Made from a simple homemade seitan, this vegan ground beef is an incredible meat substitute that can be used in any recipe that calls for raw or cooked ground beef! It’s high in protein, low in fat and carbs, nut free, soy free, and has a delectable meaty texture and savory flavor. Perfect for vegan or vegetarian tacos, pastas, casseroles, and more!
🌱 What Makes This Recipe So Good
- I’ll say it – there are some meat substitutes out there that… just aren’t good. The flavor’s wrong, the texture’s worse, and the ingredients are all over the place. This vegan ground beef, though? Absolutely does NOT fall into that category. It has a convincingly meat-like texture and a rich, savory flavor that makes it perfect to use in practically any ground beef recipe.
- Rather than tofu or tempeh or textured vegetable protein, this recipe uses a delicious (and deliciously easy) homemade seitan. Seitan’s a plant-based meat alternative made primarily from vital wheat gluten. Tempeh, tofu, and TVP, on the other hand, are all soy-based. The gluten in the “wheat meat” gives it that meaty texture that makes it optimal for vegan ground beef. That does mean, though, that this recipe is NOT gluten-free, so proceed with caution if you have gluten sensitivities.
- Like I mentioned above, this recipe gives you a vegan ground beef you can use in any recipe – what you do with it from here is entirely up to you! Pair it with onion, diced tomatoes, and cauliflower rice for vegan taco stuffed peppers. Use it in eggplant lasagna, gyro meatballs, meatloaf, or make a meatless ground beef alfredo with broccoli. You can even add it to recipes that don’t call for ground beef, like these refried bean tacos, for a boost of protein.
👩🏼🍳 Chef’s Tips
- You want to knead the dough long enough to activate the gluten and develop that nice long, stringy texture. That’s how you get the meat-like chewiness that makes seitan such a great option for vegetarian ground beef, so don’t stop kneading until you’ve got it. Essentially, the more you knead it, the chewier it’ll be. On the other hand, be careful not to over-knead. Working the gluten too much can give the seitan a rubbery, tough texture.
- Seitan itself has a pretty neutral flavor, kind of like plain, unseasoned white meat chicken. Like tofu, it takes on the flavors of marinades and spices really well, so this ground beef substitute ends up with a nice, savory umami thanks to the liquid smoke, garlic, paprika, onion powder, salt, and dried herbs. I also like to add a little soy sauce and garlic to the steaming water, so the seitan picks up a little of those flavors, too.
- Seitan ground beef is a great option if you’re looking to stock your freezer. Let the crumbles cool completely, then transfer them to an airtight container or a food-safe sealable plastic bag. If you’re using a plastic bag, squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing it completely. Stored properly, vegan ground beef can be frozen up to 6 months. Let it fully defrost in the refrigerator before using it in recipes.
More Meatless Recipes for Mondays or Any Days
- Crispy Air Fryer Tofu
- Crispy Vegan Chicken Sandwich
- Refried Black Beans
- Vegan Shrimp with Vegan Sriracha Mayo
- Buffalo Jackfruit Sandwich
- Creamy Alfredo Linguini
- Tempeh Bacon
- Epic Black Bean Burgers
To Make the Seitan Ground Beef
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth 1 teaspoon broth removed
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 4 tablespoons grated fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 1 ½ cups vital wheat gluten
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried herb blend of choice any combination of dried basil, oregano, and thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt more or less to taste
To Steam the Seitan Ground Beef
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce or coconut aminos, optional
- 1 teaspoon smashed garlic optional
- 2-cup measuring cup or larger
- stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl
- Silicone spatula
- stand mixer with dough hook, see Notes for alternative
- Cutting board
- chef's knife
- 4 aluminum foil sheets
- Saucepan with lid, large enough for steamer basket
- Steamer basket
- Food processor
To Make the Seitan Ground Beef
- Add 1 ½ cups vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 4 tablespoons grated fresh garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to measuring cup. Whisk vigorously until ingredients are fully incorporated. Set measuring cup aside.
- Add ¼ cup chickpea flour, 1 ½ cups vital wheat gluten, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon dried herb blend of choice, and 1 teaspoon salt to stand mixer bowl. Mix ingredients together with hands or silicone spatula until well incorporated.
- Push dry ingredients to sides of bowl, creating well in center of dry ingredient mixture. Carefully pour wet ingredients into well.
- Stir all ingredients together with silicone spatula until fully combined. When combined, dough will begin to pull away from sides of bowl.
- Secure bowl under stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Knead prepared dough on medium speed 1 to 3 minutes or until mixture becomes sticky and develops long, stringy texture resembling elastic.
- Once stringy texture develops, turn off stand mixer and let dough rest 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, knead dough on medium speed 30 seconds more.
- Transfer dough to cutting board. Cut dough into 4 equally-sized pieces, then place each piece of dough in center of one sheet of aluminum foil.
- Loosely wrap each piece of seitan dough in aluminum foil, leaving enough space for seitan dough to expand slightly during steaming. Set wrapped seitan aside to rest 5 minutes.
To Steam and Crumble the Seitan Ground Beef
- Add 1 inch of water to saucepan. If desired, stir in 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon smashed garlic. Fit saucepan with steamer basket, making sure top of water does not touch bottom of steamer basket.
- Heat saucepan over high heat until water begins to boil. Once boiling, place foil-wrapped seitan in steamer basket and cover saucepan with lid.
- Steam seitan 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, use tongs to carefully remove steamed seitan from steamer basket and set aside. Let seitan cool to room temperature.
- Once seitan has cooled, unwrap and discard foil. Tear seitan into smaller pieces and add pieces to food processor.
- Pulse seitan in food processor just until all seitan is ground into small pieces. Be careful not to over-grind seitan.
- Use seitan crumbles immediately as you would cooked or raw ground beef. Alternately, transfer crumbled seitan to airtight container and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
- Stand Mixer: If you don’t have (or don’t want to drag out and/or clean) a stand mixer, you can knead the dough by hand instead. Transfer the dough to a flat surface lightly dusted with vital wheat gluten and knead the dough like bread until the long, stringy texture develops. Let it rest 10 minutes, then knead it again for 1-2 minutes.
- Vegetable Broth: Remove 1 teaspoon of vegetable broth from the 1 ½ cups before adding the other wet ingredients. That teaspoon will be replaced with 1 teaspoon liquid smoke. If you don’t use the liquid smoke, use the full 1 ½ cups of broth.
- Coconut Aminos: To keep this recipe soy-free, use coconut aminos to steam the seitan instead of soy sauce.
- Storage: Refrigerate ground seitan in an airtight container up to 7 days. Freeze ground seitan in an airtight container (or food-safe sealable freezer bag) up to 6 months.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.