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Vegan Turkey Deli Slices

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These Vegan Turkey Deli Slices are super easy, and cheaper and tastier than the store-bought version!

Before going vegan, I would eat Black Pepper Turkey slices like nobody’s business! Either in a sandwich or by the handful in front of the fridge. And it had to be black pepper! Normal turkey just didn’t cut it. And I’m happy to say that these Vegan Turkey Deli Slices hit all the notes that I remember!

Now look, I love Tofurkey and other store bought vegan turkey deli slices. But like everything these days, they are getting pricey. So I thought I’d go ahead and make my own. However, I haven’t made a ton of seitan recipes for a couple reasons. First, because it can be time consuming with a lot of room for error. The second reason is I usually find homemade seitan to have a funky aftertaste. It’s not as prevalent in store-bought or restaurant made seitan, but it’s still there.

However, I stumbled upon a tip that called for a little bit of baking powder to get rid of that taste, and it totally worked! It’s not 100% gone, but it’s very muted. Especially if we season our seitan properly (which we will of course!)

why you’ll dig vegan turkey deli slices!

This recipe makes a ton of slices, way more than a single pack that you might get at the store. You can use them in sandwiches or a wrap naturally. I even made a Vegan Turkey Melt with ’em! But you could totally use them in a salad. And in fact, you don’t have to slice at all, but you can chunk them up, or shred them as well for a stir fry or a burrito. They are super versatile!

You can also combine them with my Rice Paper Bacon to make a Turkey Club Sandwich!

ingredients for vegan turkey deli slices

The base is going to be vital wheat gluten since this is seitan. Super Firm Tofu is the second most important ingredient. If you are soy-free you can use a can of chickpeas instead of the tofu. The seitan made with chickpeas is a bit softer, but it’s still delicious! Other than that, we will just be using a bunch of seasonings!

  • Vital Wheat Gluten – this is the base and it can’t be substituted unfortunately!
  • Super Firm Tofu – I recommend getting the vacuum sealed tofu that doesn’t need pressing. You can use Extra Firm, but press it as much as possible. You may need to adjust the water as well.
  • Chickpeas – You can use chickpeas instead of tofu. Use the whole can plus the aquafaba as well! You likely won’t need any additional water, but add some as needed.
  • Mushroom Seasoning – I love this stuff and use it often. You can substitute for more nutritional yeast.
  • Nutritional Yeast – This is gonna provide a lot of delicious umami flavor!
  • Vegan Chicken Bouillon – I like the Better Than Bouillon stuff, but you can use regular Veggie bouillon if you can’t get a hold of it.
  • Baking Powder – we just need 1/2 tsp of this stuff. It’s just to cut out the funky aftertaste that seitan can sometimes have. I’m more sensitive to it than my wife, but this helps out tremendously!
  • Tapioca Starch – for improved texture.
  • Black Pepper – and lots of it!
  • Poultry Seasoning – This will be our rub for the outside, it adds a lot of flavor and texture too!
  • MSG – I love MSG, it’s a flavor enhancer (and you shouldn’t be scared of it!) but if you don’t wanna use it, you can sub for more nutritional yeast or mushroom seasoning.
  • Other Seasonings – we will use liquid smoke, as well as some pantry staples to overload this seitan with flavor!

how to make vegan turkey deli slices

If you are new to making seitan, I will admit, it takes some practice. I’ve made it a ton of times and I feel like I’m still learning! But this recipe is fairly easy and fool proof!

  • Combine everything but the vital wheat gluten in a food processor. Oh, and I do highly recommend a food processor. You can try to do this by hand, but it will take a lot longer and be more labor intensive.
  • Blend that up into a paste, taste for seasoning. Then add in the vital wheat gluten and blend and knead until you have a soft but sturdy dough. You should be able to stretch it out and see visible gluten strands. It should also not be too sticky. Slightly tacky is okay, but not sticky!
  • Then knead it a bit more to shape it into a loaf. Add a little oil and grease it up and then cover it in some poultry seasoning for a rub.

