't from one source, although the basis of it comes from this video on YouTube by Green Beets Kitchen. That is how I made it before I started tweaking things.

Below is the recipe as I make it... including my changes. This is how Jerry and I like it best!

(Here is a PDF copy if you'd like to print it!)

First, the ingredients:

480 mL water
2 Tbsp. miso paste
1 tsp. salt (or ¾ tsp. salt + ¼ tsp. msg)
2 servings vegan “chicken” bouillon powder (2 cubes, 2 tsp. paste, etc. I use 2 Tbsp. of this homemade vegan powder)
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
½ tsp. white pepper
20 g. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. neutral flavored oil
70 g. pea protein isolate powder
230 g. vital wheat gluten

Notes about ingredients:

Since seitan can be finicky, the difficult-to measure-ingredients are listed by weight--which makes it much more consistent. (I love when recipes list ingredients by weight!)

About the msg (monosodium glutamate)... I know it's a super "frowned upon" ingredient, so it's definitely not necessary here. However, after reading quite a bit about it a while ago, I decided to give it a try in this recipe. The point is, though, it's optional.

The vegan "chicken" bouillon... this can be vegan bouillon cubes or paste or powder. For this recipe, you just want two servings of it. I use 2 Tbsp. of this homemade bouillon powder by Plant Power Couple. (I use that powder for everything, by the way! I don't put the turmeric in it, though, just because of the color--it makes the seitan very yellow, which is off-putting.)

Pea protein isolate is literally just pea protein powder--I bought a big bag of it on Amazon and it was pretty cheap (especially considering we make this seitan all the time). The same with the vital wheat gluten--I buy big bags on Amazon (I use Anthony's brand for both of them, as well as nutritional yeast and several other products).

A note about appliances:

Most recipes call for use of a food processor to make seitan. I got rid of my food processor when I got the Ninja "all-in-one"-type system. I use the Ninja--I use the metal blade for the first part of the recipe and then the dough blade to finish it.

However, you can use whatever you have, as long as the motor is strong enough to hold up to the dough. I even used my KitchenAid stand mixer to knead the dough before! (It takes much longer, but I'll write about that later.) For this post, I'll refer to the appliance as a blender, since that's what I'm using.

Okay, on to the method of how I make the "perfect" shredded seitan...

First, just add all of the ingredients *except for* the pea protein and the wheat gluten to the blender:

1) Before blending; 2) after 30 seconds I scraped down the sides; 3) after another 30 seconds.

Then, you add the pea protein (don't add the gluten yet). This is what it will look like after blending with the pea protein:

Finally, add the vital wheat gluten to the blender:

(I switched out to the dough blade at this point. If you want to use a heavy duty stand mixer, you'll want to put it all in there now. If you're using a food processor, just make sure you don't overheat your machine. That goes for all appliances, really.)

Now comes the monotonous part. Blend on high with the gluten for 60 seconds. It will look like this:

60 seconds of blend time.

Let it rest for 5-10 minutes; this gives your motor a chance to calm down and it gives the gluten some time to activate (and become "stretchy"). After the rest, blend again--for 45 seconds. It will look like this:

1:45 minutes of blend time.

Rest the dough again, 5-10 minutes. Then blend on high again for 45 seconds. It should look similar to this:

See on the bottom right, how it's starting to look stretchy? 2:30 minutes of blend time.

Keep repeating this process--45 seconds on high, 5-10 minutes rest...

3:15 minutes of blend time

4:00 minutes of blend time

4:45 minutes of blend time

That last picture, the one that was 4:45 minutes of blend time, is what the texture should look like when it's ready to move to the next step. It will be very sticky and stringy. It'll feel like soft taffy, and you'll see individual striations/fibers when you stretch it.

(Note: Be careful not to let the blender get too hot--it will start to steam the seitan, and you don't want that! Just be patient and let it rest as often as needed.)

In this picture, you can see the comparison between just 45 seconds of blend time. If you stop too early, and it doesn't look like the ball on the left, then the texture won't be shreddable. You want it to look like the ball on the left:

Once the dough is ready, divide it into two portions:

Working with just one ball at a time, form it into a long rope (the longer the better; don't let it break, though!).

Once you have a long rope, grab a small bowl and add some water to it. Using your fingers, just barely glaze the rope with water to make it slippery (don't douse it with water, but you don't want it to be sticky for this next part).

Next, starting in the middle of the rope, tie a knot (the same kind of knot you would use to tie your shoe--very simple):

After that, tie another knot, directly on top of it, as close as possible:

Continue tying knots, dipping your fingers in the water as needed, until you reach the ends. Tuck the ends into a crease. You'll have a very odd-shaped ball:

Give it a gentle press together on all sides. Then lay it on a piece of parchment paper:

Tightly roll the ball in the parchment paper, then roll up the ends to seal:

Once it's wrapped in parchment, set it on a long piece of aluminum foil. Beginning at one end, roll it up just like you did with the parchment paper. Wrap as tightly as you can, but be very careful not to let the foil rip on the folds of the parchment:

Once you wrap both loaves, place them in a steamer basket. Cover and steam gently (a very gentle simmer) for one hour and forty five minutes. 

Carefully remove them from the steamer basket using tongs and place them on the counter to cool:

Allow them to cool at least one hour. Open while still warm for an easier time shredding (or you could place them in the fridge overnight before opening). This is what it will look like when you open it:

Kind of like a loaf of deli meat. To shred it is kind of fun! Just hold each end and twist in opposite directions. The loaf will start to pull apart at the "seams" (where the knots met):

As you "unfold" the rope, you can pull off the skin. (It tastes fine in my opinion, but it's not as shreddable.)

Once you have the skin removed, you can pull the seitan apart into smaller shreds:

Isn't it crazy how much it looks like meat?! And it was made from flour, basically.

What do you do with it? You can use it anywhere that you would normally use shredded chicken or pork. My family really likes it with barbecue sauce for a super fast meal (when we have the seitan already shredded in the fridge). It reminds me of pulled chicken (but I don't get grossed out, wondering what I might bite into, hahaha).

Anyway, THAT is how Jerry and I really like our seitan. We continue to try new recipes, but this one is our go-to. The biggest key to remember is: The texture MUST look like shiny, stringy taffy before dividing into ropes in order to get the shreddable texture.


  1. So, can you just cook this for me some time? All those steps! You're so patient, and persistent. It does look yummy though.

  2. Thank you SO much for posting this - we hope to try it this weekend, if not before! It looks so very, VERY good!

  3. This does look like it could taste good! But wow, what a lot of work and time to go through for it. I agree with Nita - you are very patient.


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