Tender, juicy and flavorful vegan steak! Perfectly spiced and looking remarkably like the ‘real thing’ these vegan seitan steaks are deliciously textured, super high in protein and heaps of fun to make.
Oh my gosh, can you actually believe the look of this vegan steak? It looks like a steak doesn’t it!
The last 10 days or so we’ve been in full vegan steak testing mode and I’ve been sending off photos to my sisters as I make this (practically my whole family is vegetarian) so that they can ooh and aaah in shock at how realistic it looks.
But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter how realistic it looks, it’s NOT meat, it’s entirely vegan so there’s really no issue there.
I was inspired to make this recipe by a video that was made by the folks at Bosh featuring The Happy Pear and that I shared on my facebook page.
Well, a little debate immediately ensued whereby someone asked why a vegan would ever want to eat something that looked like a piece of meat. Well…. quite a few vegans had something to say about that because…well…it’s NOT meat. It’s just something tasty.
And when we can replicate some tastes and textures a little, without harming anyone, well why not? And then there’s the fact that the better we are at making tasty things, the more appealing a meat-free lifestyle becomes so it’s a win/win.
Truth be told though, while this vegan steak is totally delicious, it wouldn’t fool any meat eater. I haven’t eaten meat since 1999 and yet I know full well that this doesn’t taste like meat. It’s ‘meaty’ while being nothing like actual meat.
It tastes absolutely delicious though. And it has a chewy, ‘meaty’ texture, which is from the main ingredient, which is wheat gluten, commonly known as seitan.
We lived in Taiwan for a year in 2007/2008 and we used to often eat at Buddhist restaurants because they were strict vegetarian, and sometimes the mock meats you’d eat there would be so realistic, you really would be worried that it might actually be meat and would have to call someone over to confirm that it was really vegetarian. It was often made from mushrooms.
Vital Wheat Gluten
Getting hold of some wheat gluten wasn’t the easiest thing, and in the end I had to order it. You may have to order it too. I went to all the health food places that usually would sell ingredients like this and they were totally confused, they were like: ‘you WANT the gluten?’
And then we’d all have a laugh cos everything is gluten-free this and that and here we are coming in and asking them to give us the pure gluten!
If you do have to order it you can get it from Amazon, the full name is Vital Wheat Gluten. Or maybe you’ll have a larger selection in your health food store than we did and won’t have to order it.
It’s super high in protein, like super high (each vegan steak was 58g protein) since there is 75 grams of protein in 100 grams of wheat gluten.
Can You Make It Gluten-Free?
Unfortunately, no, this recipe is definitely not gluten-free and there are no adaptations for gluten-free either. This is definitely for the ‘yes I DO eat the gluten’ people.
Vital wheat gluten is really an essential component of this recipe and what creates the texture. If you are gluten-free, then you might like to try this gluten-free vegan steak from Gourmandelle, or try our portobello steaks or tofu steaks.
How To Make Vegan Steak
You will find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. This is a summary of the process to go along with the process photos.
- Making it is super easy, but there are several steps involved.
- First you add canned chickpeas, spices, tomato paste and vegetable stock to your food processor.
- Process it until well combined.
- Move that into a mixing bowl and then add the vital wheat gluten. Mix it in with a spoon and then get in there with your hands and knead it for around 2 minutes.
- Once you finish kneading you flatten it out by smashing/bashing it a little (not too much, this also counts as kneading) and then cut it into 4 steaks.
- You can bash those a bit to flatten as well. A potato masher works well for smashing/bashing purposes.
- Then wrap the steaks in foil and steam them in a steamer basket over some boiling water for 20 minutes.
- Then unwrap them and soak them in marinade sauce for a minute or two before you fry them up!
Fry Them Up
We tested frying them on one of those lined grill pans and while that does cause them to have those pretty grill lines, I found that it wasn’t worth it in terms of the extra time taken.
If you fry them in a regular frying pan, it is super quick! Brush extra marinade sauce on every time you flip them and within a few minutes, they are charred and caramelized and utterly delicious.
The Best Spices
The spices used in these vegan steaks really complements the sort of ‘meaty’ flavoring. We used soy sauce, cumin, paprika, liquid smoke and ground coriander, to name a few. And the marinade sauce is made with soy sauce, paprika, brown sugar, tomato paste and liquid smoke.
The result is really vegan steak perfection! They are massively filling too. I served myself a plate with one of these steaks and a few sides. I ate one of the steaks and couldn’t eat any of the sides I was so full!
