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Vital Wheat Gluten. What is it? Is it good for you? And how to make Seitan, a protein-packed Vegan staple.

Vital Wheat Gluten. What is it? Is it good for you? And how to make Seitan, a protein-packed Vegan staple.

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or have ever spent any time scrolling through social media, chances are you have come across one of the thousands of viral posts trending on the topic of the Vegan meat alternative, Seitan.

But what is it? How do you make it? Is it good for you and most importantly, what does it taste like?

The Ratton Pantry team have not only sourced and can supply the main ingredients in conveniently sized packs for the individual home chef, but we have experimented with this innovative and versatile ingredient and have a few tips and tricks to share with you!

Let’s start with the basics…

What is Vital Wheat Gluten?

So quite literally the ‘vital’ ingredient to make seitan, is Vital Wheat Gluten

Vital Wheat Gluten might look similar to flour, but it is slightly different in that it is a form of almost pure gluten, the stretchy protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. It is made by hydrating the wheat flour to activate the gluten and then processed to extract everything from it. This is achieved by washing/rinsing the dough. As gluten is water-insoluble, the starch in the dough will dissolve, whereas the gluten will stay behind as a solid. The final product is then dried and ground back into a powder. It packs a powerful protein punch, even in small amounts, making it a great alternative for those who choose to exclude meat from their diets.

You can make Wheat Gluten (as it’s more commonly known) at home, but it’s a laborious process that leaves a lot of unnecessary by-products. Unfortunately, vital wheat gluten can also be tricky to find (usually in health food stores) and pricey.

Luckily you can purchase handy, ready to go bags of wheat gluten from us at Ratton Pantry by taking advantage of our in-house decanting service. Or for those who may be more experienced, regular or even trade consumers we can cater for larger orders by providing 25kg sacks of this super-powered stuff!

Is Vital Wheat Gluten the same as Gluten Flour?

Yes, vital wheat gluten and gluten flour are essentially the same things. The names are used interchangeably. But do remember that you cannot completely replace vital wheat flour in place of regular flour in any baking recipe. As the vital wheat flour is mainly gluten, if you use this flour for baking without the regular flour then your end product will be all mushy and shapeless.

What is Vital Wheat Gluten used for?

It is used as a substitute for meat and always appears as an essential ingredient in most Asian cuisines. Vital wheat gluten is available in powder form, which is usually mixed with other spices and water to form the dough. When you are using the vital wheat gluten dough for steaming, baking, boiling, or cooking, it becomes very chewy (something similar to the meat-like texture). This is the reason behind seitan being the most popular meat substitute food choice in the vegetarian community.

Seitan has very little starch content and is a fantastic ingredient to make the dough very elasticated, resulting in perfect bakes time and time again. Vital wheat gluten is great for bread making, particularly for regular flour replacements that have a low gluten content, such as rye, as it helps to increase the gluten content of the bake. It is equally as delicious if used in muffins, cakes and other bakes such as tarts and pastries where you work with yeast ingredients.

Vital Wheat Gluten is also well known for its binding properties, helping vegan burgers hold their shape and not crumble, or in bread recipes which may be heavy on fruit or seeds. 

You can also add a tablespoon of wheat gluten to your favourite bread recipes, to improve the crumb, texture and chewiness of the loaf. 

Is Vital Wheat Gluten healthy?

Vital wheat gluten contains a lot of nutritional value, which helps to keep you healthy and active throughout the day. It is processed food and considered safe and healthy to eat.

Please note, if you suffer from Celiac disease or have gluten allergies, then you must avoid consuming gluten in any form.

Aside from the protein kick, Vital Wheat Gluten is an excellent source of many minerals such as selenium and iron. 

Unlike tofu and tempeh, Vital Wheat Gluten is also soy-free and can be easily combined with other ingredients such as herbs and spices to create a wide variety of recipes, from Smoky Seitan Kebabs to Italian Meatballs or an easy Vegan Sunday Seitan Roast.

The bottom line is that unless you are gluten intolerant, you can safely consume vital wheat gluten. When paired with a balanced diet of whole plant-based foods, vital wheat gluten can be a versatile protein-rich addition to your diet, which brings us on to the tastiest and most versatile way of using Vital Wheat Gluten, as a main ingredient for Seitan. 

Why is it called Seitan?

You may have heard of terms such as facon, meatless meatballs, mock meat, veggie burgers, tofurkey and fishless fillets, but why is it called Seitan? 
The term 'seitan' is thought to have come from the combination of several words: sei, meaning “made of” and tan, the first character in the Japanese word tanpaku, which means ‘protein’.

Generally, vital wheat gluten is considered as the main ingredient while preparing seitan. Seitan is also commonly known as ‘wheat meat’. 

What does Seitan taste like?

