Friday, July 11, 2008

HOW TO: Making Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour

(Courtesy of

, an Asian meat substitute, is made from whole wheat gluten, the protein of the grain. Whole wheat grain is comprised of gluten and starch. Seitan is made by separating the starch away from the gluten. Making Seitan from scratch is much easier than you would think. Many people make seitan from Vital Wheat gluten, where the gluten has already been separated from the wheat starch and is in a dehydrated powdered form.

Much like an instant product, you need only to add water, kneed and boil.

I prefer to make seitan directly from whole wheat flour because it's easier to come by, cheaper, and you can get more satisfaction and cred for making your seitan from scratch. Plus, its a great way to mess up your kitchen!

The main objective when making seitan from whole wheat flour is to separate the starch from the gluten through a series of rinses and letting the water wash the starch away from the gluten.

To begin, we'll take a whole 5 lb. bag (about 14 cups) of flour and place it in a large bowl and add enough water to make a dough. Start out with a mixture of 2:1 flour to water.

Add more water a little at a time if you need it but do not add too much. You want to be able to kneed the flour into a good dough.

You DO NOT want a paste. Making a dough ball is important because it allows the gluten to begin to come together. If you add too much water and the flour becomes pasty, when you start the rinsing process, the gluten won't stick together and will flow right down the drain with the starch which means no dinner!



When you've kneaded the dough into a solid form, place in a bowl and cover with lukewarm water and let soak for about 20 min. You'll notice the water will start to turn milky white. This is good! This is the starch separating from the gluten. We like that.

After the dough has soaked for a while, start kneading the dough underwater and you'll notice the water becoming even more milky! Now you can begin draining.

Drain the loose dough into a colander and allow all the milky white water to drain away. Place colander under the faucet, pouring lukewarm/cold water over the dough. Keep kneading and working the dough. The water will continue to turn milky white as it rinses the starch away.


As more and more starch is drained away, you'll start to notice the gluten forming. It appears stringy and stretchy. It actually looks gross at this point, like some sort of alien mucoid muscle mass from a horror film. But don't be afraid!

(Its getting better from left to right)

Keep kneading. I find a pasta claw spoon works really well for getting into the gluten mass and allowing the water in to separate out the starch.

Keep going until the water flows clear and the gluten appears more of a solid mass -although it will still appear a bit stringy or chunky. This ball should be all (or mostly) gluten and is now raw seitan. Some boil it till it floats to cook, but I prefer to put the seitan in a slow cooker with a soy/water broth with some onions and carrots to infuse the soy stock into the seitan.

I place the raw seitan/gluten ball in the slow cooker with a couple of quartered onions, a couple carrots cut in large sections, 1 cup of soy and fill the rest with water. I also like to throw in a couple of bay leaves and peppercorns. Put the cooker on high for 2 hours and then put down to low and let sit over night or while you are at work.

Once cooked, the seitan will float the top. Yum! Ready to eat! Once made, seitan will stay good in the refrigerator for a week or so. The most popular way to eat Seitan is to saute it with some onions and add BBQ sauce. Depending on the consistency of your seitan you can either crumble it or thinly slice it.

Having problems or want more resources for finding Seitan recipes: Check out my Setain Notes and Troubleshooting Guide.

Although Forkable is omnivorous, we are vegan friendly! Check out my other vegan recipes:


Anonymous said...

This is an awesome site. Love the pictures and the ideas...never tried sietan. And discovered while I am reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. Where are my gardening boots. Seriously, it is very motivational and encouraging. I am looking into making homemade cheese...any thoughts? and would be happy to share my recipes on homemade dog biscuits. I have many happy recipients who vouch for my whole grain, nutritional nirvanna.
Keep up the great work!
Nancy Cross

Alison Cole said...

On behalf of the organization Earthsave Canada, I would like to ask if we could use the photo in this post of your hands kneeding the dough for an article we are including in this month's Earthsave newsletter on how to make seitan. It's such a great picture and clearly demonstrates the process of making the dough. You can view past issues of the Canada Earthsaver newsletter at We are a tight deadline, so I look forward to your response as soon as possible. Thank you!

Andrea said...


Go for it!


Dusty Miller said...


The Green Sage Page tested your recipe and found it to be awesome. Visit our report at

Dusty Miller
Resident gnome and editor

Mz. Hilde said...

great gluten! made it this morning. yum! thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This recipe is not only super simple, but it turns out absolutely perfectly! I used Gold Medal whole wheat flour and even in my first time making it, the texture was to die for. Thank you for posting ^_^

Andrew DeWitt said...

I stumbled on this on my first week as a vegetarian. This is the BEST online guide out there. Good work!

S. said...

This is excellent! I can only find one brand of over-priced seitan in my city, and vital wheat gluten is .. well... too expensive also. I can't wait to experiment with this, it is so great you posted such clear instructions! I love seitan! <3

Royce said...

I know this post is older, but I was curious about the prep time.

Andrea said...

Hey Royce. Making seitan from scratch is very rewarding and not hard, is a bit time consuming.

Prep time can be anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how long you let it soak for in between rinses.

Then I suggest slow cooking it for a couple hours in stock to infuse flavor.

Anonymous said...

Love this post! Great pics and instructions!!!

Bryce said...

I tried this today and was very impressed. Cooking and making stuff like this is an art that usually takes many mistakes to perfect, but I was able to make it right the first time from these instructions. It seems like learning to flavor it the best for us may take some time compared learning to make it.

Is it supposed to soak more than one time? I may be a little confused by the post two above this. It still worked though.

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Megan said...

I am teaching a class this Saturday about what to do with wheat berries. I've got a bunch of recipes but decided it would be "fun" to also included a demo on how to make seitan. Ok- not so fun. Two batches have ended in the trash, but I have big hopes for your recipe. Thanks for sharing and especially the great pics!

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