  • Wrap it up tightly in HEAVY DUTY tin foil and then bake at 350 F for about 1 hour. Seriously, use Heavy Duty foil. This will keep the seitan from over expanding and becoming spongy. I’ve had too many seitan loaves explode because I used flimsy foil. Let it cool, and then rest in the fridge overnight. This is so we get that perfect deli meat texture! It’s very important so don’t skip that step!
  • The next day the vegan turkey deli slices are ready to eat! Just slice it up by hand or with a mandolin or deli slicer.

can I make vegan turkey deli slices soy free?

Yes! Simply swap the tofu for a 15 oz. can of chickpeas including all the chickpea water (aquafaba). You shouldn’t need the additional 1/2 cup of water the recipe calls for, but you might need a little so adjust as needed. Try to get sodium free chickpeas otherwise you may need to adjust the salt levels a tad.

storage

You can store these slices in the fridge for about a week to 10 days (possibly longer but I always eat them within that time frame). You can totally freeze them for up to 6 months as well. I would suggest freezing before slicing. Then just let it thaw and slice it up.

Tips for making vegan turkey deli slices

  • Use a Food Processor! It will make your life so much easier!
  • Try to use Super Firm tofu, the kind that is vacuum packed and doesn’t need to be pressed. If using extra firm tofu, you’ll need to press it for at least 30 minutes. You probably won’t need the 1/2 cup of water either, so start with less and add more as needed. You can also use a can of chickpeas including the liquid (aquafaba) if you are soy free. You will likely not need any additional water, but add some as needed.
  • Use Baking Powder to get rid of the weird seitan aftertaste.
  • Wrap it TIGHTLY in HEAVY Duty Foil! Use parchment paper if you don’t want the seitan to touch tin foil.

Other Recipes You Will Dig!

Yield: About 12 Servings

Vegan Turkey Deli Slices

Vegan Turkey Deli Slices

Ingredients

  • 1 (16oz) block Super Firm Tofu*
  • 180g (1 1/2 cups) vital wheat gluten
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 Tbsp mushroom seasoning
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • Black pepper to taste (I used a lot!)
  • 2 tsp MSG (or use more nutritional yeast)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp vegan chicken bouillon concentrate
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Black Pepper Rub

  • 1 - 2 Tbsp neutral oil
  • Poultry Seasoning to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste

Instructions

    1. Combine everything but the vital wheat gluten in a food processor. Blend that up into a paste, taste for seasoning. Then add in the vital wheat gluten and blend and knead until you have a soft but sturdy dough. Depending on the size of your food processor you may need to do it in 2 batches.
    2. If the seitan is too wet and sticky, add 1 Tbsp of vital wheat gluten at a time until it comes together. On the inverse, if it's too dry, add 1 Tbsp of water until it comes together as well.
    3. Continue to knead the dough in the food processor until it's a firm but still slightly soft ball of dough (This should take about 5 minutes give or take). If it's in pieces it should be fine as long as you can mash it into a single ball. You should be able to stretch it out and see visible gluten strands. It should also not be too sticky. Slightly tacky is okay, but not sticky!
    4. Then knead it a bit more by hand to shape it into a loaf. Add a little oil and grease it up and then cover it in some poultry seasoning and black pepper for a rub.
    5. Wrap it up tightly in HEAVY DUTY tin foil (you can wrap first in parchment paper) and then bake at 350 F for about 1 hour (I've been doing mine for 1 hour and 5 minutes). Flip it 90 degrees every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking. Let it cool, and then rest in the fridge overnight. This is so we get that perfect deli meat texture! It's very important so don't skip this step!
    6. The next day the vegan turkey deli slices are ready to eat! Just slice it up by hand or with a mandolin or deli slicer.

Notes

*If using extra firm tofu, you'll need to press it for at least 30 minutes. You probably won't need the 1/2 cup of water either, so start with less and add more as needed. You can also use a can of chickpeas including the liquid (aquafaba) instead of the tofu. You will likely not need any additional water, but add some as needed.

