Could it be the best vegan burger ever? I think so. Juiciness is key. I do love bean burgers and other veggie burgers but they are never JUICY. Sometimes, you just want a meaty burger that gushes flavour with every bite. And you want that burger to fully satisfy and keep you full. We’re not after something that tastes like meat. It doesn’t taste like meat; it tastes like savory aromatic mushroomy goodness! Try this juicy seitan burger and let me know your opinion!
Click here for the printable recipe.
You can make them big and thick for a pub-style burger. Or make them thinner and smaller so you can stack them in fast food-style burgers. The burger patties are meant to be juicy blank canvases for your burger cravings. So add your favourite sauces or burger seasonings and fillings.
Video tutorial for The Best Vegan Burger | Seitan Burger
In this video, I share two ways I love these burgers: a great big juicy vegan cheeseburger and a vegan big mac as close to the original as I could get it. Luckily, vegan mac sauce is easy to make since the only non-vegan ingredient to swap out is the mayo.
The other reason I love these burgers is for practical reasons: the high protein burger keeps you full for longer. I enjoy bean burgers and other garden-style burgers and it’s not difficult to pick some up before heading to a work/social barbeque. But they digest fast! Meanwhile, everyone else is in a food coma and I’m standing there hungry again. With these juicy veggie burgers made with wheat protein, I stay satisfied, able to focus on friends and family without a growling belly.
The original inspiration for these burgers came from store-bought vegan burgers. One fine day, I was out with a couple vegan friends and we were nearby a local grocery store known for carrying specialty products. They had so many hard-to-find vegan products but, boy, were the prices $$$$. They had a hand-formed burger (the brand shall remain nameless) that I had never tried. It was on sale! Still pretty pricey (more than $3 per burger even after the discount) and my usual frugal-self balked a little. But since my friends told me it was the juiciest vegan burger and actually filling, I took the plunge. I took them home and was so excited to try them right away. The burgers were juicy alright. I thought I could tell from just the appearance how they were made. I was sure of the simmered seitan method. But I wasn’t a fan of the taste. Very wheaty, nutty, and grainy. I just don’t like getting things stuck in my teeth. And so my quest to create the best, most juicy vegan burger began. You may have seen one of the test results in a What I Ate video last year. I’ve been working on it on and off for so long! I’m so happy to be able to finally share this one with you.
Making the best vegan burgers
These juicy vegan burgers are made with vital wheat gluten. There is no substitute so embrace the wheat meat! If you’re avoiding gluten, hang in there. I have not given up on figuring out a GF juicy burger recipe. But in the meantime, have you tried nature’s perfect gluten-free burger? A whole portobello mushroom! Just trim the stem, marinate for 15 minutes (balsamic salad dressing works great), and throw it on a grill! So good!
In this recipe, you’ll combine gluten with plant-based flavours like tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, and vegetable broth to form seitan dough. These ingredients are all high in glutamate which is responsible for giving delicious foods a mouthwatering quality. Balsamic vinegar is added to negate the wheaty flavour of the gluten.
*TIP* Don’t over knead the seitan dough. If you knead too much, you risk making the burgers too tough. Just work the dough enough to mix everything together and the dough is a consistent quality without dry bits. After forming the burger shapes, just knead the outside edges in so there aren’t bits hanging around the edges. This will help with even cooking.
You’ll flatten the burgers then simmer in broth for an hour on the stove or in your oven. Simmering infuses the seitan with broth so the vegan ‘meat’ becomes juicy throughout. The trick is to keep that simmer low so that it doesn’t ever come to a rolling boil. When seitan dough is boiled, it tends to come apart and become a mushy mass. In the video, I used the stovetop method because it’s much easier for me to film. However, I usually use the oven method as it’s much easier. Simply place the burgers in a roasting pan or dutch oven, cover with vegetable broth, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for one hour, flipping the burgers at the 30-minute mark.
Afterwards, you can grill the burgers right away or store them. Store the burgers in broth in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. You can also freeze them and they should keep for up to two months.
