Slow-Cooker Seitan Pot Roast

by Robin on March 7, 2008

in Recipes


Whenever I know I have a busy afternoon coming up, I know I can rely on my slow cooker to help me get dinner on the table. I love seitan any way I can get it, but a seitan pot roast made in the slow cooker has to be near the top of my list of favorites. It was an easy choice for last night’s dinner menu. Within minutes, I was layering onions, potatoes, and little carrots in my slow cooker, seasoning them with salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, and vegetable broth. I then made a quick batch of seitan (from vital wheat gluten, which I buy in bulk). After shaping the seitan to fit in my cooker, I set it on top of the vegetables, turned on the cooker, and walked away. Within an hour, the house smelled amazing. Within 4 hours dinner was ready, even cooking it on low (I have several cookers — the one I used cooks quite hot, even when set to low). Fortunately, I had rubbed a little olive oil on the inside of the crockpot because the seitan wanted to stick to the sides, but it came loose easily after running a knife around the edge.
Instead of a sauce, I served the cooking liquid from the crockpot, which I later thickened by mashing some of the cooked veggies into it. The rich flavor of this meal is absolutely amazing and so easy. My only lament is that the potatoes and carrots don’t get that nice roasted brown crispness from oven roasting, but the rich slow-cooked flavors more than make up for it. To satisfy that crisp roasted craving, however, closer to dinnertime, I switched on the oven and roasted some asparagus. The photo shows a spoonful of horseradish in the foreground of the platter. I also served some applesauce on the side. What a great dinner!

Slow-Cooker Seitan Pot Roast
This is an easier version of the pot roast recipe in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.
Important:  You may need to adjust your cooking time according to the quirks of your own crockpot. The one I used for this recipe cooks fast — if I had used one of my other slow cookers, it would have taken nearly twice as long.

1 sweet yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved or quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth, or more as needed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato sauce

1. Arrange the onion, carrots, and potatoes in the bottom of a lightly oiled slow cooker. Season the vegetables to taste with salt and pepper and add the stock, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon each of the thyme and marjoram.
2. In a large bowl, combine the wheat gluten flour, onion powder, garlic powder, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of thyme and marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the water or stock, soy sauce, and ketchup. Mix well, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry, then knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Shape the gluten to fit inside your cooker and place on top of the vegetables. (You can place it on top of a piece of aluminum foil or wrap it in cheesecloth, if desired, to keep its shape). Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours (or longer, depending on your slow cooker), or until the seitan and vegetables are cooked.
3. To serve, remove the vegetables and seitan from the slow cooker. Cut the seitan into slices and arrange them on a serving platter. Surround with the vegetables and spoon the cooking liquid over all or transfer the cooking liquid to a saucepan and thicken into a gravy.
Serves 4

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark March 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

My gawd that looks tasty! Great recipe and really cool photo.Well done! (pun intended)Mark

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2 Anonymous March 10, 2008 at 4:53 pm

I want to try this but isn’t the crockpot supposed to be 3/4 full w/liquid?

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3 Robin March 10, 2008 at 5:03 pm

To answer the question about the crockpot being “3/4 full w/liquid”: a crockpot should be no more than 3/4 full of ingredients (not necessarily liquid). I used about 1 cup of liquid (veg stock or water) for this recipe in a 4 quart crockpot. If using a larger crockpot, you might want to add a little extra liquid. This liquid acts as a braising liquid to create steam to help cook the seitan and the vegetables and can then be used for a sauce. Hope you try it — it’s really good!

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4 Anonymous March 10, 2008 at 7:37 pm

Thanks for the speedy response. I’ll definitely try it. I want to use my crockpot more but I am sort of afraid of it cracking if it’s not full enough. Thanks again!

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5 Billy March 13, 2008 at 3:52 am

That looks really good!Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, but the link to my blog is wrong. There is a “.” at the end by mistake. :)

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6 Robin March 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Sorry about the stray punctuation at the end of your link, Billy. It has been repaired! And, yes, that seitan pot roast IS really good!!!

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7 Billy March 13, 2008 at 3:55 pm

I’m glad you liked my post about vegan kitten food and the pictures of my little devils.I hope to see pictures of your cats soon. :)

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8 Urban Vegan March 13, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Looks wonderful. I have to tell you I’m a HUGE fan of Vegan Planet.