Chef’s Top Tip: Don’t Knead Too Long
You knead the seitan like a pizza dough BUT you don’t want to knead it for too long. You have to be quite conservative with your kneading while at the same time kneading it just long enough to activate the gluten.
I found about 2 minutes to be just perfect, but it’s more about the feel than the time. It will go from sticky and soft to firm and when you stretch it, it will sort of snap back.
The reason you don’t want to knead it for too long is that the longer you knead, the tougher the texture will be.
On one of our recipe tests, Jaye took over the kneading and he thought it was supposed to be for 4 minutes, well lets just say our jaws got such a workout, we ended up cutting those vegan steaks into very thin strips (it was kinda like jerky!) and then putting it on sandwiches. It was still good, but not juicy and tender like you want a delicious vegan steak to be.
If you knead it for an even shorter time than we did here you get a texture that is so tender that it doesn’t really work for a vegan steak, but works well for different things like seitan strips if you want to use this for something else.
We adapted this recipe to make some soft and delicious seitan strips and then put those into a vegan shawarma, so if you’re looking for different ways to use this steak recipe then that’s a great option too.
Through my experimenting (and our experience of the super tough steak from too much kneading), I found a great article about working with seitan. The best tip I got was about kneading for less time if you want a more tender result, but there are loads of other great tips about spices and flavorings too, so check that out if you want to read more about wheat meat, it’s called: How To Make Perfect Seitan.
I couldn’t resist making a mushroom sauce for this, it’s totally not necessary, they have all the flavor and deliciousness that is required, but c’mon with some mushroom sauce? That’s next level!
So the mushroom sauce I made was from our tofu burger recipe. If you’re inspired to make a sauce as well, I can highly recommend it. It’s a perfect match. Our vegan peppercorn sauce would be delicious with this as well.
And if you’re thinking of what to serve with your vegan steak, well, a classic baked potato with vegan sour cream and salad always make great sides. Some vegan mashed potatoes would also be great, and if you want a vegan gravy with it, that would be amazing too. Baked potato fries or a vegan potato salad or some vegan coleslaw on the side would also be really delicious.
Make Ahead, Storing and Freezing
Make Ahead: If you want to make them in advance, you can make them up to the point that they’ve just finished steaming, then unwrap them and store them in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days and then marinate and fry them up when you’re ready.
Alternatively, you can place them in the marinade sauce, and then let them marinate for 1-2 days in the fridge and then fry them up when you’re ready.
Storing: Leftovers keep very well in the fridge for 5-7 days. We were making vegan steak sandwiches for the next couple of days after making these because like I said, they are super filling, but leftovers are not an issue since they are delicious over the next few days.
Freezing: If you would like to freeze them, then freeze them in the marinade sauce before you fry them up. Then thaw in the fridge and fry up as usual. If they suck up more of the marinade sauce while doing this, leaving you without much left to brush on while frying, then make up some more of the sauce.
More Vegan ‘Meat’ Recipes
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and rating below!
For the Vegan Steaks:
- ¾ cup Canned Chickpeas (Drained) (123g)
- ¼ cup Nutritional Yeast (15g)
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- ¼ tsp Cumin
- ¼ tsp Ground Coriander
- ½ tsp Oregano
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- ½ cup Tomato Paste (130g)
- 1 tsp Paprika
- ¼ tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- ¼ tsp Liquid Smoke
- ½ cup Vegetable Stock (120ml)
- 1 ¾ cups Vital Wheat Gluten (263g)
For the Marinade:
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce (60ml)
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- ⅛ tsp Liquid Smoke
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil or other oil
For Serving (Optional):
- Baked Potatoes
- Creamy Mushroom Sauce
- Add the chickpeas, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, coriander powder, oregano, soy sauce, tomato paste, paprika, black pepper, dijon mustard, liquid smoke and vegetable stock to the food processor and process until well mixed.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the vital wheat gluten. Stir in with a spoon briefly and then get in there with your hands, mixing it into a dough. Knead the dough for around 2 minutes, you want it to go from sticky and soft to firm and stretchy, so that when you pull it, it snaps back into place. See our full post for lots more info on kneading. Make sure you don’t over-knead it because that will cause your steaks to become very tough.
- As soon as you have a firm, stretchy texture, flatten it out and cut it into 4 roughly equal sized steaks. Use a potato masher to bash the steaks down a bit to flatten, but don’t do this too much as it counts as kneading, and you don’t want to overdo it.
- Wrap the steaks individually in tinfoil and then steam them for 20 minutes. Don’t wrap them too tight as they will expand while steaming. You can steam them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water, or in any steamer that you have.
