Seitan BBQ Ribs


So, I go to school in Texas. When my high school friends and relatives found out that I was ditching beautiful NorCal for Texas, most reactions were somewhere between shock and feigned enthusiasm. Can’t say that Texas has the greatest reputation back home.

Three years in, I’m pleased to report that the stereotypes aren’t all true (although Texan pride is a very real and wild thing), and I’ve learned some key facts from living here.

For example, did you know that what Californians classify as a barbecue is considered “grilling” in Texas? All of my life I grew up thinking that a barbecue was veggie dogs and portobella mushrooms roasted over a propane flame. BBQ sauce: what’s that?

Turns out Texans would be outright insulted by that definition. People will wait hours for fresh brisket and ribs, although I don’t blame them because I’ve done the same for sushi.

I’ve tried bits and pieces of barbecued meat (pretty good!), but have never actually sat down to a complete bbq meal. I plan to someday, but there are so many other great restaurants to try that my veggie leaning self hasn’t found the chance to yet.

Meanwhile, I’ll snack on some seitan vegan bbq that, while completely inauthentic, is still hearty and delicious. It’s made with vital wheat gluten which is a great source of plant protein, and brushed with generous amounts of bbq sauce. I already have plans for a vegan BBQ pizza. (edit: pizza was delicious. dough + tomato sauce + fresh corn + bbq ribs + TJ “cheese” + bake + top with arugula dressed with balsamic dressing + ranch on the side = the perfect sweet savory zesty combo)

Here’s the recipe:

Seitan BBQ Ribs

Lightly adapted from Baked In

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, I used this brand
  1. In a bowl, mix together everything but the vital what gluten and barbecue sauce. Stir in the vital wheat gluten, then gently knead the mixture with your hands for a minute or two.
  2. Press the seitan dough into a greased 8×8 pan. Use a knife to cut a rectangular grid ‘rib’ pattern into the dough (a horizontal mid-line and then vertical lines 1 inch apart). Be careful not to cut completely through the dough. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  3. Next, one option is to brush the dough with bbq sauce and grill for 5-6 minutes per side (generously brushing with sauce each time you flip it). Or, if you don’t have access to a grill, brush bbq sauce on both sides of the seitan and bake for 20 minutes, flipping and recoating with sauce after 10 minutes. Lastly, broil the seitan at high heat until its edges are dark and caramelized.
  4. Serve with coleslaw, potato salad, and of course, lots of mac and cheese.