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9 Robin March 13, 2008 at 5:45 pm

I appreciate your nice comments, Urban Vegan — on behalf of my Seitan Pot Roast and Vegan Planet — thank you!!

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10 Isa March 13, 2008 at 7:28 pm

I’m fixing your name on my blog, sorry! That made me laugh. I do like the Band.

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11 Robin March 13, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Thanks, Isa! (I like The Band, too!)

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12 Tami March 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm

I’ve made your original version of this and loved it. I’m looking forward to trying this one. Thanks for sharing your recipes and I’m excited you’ve got a blog!

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13 Anonymous March 19, 2008 at 6:33 pm

I’m finding 1-1/2 cups water in the seitan mix is too much. I can’t form a ball… and I’m out of wheat gluten. :-(

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14 Robin March 19, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Omigosh, Anonymous, I don’t understand why your seitan isn’t mixing up with 2 cups of wheat gluten flour and 1 1/2 cups of water. I find that to be a good proportion, even with the addition of some tamari. If you’re still working with it, try adding some regular flour to the mixture as well as nutritional yeast — this will help absorb the liquid. And next time, try starting with 1 1/4 cups water, and only add more if the mixture seems too dry. Hope this helps. Sorry about that — I make seitan this way at least once a week and it’s perfect every time!

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15 Karen (was anon) March 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm

I actually used half soy flour and wheat gluten but don’t think that would make a difference. Wasn’t sure if adding flour would be okay, but I’ll do that. Lucky I started early and have time do that still. Thanks!

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16 Robin March 19, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Karen, since seitan IS wheat gluten and therefore made up mostly of wheat gluten flour, I’m concerned that you may have too much soy flour in your mix and that’s why it isn’t holding together properly. With that much soy flour, I’m not sure what you’ll end up with, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

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17 keeta March 19, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Robin, I made this tonight for my family and everyone loved it! I don’t think mine turned out as pretty as yours, but it was a first try. ;) I made the seitan kind of flat, so next time I’ll try to loaf it up a little more. My toddler LOVED the seitan!

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18 Robin March 19, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Hey, Keeta, congrats on making your first slow-cooker seitan pot roast. When I want a rounder-looking seitan roast, I make it in my round 4-quart slow cooker. If I want a flatter end-result, I use the large oval cooker, which is what I used to make the flatter looking seitan in the “Corned Seitan and Cabbage” photo post. It’s all good!

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19 Karen March 19, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Re: wheat/soy mix — I did it after seeing this recipe: < HREF="http://www.vegan-food.net/recipe/1183/Gluten-Soy-Meat/" REL="nofollow">Gluten/Soy Meat<>. It’s in the crockpot now… I hope it turns out okay. I’ll let you know!

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20 Robin March 20, 2008 at 2:31 am

Sounds intriguing, Karen. Can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

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21 karen March 20, 2008 at 1:52 pm

The morning after… (drum roll please) … it turned out okay! Not great but I was able to slice it and it tasted great. I don’t think it was firm enough because it drooped down and conformed around the potatoes and into the liquid. Although I cooked it on high for 3.5 hours, I don’t think it was fully done, but it was time to eat. It broke in half while trying to get it out. I set one half aside and we ate the other half. Another mistake was that I only did half the veggies so the roast sat in a little of the broth, keeping it a little too wet. I have learned much and will do it right next time. Thanks for the recipe. It was nice to have something different and I will definitely try again.

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22 Debi March 21, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Love this recipe! It was indeed very easy – but I have one question. The “roast” part of it came out very spongy — lots of air in it. I made seitan once before that came out like this, but it had baking soda in it so I understand why. I followed your recipe to the letter. Any ideas for how to make the roast a little more dense? Thanks much!!!

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23 Robin March 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Karen, glad your seitan roast turned out okay. It probably would have kept its shape better if it had more gluten flour in it. Also, to have more control over the shape, you can wrap it in cheesecloth next time. BTW, it’s fine if the roast sits in the broth — it will still firm up, after all, it even firms up when plopped into a pot of simmering water! Still, for this recipe, to keep the potatoes from insinuating themselves into the underside of your seitan, you can place the seitan on a layer of sliced onions and carrots, and then surround it with the potatoes (and then add some water or vegetable broth).

