Wheat Meat: Meatless Spaghetti and Meatballs

10 May

Print the recipe page!  meatless spaghetti and meatballs

We’re moving into radical food storage territory today!  As a disclaimer, I have to say, if it hadn’t been for my friend Sherida trying this herself first (and having her kids loving it) I probably wouldn’t have believed this would have worked.  So hopefully if this seems like a super crazy idea I can be the same type of guinea pig for you to find the courage to try it.  If you do, you’ll have an added option from your food storage that not only uses up the wheat you’re storing but also saves money at the grocery store and creates healthy “fake your family out” meatless meals.  Wheat meat looks and tastes like meat, it’s the same consistency of meat;  I think you’ll be as surprised as I was!

The recipe I used comes from the book “A Bite of Independence Through Self Sufficiency”. Unfortunately this great book is out of print and seems to be getting harder and harder to come by.  I bought mine off Amazon two years ago for $25 and it’s up to $70-80 last I checked.  As far as recipes go, the idea of wheat meat is something this book really dives into (the chapter on it is even called by the authors to be it’s “most important chapter”).   There are recipes on how to make all kinds of wheat meat variations from steak and roast to “white meat” meatless chicken nuggets, chicken fried steak, even seafood.  Their “ground beef/meatball” variety is what I made today.  Based on the success I had I think I’ll be more courageous in trying out some of the other meatless recipes!

Let’s get started!


Basic Raw Wheat Meat

10 cups whole wheat flour

5 cups water

Ground Beef, Meatball / Hamburger Patty Variation

2 1/2 cups moderately packed ground gluten

2 TBS beef soup base

2 TBS vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 TBS white flour

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder, (or either 2 1/2 TBS dried onion flakes or 1/4 cup chopped onion for better texture)

Tools you’ll need:

a meat grinder (*see note)


Making the Raw Wheat Meat

I.  Mixing

Combine the flour and the water in the mixing bowl.  Using the dough hook, knead for 5 minutes.  It’s not necessary to be precise on the measurements of flour and water, what’s needed is for it to become the consistency of bread dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap (so it doesn’t dry out) and let it rest in the refrigerator or cool place for 20 minutes to allow the gluten to develop.

II.  Washing

After the dough has rested, divide into 1/4th’s and work with one portion at a time, keeping the rest covered while you work.  Place a piece of dough in a large colander which is, in turn, placed in a larger bowl of cold water.  While keeping it immersed in the water at all times, stretch and compress the dough, trying to keep it intact while the bran and starch are washed out.

Very quickly the mass will resemble bubble gum in texture to the point that it’s difficult to keep together.  The “rubbery glob” you now have should be rinsed briefly in a bowl of fresh cold water and then placed in another bowl.  What you have is raw wheat meat, or gluten.

III.  Baking

Take the raw wheat gluten and form into balls the size of an orange.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until the balls are firm and leathery.  (The tough leathery texture helps to give the meaty texture when it’s ground.)  You don’t want the balls to get crusty, just firm and leathery, so be sure and keep an eye on it if your oven runs hot.

IV.  Grinding

Remove from oven and let cool.  Tear into pieces and put through a meat grinder.  When ground, it has the appearance of ground beef.  A food processor may be used but the texture won’t be the same.

V.  Seasoning, Mixing and Baking to Use

Mix the ground gluten together with the other above mentioned ingredients in a medium bowl.  For meatballs, form balls a little smaller than a walnut.  For “hamburgers” form into desired larger sized patties.  The mixture should be quite moist, add another egg if it’s too dry.  Bake in a 300 degree oven just until the eggs are set.  Do not overbake!

Middle photo:  meatballs / right photo:  hamburger patties


For spaghetti and meatballs, heat spaghetti sauce and cook pasta.  Add the meatballs to the sauce at the last minute just before serving and heat through.  Don’t overcook or your meatballs will begin falling apart.  Serve on top of hot cooked pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

The spaghetti and “meatballs” were a big hit!  Every one of my kids just loved them and had no clue they weren’t real meat.  This made it totally worth the work!  Plus the meatballs are highly recommended to freeze for later after having been cooked.  I did that, so next time (and the time after that) it’ll be a much easier meal to make.

