By Alex Koons, Hot Tongue Pizza

Interestingly enough, making vegan pepperoni (using seitan) is a lot like making dough. With this recipe, we are going to make a vegan “pepperoni” that is a very nice replacement for the pork version. As a major bonus, once you’ve mastered the process of making this pepperoni, it will be easy to create seitan “chicken,” “sausage” and so on. More on that later!

But, to start with, this recipe should give you an end product that anyone, vegan or not, will enjoy on their pizza.

Related: Alex Koons shares his recipe for plant-based sausage

First Things First: What Is Seitan?
Not yet up to speed on the glories of seitan? The first thing to know is that seitan is made of vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is not technically a flour; vital wheat gluten is a flour-like powder that contains nearly all gluten and minimal starch. It’s made by hydrating wheat flour, which activates the gluten protein, and it’s then processed to remove everything but the gluten.

It’s then dried out and ground back into a powder again. This magic dust is what gives us the chewy-chew-chew that we are looking for when replacing those animal-based textures we have grown up eating.

Making Your Own Vegan Pepperoni
So why not just buy a vegan pepperoni? There are so many out there right now! But, for my operation at Hot Tongue Pizza, they are not what I’m looking for.

I’m going to be 100% honest: I’d rather eat vegetables than chow down on some of the fake meat replacements out there. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll definitely slam an Impossible Burger here and there. But this pepperoni recipe is bomb—so bomb I eat it raw! It’s one of my proudest creations, and I am excited to share it with you.

Just one heads up: You will need a steamer for this recipe. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Vegan Pepperoni Recipe

You’ll need:
A steamer
A kitchen scale

Dry Ingredients:
11.5 oz. vital wheat gluten
40g nutritional yeast
7g cayenne (reduce if you don’t like too much heat)
2.8g chili flakes (reduce if you don’t like too much heat)
12g onion salt
8g brown sugar
6.5g anise
11g granulated garlic
14g paprika
11g mustard powder
8g fennel

Wet Ingredients:
40g tomato paste
¼ c. liquid aminos (or use soy sauce)
2¼ c. vegetable broth
1½ tbsp. Liquid Smoke
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil

Mix dry spices in a bowl with the wheat gluten. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients with a whisk until the tomato paste is dissolved. Add the wet ingredients to a dry bowl and knead with your hands for 2 minutes. Make sure all of the dry ingredients are absorbed (but don’t overmix; you don’t want to overwork the seitan). Let the mix rest for 5 minutes.

Then, grabbing 10-oz. portions, roll the portions up in about 14” to 20” foil strips, tightening each end by twisting. Put in a steamer and let steam on low to medium heat for 80 minutes. (Check your steamer’s water level around halfway through to make sure you don’t burn your pans or start a kitchen fire!)

Unwrap, put in the freezer for 2 hours or until cold all the way through, then cut with a very sharp knife.

Pro Tips: Drizzle a little olive oil on all of the pepperoni you are cooking with before putting your pizza in the oven. This will keep it from drying out during the bake and adds a little fat to the final flavor! Oh, and one more thing—the thinner the cut, the better!

Alex Koons is the owner of Hot Tongue Pizza and co-owner of Purgatory Pizza, both in Los Angeles.


Food & Ingredients