- While the steaks are steaming, prepare your marinade sauce by adding all the ingredients to a bowl and whisking them together. Let it sit for a little while and then whisk again. You want it to be nice and smooth and it can take a couple of minutes for the brown sugar to dissolve properly.
- After steaming for 20 minutes, unwrap the steaks from their tinfoil and place into a square dish. Pour over the marinade sauce and use a brush to make sure the steaks are properly covered. Turn them over in the sauce a few times.
- Heat a pan with a little olive oil (or other oil, 1 Tbsp is fine) and then fry the steaks (I found they all fitted into the same pan) flipping them regularly and brushing more marinade sauce on them every time you flip them, until they are nicely browned and caramelized.
- Serve with a side salad, baked potatoes with vegan sour cream, and if you like sauces with your steaks, then a creamy mushroom sauce goes wonderfully with this!
- I really recommend you weigh out the wheat gluten for accuracy. I couldn’t find a ‘standard’ measure for a cup of wheat gluten, so just weighed it out and this is what I came to. But for accuracy, it would be best to weigh it.
- These steaks keep very well in the fridge for 5-7 days and leftovers can be sliced up and used for vegan steak sandwiches.
- If you want to make these in advance, you can make them up to the stage where they have finished steaming, and then unwrap them and place them in a sealed container for 3-4 days until you’re ready to marinade them and fry them up. You can also place them in the marinade sauce and then leave them for a day or two in the fridge soaking in the marinade and then fry them up when you’re ready. If they’re already in the marinade sauce then a couple of days is fine, if you want to keep them a little longer (3-4 days) then don’t put them in the marinade, just steam them, unwrap them and put them in a sealed container and only soak them in marinade when you’re ready to make them.
- Nutritional information is for 1 vegan steak (of 4) without mushroom sauce.
- Recipe adapted from Bosh with The Happy Pear.
The flavor is wonderful. Mine came out very chewy. Is there a way to salvage them or do something differently next time?
Alison Andrews says
Hi Tina, it’s all about the kneading time, there are tips in the post about how to get the right feel for it. If it was too chewy it’s likely you needed it too long.
Chris Bazan says
I have been vegetarian for 27 years and I’ve made many variations of seitan during that time. I consider myself pretty dang good at making it, but I will say, I started making this recipe earlier this year and it’s the best I’ve ever had. So thankful for this recipe.
Alison Andrews says
Wonderful! Thanks so much Chris!
Emma W says
This was my first time making a fake steak and Whoa Nelly! It was impressive! I used kidney beans instead of chickpeas and I ran out of tomato purée so used tinned tomatoes with a glug of wine instead and left out the stock. Probably kneaded it too much (in my efforts to shape them nicely!) so it was slightly chewy but the meaty taste and texture was like eating fresh off the BBQ. I even did that thing of sneaking cold leftovers out of the fridge before bed!!
Alison Andrews says
Awesome Emma! Thanks so much for the great review!
C Gorgos says
Omg this was the most delicious vegan/ seitan dish that my family has ever found! Everything worked perfect! Thank you !
Alison Andrews says
So happy to hear that! Thanks so much.
Family and I loved it! Super impressed! Thank you for an awesome recipe.
Alison Andrews says
Awesome Alivia! Thanks so much for the great review!
The taste is delicious, sauce too. I used my instant pot. It was not cooked after 20min. I cut the steak in half making it thinner to cook the under cooked VG in my pan. I also used 23g less of VG as I felt my dough was to dry. The panned fried steak that I cut to make it thinner turned it good. I put the other 3 steaks back in the instant pot, as the 20 min was not enough. Cooked for 50 more min under steam, no pressure. When done it was cooked, and very good. I gave it a 4 star as the cooking time was way off. Next time I try this I will cook for 60 min. I think 60 min is enough time. My prior cooking was 10 min more, but my instant pot was off and on trying to cook the steak.
Alison Andrews says
Hi Sussi, we have never made these in an instant pot so wouldn’t have been able to give instructions for steaming it in the instant pot. Glad it all worked out and tasted great!
Have you ever heard of sous vide? I’m thinking of using that to cook seitan that way instead of steaming it. Do you think it would be a good idea?
Alison Andrews says
Hi Sergio, I have read about sous vide cooking but it’s not something I’ve tried, it does seem like it could work though!
Jon Fairless says
Delicious steaks. Look amazing, taste amazing. AMAZING!!! 🤤 Followed the timings to the letter. I’m never convinced I’ve cooked Seitan enough, as it always looks a bit raw and rubbery, but it still tastes super-duper. Definable one for the recipe pile 😁
Alison Andrews says
So glad they tasted amazing! Thanks so much for posting!