Decadent yet healthy, this home cooked Seitan Turkey is moist, packed with flavor, and has an awesome meaty texture. This vegan turkey recipe is perfect for a holiday centerpiece, easy meal prep, or even just a nice main dish for a family dinner.
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Hey Internet, it’s getting cold out which means that Thanksgiving (at least in the United States) is right around the corner. Whether you celebrate a November Thanksgiving, an October Thanksgiving (in Canada), Christmas, Chanukah or whatever, this recipe is a great one for you.
As mentioned above, it also works great for meal prep or even just a nice dinner where you want something stick-to-your ribs satisfying. The leftovers make great sandwiches, too!
This vegan turkey recipe is actually made of seitan, which is a chewy, awesome meat alternative made from vital wheat gluten.
I’ve modified the spices slightly to really make this taste like turkey, and it does. It tastes like dark meat, just a little leaner (and I’ve got some ideas on how you could customize it depending on your individual tastes).
This seitan turkey differs from your typical holiday roasts in that it’s not stuffed, but instead is really a tender, moist, and DELICIOUS vegan turkey that is worthy of the fanciest holiday meal, whether that’s over Zoom (shout out to you, 2020) or in person (next year?!).
I highly recommend you serve this centerpiece with the veggies I have pictured. I threw them in the dutch oven when I braised this in the oven (the second part of the cooking process--don’t worry, it’s easy) and then spooned on a generous amount of my quick vegan gravy (10 minutes). SO GOOD.
Additionally, I’ve got a nice section below on what to do with the leftovers, as well as other vegan meat recipes you may enjoy.
So if you’re ready to learn how to make this delicious seitan masterpiece--and learn how you can customize it too--just keep reading.
What You’ll Need
The main component of the seitan is vital wheat gluten. This is flour that has been stripped down to the protein of the wheat. It’s what makes this recipe so high in, you guessed it, protein!
Once mixed with liquid and the other things in this recipe, the vital wheat gluten will form a dough. This is not a dough we knead--actually, the less we touch it the better. Overworked seitan is rubbery and gross. Let’s not do that.
Unfortunately this recipe is not gluten-free and I do not have a substitute for the vital wheat gluten.
Standard seitan is ALMOST a complete protein, but it’s missing one of the essential amino acids: lysine.
To add lysine to make seitan a complete protein AND to add more of a tender, meaty texture, I like to blend my seitan with beans.
For this seitan turkey recipe, I used white beans (cannellini, but any would work), mostly for color, but also for nutrients!
To make it taste like poultry (which is weird because actual poultry doesn’t taste like much till it’s seasoned), I employ one of my favorite vegan cooking hacks in this recipe: vegan chicken broth.
I personally love Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base (and mix it with hot water) as it keeps better and is more economical than carton vegan chicken broth. You can absolutely use prepared vegan chicken broth or even just vegetable broth (I recommend adding a little poultry seasoning (it’s vegan!) if you do this).
Speaking of spices, I recommend a bit of onion powder and garlic powder, a touch of smoked paprika (another great vegan cooking hack for adding a meaty or smoky flavor), and poultry seasoning if you’re using vegetable broth instead of vegan chicken broth. Most stores carry poultry seasoning, but if not you can always order it online.
I actually order all my spices from The Spice House. You can get your spices cheaper if you order a flat pack (cheaper to ship as well) and refill your existing spice jars. Get free shipping on all Flatpacks - no minimum purchase. Discover the world of flavors at TheSpiceHouse.com.
Oh and one other hack, and this is unique to my seitan turkey: Nutritional yeast! I know, I know, you’re thinking that nutritional yeast is supposed to taste cheesy and why would you want turkey to taste cheesy?
Well, depending on what you mix it with, nutritional yeast magically takes on different qualities. In this particular case, it does not make the seitan taste cheesy, rather it makes the roast taste richer and gives it a whole nother layer of flavor that is amazing in making it taste like the turkey most of us grew up eating.
