Want to know how to make the best vegan beef? This recipe will show you exactly how to make the best omnivore-approved vegan beef using vital wheat gluten! This seitan meat recipe is chewy, savory and works so well in a variety of dishes from rice bowls, to noodles, to stews.
A step by step video is included in the recipe card below!
Why you’ll love this Vegan Beef Recipe
The average American grew up eating a protein, a starch, and a vegetable with every meal. Those wanting to cut down on meat or transition to a plant-based diet, still crave that chewy, tender, ‘meaty’ texture in their meals. Now, you can get that awesome protein texture without meat!
Today, I’ll show you exactly how to make the BEST vegan beef. This versatile mock meat recipe is amazing in so many dishes from stews to mashed potatoes, or even noodle dishes. Another great recipe you may love is this vegan roast beef recipe.
Below are some of the many reasons I love this recipe and you will too:
- Perfect Texture– Made with vital wheat gluten, this vegan beef has the chewy, tender, ‘meaty’ texture that so many of us crave. It’s the perfect substitute for traditional beef, pleasing both vegans and meat-eaters alike!
- Incredibly Versatile – Whether you’re stirring it into stews, serving it with mashed potatoes, or tossing it into noodle dishes, this vegan ‘beef’ fits seamlessly into your favorite recipes. The savory taste will elevate any meal!
- Simple to Prepare – Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making your own vegan meat. This recipe breaks down the process into easy steps and a video tutorial is included.
- Great for Transitioning Diets – If you’re looking to cut down on meat or shift towards a fully plant-based diet, this vegan beef is an excellent starting point. It provides that familiar ‘meaty’ experience without the actual meat!
Why this Seitan Recipe Works
The main ingredient in this vegan beef is vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is the ingredient that gives this vegan beef recipe its chewy, stretchy texture. Wheat gluten is the main ingredient in seitan and is close to 80% protein.
You know when you’re kneading dough for bread, and the dough becomes super-elastic? That’s because of all the gluten in the flour. Vital Wheat Gluten is made by washing away all the starch of the wheat and leaving behind the gluten.
In this recipe, wheat gluten gives the ‘beefs’ an irreplaceable stretchy, almost sinewy texture, similar to real meat.
In order to get the perfect texture, we don’t want to use only vital wheat gluten. That’s where the rice flour (gluten-free) and chickpeas come in. These two ingredients help add substance and volume to the mixture and they help the ‘beefs’ retain a bit of tenderness.
Before we get started, let’s first talk about the base of our vegan ‘beef’. You can create this seitan recipe with simple ingredients that are packed with flavor. While the ingredient list may seem a bit long, each seasoning adds a layer of depth to the recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Vital Wheat Gluten – The foundation for the ‘meaty’ texture, vital wheat gluten gives the perfect chewiness to the recipe.
- Chickpeas – Drained canned chickpeas add substance and a touch of natural sweetness.
- Yellow Onion – Minced yellow onion brings in a savory depth to the dish.
- Soy Sauce – For a rich umami flavor, soy sauce is key. Use a low-sodium version if you prefer.
- Yellow Mustard & Olive Oil – These add tang and richness, enhancing the overall flavor.
- Vegan Worcestershire Sauce – This brings in complexity and a ‘beefy’ note.
- Molasses – A touch of molasses adds sweetness and a rich, dark color.
- Rice Flour or Chickpea Flour – These help create a tender texture.
- Garlic Powder, Nutritional Yeast, Smoked Paprika, Onion Powder, Ground Mustard, Black Pepper – A robust blend of seasonings and spices that make the vegan beef taste authentic and delicious.
- Veggie Stock – Adding moisture and flavor, you can substitute water for a lower sodium option.
where to get vital wheat gluten
I ordered a huge 4lb bag of vital wheat gluten for only $15 online [update: they’ve increased the price to $25, which is still less expensive than buying in stores], which makes this plant-based beef super inexpensive per serving. The brand I use in this recipe is Anthony’s Vital Wheat Gluten. You can also find vital wheat gluten in most grocery stores.
While certain ingredients are key to the texture and flavor of this vegan ‘beef’, there are some areas where you have flexibility:
- Vital Wheat Gluten: Unfortunately, there’s no direct substitute for vital wheat gluten to achieve the exact chewy texture. You can use the same marinade on soy curls or Gardein Beefless tips, but please note the texture won’t be the same.
