Slow-Cooker Carnitas (Seitan)

Have you been wanting to try making your own seitan, but it sounds like a complicated process? Not looking forward to all that foil wrapping and baking? If that describes you, I have a really great surprise for you. Ready for it? You can make an amazing seitan roast in your slow-cooker! It is so incredibly easy, you won’t believe it. All you have to do is make the dough (10 minutes tops), stick it in your slow-cooker, turn it on and forget about it. And to get you started, here is a recipe for carnitas style seitan. Amazing, right?

As with most seitan recipes, it is best to make this recipe at least a day ahead of time, and then refrigerate or freeze the roast until you are ready to use it. Letting it age like this allows the flavor and texture to develop. This does not mean that you can’t use it directly after making it (Yes, I was right in there with a fork as soon as it was done. I couldn’t help myself after enduring that delightful spicy aroma all day!). It just gets better the longer you wait.

These carnitas can be used any way you would use traditional pork carnitas: burritos, tacos, soups, chilies, salads, and any number of other ways. Your imagination is your only limit. Just keep in mind that seitan tends to be absorbent, so you don’t want to add it to anything that is really saucy until right before you want to serve it, or it might get soft and lose some of its “meatiness”. So, if you want to add it to a soup or stew, it is best to heat up the carnitas separately, place them in a bowl and then pour the soup over them to serve.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas (Seitan)


2 tablespoons boiling water

1 vegan beef flavored bouillon cube

1 vegan chicken flavored bouillon cube

2 cups vital wheat gluten

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ cup cool water

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and shredded.

  1. Dissolve the bouillon cubes in the boiling water. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the gluten, garlic powder and nutritional yeast.
  3. In another bowl, combine the dissolved bouillon, oil, water and shredded onions. Stir well.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the gluten mixture. Using your hands, mix the ingredients using a kneading motion. Continue kneading until the gluten forms strands (1-2 minutes).
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside. The gluten will continue to develop while you are preparing the chili lime cooking liquid.


Chili Lime Cooking Liquid

Juice of 1, large lime

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon dried cumin powder

1 garlic clove, minced


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Pour half the cooking liquid in the bottom of the slow-cooker (I have recently discovered slow-cooker liners. They work great for recipes like this, just FYI 🙂 ).
  3. Place the seitan dough in the slow-cooker. Press it down slightly, until it is about 1 ½ inches thick. Pour the rest of the cooking liquid over the dough and use your fingers or a pastry brush to make sure there is a light coating of cooking liquid over the whole roast.


  1. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. You will know it is done when the roast appears slightly dry and browned, and the cooking liquid has been absorbed (Don’t open the lid and let the steam escape! There is very little liquid in this recipe, you want all of it to stay in the slow-cooker).
  2. Allow the roast to cool. Remove it from the slow-cooker, and place it in a large zip-lock bag or other air-tight container. If there is any cooking liquid left in the slow-cooker, make sure to place it in the container with the roast.


  1. Refrigerate the roast overnight, or freeze up to 2 months before using.

Final Preparation

  1. If the roast is frozen, defrost it completely.
  2. Slice the roast into very thin slices.


  1. Cut the slices into small pieces.


  1. Heat the carnitas in a non-stick wok or frying pan until hot. Be careful not to let them brown too long, as seitan burns easily.
  2. Use the carnitas in tacos, burritos, fajitas, soups, chilies, salads, etc.

What dish do you think you would like to use them in?



  1. […] you made my slow-cooker carnitas, now what do you do with them? You can’t go wrong with a great green […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. we also like to make our own seitan. Vital wheat gluten is not so easy to find around here though. Luckily, I found an operational mill that sells it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Penniless Vegan · · Reply

      Thanks for the link, that is valuable information! Vital wheat gluten is fairly common in health food stores and supermarkets here in the States, but I have been curious about how easy it is to obtain in other places.


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