This vegan Schnitzel made with seitan is crispy on the outside, and super tender on the inside. A mouthwatering classic turned plant-based! This blog post shows you how easy it is to make flavorful seitan Schnitzel from scratch. The recipe makes a huge batch to freeze, which makes it perfect for meal prep.
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (no eggs and dairy-free)
- Perfect for meal prep: makes 8 cutlets that can be frozen
- Uses 15 Ingredients
- Austrian and German cuisine made plant-based
- Made from scratch
Origin and history
Schnitzel is a classic dish in Austria and Germany, which was also a big part of my childhood growing up. Veganizing and sharing this recipe with you is an absolute delight to me! But where does Schnitzel originate from? Who invented it?
Well, there are many theories on where it originated and came from. Just as it often is with classic and old dishes from Europe, it's hard to pinpoint an exact origin. Some theories suggest it came from Northern Italy to Austria and Germany, other suggest it came from France and others say it has been invented in Austria or southern Germany all along.
Fact is, as early as the 12th century, historical records of meat wrapped in dough and then fried in fat can be found. But it is suspected that even in pre-Christian times people turned old bread into crumbs to use as breading in central Europe.
What are the different types of schnitzel?
Traditionally a classic schnitzel is made out of veal meat which is breaded and then fried. However, throughout history, a big variety of Schnitzel dishes have developed. There are even many vegan faux meat brands selling different kinds of plant-based schnitzels in German and Austrian supermarkets!
Depending on the region and what's popular you can find, among many others, the following variations in Austria and Germany:
- Wiener Schnitzel - breaded veal cutlet
- Münchener Schnitzel - veal meat coated with a paste of sweet mustard and horseradish before breading, while pretzel crumbs are used for the breading
- Cordon bleu - breaded veal cutlet stuffed with ham and cheese
- Berliner Schnitzel - not a real schnitzel or cutlet, but breaded cow's udder
- Jägerschnitzel - usually made with pork or chicken and topped with mushroom sauce
- Schnitzel à la Meyer - breaded pork schnitzel, topped with a fried egg
- Hamburger Schnitzel - very thinly pounded, breaded pork cutlet, topped with a fried egg and possibly with an anchovy fillet
- Schnipo - a term widely used for the dish "Schnitzel with French fries", which is especially popular in canteens and at 'Imbiss'.
🌱 What is vegan schnitzel made of?
Vegan schnitzel can be made of different ingredients. Some of the most popular plant-based versions are made out of seitan, celery, soy protein, textured vegetable protein, or tofu. This recipe uses seitan, which is a food made from vital wheat gluten. It is often referred to as "wheat meat" and has a stretchy meat-like texture.
💭 How to make seitan
There are different techniques for making Seitan from scratch. Following I will explain the most common technique, which the recipe below also uses. Mix wheat flour or vital wheat gluten with chickpea flour (or soy flour). As for seasoning nutritional yeast, tahini, or dried herbs can be added as well.
To develop a dough liquid, such as water or broth is added. The dough should be kneaded for just 5 minutes. In some cases, the dough is then rinsed to wash away the starch. However, depending on what you are making that is not always necessary. For a no-knead version mix shortly until combined and let rest covered overnight in the fridge.
After kneading you're left with a springy meaty dough that needs to rest for 5 - 10 minutes.
Once rested, the dough is formed into the desired shape. For example, small nuggets, cutlets, into a 'bird shape' for holiday roasts, and so on.
Simmer and cook the shaped dough in broth. As an alternative, it can be steamed instead of simmered as well. During the first cooking process, the seitan will double, or triple in size.
After first simmering or steaming, the seitan can be prepared as wished: bread, fry, or cook immediately. Alternatively, wrap tightly and store in the fridge for up to one week before using it any further. It can be frozen too.
👩🏽🍳 How to season seitan?
The broth in which you simmer it first will give most of the flavors to your seitan. Choose ingredients and seasoning for the broth depending on what kind of "meat" or dish you are going for.
The flavoring broth is often made with low sodium vegetable broth, and other seasonings such as soy sauce, miso, dried herbs, garlic, onion, vegan red wine, vegan Worcestershire sauce, or liquid smoke.
🍳 What to use instead of eggs for breading?
The best egg substitutes for breading include aquafaba (brine from a can of chickpeas), plant milk, or plant cream.