- Molasses: You can substitute the same amount of Vegan Worcestershire or maple syrup for molasses if desired.
- Rice Flour: Rice flour can be substituted 1:1 for more vital wheat gluten. However, rice flour helps create a tender texture, so if omitted, the vegan beef will be slightly chewier.
- Dry Spices: Feel free to experiment with different spices for your unique flavor preferences. Whether you prefer more heat, sweetness, or earthy flavors, the dry spices can be interchanged to suit your taste buds. Just be mindful of the overall balance of flavors.
Note: Please remember that while these substitutions provide options, they may slightly alter the texture and taste of the final product.
Flavoring the vegan seitan beef
While we’ll add a good amount of flavorings and spices to this recipe, they’re all intentionally more neutral in flavor. This is so these vegan ‘beefs’ can be used in a variety of dishes. In testing, I’ve found very flavorful ingredients like tomato paste or other acidic ingredients give the vegan ‘beef’ too much unrealistic tang.
- Large Glass Mixing Bowl – seitan sticks less easily to glass
- Rubber Spatula – again, seitan sticks less easily to silicone or rubber
- Digital Kitchen Scale – for measuring the ingredients
- Baking Dish – for cooking
Step By Step Instructions
🎥 Video Tutorial is Above the Recipe Card Below!
Making the Seitan Dough
STEP 1: Combine all our flavorings and spices into one medium-sized bowl. Then, you’ll mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Making a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the mixture of flavorings and veggie stock, stirring to combine.
STEP 2: The mixture should come together into a loose dough ball. You’ll then knead the dough by hand for just a few minutes.
It’s important not to over-knead the dough! Doing so will make the beefs chewier and less tender. You should knead the dough just enough for the ball to no longer feel sticky.
Shaping the Seitan
STEP 3: After kneading the dough, you’ll divide it into 3-4 equally sized balls. Shape the balls into rectilinear logs or loaves.
STEP 4: The next step is to shape your beef. In this recipe, I cut them into 3/4 inch to 1-inch cubes, but you could cut them into strips or any other shape you’d like!
Baking the Seitan
STEP 5: You’ll then spread the cubes evenly in a baking dish, and pour the marinade on top. Make sure all of the cubes are covered in the marinade. This helps give the vegan beefs even more flavor, gives them a crispy crust, and helps keep them moist while baking.
NOTE: The smaller you cut the pieces the less baking time they’ll need. If you cut them into pieces smaller than 1/2 an inch, I’d recommend only baking them for 21-22 minutes instead of the 24-25 minutes in the recipe below.
STEP 6: You’ll pop these into the oven and bake them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for a total of 24-25 minutes. Halfway through, it’s important to flip them for even baking.
STEP 7: After about 20 minutes, you can add a tablespoon of soy sauce on top or more marinade to help keep the beef even more moist.
STEP 8: Remove from the oven and enjoy!
And that’s it, really! Now you know how to make the best vegan beef! This recipe is awesome to make in bulk and to keep in the freezer. That way you can always have this awesome plant-based protein on hand and ready to add to any dish.
Top this seitan dish with green onions, sesame seeds, and a spritz of lime! This recipe would also be amazing in Vegan Mongolian Beef dishes or other stir fries. You can serve it with noodles or on top of flavored rice (like this coconut lime rice).
I’ve stewed this vegan beef with red wine to make Bourguignon. Or you could make vegan roast beef with the base of this recipe!
a few amazing dishes that you can add these homemade seitan ‘beefs’ to!
This seitan recipe tends to firm up after cooling and is even better the next day! Below are a few tips for storing the seitan:
- Refrigerating: place them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezing: place them into a freezer baggie and freeze for up to 3 months! I love doing this so they can be incorporated into quick weeknight meals.
Pro Tips for Perfect Seitan Beef
If it’s your first time working with seitan, here are a few tips to help you achieve the best results!
- Don’t Over Knead the Dough: While kneading develops the gluten, over-kneading can create tough pieces of vegan beef. A gentle but firm kneading action will help you find the right texture.
- Coat Well with the Marinade: Make sure every piece of seitan is well-coated with the marinade. This helps keep the seitan moist in the oven and imparts delicious flavors.