Trust me that the finished product does not taste at all like nutritional yeast, it just tastes savory and rich so don’t skip it! You can always just buy the quarter cup you need from this recipe from bulk bins at a health food store if you don’t want a bunch of nutritional yeast hanging around your house. :)
It’s optional, but since there was extra room in my baker and it didn’t take much extra work, I threw some veggies into the braising liquid in the pot and they came out perfectly!
The veggies I recommend for this are potatoes (I used quartered baby red potatoes), carrots, and onion.
For the braising liquid, I used more vegan chicken broth (slightly water diluted), but vegetable broth would work as well (just may make your finished product a little darker).
EXTRA flavoring options
If you want the flavor of the seitan turkey to be richer, i.e. more fatty, you can swap out the water in the seitan mixture for canned coconut milk or oil (but still mix in Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base if you can, for flavor. Otherwise add salt and more seasoning.).
If you want a “skin” to your seitan turkey, I recommend the method I used for my vegan drumsticks. I would do this after you’ve steamed it but before you braise it.
Now, for the skin--a term which always struck me as kind of gross, but not sure how else to refer to it in this context--I used rice paper. This material is used commonly to make spring or summer rolls and is stiff, but soft and malleable when you soak it, so we can wrap it around the vegan turkey.
You can soak the rice paper in water and it will work fine, but for a richer, more turkey skin like texture, soak it in canned coconut milk or oil before wrapping it around your steamed turkey.
I also recommend brushing a sauce on top of the adhered rice paper skin. This is an easy two-step process.
Two, if you want it to be really awesome, halfway through the baking process, baste what you can reach of the seitan roast with this awesome, simple sauce:
- A touch of the Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
- A little canned coconut milk or oil and
- A squeeze of ketchup (I’m serious) (if you hate ketchup, sub tomato sauce, but I promise this is awesome)
Instructions in the sections below on making the skin.
Okay, okay, let’s move on.
Tips for Making Seitan Turkey
- First, let’s make the seitan dough. Gather all your ingredients first for stress-free cooking.
- Blend the beans, spices, nutritional yeast and about 1 cup of vegan chicken broth in the food processor or blender until it is smooth.
- Then add your vital wheat gluten and blend again briefly, until most of it has been incorporated. It may still be a little powdery but that’s OK.
- Add it to a large bowl and press everything together with your hands. You may want to add a tablespoon of water or two if it looks a bit dry. You can press the dough together so there are no more crumbly bits, but DO NOT KNEAD IT. I know other recipes may say to knead the seitan but it always turns out rubbery when I do that. Seriously, just try to form the dough.
If Cooking in the Instant Pot:
Place the Instant Pot steaming basket in the pot and add 1 cup of water.
Add the seitan into the basket, close the lid, set the pressure valve to “sealing” and cook on high pressure or manual for 45 minutes.
After the cooking is done, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then carefully switch the pressure valve to venting and release the remaining pressure, which shouldn’t be very much.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 205 degrees Celsius) and skip to the “Braising the Seitan” section.
If Cooking on the Stove:
If you do not have an electric pressure cooker, you can easily make this on the stovetop.
Grab a large pot with a large steaming basket and a lid. Add 2 inches of water to the pot, then insert the steaming basket.
Place the seitan into the basket, add a lid to the pot, bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a high simmer and steam it for about 1 hour.
When it’s done, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 205 degrees Celsius).
OPTION 1: Braising the Seitan
Surround the seitan with remaining onions, the chopped potatoes, and the chopped carrots.
Add the broth to the dish, pouring it straight on the seitan. It should come about halfway up the seitan. If you are using a much wider dish, you may need a bit more broth.
IF YOU ARE ADDING THE “SKIN,” you need a little less broth (about half as much). The point of the broth is to add moisture. If you decided to add the “skin,” then the soaked rice paper and sauce you add halfway baking will take the place of some of that extra broth and moisten the seitan.
Pop the lid on (or some aluminum foil if you don’t have a lid for your dish) and bake it for one hour.
