How to make easy and delicious soy-free vegan sausages using vital wheat gluten and a handful of basic pantry ingredients.
Moist, firm & full of flavour, my vegan sausages are better than anything you can buy in the shops! I make them the day before I’m planning to use them but if you’re pushed for time, you could get away with refrigerating them for just five hours.
When we lived in Thailand, there were sai oua (sausage) sellers everywhere, and many was the time I mused that if I ate meat, I would probably live on them. Not that I ever tried any but if the smell was anything to go by… Let’s just say that my tummy rumbled an awful lot when the food carts came out in the evenings!
Vegan sausages in Thailand
Fortunately, I did find a few jay (vegan) street carts and cafés, where they sold suitable sausages. Sai oua, that is, not Western-style vegan sausages. They were every bit as good as I imagined their meaty counterparts to be. I ate rather a lot!
What are vegan sausages made of?
These ones are made from vital wheat gluten, which is the protein left after the starch has been removed from wheat flour. Vital wheat gluten is used to strengthen flour for bread-making, and also to make plant-based meat, known variously as seitan, mianjin, and wheat-meat.
Seitan has been made in Asia for centuries, and is well-known in Buddhist culture, where meat-eating is not always a thing. If you've seen tins of mock duck or mock chicken in Chinese supermarkets, you'll be familiar with at least a couple of its uses.
One of the great things about living in SE Asia was the abundance of seitan, especially in George Town, Penang (Malaysia), where there's a huge Chinese community. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen, where you'll find a veritable feast of seitan dishes!
Ingredients for vegan sausages
- vital wheat gluten
- buckwheat flour
- cooked white beans
- vegetable broth
- extra virgin olive oil
- seasoning: dried onion flakes, nutritional yeast (AKA nooch), liquid smoke, coconut aminos (or soy sauce), garlic, sausage seasoning (optional)
How to make vegan sausages
It's really easy to make vegan sausages. First you need to blend all the wet ingredients (I use my VAC2), then mix them well with the dry ingredients (the vital wheat gluten, etc.) in a large bowl, until you have a dough.
Knead the dough, then set aside for a few minutes to rest. While it's resting, tear off eight sheets of aluminium foil (about 30cm / 12" long).
When you're ready to make the sausages, divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Take one piece, roll it into a rough sausage shape, and then plonk it onto a piece of foil, close to the edge. Roll it up tightly, and twist the ends closed. Don't worry about making the dough neat - it will expand as it's cooking. It will fill the foil, and come out perfect!
Once you've done the same for the remaining seven pieces of dough, place into a steamer, and cook for 40 minutes. When the sausages are done, remove from the steamer, and set aside to cool before placing in the fridge for a few hours to firm up.
Do I need to do anything else?
If you plan to use the sausages as an ingredient in, for example, a casserole or tagine, then no, they can just be cut up and used as is. If you'd like to serve them in their own right however, then gently warm and brown them in a skillet before serving.
Don't microwave them though - they can go hard very quickly!
Tips for making vegan sausages
Where can I get sausage seasoning from?
Either make your own seasonings (good places to start looking are blogs dedicated to traditional sausage-making), or buy ones which are already made up.
My favourites are the Premium Pork Sausage Seasoning from Butchers Sundries and the Premium Pork & Herb Sausage Seasoning from Tongmaster. Prices are excellent, and delivery is very fast. And they are suitable for vegans, of course.
What can I use instead of coconut aminos?
If you’re fine with soy, then do feel free to use a tablespoon of light (aka all-purpose) soy sauce instead. Or you could use Asian seasoning sauce, such as Golden Mountain, Healthy Boy, or Maggi.
What can I use instead of buckwheat flour?
Many people add chickpea flour (besan) to their seitan mix but I have found that buckwheat gives a more robust texture, which is especially useful if using seitan in casseroles, curries, and tagines, for example.
Can these sausages be made gluten-free?
I have been asked repeatedly whether these can be made gluten-free, and the short answer is no! Gluten is the main ingredient, and it’s what gives these sausages their meaty texture and mouthfeel.
I can't buy vital wheat gluten locally, can I use a different flour?
I'm afraid not - not for this method. The high-gluten content is essential, and you just don't get that from other types of flour.
That said, it is possible to make seitan from normal flour. It's how I used to make it about 15 years ago. However, this is not ideal for making sausages because any flavouring you mix in will be washed away, so you'd have to wrap them in muslin, and simmer in a strongly-flavoured broth. Or knead the seasoning in once the dough has been rinsed. To be honest, I'm not sure how well they'd turn out.
If you want to have a go at making it though, check out this video.
I don't like the idea of foil touching my food, what can I do?
You could wrap these vegan sausages in silicone baking parchment or muslin first, then foil. Don't use non-silicone parchment though, or your sausages will stick.
Which kind of beans should I use?
Any white beans are fine. Or you could use chickpeas. My preference is for cannellini or butter beans (Phaseolus lunatus - lima beans).
Can I use different flavours and seasonings?
You certainly can - check out the recipe notes for a few ideas.
Want more meaty vegan recipes?
Easy and Delicious Vegan Sausages
- high-powered blender
- steamer pan
- Bring the water to boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer insert. You want the the water level to come just below the bottom of the steamer.
- Blend the wet ingredients together until smooth.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the liquid.
- Mix well, making sure that everything is completely incorporated. (The mix will be quite wet.)
- Knead for a couple of minutes, then divide the dough into 8 equal parts.
- Cut 8 strips of tin foil, roughly 30cm (12") long.
- Place a vaguely sausage-shaped piece of the dough onto the centre the foil, along one of the edges, then roll up into a sausage shape. Twist the ends tightly.
- Place into the steamer, reduce the heat, and steam for 40 minutes.
- Once cooked, remove the sausages from the steamer, and set aside to cool.
- Put the sausages, still wrapped, in the ‘fridge for at least five hours to firm up. Overnight is better.
- Gently fry for a few minutes on each side (I recommend either a non-stick skillet or a cast-iron one, brushed with a little oil). If you're going to use the sausages in a casserole, or with a sauce, etc., there's no need to fry - simply add them to your dish five minutes before the end of the cooking time to warm through.
- Keep in the 'fridge, in the wrapping for up to a week. They also freeze well.
- 2 tablespoon tomato purée
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon mesquite liquid smoke
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon mesquite liquid smoke
- 8 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup = US cup = 240 ml
- 1 tablespoon = US/UK = 15 ml
- 1 fl oz = US = 30 ml