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24 Robin March 21, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Debi, seitan can be funny sometimes — not ha-ha funny, but strange/odd funny. It can be spongy one time and rubbery the next, and then perfect another time. I’ve found that if I start with cold water, and knead it for a minute or two, and then press it together well, it’s usually okay. Adding a little less liquid will make it firmer, but since there needs to be enough liquid to make it hold together, it can be a bit of a balancing act. Hope this helps.

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25 Sara June 7, 2008 at 7:01 pm

i’d love to try this recipe, but unfortunately am not the proud owner of a slow cooker. is there a way to adapt this to the oven or stovetop? or am i just out of luck until i finally convince my mom to give me her old one?

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26 Robin June 7, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Sure, Sara, you can adapt this recipe to either the oven or stovetop. Just follow the recipe the same way as you would for a slow cooker, but for stovetop, put everything in a large covered pot (like a Dutch oven) and cook on a fairly low heat so it doesn’t burn. You may need to add a bit more liquid so everything braises nicely and doesn’t burn. And unlike the slow cooker, which you can leave alone, you’ll need to check on this a few times. It should be done in about an hour, depending on how big or small you cut the veggies. For the oven, just combine the ingredients in a large baking dish and cover. Bake at about 350 for an hour, again, depending on the size of your veggies. By the way, I like to sit the seitan roast on top of some thinly sliced onion so that the onion flavor gets into the seitan. The down-side is that you’ll get onion indentations in the bottom of the seitan roast. But it also helps keep the seitan from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Good luck with this and let me know how it turns out.

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27 Anonymous September 12, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Do you think I could do this without the vegetables? Because I want to do this, but I’ll already have side dishes and I’m only cooking for one. Could I just put it in the cup of broth, and it would work that way?

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28 Robin September 13, 2008 at 2:08 am

Anonymous: Yes, you can make the seitan alone without the veggies but with some broth. By the way, once the seitan cools, you can cut it into pieces and freeze some for another time.

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29 Alicia February 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I’ve made this many times and love it! I’m going to link to it from my blog. http://www.broccolimakesmehappy.blogspot.comThanks for all the great recipes.

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30 Jessica April 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Is wheat gluten flour the same as vital wheat gluten?

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31 Robin April 10, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Jessica, Yes, wheat gluten flour and vital wheat gluten are the same thing. Thanks for asking — I should have been clear on that!

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32 Jessica April 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Wonderful! I’m going to try this out this weekend for a family gathering. Thank you for the quick response.

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33 Jessica April 13, 2009 at 4:31 pm

This smelled amazing and I could smell it even over the meat dish mother was making. Not sure if I got the right consistency since it was my first seitan roast. I had a denser looking roast than the picture. The picture looks a little holey and I did see some bubbles in the “skin” when I looked through the top of the slow cooker’s glass lid. Also, the potatoes did get all up in the roast’s business. I’ll have to try the layer of onions to help keep a more uniform looking roast next time. Thank you for the recipe! I have quite a few of your cookbooks on my shelves :)

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34 Robin April 13, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Jessica: Glad it worked out for you. Another way to keep the potatoes from insinuating themselves into the seitan is to roast the potatoes (and carrots, etc.) in the oven while the seitan is in the slow cooker. This is especially helpful if you have a smaller slow cooker, since there isn’t room for everything in there anyway.

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35 Jessica April 14, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Robin, thank you. I have two sizes: huge and tiny. Hmm… maybe the tiny for the roast and roasting veggies in the oven would work. I’ll have to try that. Thank you for the ideas!

For others contemplating making this…. Here are some more pictures.

Here’s a picture of the plated result: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digifoo/3441605759/

Here’s what it looked like in the slow cooker before getting its cook on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digifoo/3441584107/

It expanded: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digifoo/3441592189/

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36 Janine May 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm

I made this tonight and the kids thought it was great the carrots baked into the loaf. One thing I did was after cooking it in the slow cooker the four hours, I put it in the oven for 350 degrees for an hour after liberally coating the top with some of our favorite spices. Excellent meal! Thank you for sharing.

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37 Carina December 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I made this awhile ago and then cut the roast and made some “milanesas”. It was soooo good!! Was planning to freeze for later, but there was none left.
I’m making it again right now for Christmas dinner. It already smells delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe!!

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38 Robin December 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Thanks Carina. Milanesas sound great!

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