Seitan is known for its chewy texture. Some might even call it meaty! But it doesn’t taste like meat. It’s mostly a blank slate, with a hint of wheat-y flavour. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s tasty! It’s savoury, probably closest to plain chicken or a portobello mushroom. The flavour is mild, but offers a world of possibilities when combined with other staple ingredients used to form popular dishes.

How do I cook Seitan?

Whether you make it or purchase it ready-made, seitan always needs to be cooked to use it in a vegetarian or vegan meal. A quick pan-fry with a splash of soy sauce or nama shoyu, is one way to cook your seitan. You can simmer it with a bit of curry powder and top it off with nutritional yeast for an enjoyable dish.

Seitan is also great grilled, whether on an outdoor grill or an indoor grill pan. Just top it with your favourite barbecue sauce and heat it up. A barbecue seitan sandwich is a delicious and fun option for your barbecue.

Toss seitan into a pan to get it lightly browned before you add vegetables to make a vegetable stir-fry. You can add seitan to just about any vegetarian curry recipe, or add bits to a soup or stew for a plant-based protein boost. Once you get started, you will find many creative ways to use seitan in your vegetarian and vegan cooking.

Seitan can be formed and shaped into a variety of styles for cooking many recipes - an opportunity to exercise your creative culinary skills!

There are a few steps to making homemade seitan, but it's not hard. Once you've done it once or twice, you can begin to experiment with different seitan recipes and cooking techniques, including stir-fries, baking, and more. Making your own seitan will save time and money, which is a deal breaker in the current climate. On this topic, seitan also freezes really well and can be thawed either plain and ready to form part of your usual family favourite dishes, or spiced and formed awaiting the addition of the accompanying elements.
Think of seitan as a pre-cooked meat in need of a little browning, or a sauce.

Seitan is easy to cut in chunks and add to stir-fries, stews, and casseroles. Tossed in a marinade with some oil in it, seitan can be grilled on a skewer or roasted in a hot oven to crisp the edges.

Why is my Seitan so chewy?

The longer you knead the dough, the more gluten you develop leading to a chewier seitan. If you want a less chewy and more tender seitan, knead it for a shorter period of time. Most recipes require kneading the dough for an average of 3 minutes, followed by a 10-minute rest period and then a bit more kneading.
Ready to give Seitan a try? Here’s one of our favourite, easy Vegan Seitan recipes!

This is by far the quickest and easiest seitan recipe ever!! This vegan chicken alternative is simple to whip up and perfect to add to any meal.  Crispy crunchy on the outside, and tender chewy in the middle. The perfect meaty texture to amp up any vegan meal. If you are new to making seitan this is the perfect recipe for beginners to try.

How to make the quickest and easiest Seitan recipe:


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (optional; omit for soy-free)
  • 34g chickpea flour
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 193g vital wheat gluten


  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is softened slightly.
  1. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is softened and fragrant. Add the sweet paprika and other spices to the pan, stir, and cook for 60 seconds or until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
  1. Use a spatula to transfer the onion-garlic mixture, including oil, to a blender or food processor. Add the tomato puree, vegetable stock,, soy sauce (if using), chickpea flour and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. (Raw chickpea flour tastes terrible so we don't recommend sampling this!).
  1. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the vital wheat gluten, then stir until evenly combined. Once stirred, use your hands to knead the mixture until it becomes more firm and a little bit springy, about 2 minutes. The dough will be quite loose and moist, so this won't feel similar to kneading bread.
  1. Prepare boiling water and a steamer. Be sure to add plenty of water. Tear or cut the dough into small, bite sized pieces (remember, this will expand a lot during the steaming process!).
  1. Once the water is boiling, steam the dough for 10-12 minutes, carefully flipping it over halfway through using tongs.
  1. Now let the fun begin! You’ll be left with a slightly spiced, ready to go, vegan meat alternative ready to add to your favourite dishes. You can substitute this for any recipe that would usually require meat and treat it the same way you would use cooked chicken.
  1. Let any leftover seitan cool to room temperature, then place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep for about a week. 
  2. Feel free to experiment with different sizes and shapes of seitan dough, for example, for a vegan-friendly loaf you can roll the un-steamed dough into a big sausage shape and wrap in tin foil. This can be steamed for an hour and then sliced, to replace a joint of meat for a roast dinner, or luncheon meat for sandwiches throughout the week! For best results, slice the seitan as needed for recipes.

And there you have it!

Please do feel free to get in touch with us with any further questions regarding this, as one of our most popular products! We'll do our best to help. Also please share any recipes or success stories you have with using Vital Wheat Gluten as an ingredient. We love hearing how you are all using this versatile secret ingredient!



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Sharon Gallacher - November 1, 2023


Could you tell me what the nutritional profile is on your VWG (vital wheat gluten) and what percentage of protein per 100g and carbs, fibre etc. per 100g. Am looking for 78% dry and for commercial use.


Sharon Gallacher

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