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 recipe is chewy, savory, ‘meaty’, and works so well in so many kinds of dishes.
Why you’ll love this 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 recipe is awesome in so many dishes from stews to mashed potatoes, or even noodle dishes.
Before we get started, let’s first talk about the base of our vegan ‘beef’.
The core ingredients we’ll be using are:
- vital wheat gluten
- rice flour
- chickpeas & onions
- lots of seasonings and spices!
where to get vital wheat gluten
I ordered a huge 4lb bag of vital wheat gluten for only $15 online, 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.
Vital wheat gluten is the ingredient that gives these ‘beefs’ their 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.
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.
I’ve tried a few other recipes that use very flavorful ingredients like tomato paste, but I’ve found that acidic ingredients like this give the vegan ‘beef’ too much unrealistic tang.
The Seitan Dough
Step one is to make our dough! To do this we’ll 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.
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
After kneading the dough, you’ll divide it into 3-4 equally sized balls. Shape the balls into rectilinear logs or loaves.
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
It’s important to note, that 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.
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.
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. After about 20 minutes, you can add a tablespoon of soy sauce on top to help keep the beef even more moist.
Above you’ll see an image of the seitan beef cut into cubes. Below is an image of how you could cut the seitan into strips (perfect for stir frys!).
how to make the best vegan ‘beef’
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.
This seitan recipe tends to firm up after cooling and is even better the next day!
- 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.
- Don’t over knead the dough: this will create tough pieces of vegan beef.
- Coat well with the marinade: the marinade helps keep the seitan moist in the oven!
- Small pieces cook faster: if you cut the pieces smaller than what is pictured in the post above, the seitan will cook faster. Decrease the cook time by 5 minutes.
- Vital Wheat Gluten: if you don’t have vital wheat gluten, you could use the same marinade on soy curls or on Gardein Beefless tips. Please note: the texture won’t be the same if using these substitutes.
- Molasses: sub in the same amount of maple syrup for molasses
- Rice Flour: rice flour can be substituted 1:1 for more vital wheat gluten. The rice flour helps create a tender texture, so if omitted, the vegan beef will be slightly chewier.
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!
Top this seitan dish with green onions, sesame seeds, and a spritz of lime! This recipes 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!
OTHER DELICIOUS VEGAN MEAT SUBSTITUTES:
Did you make This vEgan Beef Recipe?
I’d love to know! Leave a star rating and comment below!
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The Best Vegan Beef
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!
Recipe and post updated July 25th, 2021. *After much testing, I no longer believe steaming is a necessary step in making this seitan beef. A similar texture can be achieved through only baking. The recipe below has been updated to reflect this change.*
- ¼ cup canned chickpeas, drained
- ¼ cup yellow onion, minced
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp ground mustard
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp molasses
- 1 ¾ cup vital wheat gluten
- ¼ cup rice flour, or chickpea flour
- ½ cup + 3tbsp veggie stock * or sub water for lower sodium
- 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp molasses
- 3 tbsp + 1 tbsp 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!*
- In a high-speed blender or food processor, add the chickpeas and onion. Chop until they are a finely minced texture, but not a blended paste. They should still have some texture.
- Mix the chickpea and onion mixture with the spices and liquids (garlic powder, nutritional yeast, paprika, onion powder, ground mustard, soy sauce, yellow mustard, pepper, olive oil, Worcestershire, and molasses.)
- In a large bowl stir together the vital wheat gluten and rice flour. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the veggie stock (see notes below) plus the chickpea and spice mixture. Stir to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to a surface that's lightly floured with some more rice flour and knead for 1 minute until the dough feels elastic and no longer sticky. Do not over-knead.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Shape them into rectilinear loaves or logs.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 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 a baking dish. 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, sprinkle 1 more tablespoon of 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, and add these plant-based beefs 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 1/2 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.
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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What is the weight of one serving for your nutritional info.
Hi there! Thanks so much for asking. The entire recipe makes about 550g. Each serving is about 91g.
Hi there! Can you substitute the rice flour for AP flour or vital wheat gluten?
Hi Danielle! Since vital wheat gluten has so much gluten (which is why the seitan turns out nice and chewy), the gluten-free flour helps to cut the chewiness (and the gluten in the recipe) and make the ‘beefs’ a bit more tender.
