Let’s talk seitan: a delicious, protein-rich meat alternative perfect for your next vegetarian meal. Learn what it is, how to use it, where it comes from, and more!
What is seitan?
Seitan is a meat alternative much like tofu and tempeh that has been gaining popularity for its texture and versatility. Easily flavored with your favorite spices, it makes a great protein source for tacos, salads, wraps, casseroles, or even burgers.
Pronounced “say-ten,” this “meat” originated in Japanese cuisine and is made by combining water with wheat flour and then removing the starch. It gets its unique texture from wheat gluten, a plant-based protein that creates chewy strands similar to meat.
Though it can be made at home, it has also become readily available in grocery stores as deli meat, bacon, and even hotdog and burger alternatives. You can of course also find it in packs much like tofu, ready to be seasoned and cooked as desired!
What does it taste like?
Seitan is sort of like tofu – it doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but with spices it can be seasoned to taste a million different ways (and can even take on a distinct meat flavor with the right blend of spices!) The texture of seitan can range from soft to firm, depending on how long it has been kneaded and cooked.
Seitan can be found in a roll or pack, ready to be cut up and cooked (which can be done on the stove top). But, it also comes as pre-made and cut/seasoned “meats” like pepperoni, hotdogs, deli meat, and burgers.
You’ll find a few main types in the grocery store including sliced, crumbled, strips, and rolls/packs. Choose the one that fits the meal you plan to use it for! A few of our favorite ways to use seitan include:
- Buddha’s Delight Stir Fry
- Seitan Meatballs
- Seitan Hot Wings
- Smokey Seitan Steak
- Easy Vegan Burgers
- Easy Seitan Pepperoni
- Vegan Corned “Beef”
Where to buy seitan
Seitan can be found in grocery stores alongside the tofu and soy products. If your store has a vegan or meatless section, it may be there.
And while you can buy seitan, we prefer to make it at home. It’s easy! Here’s how to make seitan.
How is seitan different from tofu and tempeh?
Though seitan, tofu, and tempeh are all vegan meat alternatives, they do have their differences. The biggest difference are their main ingredients – seitan is made from gluten, whereas tofu and tempeh come from soy.
Seitan’s texture is more similar to meat than tofu and tempeh (both of which are smoother). The tastes, however, are similar in that the three don’t taste like much – sort of savory but bland, and great for flavoring with spices.
Is seitan gluten-free?
Seitan gets its distinct texture from wheat gluten, so it is not a gluten-free meat alternative and is not suitable for people with Celiac’s.
If gluten isn’t an issue, seitan is a great choice! It is a very nutritious option that’s high in protein (think 46g per half cup), and is low in carbs.