- Small Pieces Cook Faster: If you cut the pieces smaller than what is pictured in the post above, the seitan will cook faster. Be sure to decrease the cook time by 5 minutes to avoid overcooking.
- Monitor the Moisture: If the dough seems too dry or too wet, adjust the liquid or vital wheat gluten as needed. Finding the right balance ensures the ideal texture.
- Freeze Extras: Make a larger batch and freeze extra portions for quick and easy future meals. Just thaw and reheat when needed.
I don’t recommend using this recipe to make veggie burgers.
This recipe is best if shaped into strips or cubes.
Seitan has a meat-like texture and is made with wheat protein. It’s great for making vegan meats, vegan steak, and is a great substitute for mock beef!
OTHER DELICIOUS VEGAN MEAT SUBSTITUTES:
- Vegan Seitan Steak
- Buttermilk Vegan Chicken
- Crispy Vegan Shrimp
- Vegan Salami
- Glazed Vegan Ham
- Sticky BBQ Vegan Ribs
Did you make This vEgan Beef Recipe?
⭐️ I’d love to know! Leave a star rating and comment below! ⭐️
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Beef Wet Ingredients
- ¼ cup (60g) canned chickpeas, drained
- ¼ cup (40g) yellow onion, minced
- 3 tbsp (38g) low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp (5g) yellow mustard
- 1 tbsp (8g) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (8g) vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp (10g) unsulphured molasses or sub more Worcestershire
Beef Dry Ingredients
- 1 ¾ cup (210g) vital wheat gluten spooned into the cup and leveled
- ¼ cup (30g) rice flour, or sub ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
- 2 tsp (5g) garlic powder
- 2 tbsp (10g) nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp (1g) smoked paprika
- ½ tsp (1g) onion powder
- ¼ tsp (1g) ground mustard optional
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¾ cup + 1-2 tbsp veggie stock divided *or sub water for lower sodium
- 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp unsulphured molasses
- 3 tbsp + 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, divided (the 1 tbsp will be added after 20 minutes of baking)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
*Video tutorial is above the recipe card!*
- Finely mince the chickpeas and onions. Or add them to a high-speed blender or food processor, and chop until they are a finely minced texture, but not a blended paste. They should still have some texture. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, measure and mix together the liquid seasonings (3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp yellow mustard, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire, and 2 tsp molasses.)
- In a large bowl stir together the vital wheat gluten, rice flour and dry spices (2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 onion powder, 1/4 ground mustard, 1/4 pepper).
- Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the chickpea, onion and liquid seasoning mixture. Then pour in 3/4 cup of the veggie stock or water. Stir to combine. The mixture will look slightly dry, but will come together once it is kneaded. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of stock or water, 1 tbsp at a time, if needed to create a moist dough.
- Transfer the mixture to a surface that's lightly floured with some more rice flour and gently knead for 30 seconds until the dough feels elastic and no longer sticky. Do not over-knead. The dough should be firm but moist. If it feels super tough, it's likely too much vital wheat gluten was added or it was over kneaded.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Shape them into rectilinear loaves or logs.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a 9x13" baking dish with about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
- Cut the “beef” logs into cubes (about 1”), or cut them into strips (about 1/2" wide and 2-3" long). Spread them evenly in the oiled baking dish, coating all sides with oil. Make sure they are an even layer. You may need two baking dishes.
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade together and pour on top of the cubes or strips. Make sure they are evenly coated in the marinade.
- Bake the seitan for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.
- After 20 minutes, drizzle 1 more tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce onto the seitan, stir to coat. Bake for 4-5 more minutes. The seitan should be slightly caramelized and browned. They may still feel soft but once they cool slightly, they will firm up and become chewier.
- Remove from the oven, coat in your favorite sauce and add this plant-based beef to your favorite dishes!
*The amount of veggie stock you use depends on how much moisture your chickpeas and onion have. I recommend starting by adding the 3/4 cup, then mix everything together. If the mixture isn't moist enough and isn't forming a ball, incrementally add 1 tbsp at a time.
*This recipe makes about 550g of seitan. Each serving is about 91g.
*If you prefer lower sodium, I recommend using low sodium soy sauce and/or water instead of veggie broth.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 193Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 26g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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