Juicy, tender, and satisfying, this Vegan Brisket is a perfect dinner main or holiday centerpiece. Slow roasted so it’s fork-tender, this seitan brisket will have vegans and non-vegans raving.
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Hey Internet! To conclude Jewish week, we thought it was paramount to provide a delicious staple that’s perfect for any Jewish holiday centerpiece (though it’s pretty great for non-Jews too): vegan brisket!
This juicy seitan brisket is so tender it’s unbelievable. First steamed, then roasted with onions, garlic, and tomatoes, this beef alternative is healthy and delicious.
If you’ve ever had seitan and you thought it was kind of tough or rubbery, there’s a good chance it was over kneaded or not cooked properly.
The less you do to it, the better. I usually mix my seitan ingredients briefly, and then just form it in my hands--no more than 30 seconds.
Traditional brisket is slow roasted for hours, and often very juicy and tender. Surely seitan couldn’t do that, I thought.
But my steaming method in the Instant Pot (can also be done stovetop) makes the seitan very tender, and I was thinking of ways I could keep it tender and make it extra delicious in the oven.
I learned, after a bit of research, about oven braising. You add a hunk of seared meat or in our case seitan to a dish with a decent amount of liquid and you bake it (sometimes covered, especially in our case).
Adding a good amount of liquid and a lid helps us keep the seitan very moist, and cooking it for an hour imparts so much flavor and moisture.
You don’t NEED to braise it for the whole hour. It’s actually fully edible after it’s steamed.
But if you want that fork tender, juicy brisket taste, I highly recommend cooking it in the oven (or you can simmer stovetop) with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and broth for even more flavor and juiciness.
Let’s talk about what ingredients to gather.
What You’ll Need
This brisket is made of seitan, which is made from vital wheat gluten, made by isolating the protein from wheat. That’s why it’s super duper high in protein.
To make seitan a complete protein (vital wheat gluten lacks lysine, an essential amino acid) and to make it more tender, you’ll need a can (or 1.5 cups cooked) of black beans.
That and liquid (in our case vegetable broth for more flavor) are what makes the foundation of the seitan.
To flavor it a little more though, we’ll add low sodium soy sauce (or salt and more vegetable broth if you’re soy-free), smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried thyme.
After making the seitan, we’ll sear it and braise it with some onions, garlic, canned diced tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes), and in the oven we’ll use either vegetable broth or vegan chicken broth.
I prefer vegan chicken broth because it tastes… I don’t know, more Jewish? I hope that makes sense, lol. But vegetable broth will work fine.
If using vegan chicken broth, I love using Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed with some hot water. It’s much more convenient and more economical as well.
Unfortunately this recipe is not gluten-free and I do not have a substitute for the vital wheat gluten.
How to Make Vegan Brisket
First, let’s make the seitan dough. Gather all your ingredients first for stress-free cooking.
Add the beans, soy sauce if using (if not, use the same amount of broth and a pinch of salt), spices, and broth to your food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Some black specs of the bean skin may remain and that’s OK.
Now add the vital wheat gluten and pulse until mostly combined. It may still be a little powdery. We’ll fix that.
Add the dough to a medium bowl. You should be able to pick it up.
Press it into one lump that kind of looks like meat. Make it about 2 to 2 + ½ inches thick.
If it looks a little powdery still, wet your hands and smooth the areas. Don’t knead 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 “Searing 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, and steam it on high for about 1 hour.
When it’s done, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 205 degrees Celsius).
Searing the Seitan
This is an optional step but it adds a lot of good texture and flavor.
First, saute your sliced onions and garlic in a large skillet over medium high heat until they become translucent.
Garlic is more likely to burn, so I like to saute my onions first for about 3 minutes, then I add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Move the onions and garlic to the sides and place your seitan directly in the middle. Allow it to sear for about 3 minutes.
If the onions and garlic are sticking in the meantime, you can deglaze them with a tablespoon or two of water. Mix them around after you pour on that water and they should un-stick themselves.
Bake or Braise the Seitan
To a dutch oven or deep casserole type dish (I used this casserole dish), first add the onions and the garlic. Then plunk the seitan on top of them.
Add the broth to the dish. It should come about halfway up the seitan. If you are using a much wider dish, you may need a bit more broth.
Now dump the tomatoes straight on top of the seitan. No need to mix it. The moisture from the tomatoes will impart into the seitan.
Pop the lid on (or some aluminum foil if you don’t have a lid for your dish) and bake it for 45 minutes to an 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.
Simmer it on the Stovetop Option
If you don’t want to bake it, you can simmer it in a large pot instead. Add your onions and garlic to a large pot, then add the seitan followed by the tomatoes.
Cover the entire thing in broth (you may need a bit more than if you were just braising it).
Now add a lid if desired (will add more moisture since it won’t be able to evaporate) and cook it on a low simmer for about an hour.
Test it with a fork or knife. You should be able to very easily sink the fork or knife into the seitan.
The sauce on top is optional but ridiculously delicious.
You can make it while the seitan is cooking. It only takes 2 minutes to mix up, so I highly recommend it.
This is a more tomato-based option. If you’d prefer BBQ sauce, either use your favorite or I have a simple and delicious recipe for vegan BBQ sauce if you prefer.
For the tomato-based brisket sauce, add tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, low sodium soy sauce (or water and salt), garlic powder, and maple syrup or agave to a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir until smooth.
I give measurements for these ingredients on the recipe card below, but I recommend adding and tasting to your preference.
Add the sauce to your seitan by just pouring it or you can brush it on with a basting brush if you prefer.
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.
Serve it up with some vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, anything you’d like!
I love to eat my seitan brisket with vegan spinach noodle kugel, personally.
Leftovers are awesome on a sandwich, too. :)
More Vegan Jewish Recipes
I’m pleasantly surprised with how many non-Jews I meet who love Jewish food. It’s comfort food for me, seeing as I grew up eating it at many functions: holidays, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, etc.
I have been enjoying veganizing some of my favorite Jewish dishes. Did you know I actually have an e-book for Plant Based Jewish Recipes?
My current Plant Based Jewish Recipes e-book includes several kinds of baked latkes, 2 kugels including this one, rugelach, matzo ball soup, a family secret applesauce, and sour cream cake.
We are in the process of updating this book and adding even more recipes!
Anyone who purchases the e-book in its current form will receive my updated and expanded Jewish recipes e-book for free.
If you would like to purchase the e-book now for only $6 and reserve your copy of our upcoming book, follow this link: Plant Based Jewish Recipes e-book.
If you’d like to try some of the other Vegan Jewish recipes on my site, read on!
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This Vegan Brisket is:
- Moist (sorry)
- Meaty (but without the cruelty!)
- And perfect for a holiday meal, Jewish or not!
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!