Vegan Crispy Chilli Beef

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Vegan Crispy Chilli Beef

This recipe for vegan crispy chilli ‘beef’ is a meat-free version of the takeaway classic. It goes perfectly with tofu ‘egg’ fried rice.

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If you loved the crunch, spice and meaty texture of crispy chilli beef before going vegan, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can recreate it with this easy plant-based recipe.

Instead of using a processed, shop-bought meat replacement for the ‘beef’, this dish features protein-rich seitan which you can easily make yourself.

What is seitan?

Seitan (pronounced say-tan) is a high protein meat replacement made from vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is a flour-like ingredient available at health food stores and online. Once cooked and cooled, seitan has a firm, spongey texture and can be sliced just like meat.

You can create whatever ‘mock meat’ you like using seitan. For a ham-like flavour add smoked paprika or liquid smoke and a touch of agave syrup for that smokey sweetness, or for a chicken replacement use a vegan-friendly chicken seasoning. If you don’t have time to make your own, you can buy it from brands like Love Seitan and Biona Organic.

Meat replacements made using wheat gluten originated from vegetarian Buddhist monks in China during the 6th Century. The term seitan was coined much later by the Japanese, derived from ‘sei’ (made of) and ‘tanpaku’ (protein).


Is seitan healthy?

Seitan is high in protein, low in calories and much lower in fat than animal meat. It also contains 16% of your recommended daily intake of selenium and 8% of your recommended daily intake of iron.


Making your crispy chilli seitan ‘beef’

By rolling your seitan in cornflour and frying it, you will get that lovely chewy texture and a crunchy coating. When mixed with the sticky, spicy sauce, you have that classic crispy ‘beef’ dish which is bursting with flavour. Why not try sprinkling with sesame seeds and serving with fried rice?

Tip: You can substitute the ketjap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce) with tomato ketchup for a similarly sweet tang.

Calories: 206

Servings: 4


Calories: 206

Servings: 4




(Servings: 4)

  • For the seitan
  • 31.25 31.25 g vital wheat gluten
  • 0.25 0.25 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 0.5 0.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 0.5 0.5 tsp onion powder
  • 0.25 0.25 tsp sea salt
  • 0.5 0.5 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 0.5 0.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 0.25 0.25 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 0.75 0.75 Tbsp water
  • To coat the seitan
  • cornflour
  • Chinese five-spice
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • For the stir fry
  • 25 25 ml vegetable oil
  • 0.25 0.25 bunch of spring onions, washed and sliced diagonally
  • 0.25 0.25 large red chilli, finely sliced
  • 0.25 0.25 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
  • 0.25 0.25 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 1 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 0.25 0.25 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • For the sauce
  • 1.5 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 1.5 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 1 tbsp ketjap manis (or tomato sauce)
  • 0.25 0.25 tbsp rice wine vinegar


  1. Mix all the dry ingredients for the seitan together in a large bowl. Next, add the wet ingredients and mix everything together really well.
  2. Turn the dough out on to a work surface and knead for a couple of minutes to develop the gluten.
  3. Form the dough into a large sausage shape, wrap tightly in parchment paper and then in foil, twisting the ends to seal.
  4. Place the seitan in a large pan of water and simmer gently for 1 hour. Remove when cooked and leave to cool in the wrapping.
  5. When ready to cook, unwrap the seitan and cut it into thin strips. Mix the cornflour, five spice and seasoning together in a bowl and toss the seitan strips in this until coated.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the strips, in batches, for a few minutes until crispy on all sides. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Drain off most of the oil in the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper, carrot and most of the chilli and spring onion. Stir fry for a couple of minutes before mixing together all the sauce ingredients and adding to the pan.
  8. Let the sauce bubble and thicken then add the seitan strips to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce.
  9. Serve immediately, over rice or noodles, sprinkled with the reserved chilli and spring onions.

Each 100g serving provides: 8.2g Fat, 0.7g Saturates, 12g Carbohydrates, 4.2g Sugars, 19g Protein, 2.1g Salt.


Need some sides to go with it? Try one of these delicious Chinese takeaway recipes.  

Written by

Vegan Food & Living

Vegan Food & Living is a magazine dedicated to celebrating the vegan lifestyle. Every issue is packed with 75 tasty recipes, plus informative features.

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