Make your life easier by trying this Instant Pot Seitan that tastes like beef and is super versatile for any dish including stir fry, lunch meat, steak, and more! With 30 grams of protein, zero cholesterol, and under 200 calories per serving, this delicious seitan is a healthy meat alternative. Stove top instructions also provided.
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Hey Internet, I'm pretty excited about this one: tender, juicy seitan meat alternative made in the Instant Pot (any pressure cooker will work)!
Did you know Instant Pots were made for more than just beans?! I have a couple of soup recipes using it like my easy tomato soup, creamy mushroom lasagna soup, and my super popular butternut squash carrot ginger soup…
But I'd never tried making seitan in the Instant Pot until just a few weeks ago and I was so excited by it that I fast-tracked the recipe development process (you would think Mr. Zardyplants would be sick of it by now, but he isn't (the man is like a hoover)).
While I do provide stove top instructions as well, I highly recommend making your seitan in the Instant Pot. It's much easier than having to babysit it on the stove and it comes out perfect every time I make it.
This tender, juicy seitan only takes 8 ingredients to make and is super delicious and versatile. I recently featured it in my Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches!
But wait, what even is seitan?
What Exactly is Seitan?
What is Seitan made of? Seitan (pronounced say-TAN) is a meat alternative made primarily from vital wheat gluten. So no, unfortunately it is NOT gluten-free.
However, if you can tolerate gluten, I highly recommend trying seitan! It's super high in protein and you can make it with any flavorings you like!
Vital wheat gluten is the natural protein found in wheat. It is the separated protein from the wheat itself.
It's fairly easy to find vital wheat gluten. My favorite brand for Vital Wheat Gluten and other specialty grains/flours/baking products), is in the baking aisle of many of my local area grocery stores, as well as Whole Foods and other health markets, and of course vital wheat gluten is available online.
What Does Seitan Taste Like?
Essentially all you need to make a basic seitan recipe is water and the vital wheat gluten, but straight up it can be flavorless and tough if not cooked properly.
It's not as flavorless as, say, plain tofu, but it kind of tastes like plain, unsalted chicken if you've ever tasted that.
Now that we know what seitan is made from, let's talk about my particular recipe for it.
What You'll Need
Obviously you'll need some vital wheat gluten. But one thing I did to ensure a tender and chewy seitan is mix it with blended beans--I used black beans for their color in this recipe, but any should work.
While adding more protein, the beans kind of dilute the gluten in the dough and act almost as a dough conditioner for the seitan.
Instead of water, I used vegetable broth in my dough. Water will work, but vegetable broth adds that extra something.
I didn't want to open up a liter of vegetable broth just for this dish, though, so I just used a smidge of Better Than Boullion Vegetable Stock paste mixed with a bit of water.
I also added low sodium soy sauce (if soy-free, Less Sodium NoSoy would also work), garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika, and thyme for extra flavor.
How to Make Instant Pot Seitan
Note: this recipe will work in any pressure cooker, but buttons may be called by other names on non-Instant Pot brand pressure cookers. Consult your manual for any questions based on your specific brand of pressure cooker.
To make this seitan, first blend your beans up until they're a paste and the skins are mostly broken down.
You can do this in a blender or a food processor. I added the spices and soy sauce at the same time so all the flavor would be distributed well.
Next, add your vital wheat gluten and vegetable broth (or water). Blend or process until well combined.
Now transfer the dough to a bowl and combine it with your hands. It should be moist, but not sticky. The dough should stick to itself, not your fingers.
Knead the dough for just about 10-15 seconds (overkneading can cause it to turn out rubbery) and form a log.
Placing it in the Instant Pot
Now add a cup of water to the base of your Pressure Cooker and insert the steaming basket / tray. If your pressure cooker did not come with a steaming tray, a regular metal steaming basket should work, but consult your manufacturer to be certain.
Add the seitan log to the steaming basket / tray, close the lid, set the pressure valve to "sealing" and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
When the timer goes off, turn off your Instant Pot and let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully quick release the rest (there won't be much left anyway)--I like to use a wooden spoon to release the pressure so my hands aren't anywhere near the escaping hot steam.
Let your seitan rest about 10 minutes before carving. It will be fully cooked at this point, so you can eat it straight up or you could add it to a stir fry or a sauce or whatever else you like!
I recently learned how delicious this seitan is in a veganized Philly Cheesesteak!
How to Cook Seitan on the Stove Top
You can bake seitan but that sometimes results in a drier taste--I prefer to steam my seitan. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can easily make your seitan on the stove top.
Follow the process above to make your seitan log, then add it to a steaming basket or steamer pot on your stove top with about 2 cups of water (you'll be cooking a bit longer).
Place a lid on the pot and steam on medium high for about 1 hour, 15 minutes. How long your seitan takes will depend on the thickness of the log. Anything under 4 inches thick should not take longer than an hour and 15 minutes.
Again, let your seitan rest for about 10 minutes before slicing into it.
Is Seitan Good For You?
Seitan is high in protein (and when mixed with beans it's high in iron, fiber, and other essential nutrients), but low in fat so it is a healthy choice. It is also cholesterol free so it is a healthier choice than animal meat.
However, it is also considered to be somewhat processed (as the gluten has been activated and removed from the wheat), so it is something to be enjoyed somewhat in moderation.
Some people think that gluten is bad for you, but according to many scientists and healthcare professionals (including most plant based nutrition experts like Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Michael Greger), gluten is only bad for you if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy.
So as long as you can eat a piece of bread without getting sick, go ahead and enjoy some seitan, especially with some fresh veggies and a fruit for dessert!
Is Seitan Complete Protein?
Seitan is typically not seen as a complete protein as it lacks lysine, an essential amino acid. However, beans happen to be high in lysine and my recipe for seitan includes beans!
Vegetables also have protein (not as much, but all plants contain some protein), so you can feel confident that a seitan meal when paired with beans and vegetables is a nutritious choice.
Other High Protein Recipes
While I easily and consistently get more than my recommended daily protein so I never think about it much, I've got a lot of other high protein vegan recipes if you're interested:
- Vegan Orange Chicken
- Chili Cheese Pot Pies
- Tofu Eggs Benedict
- Cheesy Grits with Crunchy Chickpeas and Garlicky Collard Greens
- Spanish Paella
- Easy Tofu Scramble
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do and so does Mr. Zardyplants, who is vegan but occasionally misses the flavor of meat (but not the cruelty--he insisted I add that line).
This instant pot seitan is:
"Meaty" (hold the cruelty)
Chewy yet tender
and great for anyone in your life that either isn't vegan or vegetarian yet and needs to be convinced or is already and just kinda misses the taste and mouthfeel of meat.
The best thing about my seitan recipe is that you can make it ahead of time so you have minimal work to do when it actually comes time to make dinner.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!