I’ve never tried with all-purpose flour before, so I’m not sure how it would turn out. However, I have made seitan with only vital wheat gluten before (with no gluten-free flour) and it still tastes delicious. It just has a different texture. You could try substituting the rice flour with the same amount of vital wheat gluten. I haven’t tried it in this particular recipe, so I can’t guarantee results! If you end up trying it, I’d love to know how it turned out!
Hi Emily! Would it be possible to make this using the washed flour method? If so, how would you recommend I go about that? Unfortunately vital wheat gluten is extremely expensive where I’m located 🙁
Hi Marco! I haven’t tried making this with the washed flour method before so I can’t guarantee results. I think you could try to knead in the spices, mustard, molasses, and vegan Worcestershire after washing the flour. I assume you’ll need less liquid since the flour is already a dough, so I would omit the veggie stock. You could then use the same marinade and cooking methods. If you try it out, I’d love to know how it goes!
Have you tried to make into a burger?
I have not tried to make this into a burger. Seitan has a chewier texture than burger meat, so I’m not sure how it would turn out.
Laura G. says
I made this a few days ago and have been enjoying it all week! This is the BEST vegan seitan beef recipe I’ve found — and I’ve tried a few. It gets a little hard in the fridge but a few seconds in the microwave softens it right up. The recipe is simple and uses ingredients I already had on hand. Thanks for sharing this!
That’s so great to hear, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this recipe!
Dave Big Chief says
I liked the basis of the recipe. However, I felt that it had too strong a taste of soy sauce and molasses.
I switched the worcester sauce and soy sauce for a naturally vegan product called Henderson’s Relish… and only used 1 tsp of black strap molasses with 1 tbs maple syrup; the sweetness cuts through the wheaty taste.
Also I felt that smoked paprika is a very strong taste, which I toned down with plain paprika.
Finally, I added a 1/2 tsp vegemite, because.
In your ticktock video you steam the logs for 25 minutes. You don’t mention that in this recipe. Should I steam or not, thank you
She updated the recipe from July 2021 so steaming is not necessary.
In your Instagram video you seem the logs before slicing, you don’t mention that in this recipe. Should I steam or not thank you
Hi Pauline, steaming isn’t necessary for this recipe. I removed the step to make the recipe simpler because I got similar end results with just baking when I continued to test this. There’s a note in the recipe description (above the star rating) that hopefully you were able to find! Sorry for the confusion and let me know if you have any other questions.
Thank you, definitely easier without steaming
These came out looking gorgeous and they tasted delicious! I did leave them in the oven just a tad too long, though, because I got distracted. Got me thinking that if I rolled them out thinner, cut them into strips and baked them longer, they’d make amazing “beef” teriyaki jerky! However, the cubes tasted great with mushrooms sauteed in butter. Thanks for a delicious recipe.
I’m so glad you enjoyed them! Jerky sounds like an amazing idea 🙂
Has anyone tried to grill this? I was thinking maybe after the 20 mins in the oven, putting it on skewers as kabobs and grilling….thoughts?
Hi Lisa, I think you could definitely grill these after baking. I use a similar method with my Vegan Steak recipe to get a really nice char on the outside.
Anna Belle says
In some recipes it is mentioned that the product is better the day after, more tender. Would that be the case in this recipe or is using it the same day okay ? Thanks.
This recipe is great the same day or the next day. It will firm up more as it cools, so if you prefer a chewier texture, I recommend letting it cool slightly before serving.
Hi making the recipe now, but was wondering if the nutritional information is correct being that the protein content is on the lower end for seitan. Just curious and not a big deal at all if it was a mistake.
Hi there! The nutrition info is an estimate and based on 6 (small) servings, about 91g each.
Hi there! Great recipe and easy to execute. Do you have any suggestions for a sauce this can be served with. It already has a lot of sodium in it so I’m not sure what kind of sauce to make. It doesn’t look as saucy as it does in your pictures. Did you put something else on top after it was done baking
The vegan beef in the photos is coated with a bit of remaining marinade/soy sauce that was applied toward the end of baking.
I highly recommend coating these in the simple sesame sauce included in my Sesame Udon Noodle Recipe. If you prefer less sodium, I recommend making this vegan beef or this sauce recipe with low sodium veggie stock and/or low sodium soy sauce.