Seitan: The Versatile Meat Substitute

With the rise of veganism today, seitan is a very popular meat substitute being used in vegan and non-vegan households alike. Seitan is made completely out of hydrated gluten and tastes a lot like meat. Let’s explore this ingredient a little more.

History Of Seitan

The word seitan was coined by George Ohsawa in 1961. He was an advocate for the macrobiotic diet. Seitan was made by Ohsawa’s student Kiyoshi Mokutani. Seitan is native to Japan and China and it is believed that Buddist monks discovered seitan by soaking their wheat dough in water. Buddist monks do not eat meat and it is thought that these monks encouraged eating seitan as an alternative to killing animals. 

Appearance Of Seitan

Seitan is dark brown and fibrous looking and typically sold packed in water. Once it is cooked, seitan looks a lot like meat. Seitan can be chopped, crumbled, or kept in large pieces depending on the recipe. 

Image Credit: Flickr user roxeteer ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

Flavor Of Seitan

Seitan is very chewy and tastes somewhat like a cross between portobello mushrooms and white chicken meat. It is an extremely versatile ingredient and therefore it will taste like whatever you cook it in.

Culinary Benefits

Looking for a creamy, savory, and delicious starter? Try making some smoked seitan kebabs cooked with equal parts tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Serve this with a peanut satay sauce for an exceptionally delicious dish that even meat eaters will enjoy. 

The perfect hearty meal on a cold or a rainy night is some seitan stew. Simply use your favorite beef stew recipe, but substitute an equal amount of seitan for the beef for a delicious and hearty dish with all the flavors of this classic recipe. 

Image Credit: Flickr user kanuck ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

You could also make seitan wraps or add them to your tacos. Season the seitan with onion powder,  garlic powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika and sear lightly in a skillet. Fill tortillas with seitan, guacamole, and chopped white onion. Need some more taco inspiration? We have just the right recipe for you – simply substitute seitan for the seared steak. 

Another easy and delicious meal you can prepare is seitan pita pockets with tzatziki sauce. These pita pockets resemble the Middle-Eastern shawarma but are made vegatarian due to the seitan. Take a look at this tempting shawarma recipe, and simply use seitan in place of meat! 

Want to make it vegan? You can prepare a vegan tzatziki by blending soaked cashews, water, garlic, and lemon. You will not be disappointed after having this dish!

Seitan burgers are also a popular dish with mushrooms, jalapenos, and cheese. Craving a burger? Try out the amazing burger recipe, by of course using seitan! 


Store seitan in an airtight container and it will remain fresh in the refrigerator for about 10 days. You can also freeze seitan for about 6 months. 

Feature Image: Flickr user prideandvegudiceCC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

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