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44 Comments

  1. Out of all of the different meat analogs I’ve always been really disappointed in seitan, especially seeing its so easy to make. I don’t like the aftertaste. Yesterday I saw this on YouTube and there was something new. I gave it a shot and WOW, even before refrigerating over night, a sneak taste, This is GOOD. This morning, even better. I made a simple wrap for lunch and, yeah, this is my new lunch “meat”. I Devoured that wrap!

    1. Awesome. Can’t wait to try your version for this.
      I’d love to make one similar to those banquet turkey slices drenched in gravy from my childhood.
      Gotta get the gravy and turkey just right.

    2. Do you think this could be smoked on a grill instead of baked for a Thanksgiving Turkey? Or maybe reheating the loaf via smoking?

  2. This is amazing, thank you! Last ten minutes in the oven left, can’t wait – will report back in the morning

  3. This is my favorite deli slice recipe of all time.. I went a little harder with the chicken flavor and liquid smoke the second time around as personal preference… Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Phenomenal! Hits it right out of the park. Not only good for sandwiches, this would be perfect as the centerpiece for a turk’y dinner. Definitely will be my go-to for the holidays!

  5. Wow.
    Amazing recipe! The best deli recipe I have made.

    Love everything I’ve made from your cookbook, can’t wait for the next one…. with this recipe.

    1. I’m stoked on this. I’ll probably never buy tofurky deli slices again. I’ve made this twice and tweaked the spices, both times…amazing. The rest overnight is key with most seitan recipes. Good job, dude.

  6. This recipen seitan is amazing an absolute 7 out of 4 in its taste and texture. Ive already made it twice in the span of a week. Ive been having it with wraps and diced up on burger buns with veggies. Its easy to make compared to other recipes which is the best part

  7. Wow! This recipe is what’s up! So tasty, meaty, and fulfilling! The ingredients and instructions are clear, approachable, and easy to execute. It was my first time making it and was a great success. I included sauerkraut in my sandwich to make a pseudo Reuben. It was absolutely delicious. I wonder if the loaf could be then turned into corned “beef”, hmmm….

    1. Oh that’s awesome that it worked out! That reuben sounds great! You could make the roast beef from my Arby’s recipe, we made some reubens with the leftovers!

  8. I made this for the first time and it was awazing. I shared it with friends and family that are skeptical about even tasting tofu. Their first response was OMG! I even had a 80 year old friend that said, “I am scared to try it” but she did and anyway. Her response was, “I like that better than real turkey”! Thanks for sharing! I am going to make some hatch pepper flavored next to give it a little kick.

    1. Wow, that’s amazing! I love hearing it, made my day! And some hatch peppers sound like a great idea. I’m gonna roast some soon!

  9. Really good! I’ve made seitan different ways, but it never turns out. This was simple and a huge success. We made amazing vegan turkey club sandwiches all week long. Thank you!

  10. My kids started school this week and I made some of this for their sandwiches. They absolutely LOVE it! Will be making again and again this year!

    1. Unfortunately you can’t make seitan gluten free, sorry! I can try to do something like my tofu cheesesteak recipe but with turkey seasonings tho!

  11. I finally made it!I cannot find mushroom seasoning so I just doubled the nutritional yeast, added bunch of spices. Super easy to follow instructions and made so much deli slices in under 2 hrs. I made it into sandwiches /sub and into vietnamese sub(banh mi) Adding the baking powder really made a difference .Thankyou so much for sharing the recipe

  12. Wow ! This is the first recipe that I’ve found for turkey that not only looks good but is also simple to make. The reviews also sold me. I plan to make this for turkey roast and use some cajun or just poultry seasonings. I was wondering, though, if I could use my blender instead. I don’t have a food processor. It’s about 1500 watts .

    1. I’m actually making a new recipe where I make this with a glaze for a turkey dinner! Unfortunately you can’t use a blender for the vital wheat gluten part. You can blend the wet ingredients and then knead the vital wheat gluten by hand. But I don’t think a normal blender will be able to process the vital wheat gluten.

  13. This recipe was delicious, my husband loved it. Tonight I made hot “turkey” open faced sandwiches with mashed potatoes! Lol wish I could post the pictures!

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