This easy vegan turkey recipe will blow you away!  Made from seitan, it’s meaty, juicy, and roasted to perfection, yet it’s 100% vegan.  Your holiday guests won’t believe their taste buds when they bite into this authentic-tasting tofurkey!

A vegan tofurkey on a cutting board being cut into slices with parsley on the sides.

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This holiday roast is mock meat made from vital wheat gluten and garbanzo beans (or tofu) mixed with a turkey-flavored broth.  If you have never made homemade seitan before, you will be surprised by how easy the process actually is.  It only takes a few minutes of prep work and then you just wait for it to cook.

My family and I have tried nearly every plant-based turkey product on the market over the past 21 years of being vegan.  We’ve purchased major brands and made our own from tofu or seitan, but of all the ones we have tried, this is truly the best mock turkey that we have ever had!  My family goes crazy for it and I think yours will too – even non-vegans love this “turkey!”

Thank you for this delicious easy recipe. I’ve finally had a vegan Christmas dinner with an excellent substitute for turkey! For some of us it was even better. A hit with the non vegans as well.

Christina

What are seitan and vital wheat gluten?

Seitan is mock meat made from vital wheat gluten. It has a chewy meat texture and can be flavored and mixed with other ingredients and cooked to replicate nearly any type of meat.  Sometimes people also call it “wheat meat.” 

Vital wheat gluten is a super fine powder made from wheat flour.  It is the protein from wheat that has been isolated without starch.  It is very sticky and almost like glue when it gets wet.

I make all types of faux meats from wheat gluten like vegan ham, vegan roast beef, vegan chicken, and seitan sausages. You can even make a quick and easy seitan that’s not fancy-looking but works great for kebabs, vegan soups, and stews.

You’ll love this recipe because

  • it’s easy to make.
  • a fraction of the price of store-bought Tofurkey – and tastes better too.
  • full of a satisfying meaty flavor and texture.
  • perfect for your vegan Thanksgiving feast!
  • great for turkey sandwiches – the best vegan deli meat that you will ever eat!

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Vital Wheat Gluten – to give the turkey a meaty texture.  This ingredient can not be substituted.  Unfortunately, it can’t be made gluten-free.  If you want a gluten-free mock turkey, make my vegan tofu turkey roast.
  • Chickpeas aka Garbanzo Beans – to add protein and dilute the gluten so it’s not too chewy.  You can also use white beans, pinto beans, or a 14 oz block of firm tofu instead.
  • Broth – to flavor the vegan turkey.  I like to use a chicken-style vegan bouillon like Not Chick’n or you can use any vegetable broth that you wish.
  • Neutral Flavored Oil – to make the meat moist. (optional) I like refined coconut oil because it is most similar to the fat that you find in meat and will give it the most authentic texture.
    • Oil Free? – Feel free to leave it out, I just find the “meat” to be dryer tasting without it.  However, I do highly recommend using some oil in the basting liquid.
  • Poultry Seasoning – for flavor. You can use ground sage instead.
  • Soy Sauce – or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos for flavor.
  • Nutritional Yeast – for flavor.  (optional)  There is nothing that replaces the umami flavor of it, but if you don’t have it, you can leave it out.
  • Garlic Powder – for flavor.
  • Onion Powder – for flavor.
  • Oregano – for flavor in the basting liquid. You can also add a sprinkle of thyme, rosemary, and/or sage for more flavor.
  • Fresh Ground Pepper – for flavor in the basting liquid.

Helpful tools

  • Food Processor or Blender – to blend the beans and broth.  If you don’t have one, you can simply mash the beans with a potato masher.
  • Glass Mixing Bowl – gluten is very sticky and will stick to plastic.
  • Silicone Spatula – to stir the gluten mixture.  Don’t use a wooden spoon, it will stick and be very hard to clean.
  • Steamer Basket – is helpful to steam the tofurkey, (If you don’t have a steamer, you can place jelly jar rings at the bottom of a pot and fill it with enough water to reach just under the rings.  This will hold the turkey out of the water.  You will need to keep an eye on the water level and refill it a few times while it’s steaming.)
A vegan turkey loaf on a cutting board cut into slices.

