How to make seitan chicken with a flavorful "basic" seasoning ready to use as vegan chicken in all your favorite dishes! This beginner's guide to seitan includes how to make and cook seitan (simmered or steamed), serving recommendations, top tips, and the answers to tons of top seitan FAQs.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt).
Gradually add the water (up to one cup), incorporating it into the mixture until you form a dough that’s wet but not sticky. If it feels dry, add an extra spoonful of water at a time.
Knead the dough on a clean kitchen surface for between 3-8 minutes to help develop the gluten.The longer you knead within that time frame, the more developed the dough will be for a nice, firm "chicken-y" texture. If you’d prefer a less chewy, more tender texture, then knead for less time. With a bit of experimentation, you’ll find your perfect level.
Place the seitan dough back in the bowl and cover to rest for 5 minutes (and allow the gluten to relax). This will make the dough easier to roll/shape.
How to Cook Seitan?
There are two main ways to do the initial cooking of the seitan meat: boiling or steaming. The method you choose should depend on what you intend to use the homemade seitan chicken for (check the FAQs on the blog post).First, shape and chop the prepared seitan dough. Some like to make a single large knot to turn into vegan shredded chicken. Alternatively, you can roll it into a log, chop it down into a few smaller pieces (like nuggets or simply smaller "rolls"), make flat cutlets, or even cube it.I divided mine into smaller pieces and then twisted them to make seitan chicken "strips."
- To boil the seitan
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pan, reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the seitan dough.
Cook, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, until firm, making sure the heat is at a very low, barely simmering level.
Once ready, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to sit for a further 10-15 minutes before removing from the liquid.
- To steam the seitan
After shaping/slicing the seitan pieces, place each one in a foil package (or parchment paper parcel). Leave some space for expansion, but not wrapped too loosely.
Transfer the packages to a steamer basket and steam the seitan for between 30-50 minutes until firm.Note that the exact cooking time for the boiling or steaming methods will vary based on how large your pieces of dough are. Nugget-sized pieces will take 30-40 minutes, even smaller bite-sized pieces may take 15-20 minutes. Whereas large logs can take up to 80 minutes. If you end up steaming it using a stacked steamer, you’ll need to swap around the layers halfway, and the process can take up to two hours OR cook in batches.To make sure it is fully cooked, you can use a thermometer to ensure the internal temperature has reached 190ºF/88ºC!
The Next Step
At this point, you are technically already able to eat the seitan chicken as is (i.e., to make vegan chicken shawarma). HOWEVER, in most cases, you’ll now further season/marinate and cook the vegan chicken seitan to serve in your meal of choice.The first cook is for shaping and texture. The second cook is when you’re actually adding it to your dish of choice in most cases. At that point, it can be baked, pan-fried, grilled, deep-fried, etc.
Check the blog post for further preparation and storage instructions!
Don’t boil the seitan: if you do, it can become puffy and spongey, rather than having a denser, slightly chewy, more "meaty" texture. The water should be barely simmering.
Experiment with seasonings: this easy seitan recipe is for a basic vegan chicken that's versatile enough to use in various recipes (and to season further for different types of cuisine). However, feel free to experiment with other seasonings and flavorings.
Adjust the amount of salt: if you plan on eating the vegan chicken "as is" after the first boil/steam, I recommend using extra salt in the dough. However, if you plan on further seasoning/marinating it and cooking again, reduce the amount.
Use the leftover broth: you can use it when reheating the seitan or can be used to add to soups, stews, sauces, etc.
If your stored seitan becomes a little dry: you can rehydrate it in a bowl of hot broth for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, use it in saucy dishes.
Allow the seitan to age: while you can technically use the vegan chicken seitan directly after steaming/simmering it, it's best to allow it to rest and chill for 8-24 hours to achieve the best texture/consistency before further cooking/consuming the vegan chicken.
The quickest cooking method: if you create small bite-sized seitan pieces, you can stem them in just 15 minutes, then follow up with a pan-fry to crisp up the outside (in just a few minutes with the glaze/sauce of your choice) – enjoy!
After simmering/steaming the seitan, you can also make:
Vegan shredded chicken: use a fork to scrape down the side of the seitan meat to shred it.
chicken seitan crumbles: simply transfer the cooked seitan to a food processor and process it into your desired consistency. The ground seitan works wonderfully in place of ground meat in all sorts of recipes and for tacos.
Optional Add-ins and Variations:When making this homemade seitan, I aim to make a neutral, all-purpose seasoned vegan chicken seitan that I can then further flavor and use in many recipes. Below are some options that will add extra flavor without changing the dish too much!
Nutritional yeast: will add umami and depth of flavor. I recommend using around ¼ cup and reducing the chickpea flour.
Paprika: ½-1 teaspoon of smoked paprika is a great flavor (and color) booster.
Miso paste: for more umami, add a spoonful of miso paste to the dough.
Liquid smoke: a few drops added to the broth when boiling will add a slightly smokey flavor to the seitan meat.
Poultry seasoning: start with one teaspoon and increase in future batches, if preferred. Sometimes the easiest way to deal with mock meats is to use the same seasonings as you would the real thing.
Vinegar: adding vinegar to the dough can help slightly offset the ‘gluten’ flavor of the vital wheat gluten. I recommend using 1-2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The actual flavor is fairly subtle within the seitan recipe.
Baking soda: instead of vinegar, you could use baking soda (about ¼ teaspoon baking soda - not baking powder - per cup of VWG) to help offset the gluten flavor. If you use baking soda, don’t add any other acidic ingredients (vinegar, lemon, tomato paste, wine, etc.)
Check the blog post for serving suggestions, storage instructions, and answers to top FAQs!