Could it Be… Seitan?! These Heavenly Vegan Recipes Taste Like Real Meat

a seitan satay meal on a plate
Homemade seitan recipes will save you money while satisfying even the most demanding meat-eaters.Photo courtesy of SunnysideHanne
Honest Abe

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I had never heard of seitan before I gave up meat eight years ago. But as I explored my culinary options, I kept coming across this oddly-named food that promised to be a tasty meat substitute.

Seitan (pronounced “say-tan”) is made from vital wheat gluten (gluten in its powdered form) and is readily available, pre-made, from health-food stores and specialty grocery stores.

Buying pre-made seitan can be expensive. I tried to make it myself, soon after I first gave up meat, and I found it to be an intimidating process that produced a fairly bland product. The expensive stuff from the store had a much better flavor, but I couldn’t swallow that hefty price tag.

However, I have since found that homemade seitan doesn’t have to be labor-intensive. In fact, it’s quite easy, using the right recipe, and it can taste much better than the store-bought stuff, especially if you add your own flavors and seasonings.

Walmart sells a 12-ounce package of pre-made seitan for $7.41. My homemade version cost $8.56 and made almost 1 ¼ pounds. At the store, my hefty batch would have cost me $12.35. It’s well worth it to make your own.

How to Make Seitan from Scratch

The internet is filled with recipes promising quick and easy seitan, but it can be difficult to know which one will deliver the tastiest results.

I found that this simple recipe from Vegetarian Times yielded good results and wasn’t too difficult to work with. Once made, it can be used throughout the week in different recipes, or frozen for a longer shelf life.

Ingredients:

2 cups vital wheat gluten: $4.35

½ cup nutritional yeast: $1.04

2 teaspoons garlic powder: 24 cents

5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth: $2.49

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce: 13 cents

½ small onion: 25 cents

1 clove garlic: 6 cents

Total: $8.56 for about 6 servings

Once you have made your seitan, it’s time to try using it in your favorite recipe. From beefy stew to stir-fry, seitan is versatile enough to meet your protein needs in a variety of dishes. Here are just a few that get my approval.

Belgian Beer and Seitan Stew

Photo courtesy of Catherine Hiles

This hearty stew traditionally uses beef as a protein source, but seitan works well as a substitute. This recipe comes from the book “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, which is available on Amazon.

For this stew, I use my pre-made seitan. I got some Belgian ale from Trader Joe’s for cheaper than you would typically pay elsewhere. Bear in mind you won’t use the entire bottle for this recipe, so you or a beer-loving friend will have to help out so it doesn’t go to waste. (In my case, I drank the rest of the bottle while waiting for the stew to cook.) The finished stew has a lovely flavor, thanks to the addition of apples and thyme.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil: 19 cents

2 medium yellow onions: 99 cents

1 pound seitan: $6.84

8 ounces cremini mushrooms: $1.59

Seasonings: 71 cents

1 cup Belgian ale: $2

1 ½ pounds potatoes: $1.04

4 cups vegetable broth: $1.99

2 cups cubed day-old baguette: $1

2 Granny Smith apples: 98 cents

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard: 6 cents

Total: $17.39 for 6 to 8 servings

Seitan Satay

a seitan satay meal on a plate

Photo courtesy of SunnysideHanne

The beauty of seitan is you can dress it up however you want. While it works well in stews, you can also add various spices to your basic recipe for more flavor.

This recipe from Sunnyside Hanne uses chipotle peppers, peanut butter and smoked paprika to produce a delicious seitan satay that’ll appeal to both your vegan and meat-eating friends.

Serve it with spicy peanut sauce and crunchy veggies on the side.

Ingredients:

2 chipotle chiles in adobo: 18 cents

4 tablespoons peanut butter: 68 cents

2 tablespoons soy sauce: 13 cents

1 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke: 5 cents

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast: 26 cents

Seasonings: 60 cents

2 cups vital wheat gluten: $4.35

1 ½ cups vegetable broth: 75 cents

Total: $7 for 6 servings

Vegan Mongolian Beef

vegan mongolian beef cooking in a pan

Photo courtesy of Connoisseurus Veg

Mongolian beef from a restaurant is seriously delicious, and you can easily recreate this dish at home using seitan in place of beef. Paired with rice noodles, Connoisseurus Veg’s recipe will satisfy your takeout cravings while saving you money.

This recipe calls for store-bought seitan, but we can do better. Use the above recipe to make your own seitan and save $1.57 off of the pre-made price.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons soy sauce: 13 cents

2 tablespoons granulated sugar: 3 cents

¼ cup water

8-ounces homemade seitan strips: $3.42

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch: 53 cents

2 tablespoons vegetable oil: 15 cents

2 garlic cloves: 12 cents

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger: 13 cents

2 to 3 dried chili peppers: $1.08

2 scallions: 20 cents

Total: $7.36 for 2 to 3 servings

Whether you are trying to eat less meat or want to give it up entirely, seitan is an affordable protein source that can satisfy your cravings in a variety of dishes.

Catherine Hiles is a writer, mother, runner and chef who loves trying new recipes. She has a weak spot for chocolate and cookies, and believes in eating a little bit of everything in moderation.

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Honest Abe

Disclosure:

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.