You can remove it at any time if you need to. It’s actually fully edible once steamed, and pretty dang good.
But if you want it tender, juicy, and amazing, bake it for a full hour.
Option 2: Simmering the Seitan
This option takes less time and I dare say it tastes a little better--but you should watch it a little more closely if there's an open flame.
Sear the seitan in a large pot over medium high heat for 5 minutes. I recommend doing this with oil to get a nice firm bottom, but the oil isn't necessary if you have a great nonstick pot.
Add enough vegan chicken broth to cover the seitan (will depend on the size of your pot) and add fresh herbs like rosemary and sage. Turn the heat down to medium low and cover. Simmer for about a half hour or so.
The seitan will be very wet at this point but don't worry. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving or take it to the next level with this last (but easy, I promise) step.
Add the Skin
Add the just braised or boiled seitan turkey to a baking dish.
Soak a piece of rice paper in water (or oil--even better) for 1-2 minutes until soft and malleable.
Carefully spread it over the seitan. Smooth the edges just under the turkey. You don't need to do the bottom--I found the rice paper didn't even really stick when I tried to do that.
Set up a station with a rimmed dinner plate, the bowl of sauce with a spoon in it, and a lined rimmed baking tray (I used a deep 9-inch square baker).
Pour coconut milk or water onto the plate for soaking, about ¾ cup.
Soak one sheet of rice paper. Make sure the paper is submerged in the liquid (if not, use your hand to press it down so it is).
It takes about 30-60 seconds to soak a sheet of rice paper enough to make it malleable. You can test one “corner” of it by pinching it, if it starts to stick to itself like cling wrap, it’s ready. Don’t over soak or it will become weak.
Lift up the soaked sheet of rice paper with both hands and lay it across the seitan turkey. Pat down the sides, adhering to every nook and cranny. It won’t stick together perfectly, but it will be fine.
Add the sauce using a spoon in a thin layer over the whole thing.
Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) for around 10 minutes or until the sauce is brown and crispy. You should be able to tap it with the back of a dry clean spoon and hear the crispiness.
Carving the Seitan
After removing from heat, let the seitan rest for 10 minutes to finish soaking up all that goodness.
Using a fork and serrated-edge knife, carefully slice the seitan as thick or thin as you’d like.
What to Eat With Vegan Turkey
Besides the two gravies I mentioned above, this seitan turkey roast goes well with a lot of things.
Definitely serve some soup like this Butternut Squash Carrot Ginger Soup or Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup on the side, a rice side like Pumpkin Risotto or a salad like this Pomegranate Salad or Delicata Squash Salad that features air fryer squash (oven option provided).
What to Do With Leftovers
Just like non-vegan Thanksgiving, leftovers may involve getting a little creative.
If you don’t feel like simply heating up more sliced seitan with gravy and veggies, try a couple of these options.
- Make seitan turkey sandwiches with anything from mustard and pickles, vegan mayo, sliced vegan cheddar cheese, or whatever else you like.
- You could also cut the turkey into cubes and throw it on a salad with avocado, shredded vegan cheese, greens, crunchy veggies and any kind of dressing. I recommend my vegan ranch!
- Eat it for breakfast with some tofu scramble or hash browns.
More Awesome Seitan Recipes
I’m really enjoying making seitan. It’s fun to see what I can come up with, and that high protein, delicious meals don’t need to contain animal products.
Here’s a few awesome seitan recipes I’m loving right now:
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteaks (these happen to be the most popular recipe on my blog!)
- Vegan Drumsticks
- Seitan Chicken Nuggets
- Vegan Gyros
- Instant Pot Seitan (the basic beefy recipe for any application)
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. I definitely got the coveted reaction from him when he first tried it: eyes closed and “Mmmmpppphhhh” while chewing. I just love that.
This seitan turkey is:
- Moist (sorry)
- Meaty (but without the cruelty!)
- And perfect for a holiday meal, family dinner, or even just high protein vegan meal prep!
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!