Homemade BBQ Seitan, Served Three Ways

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Today I’m going to talk about seitan – a wheat gluten-based meat substitute that’s very high in protein. If you’ve never tried making it at home, my recipe for BBQ seitan can be a good place to start.

Seitan originates in Asian cuisine and can be very versatile in everyday vegan or vegetarian dishes. Seitan is pretty easy to make at home: if you make a batch, you can use it in different dishes over the course of a few days, thus saving time and money on meal planning.

Out of all ‘fake meats’ (including soy-based), seitan resembles the texture and taste of actual meat the most, especially duck and other poultry, depending on how it’s cooked. I’ve even heard that some vegans refuse to eat seitan because of its meatiness! While this reasoning is not for everyone, another group of people has to stay away from wheat gluten for health reasons – the gluten-intolerant folk.

Homemade BBQ seitan recipe

Homemade BBQ seitan served with baked sweet potato fries

A little history: the word ‘seitan‘ is believed to originate from Japanese sei (to be, of the nature) and tan, or tanpaku (protein). The word is considered to have been introduced by the founding father of macrobiotic diet George Oshawa in the 1960-s. However, different versions of wheat gluten have been used for centuries in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisines, especially by Buddhist cooks.

Just as the name suggests, seitan is very high in protein: depending on the recipe, it can contain 70-80 percent protein – higher than any type of meat!

Homemade BBQ seitan with sweet potato fries and a salad

Dinner of champions!

Originally, wheat gluten for seitan is derived from washing whole wheat flour and rinsing off all of the starch until you are left with an elastic, sponge-like substance.

However, it’s easier to make seitan at home directly from powdered vital wheat gluten that can be purchased in grocery stores or online (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Flour brand). You make the seitan mixture by combining vital wheat gluten with water or vegetable broth, and add in some seasonings and spices to make it more flavorful.

What happens next is up to you! There are a few ways you can cook seitan: arrange it into a 1/2-inch layer and bake it in the oven, tear up in pieces and put it in a steamer, or boil the pieces and then bake them in the oven for a little longer.

BBQ seitan recipe with homemade barbecue sauce

All methods work best if you cover seitan with some kind of sauce to prevent it from drying out. Sure, this may sound like too much work, but if you power through it once and make a big batch, you can use the resulting seitan in different dishes for the next few days!

After I tried a few different ways of cooking seitan, I discovered that the best results come from the third method I’ve mentioned above (boiling and then baking). This way, the boiling broth enhances the flavor of the finished product, plumps up seitan pieces and makes them juicy.

Rubbing the seitan pieces with rich sauce (like barbecue in this recipe) after they’ve been boiled and then sending them to the oven takes things to the next level of deliciousness!

Baked BBQ seitan recipe

Commercially manufactured seitan can be found in grocery stores, but I just don’t trust that stuff enough because I don’t know how exactly it was made, plus the sodium content can be too high. And of course, my homemade seitan is much tastier, fresher, and way cheaper – what’s not to like about that!

For this recipe, I decided to use homemade BBQ sauce to baste my seitan with (recipe follows). I ended up with quite a bit of seitan for just two people, so I was happy to serve it 2 times:

1. As is with some baked sweet potato fries and a salad the first night;
2. With some penne pasta, marinara sauce, and stir-fried vegetables the following day:

Barbecue pasta with vegetables and homemade BBQ seitan

Had we ended up with more leftovers, I would have definitely made some BBQ seitan sandwiches with mustard, pickles, and some extra barbecue sauce! Mmm, just thinking about this makes my mouth water!

What can I serve with BBQ seitan?

This BBQ seitan pairs especially well with vegan slow cooker collard greens and chipotle coleslaw for the ultimate comfort food experience!

If you’re looking for more vegan barbecue recipes, check out my recipes for BBQ chickpeas and BBQ portobello sandwich. Both use the same homemade BBQ sauce recipe as below.

Yield: 3-4 servings (10-20 pieces depending on size)

Homemade BBQ Seitan Recipe

Homemade BBQ Seitan Recipe

This seitan comes out juicy, meaty and flavorful! Double or triple the batch to feed a crowd and have some leftovers.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


For Seitan:

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten (Bob's Red Mill works well)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth/water
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

For Seitan-Boiling Broth:

  • 4-5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth/water
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

For BBQ Sauce (makes about 1 cup):

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 2 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha or hot sauce (more/less, to taste)


To make the seitan:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, mix broth/water and low sodium soy sauce.
  2. Add wet mix to dry mix, stir until combined. Using your hands, knead mixture for 2-3 min, until thick dough forms.
  3. Shape seitan dough into a ball. Tear small pieces (the size of a quarter) off the big ball. The pieces will get bigger during boiling, so don't make them too big!
  4. Mix together all broth ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add torn-up seitan, bring to a boil again. Reduce the boil to medium, simmer for 30 min, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  5. Once seitan is done boiling, drain the pieces. Put them into a mixing bowl, pour 3/4 of prepared BBQ sauce over them, toss well to cover.
  6. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Arrange BBQ-covered seitan on the sheet with about 1 inch between pieces. Bake for 30 min, turning pieces halfway through baking, and basting with the remaining BBQ sauce if the start looking dry.
  7. Serve with sweet potato fries, or in a hoagie roll with pickles and mustard, or slice up and toss with pasta.

To make BBQ sauce (also see note below):

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk well until uniform in texture. Taste and adjust sweet/salty/spicy ingredients to your liking.
  2. Serve with seitan or other dishes that call for BBQ sauce. This sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week.


Other vegan barbecue sauces can be used in this recipe, including store-bought varieties. Look for brands with no high-fructose corn syrup and low sodium content.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

4 pieces

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 575 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrates: 84g Fiber: 28g Sugar: 32g Protein: 62g
Please note that the provided nutritional information data is approximate.

Have you tried making seitan at home? If so, what recipe did you use?

BBQ seitan recipe with homemade BBQ sauce

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About Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.

9 Responses to Homemade BBQ Seitan, Served Three Ways

  1. Melodie says:

    I haven’t made the seitan yet, but this barbecue sauce is now a staple in our kitchen. Delish!

    • Alina says:

      Wow Melodie, glad to hear that! I love the fact that this recipe is so versatile – if you don’t have time to make seitan, you can always toss it with some beans.

  2. Christy says:

    Thank you for this recipe! First time trying seitan and we loved it. 🙂

  3. Carol says:

    The BBQ sauce is absolutely delicious. Other than seitan, I imagine this would be a great glaze for tofu or a grilled veggie burger.

  4. C says:

    I modified the barbecue sauce to reflect ingredients I had in the house. Instead of apple sauce, I used a home-made cranberry sauce. It was superb!

  5. Alexis Rowland says:

    I don’t know where I went wrong. This isn’t my first seitan rodeo. I followed the directions word for word and when I went to do a stir just to make sure it wasn’t sticking at the bottom, it all came to surface. They were no chunks, it looked like ground seitan. Any suggestions of what I may have done wrong?

    • Alina says:

      Hi Alexis, thank you for the feedback! Sorry to hear that you had some trouble. What you described has never happened in my seitan-making attempts – if anything, I couldn’t get it ‘shredded’ if I wanted to! My thought is that possibly the gluten wasn’t activated enough during kneading, causing the mixture to fall apart once you started boiling it. If you ever try this recipe again, please let me know how it goes!

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