How to make a vegan turkey

Step 1 – Add chickpeas, broth, poultry seasoning, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder to a food processor or blender.

Step 2 – Blend for about 30 seconds until you have a thick liquid. (It’s okay if there are still a few chunks of the beans in it.)

A collage of two pictures showing the chickpeas, broth and spices in a food processor before and after blending.

Step 3 – Pour the liquid into a glass bowl, (gluten will stick to plastic) sprinkle 3/4 cup of gluten flour over it, and fold it in with a silicone spatula.

Step 4 – Sprinkle the remaining gluten flour over it and continue to fold it in.  Once it gets firm, use your hands to knead the dough for about 30 seconds until all of the gluten is incorporated.

Step 5 – Form the dough into one large loaf and wrap it tightly and completely in foil.

Step 6 – Place the wrapped “turkey” in a large steamer basket, cover, and steam for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

A collage of 4 pictures showing the vegan turkey broth, adding the vital wheat gluten, and kneading it into a dough, then wrapping it in foil to steam.

Note: You can serve the meatless turkey at this point.  It’s great for slicing thin on vegan turkey sandwiches, hot open-faced turkey sandwiches, chopping it up for stir-fries, or tossing it into tofurkey a la king.   (If I am going to just cut it up for one of these things, I skip the baking step to make it easier.)  If you want a beautiful presentation and extra flavor roast it at this point.

Bake the vegan turkey

Step 7 – Place the steamed “turkey” in a small baking dish.  (An 8 x 8-inch baking dish works well.)

Step 8 – Mix broth, oil, soy sauce, oregano, and black pepper and pour over the turkey.

Step 9 – Bake at 375° F for 25 minutes.  (Take out of the oven 2-3 times during baking and quickly spoon the basting liquid over the tofurkey and place back in the oven.)

Step 10 – Serve hot and slice with a serrated knife.

A roasted vegan turkey that has been based with spices in a red baking pan.

White “meat” vs. dark “meat”

I tested this homemade tofurkey many times with different flavorings and protein sources to see which one tasted most like turkey.  The version above made with chickpeas is most similar to the white meat of the turkey.  However, when I used tofu, it was softer and moist, similar to the dark meat turkey.

How to make dark meat vegan turkey

To make dark meat turkey, replace the chickpeas with a 14 oz block of firm tofu that has been drained and press to get out all the excess liquid.  Increase the soy sauce by 1 tsp and then follow the rest of the ingredients and instructions the same.

How to make white meat vegan turkey

To make drier white meat omit the oil and use chickpeas in the mixture.  This will give you the same great flavor with a dryer texture.

A seitan turkey on a cutting board cut into thin slices.

Make it into a holiday loaf

If you want your vegan turkey to resemble the Tofurkey or Gardien brand vegan turkey roast that has stuffing inside, simply press the seitan dough into a flat circle.  Put a cup of vegan stovetop stuffing or cauliflower stuffing in the center and then fold up the edges and press the seitan together to seal the stuffing inside.  Wrap in foil then steam and bake as instructed above.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Yes!  The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it up to 3 days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.  Mix up the dough and steam it then just keep it in the foil wrapping in the fridge until you are ready to baste and bake it. (Add about 10 – 15 more minutes to the bake time if baking it cold from the fridge.)

A sliced tofu and seitan turkey on a cutting board.

Storage

Once you steam the meatless turkey, it has been cooked enough to slice and eat on sandwiches.  you can keep it in the fridge in a sealed container or wrapped in foil for 3-5 days.

Can I freeze vegan turkey?

If you want to freeze your “turkey,” simply wrap it tightly in foil and place it inside a large freezer bag getting out all of the excess air possible.  You can keep it frozen for up to 3 months.  To thaw it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight.