For the “hamburgers”, I tried the grill route that Sherida tried (though hers looked a lot better).  The patties were well cooled in the refrigerator before I put them on to grill, which helped I think in keeping them together.  I did have to be extra careful not to burn the patties or overcook them, keeping the flame as low as it would go and watching them closely.  Served on homemade buns (recipe here), they went over moderately well with the kiddos.  I think because the “meat” was more visable in the burger (rather than covered in sauce as with the meatballs) my cover was blown whereas with the meatballs no one ever suspected a thing.  Still, all the kids ate their burgers and appeared to enjoy them while telling me they liked “real meat” better.  What was hilarious to me was the comment I got from one child that “this is good but I liked last night’s dinner better” (the spaghetti and meatballs), it having been made from the exact same mix!



  • No ideas here as to how to adapt this recipe to be egg free.  Please share if you have an idea on how to do that.  For now this will be a “wheat rotating”  / 3 month recipe for me.  Even though it’s not a recipe I could use long term I love that it gives me the chance to get my family to eat more wheat/ less meat!
  • This recipe of raw wheat meat made enough for two full meals (serving 6) plus two more dinners worth of “meatballs” to freeze for later.  That makes four meals made from 10 cups of wheat flour and 5 cups of water! Pretty cool!!

13 Responses to “Wheat Meat: Meatless Spaghetti and Meatballs”

  1. chelseamckell May 10, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Request: Do meatless chicken nuggets! Wheat-meat nuggets!

  2. PlicketyCat May 10, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    You get even better “ground meat” texture if you pass the raw wheat meat through the grinder or a pasta extruder, bake off the ribbons, and then put them through the grinder again with the seasonings to incorporate everything. It’ll look more like ground beef and less like odd clumps of macaroni 🙂

    Unfortunately, I’m gluten intolerant, so wheat meat is off the table for us 😦 But I have fiddled with it a few times using my vegetarian friends as guinea pigs. The WheatLoaf and the Faux Chicken Nuggets/Fingers were hits if I remember correctly. I could definitely see where wheat meat could be used instead of soy/tofu in most recipes, they behave very similarly and pick up flavors well.

    You might try using mashed potatoes, cooked oatmeal, tapioca or cornstarch as a binder to replace the eggs in the meatballs. In the WheatLoaf recipe I used, the binder was breadcrumbs and mayo… which would work if it’s just an issue of not having any fresh eggs instead of an actual egg allergy or true vegan; but I suppose an eggless mayo would work similarly.

    • myfoodstoragecookbook May 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks for the ideas — I’m excited to try the “chicken” ideas on this! How disappointing that you can’t use any of this with the gluten intolerance, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that no one here ends up with that, it would really make things tricky on top of the no beans issue.

      • PlicketyCat May 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

        Food allergies and intolerances are definitely challenging. At least when you cook from scratch you have control over what’s in your food. Commercial canned food, pre-packaged ready meals and common freeze-dried food storage meal mixes nearly always contain something that either I or DH can’t eat… we have a few for convenience, but I have to label them with “Not for You” stickers.

        I was amazed at how obvious these restrictions became when I started stocking food in larger quantities in the pantry and fresh food was limited. Something virtually unnoticeable or a minor convenience when you have ample access to fresh food and grocery stores can become a total nightmare in a food storage pantry unless you’re canning everything yourself.

  3. Julene May 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Love it! I am a vegetarian and I use this for “meat” all the time. You should check out ChefTessBakeresse.blogspot.com and look up her meatless recipes. She uses vital wheat gluten to make the dough. It eliminates the need of washing the dough, sooo helpful! She also makes hot dogs and I love them!! A great substitute for eggs is ground flax seed and water (I can’t remember the exact amounts of it right now) and Chia also makes a great egg substitute. Loving all of the posts!!!

  4. Andrew G. Hopkins October 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Thank you. With my grinder, I have lots of options for new recipes.


  1. Food Storage, Part 3: Storing Grains and Vegetable Protein « My Food Storage Cookbook - July 20, 2012

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  2. Chia “Real Meat” Meatballs « My Food Storage Cookbook - October 13, 2012

    […] meatballs, made with real meat (as opposed to the wheat meat meatballs that I tricked all my kids with) use ground chia seeds as a binder in place of eggs. No kidding!  I […]

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