HOW TO: Making Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour

photo courtesy of flickr user sweeteats.

Seitan, 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:

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