Reheating leftovers

To reheat your veggie turkey, simply place it in a baking dish, cover it with the basting liquid then bake it for 25 minutes.  You can also reheat individual slices in the microwave for about 1 minute on high.

Serving suggestions

Enjoy this vegan turkey with other holiday favorites like mashed potatoes, vegan gravy, vegan stuffing, vegan squash risotto, vegan cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and creamy pumpkin bean soup, make the best vegan pumpkin pie for dessert!

Sliced turkey seitan on a plate with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Can I make the tofurky gluten-free?

Since this vegan turkey is made from wheat gluten, it can not be modified to be gluten-free, however, if you want a gluten-free turkey substitute for the holidays, you can make my vegan tofu turkey, tofu wellington, or a whole roasted cauliflower for a gluten-free plant-based main. See my post about gluten-free vegan Thanksgiving recipes or vegan Thanksgiving mains for more ideas.

More seitan recipes

A vegan turkey made from seitan on a cutting board being sliced with a knife.
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5 from 54 rating

Vegan Turkey

A vegan turkey made with vital wheat gluten and chickpeas or tofu.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, (or white beans or 14 oz. pressed firm tofu)
  • 1 cup vegan broth, (chicken-style vegan broth tastes best)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted (or any other neutral-flavored oil)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce, Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

Basting Liquid

  • 1/2 cup broth
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil, or other neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Instructions
 

  • Add 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, 1 cup broth, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 tbsp melted coconut oil, 2 tsp poultry seasoning, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp onion powder to a food processor or blender.
  • Blend for about 30 seconds until you have a thick liquid. (It's okay if there are still a few chunks of the beans in it.)
  • Pour the liquid into a glass bowl (gluten will stick to plastic) sprinkle 3/4 cup of gluten flour over it and fold it in with a silicone spatula.
  • Sprinkle the remaining gluten flour over it and continue to fold it in.  Once it gets firm, use your hands to knead the dough for about 30 seconds until all of the gluten is incorporated.
  • Form the dough into one large loaf and wrap it tightly and completely in foil.
  • Place the wrapped "turkey" in a large steamer basket, cover, and steam for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (You can now eat the "turkey" or you can baste and bake it for more flavor.)

Baste and bake the vegan turkey

  • Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
  • Place the steamed "turkey" in a small baking dish.  (An 8 x 8-inch baking dish works well.)
  • Mix 1/2 cup broth, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp oregano, and 1/4 tsp black pepper and pour over the turkey.
  • Bake at 375° F (190° C) for 25 minutes.  (Take out of the oven 2-3 times during baking and quickly spoon the basting liquid over the tofurkey and place back in the oven.)
  • Server hot and slice with a serrated knife.

Notes

What if you don’t have a steamer basket?
You can place jelly jar rings at the bottom of a pot and fill it with enough water to reach just under the rings.  This will hold the turkey out of the water.  You will need to keep an eye on the water level and refill it a few times while it’s steaming.
To make dark-meat turkey
Replace the chickpeas with a 14 oz block of firm tofu that has been drained and press to get out all the excess liquid.  Increase the soy sauce by 1 tsp and then follow the rest of the ingredients and instructions the same.
To make drier white meat
Omit the oil and be sure to use chickpeas and not tofu in the mixture.  This will give you the same great flavor with a dryer texture.
Make it into a holiday loaf
If you want your vegan turkey to resemble the Tofurkey or Gardien brand holiday loaves that have stuffing inside, simply press the seitan dough into a flat circle.  Put a cup of vegan stove top stuffing in the center then fold up the edges and press the seitan together to seal the stuffing inside.  Wrap in foil, steam, and bake as instructed above.
To make the “turkey” ahead of time
Mix up the dough and steam it then just keep it in the foil wrapping in the fridge for up to 3 days until you are ready to baste bake it.
Serving: 6oz, Calories: 263kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Sodium: 451mg, Potassium: 196mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 70IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 70mg, Iron: 3mg
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