How to make vital wheat gluten

Written by yvette clark
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Though you won't be able to make vital wheat gluten flour in your home kitchen, you can make vital wheat gluten that's perfect to use in Asian dishes and in other recipes where you want to replace meat. To make your own vital wheat gluten, or seitan, you need to separate wheat flour into starch and protein. You'll rinse the starch away and be left with raw gluten for your recipes.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Wheat flour
  • Unbleached white flour, optional
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Wooden spoon, optional
  • Colander
  • Seasonings, optional

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  1. 1

    Place a 5-pound bag of whole wheat flour in a bowl. You can add up to 1.13 Kilogram of unbleached white flour if you like, which can make the final result smoother. Mix the flours together well if you use both types.

  2. 2

    Add just enough cold water to the flour to allow it to come together into a dough. The best way to do this is to add 1 cup of water at a time, mixing the water into the dough each time with either your hands or a wooden spoon.

  3. 3

    Knead the dough to help hold the dough together and develop the gluten. You're done kneading when the dough holds together into single mass and springs back if you poke it with your finger.

  4. 4

    Rinse out the bowl you mixed the dough in and fill it with cold water. Place the gluten in the water and let it soak for 30 minutes.

  5. 5

    Begin to separate the starch and bran from the protein in the dough by kneading it under water. The water will get milky as the starch rinses out, and you may notice some sediment from the bran at the bottom of the bowl.

  6. 6

    Dump the dough into a fine colander in the sink. It will no longer be in a single piece, which is just fine for this step. Place it under the faucet and run cold water over it as you continue to knead out the starch and bran. Keep pressing the dough together and it will eventually begin to come together into a mass again.

  7. 7

    Continue kneading and rinsing until the water is no longer milky and you are left with a single mass of stretchy gluten. This is raw gluten that's ready to be simmered in broth or baked.

  8. 8

    Mix seasonings into the gluten for a more flavourful end product. You can use any seasonings, but soy sauce, nutritional yeast, onion and nut butters are especially good. To help seasonings penetrate into the gluten, heat the seasonings or mix them with a small amount of hot oil, then knead them into the gluten.

Tips and warnings

  • It's worth noting that while gluten has received a lot of negative press recently, it only creates digestive problems in those who have coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity. For the rest of the population, it is a healthy and delicious protein.
  • Many Asian recipes using gluten assume that it's already been boiled in a soy sauce-based broth. To prepare gluten in this way, add enough soy sauce (and any other Asian seasonings you prefer) to water to flavour it, bring it to a boil, and then drop small pieces of gluten into the boiling water. Turn the heat down and let simmer for at least an hour for the most flavourful results.

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