Homemade Seitan

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The first step in creating seitan is to prepare the gluten, which is called seitan once it is cooked. In this recipe, a combination of whole wheat and unbleached white flour is used to make the gluten.


Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Halal, Kosher, Lactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes


  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 3½ cups water


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flours and mix to blend them thoroughly.

  2. Add the water to the flour 1-2 cups at a time, mixing well with a wooden spoon after each addition. When all the water has been added, mix the dough with one hand while holding the bowl steady with the other. (Doing this in the sink will make it easier to add more water as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your mixing hand.)

  3. Knead the dough 50-60 times. If the dough is too stiff, add up to ½ cup more water while kneading. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest 20-30 minutes, allowing the gluten to develop further. (Do not rush this stage. If the gluten does not develop well, much of it will be washed away during the rinsing stage.)

  4. With wet hands, knead the dough 10-20 times. The dough, while still fairly soft, should be much more dense and elastic than it had been.

  5. Place the bowl of dough in the sink. Add lukewarm water in a gentle stream. As the bowl fills with water, carefully lift one section of the dough at a time and squeeze it slowly but firmly with both hands. This manipulation will cause the starch and bran to separate from the gluten. Repeat this squeezing motion about 15 times under the stream of water.

  6. Turn off the water and continue to knead the dough. The water will become very thick and cloudy as the starch is released from the dough. Pour off this starch-bran mixture into a container and add fresh cold water to the bowl. Continue this process, alternating between warm-and cold-water rinses, kneading to extract the cream-colored starch. Reserve the starch water from the first few rinses and use it as an ingredient in bread recipes or as a thickener for sauces and stews.

  7. After two complete cycles of kneading the dough and pouring off the starchy water, the dough can be handled more vigorously. Continue kneading and rinsing. You will recognize the emerging gluten by its stringy, elastic quality. Increase the strength of the water stream and the vigor of your squeezing until you are stretching and pulling the gluten in all possible directions. Alternate the water temperature; warm water makes the gluten soft, while cold water makes it firm. The gluten will develop into a cohesive mass more quickly as more clear water is worked through the dough, so either knead the dough in a colander under clear, running water or change the water in the bowl often.

  8. After about six rinses, the dough will become rubbery gluten. Remaining specks of bran or starch can be rinsed away under the tap by pulling the gluten apart and exposing the inside. Check your progress by squeezing the gluten away from the running water. Any water coming from the gluten should be clear. When it is well washed, the gluten will be shiny and have a firm, elastic consistency. It there is too much bran or starch remaining in the gluten, when cooked, its texture will not be smooth.

  9. At this point, the gluten can be cooked, refrigerated, or frozen.


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