When grilling the burgers, use an oil baste to ensure the burgers stay juicy inside. I love using olive oil infused with fresh crushed garlic and herbs. I don’t mind being pretty generous with the oil baste since the burgers are nearly fat-free without it. Season liberally with salt and pepper or any other seasoning mix you love for burgers. Salt is especially important to add to the surface of the burger to really bring out the flavours. I really hope you try this vegan burger recipe and let me know how it went! Enjoy!
Printable recipe for The Best Vegan Burger | Seitan Burger
This recipe will make 6 thick pub-style burgers or 12 thinner fast-food-style burgers.
Watch the video tutorial here. Pin this recipe.
- 2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten (300g)
- 1 cup water (237ml)
- 3/4 cup canned beets, drained (125g)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons tomato juice (90ml)
- 1 tablespoon ground dried porcini mushroom
- 1 tablespoon concentrated vegetable base**
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- vegetable broth enough to cover burgers completely
- oil for basting
- salt and pepper (or your favourite burger seasonings)
- Blend water, beets, tomato juice, mushroom powder, concentrated vegetable base, balsamic vinegar, paprika, and black pepper until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add about 75% of the vital wheat gluten. Mix well with clean hands until no dry flour remains. Depending on the wetness of the ingredients, you may or may not have to add the rest. You want the dough to be fairly dense without any dry bits. Do not over knead or it will be too tough to shape.
- Separate the dough into 6 for thick burgers or 12 for thinner burgers. Shape the burgers by kneading the rough edges into the middle. *It will spring back as you shape it -- you will require a bit of elbow grease!* Use a rolling pin to flatten the burgers to your desired width/thickness. Keep in mind that the burgers will double in size after cooking. Next, you'll cook the burgers in the oven or on the stove.
- Place the burgers in a roasting pan or dutch oven. You may stack the burgers to fit. Cover completely with vegetable broth and cover with a lid. Bake in a oven preheated to 350°F for 1 hour, flipping the burgers 30 minutes into the cooking time.
- Place the burgers in a large pot. You may stack the burgers to fit. Cover completely with vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a low boil. Do not allow the broth to come to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low or medium low and cover. Allow the burgers to cook at a steady low simmer for one hour, flipping the burgers 30 minutes into the cooking time.
- When the burgers are cooked, you may grill them right away or store them. Store in broth to keep the burgers juicy. They keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Baste the burgers on both sides with oil. I like using olive oil infused with fresh garlic. You may use other infused oils and liberally add seasonings of your choice. Grill at 450-500°F for about 4 minutes per side for thick burgers or until charred to your preference. Thin burgers take about 2 minutes per side. Keep basting the burgers during cooking to prevent moisture loss.
- Baste the burgers on both sides with oil. I like using olive oil infused with fresh garlic. You may use other infused oils and liberally add seasonings of your choice. Cook on medium to medium high until both sides develop some colour.
- Serve immediately with your favourite burger fixings. Check out the video for ideas.
- Remember to add salt and pepper as you're finishing the burgers!
- *Porcini mushrooms add a rich meaty, nutty flavour. If you are unable to find dried porcini mushrooms, you can substitute shiitake. I used whole dried mushrooms and ground them to a powder.
- **Concentrated vegetable base is also known as bouillon paste or cubes. The amount may vary depending on the type you choose. Use the amount required to make 3 cups of broth.
- One common issue is the burgers coming out way too tough or way too soft. Be sure to double check your measurements and drain the beets well before you use them. Too much water to flour will result in dough that is too soft. See the video to see how your seitan dough compares to mine -- does it spring back? If not, add a little more vital wheat gluten OR knead it a little longer. However, over-kneading the dough will make your burgers too tough. If you suspect you went overboard with kneading, let the dough rest a while before shaping. After ten minutes of resting, the gluten will relax a bit and it will be easier to roll out.
- Another reason burgers can come out too soft is cooking at too rapid a boil. Make sure that simmer is super gentle. I found the oven method the easiest hands-off method but you might be boiling too high if your oven runs hot. So if you suspect this, try on stove top and babysit a bit to make sure it never gets up past a gentle simmer.