Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have no trouble preparing the seitan dough, or at least, that is what troubles me the least and can be fixed easily. However, I can't get the texture right. I don't use yeast, just vital wheat gluten and flavor adders.

First I tried with the simmering method. I put a broth to a boil and dropped in small loafs of seitan. As they cooked, they grew bigger and bigger, as they absorbed water. The loafs grew a ridiculous amount, and I was consequently left with loafs made of water and seitan, in that order.

I thought maybe water was the problem, so I tried instead of simmering it, baking it; like some online recipes indicate. I made a seitan tube and wrapped it (rather mediocrely) in aluminium foil and put in the oven. I had preheated the oven to 190 °C. The recipe I used instructed to bake the seitan for 90 minutes, and so I tried. However, about 60 minutes into the cooking, my loaf exploded in the oven (the wrap wasn't strong enough, I recon, although it was a few layers thick). To my surprise, the seitan already had a thick hard crust, and it was quite inedible to my taste.

What recommendations do you have for me? Is there something I have done wrong in each of my attempts? (Is blaming the great growth of my seitan on water wrong, on the first method I tried?) And finally, I am left to wonder: is it really necessary to precook seitan? (Why?)

Thanks a lot chefs! I know practice makes perfect but I'd rather quit wasting ingredients until my ways are right.

share|improve this question
Yesterday I read some more recipes and I think today I'm going to try drastically reducing the baking time. I'm going to try out 25 minutes, I hope it works! – Severo Raz Feb 7 '14 at 17:42
Seitan does tend to expand a lot if you cook it in a way that prevents the water from escaping (simmering or baking wrapped). I've had good luck baking, but the texture is a lot different than simmering. You might try simmering, draining, and then either braising or pan-searing it to cook off some of the extra water. – SourDoh Feb 7 '14 at 19:30
Well it's weird that I found out about baking wrapped because when I tried without wrapping it grew a lot more :-/. Could it be perhaps that there is something wrong with my vital wheat gluten? – Severo Raz Feb 11 '14 at 3:22
It usually expands a lot when I wrap it, but to the point of the wrap being very taught. It's never exploded through the wrap. Maybe leave a little more slack? – SourDoh Feb 12 '14 at 4:28
Is it possible that you're not kneading it enough? I've never tried making seitan, but I use gluten to make a chinese dish called kau fu, and ironically I want that to expand as much as possible and you need to knead it quite a bit to develop the gluten to "hold" together – Daniel Chui Feb 20 '14 at 17:35

I think the mistake you are making is not letting the dough sit. Your recipe does not include a rest period for the dough, which is important. You want the seitan to absorb most of the water in the mixing stage, not in the cooking stage. Letting the dough sit before cooking is important for that to happen.

Precooking seitan is important because you want it to be fully formed in the first stage so you can use it as a regular ingredient in the second.

Here's my can't miss seitan recipe. They key is to use just enough water to make the dough. It has never failed me:

1 cup vital gluten flour

  1. Put vital gluten in a large bowl (if you are mixing my hand)
  2. Add 3/4 cup of water and mix well, until all the water is absorbed.
  3. Knead by hand for a minute or two
  4. Add water, very sparingly, if there is some loose flour left. The dough should be a rubbery mass.
  5. Knead by hand for about 5 minutes.
  6. Cover the dough for 20-30 minutes while you prepare whatever simmering broth you want to use. You'll need about 6 cups of broth. Do not let it sit for more than 30 minutes
  7. Make the dough into two equally-sized logs. Set them in the broth and bring to a boil. It is OK if the logs are not fully submerged.
  8. Lower the heat so the broth bubbles gently and cover. Cook for about an hour, turning the logs once or twice.
  9. After an hour, taste a slice of one log. If you want to less dense, cook for 15-30 more mintes.
  10. Turn off the heat, let the seitan cool in the broth (which can be frozen for future use).

I would avoid mixing any flavors or spices into the dough. Let your broth add the flavors. I usually make my broth from 6 cups of veggie broth and 1/3 cup soy sauce, plus whatever spices I feel like adding.

You can then bake, broil, sear, or whatever else you want with the seitan.

share|improve this answer
Just posting a recipe does not answer or address the specific questions asked, even if it is a good recipe. – SAJ14SAJ Apr 12 '14 at 22:17
I edited the question to answer the questions and provide the recipe. – aszekely Apr 16 '14 at 14:03

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.