Chinese Five Spice Seitan Recipe

This Chinese Five Spice Seitan is the meaty alternative that you’ll LOVE for topping rice, filling wraps, or layering in sandwiches. Chinese Five Spice to gives it an incredible unique, hearty flavour. The seitan is tender and juicy on the inside with a gorgeous caramelized exterior.

Video Tutorial for Vegan Five Spice Seitan

What is Seitan?

What is seitan? Not to be confused with the lord of darkness, seitan is a high-protein food made from wheat gluten (ie. not for those with gluten allergies). As traditional as a mock meat can get, its been made by Buddist Monks since the 7th century by rinsing wheat dough with water. Now, we can get the gluten without rinsing anything! Just buy Vital Wheat Gluten in the baking section of well-stocked major grocery stores, health and bulk food stores or online!

Growing up on Chinese Five Spice

Growing up, Chinese Five Spice was very familiar to me, but I only had it in restaurants, mainly in meat dishes. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I ran across it in my local Safeway. I had never looked for it, but always assumed that it would be hard to get. Not so. Since then, I’ve found it in pretty much every local chain grocery store near me. Chinese Five Spice consists of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, ginger, and fennel, though there are many regional variations that are just as authentic.

Ingredients for vegan chinese five spice seitan

Avoid Mushy or Dry Seitan

This vegan five spice seitan is not boiled in broth (like most seitan recipes seem to be). Instead, I put the flavourings directly into the seitan dough and steam it. Then I bake/broil it to finish. This results in a moist interior while the baking gives it some bite to the exterior. While some call seitan a “mock meat,” to me, it doesn’t taste like meat…just a hearty, dense, delicious high-protein food.

vegan chinese five spice seitan slices

You may want to make extra glaze. You can also mix it with some cornstarch, cook it, and use that as a sauce on rice or vegetables.

five spice seitan in a flour tortilla wrap

Are you a fan of Chinese Five Spice? I’d love to hear about how you use it in vegan cooking!

Printable Recipe for Vegan Five Spice Seitan

Yield: 6 servings

Chinese Five Spice Seitan

five spice seitan in a flour tortilla wrap

This savory seitan feature incorporates the sweet and spicy flavours of Chinese Five Spice, a blend of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, Sichuan pepper, and fennel. The loaf is steamed to keep it moist but not mushy, then glazed, baked and broiled to form smoky crust. Slice it to create a lovely dinner feature, serve on rice, or add it to sandwiches and wraps.


For Seitan

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cube vegan "beef" bouillon or 1 teaspoon bouillon powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil ( I have used canola and olive oil) [60ml]
  • 2 teaspoons Five Spice Powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup soy flour [30g]
  • 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten [175g]

For Glaze

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted vegan butter [30ml]
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice [15ml]
  • 1 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)


Make the seitan dough
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the seitan ingredients except for the vital wheat gluten and soy flour.
  2. Stir in the soy flour until completely incorporated.
  3. Add the vital wheat gluten and stir until a dough is formed.
  4. Knead the dough for a couple minutes and form into a log shape.
Steam the seitan dough
  1. Prepare a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap up the seitan. Lightly oil the center.
  2. Place the dough in the middle of the sheet, roll it up into a log form and tuck the ends of the foil under.
  3. Use the point of a knife to some vents into the roll. This will allow some steam to escape during cooking and reduce the chance of bursting.
  4. Steam at high heat for 40 minutes. If using a steaming basket, make sure there is enough water to last for the whole cooking time or add water periodically. If you add water during the steaming process, you'll want to add a few minutes to your cooking time for each time you add water.
  5. Carefully remove the seitan roll from the steamer. It will be very hot. Set it aside to cool.
  6. Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C).
Make the glaze
  1. Whisk together all the glaze ingredients: garlic, lemon juice, brown sugar, oil or melted vegan butter, and Five Spice Powder. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
Finish the seitan
  1. Carefully remove the seitan from the foil and place on your prepared baking pan.
  2. Brush all sides of the seitan with the glaze, reserving the remaining glaze.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 F (175 C).
  4. Turn off the oven, turn on the broiler, remove the seitan and brush with more glaze.
  5. Return the seitan to the oven and bake under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the top is browned.
  6. Remove the seitan, turn it over, and brush on the remaining glaze.
  7. Place the seitan back until the broiler for another 3-5 minutes or until the top is browned.
  8. Remove from the oven and let the seitan cool a few minutes before slicing.


  1. This seitan is fairly tender. I like to fry the slices for a few minutes on each side to give them more of a crispy texture, but that is optional.
  2. The soy flour in the recipe helps the texture. If you don't have soy flour, use chickpea or any other bean flour. Alternatively, you can just leave it out but the texture will be a bit more chewy.

Did you make this recipe?

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Showing 13 comments
  • Amber

    Hi Mary! I absolutely love your seitan recipes. I’ve tried this one more than once and it never fails me, it is sooo good! Previously I used garbanzo bean flour as a sub for the soy flour but I am all out. I was wondering if u think almond flour would do the trick?


  • Mandy

    I just made this and it is amazing! I used chickpea flour instead of soy flour. I highly recommend this easy to follow recipe for anyone intimidated by the idea of homemade seitan. It is soooooo much better than anything you can buy. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  • Diana

    Hi Mary,
    I’ve made this recipe and love it! I was wondering if you have ever tried it in an Instant Pot and what kind of time and settings that would require. Thank you!

  • EJ

    My vegan friend recommended this recipe to me – and I am a complete convert to veganism after trying! Its absolutely perfect, I’ve made it so many times into sausages, sandwich meat and using the roasted glaze as above. Its also so so easy to freeze into portions (after boiling), I’ve sliced it up as sandwich meat or taken it a step further to use as mock bacon. The liquid vs dry balance is also perfect too (unlike many other recipes I’ve tried where its a stiff dough straight away).

    Its also minimalist, as far as ingredients so, most seitan recipes try to load it with complicated ingredients or spices, but I’ve always had these ones in my cupboard.

    Once the liquid/wet are mixed, you have a few minutes to knead it to the right consistency – for bacon/sandwich etc don’t kneed too much. But for sausages or a stiff roast, knead for a few minutes,

  • Yoyo_Lon

    Great recipe which makes a delicious seitan. I followed the recipe to a tee (something I don’t often do) and the five spice seitan turned out great. The flavour from the glaze brings to mind the same flavour from the vacuum packed shelf-stable five spice dry (pressed) tofu I used to buy from East Asian grocery stores. Now I’ll be making this seitan instead.

    Thank you!

    • Mary

      Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe!

      • Marilyn YEE

        Basically your made Char Siu! I can’t wait to try out this recipe. I want to make Soy based chicken. I’ve had it many times in the package mock meats from Taiwan and it is delicious but they use dairy (whey). I want to make my own but Vegan. Do you have any ideas?


    Hi there,

    After steaming does” beef” have to be baked? Is there anything else that can be done so that it is ready for recipes?


    • Mary

      If you’re not going to bake and glaze it, just make sure to fully cook the seitan by steaming for an hour.
      Afterwards, you can use it as is.


  • Raj

    Mary, this recipe is amazing! I’ve made it several times, switching between soy and chickpea flour (depending on what’s available in my grocery store). Once I made it with just vital wheat gluten, but the seitan was too chewy. I haven’t tried it in sandwiches, but it’s the perfect topping for vegan pho. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!

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