Vegan Pepperoni (Seitan)

Pepperoni-style seitan that's salty, savory, and spicy. Cooking method adapted from the Vegan Deli Sliced Turkey Breast from the 86 Eats blog.

Ingredients for Vegan Pepperoni

Super firm tofu: This is the kind that comes vacuum-packed. It’s higher in protein and has a much dryer, firmer texture than the firm and extra-firm varieties that come packed in water. You can find it at Trader Joe’s, but I have also purchased it at Whole Foods and Kroger. If you can’t find this variety of tofu, you can use extra-firm, but you’ll want to press it for a significant amount of time beforehand.

Vegan beef-style bouillon: This makes the seitan ultra-savory and salty like real pepperoni. I like to use the Better Than Bouillon Not-Beef for this; it comes in a paste and blends really easily with the other ingredients without needing to be dissolved in liquid first. Feel free to use your favorite bouillon powder or cubes.

Liquid smoke: To add smokiness. It’s optional but I love the flavor it imparts. If you don’t want to use liquid smoke or can’t find it, you can substitute the regular paprika with smoked.

Cornstarch: Helps to slightly tenderize the protein.

Spices: There are a lot! I researched many recipes for real pepperoni and there is quite a bit of variation. If you’re missing some of the spices that’s ok; just use what you have. The only thing I wouldn’t skip is the fennel, because it contributes a lot to that distinctive pepperoni flavor. (You can sub in anise seeds instead, however.)

Nutritional yeast: Another seasoning to boost the umami in the recipe.

Vital wheat gluten: The primary protein and binding agent in this recipe!

overhead shot of slices of pepperoni fanned out on a cutting board

How to make Vegan Pepperoni Seitan

Mix the tofu with the seasonings

First you’ll purée the tofu with all the ingredients except for the fennel and vital wheat gluten. Scrape down the food processor or blender with a rubber spatula as needed to make sure everything’s evenly blended.

If you don’t own a food processor, you can use a blender for this step, but you’ll have to knead the seitan by hand (or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook).

Add the vital wheat gluten and knead

Once the tofu and spice mixture is smooth, add in the vital wheat gluten and continue to process for 2-4 minutes. The food processor will rapidly do all the kneading for you. You don’t need to switch to a dough blade; the regular blade will work just fine.

The mixture will go through a few phases: first, it’ll break apart into many different crumbles. Keep running the food processor until the gluten further develops and the mixture comes together in one large mass. That’s how you’ll know it’s sufficiently kneaded.

Shape into logs and wrap

Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and divide it in two. Shape each half into a log, varying the thickness depending on how large you want your pepperoni slices to be. You can also cook the entire batch together in one large log if you want to make pepperoni-style cold cuts for sandwiches.

You’ll then wrap each log in one layer of parchment, followed by aluminum foil. Twist the ends tightly like a Tootsie roll. Make sure to use enough foil; the seitan will expand somewhat as it cooks and can burst through the seam if there isn’t enough overlap.

Bake and cool

Place the seitan seam-sides up in an oven-safe dish (a loaf pan or a 9×9″ pan work well depending on how long your logs are). Add enough water such that the seitan is halfway submerged. This baking method for seitan is one I learned from the Vegan Deli Sliced Turkey Breast recipe on the 86 Eats blog. You will cook the logs for 50 minutes in total, flipping them halfway.

Now here’s the hard part: waiting for them to cool entirely before enjoying! Allow them to cool to room temp on the counter, then pop them into the fridge still in the foil. The pepperoni will firm up considerably after it has a chance to chill through, which will make it much easier to get thin, consistent slices. If you want to eat it right after it comes out of the oven, it’ll still be tasty but just a bit more squishy.

closeup (macro) shot of sliced pepperoni to demonstrate texture
log of pepperoni seitan, sliced on a cutting board

Vegan Pepperoni (Seitan)

Pepperoni-style seitan that's salty, savory, and spicy. Cooking method adapted from the Vegan Deli Sliced Turkey Breast from the 86 Eats blog.
Course Seitan
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Author Sarah Sullivan


  • 1/2 block super firm high protein tofu about 210 grams
  • 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon Not-Beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten plus extra as needed


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add all the ingredients except for the fennel seed and vital wheat gluten into the bowl of a food processor. Process until well-combined and smooth, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as needed to ensure everything is evenly blended.
  • Add in fennel seed and vital wheat gluten. Process until all the gluten is absorbed (i.e. there are no dry patches in the mix). If the dough seems very wet or sticky, add an additional 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten.
  • Run the food processor for 3-4 minutes to knead the dough for you and rapidly develop the strength of the gluten. The dough will initially break into lots of different crumbles, but don't worry; over time they will come back together and form one large ball. This is how you'll know it's sufficiently kneaded.
  • Split dough into two equal halves and shape into logs. Vary the thickness depending on how big you want your slices of pepperoni to be. Then wrap each log in a layer of parchment and a layer of aluminum foil, twisting the ends tightly like a Tootsie roll to seal.
  • Place wrapped seitan logs in a baking dish, seam-side up. Pour in enough water to cover the logs halfway, then bake for 50 minutes minutes. At 25 minutes, flip the logs over using tongs and bake for another 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the baking dish and allow them to cool entirely in the wrappers. The pepperoni will firm up considerably after 4+ hours in the fridge, so it's best to make it in advance so that it's easy to slice.
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