However, anything that moistens and will make what you are breading sticky works. A light coating of slightly diluted mustard or vegan mayo works too. Another method is using non-dairy milk mixed with either a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed, aquafaba, or vegan mayo.
This schnitzel recipe calls for aquafaba, but any of the above-mentioned substitutions work.
Store seitan after first cooking before breading tightly wrapped with plastic or parchment in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Store breaded and fried vegan schnitzel in the fridge for up to 3 days, and reheat it shortly before serving.
❄️ How to freeze
After breading before you fry the seitan, freeze in a freezer-friendly bag or container for up to 3 months. Label with the date of freezing and check on it twice a month. To prepare heat oil in a pan and add frozen schnitzel into the pan. Fry until golden brown following the recipe.
Vegan Schnitzel Recipe with Seitan
- mixing bowl, measuring cup, electric mixer with a paddle attachment or dough hook, casserole dish 10x15" (26x37cm), pan or skillet to fry schnitzel
- 280g g gluten flour/vital wheat gluten (9.8 oz)
- 60 g chickpea flour (2.1 oz)
- 40 g yeast flakes (1.4 oz)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper and salt
- 480 ml vegetable broth, or miso broth (2 cups - 16.2 fl oz)
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce (10ml)
- 40 ml tahini (1.3 fl oz)
- for frying breaded schnitzel: oil that is suitable for frying (e.g. extra-virgin olive oil)
- for serving: fresh lemon slices to drizzle onto schnitzels
Stock for cooking the seitan
- 900 ml vegetable broth, low sodium (3 ¾ cups - 30.4 fl oz)
- 60 ml vegan Worcestershire sauce (¼ cup - 2 fl oz)
- 80 ml soy sauce (⅓ cup - 2.7 fl oz)
- 200 g flour and 1 teaspoon black pepper (1 ¼ cups - 7 oz)
- 350 g bread crumbs, or panko (3 ½ cups - 12.3 oz)
- 250 ml aquafaba, brine from a can of chickpeas* (1 cup - 8.4 fl oz)
Preparing seitan dough
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.
- In a measuring cup whisk together vegetable broth, soy sauce, tahini, and oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in the mixing bowl until well combined. I like to use the paddle attachment, but the dough hook works too. Knead for 5 minutes, then let it rest for another 5 minutes. If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can knead the seitan by hand. It should come out elastic.
Prepare stock to cook seitan
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F. While the dough is resting, add all ingredients for the stock to cook the seitan into a wide casserole dish. Whisk until it is well combined.
Shaping the seitan into cutlets
- Divide the dough into eight equal pieces (ca. 115g per piece). Using a rolling pin, or a meat pounder, roll out or hammer each piece of dough until it is about ½ to 1cm thick. To prevent dough from sticking lightly wet your hands and rolling pin/meat pounder with a little bit of water.
Cooking the seitan
- Place the cutlets into the dish with broth, which should cover the cutlets completely. Cover the casserole dish with a lid. If it doesn’t have a lid you could use foil or a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, flipping at 45 mins. Alternatively, you can simmer the cutlets in a big pot, or dutch, oven on the stove for 45 mins. However, make sure they don’t stick together too much. Remove dish, uncover, and allow the cutlets to cool in the broth for roughly 15 mins.
- You can store them wrapped in parchment in an air-tight container in your fridge overnight, or for several days. Or prepare your breading station right away.
Breading the seitan
- Take three deep plates or bowls and put flour and pepper in one, breadcrumbs in another, and aquafaba or plant milk in the last third dish. First, dredge the seitan cutlets in the flour. Then pass them through the aquafaba and finally turn them through the breadcrumbs. They should be breaded all around. If you like it even crispier, use panko instead of regular breadcrumbs. Optional: double bread the cutlets.
- Freeze them breaded like that in freezer-friendly bags overnight, or for up to three months. Freezing the seitan will give it an even meatier and chewier texture. However, you can also fry the breaded seitan right away, if wished.
Fry the schnitzels
- In a large pan or skillet heat about 1 inch of oil to 120-160°C (250-325°F). You can also test if it's hot enough by placing a wooden spoon or chopstick into the oil. If small bubbles form around it, the oil is hot enough. Fry the seitan schnitzels until golden brown, about 3-5 mins on each side. Once fried transfer on a paper towel-lined plate to let fat drip off.
- Serve hot with a spritz of lemon, as well as desired sides and sauce.
For more traditional and veganized dishes browse our German recipe page!
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