Save yourself some money and dress up your family table with this vegan ham. This plant-based ham loaf is perfectly seasoned with smoky sweet flavors and topped with a maple-infused pineapple glaze.
If you’re thinking you have to give up ham for a vegan diet, well, you’re right. Ham comes from pigs and vegans don’t eat meat. However, if you break down the traditional flavors of ham — smoky and sweet — and apply them to a plant-based loaf in just the right ways, you can create an absolutely delicious vegan ham. And it’s pretty amazing, especially when served with vegan scalloped potatoes.
What is Vital Wheat Gluten?
Gluten is the main protein of a wheat berry found in the endosperm. When gluten is separated from wheat, you’re left with vital wheat gluten, a flour-like substance that is used in a lot of vegan and vegetarian recipes. It is referred to as “wheat meat” because of it’s similar texture to meat. As a result, it’s often used to make vegetarian meat substitutes. It can also be added to yeast breads to improve the texture and volume of yeast breads.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Tofu adds the best texture, creating a firm roast that also cuts easily and displays a moist texture
- Using a small beet adds perfect color and a hint of sweetness to the roast
- Liquid smoke combined with smoked paprika adds the best smoky flavor to every bite!
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Tofu — We’ll use extra firm tofu for this recipe. Check out my tofu buying guide for more information on where to find tofu in the grocery store.
- Bouillon — I recommend using Better than Bouillon Vegetarian Base. It’s amazing to have around to make vegetable broth, too.
- Nutritional Yeast Flakes — You’ll need 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes which I usually buy at health food stores. You can sometimes find them in the health food section of grocery stores, but I think it’s pricier there.
- Beets — I used one small fresh beet for this recipe.
- Olive oil — You can substitute any neutral oil, such as melted refined coconut oil or canola oil.
- Seasonings — You’ll need onion powder (or dehydrated onions), garlic powder, smoked paprika. I find all of these in the spices section of my grocery store.
- Liquid Smoke — We’ll add even more smoky flavor with liquid smoke, found near the BBQ sauces in most grocery stores.
- Vital Wheat Gluten — You can buy this powdery flour at health food stores or online. Measure it just like you would any flour, by sifting it first, spooning it into a measuring cup, and then using a knife or flat edge to level it off.
- Pineapple — You’ll need a small can of crushed pineapples. We’ll be using both the juice and some of the pineapples from the can for the glaze. Or learn How To Cut A Pineapple and use a fresh pineapple.
- Brown Sugar — You can use dark, light, or homemade brown sugar.
- Whole Cloves — This is an optional ingredient, but if you like the look of adding them to the crosses in the top of the loaf, having a few whole cloves is all it takes.
How to Make This Recipe
- Prepare the tofu by pressing it, then crumbling it, and pressing it into a 1 cup measuring cup.
- Process the broth base by adding the measured tofu to a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except for the vital wheat gluten). Process until mostly smooth.
- Make the batter by transferring the mixture to a bowl and adding the vital wheat gluten. Use a rubber spatula to stir the ingredients together then use your hands to gently “knead” the mixture in the bowl, only until just combined and none of the powdery vital wheat gluten is visible.
- Form the loaf by turning the dough onto a cutting board and shaping it into an oval loaf. Tightly wrap the loaf in foil, being careful to seal the ends.
- Steam the loaf by placing it in a steamer basket over boiling water and steaming for 60 minutes. Check the water occasionally and add more if needed.
- Once it’s done, use tongs to remove it from the basket. Leave it in the foil and set it aside to cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the foil and transfer the roast to a baking pan.
- Prepare the Pineapple Glaze by combining the ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon the glaze over the roast.
- Bake the loaf for 20 to 25 minutes, spooning the basting sauce over the game once or twice as it bakes.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool. It will firm up as it cools.
Store the loaf in an airtight container in the fridge where it will keep up to 7 days. You can freeze the loaf or individual slices in a freezer-safe container or bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Transfer it to the fridge overnight to thaw it.
What is vegan ham made of?
Most vegan hams are made from vital wheat gluten, otherwise referred to as wheat meat. When combined with other stabilizing ingredients, like tofu, beets (for color) veggie broth, and seasonings (like liquid smoke) it takes on a color and flavor similar to ham.
Is vegan ham healthy?
Vegan ham may not be considered health food, but it’s a much healthier option for people, pigs, and the planet. Having a favorite plant-based meat in moderation is a great way to expand your vegan diet, add variety, and enjoy the flavors of the foods you’ve eaten for years.
I like adding cubes of vegan ham to my Just Egg Quiche. You can also serve it as a main meal dish with your favorite side dishes such as:
You can also use it to make vegan ham sandwiches. To cut thinner slices, let the loaf come to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Use a serrated knife to cut thin slices from the chilled loaf.
Vegan Meat Meals
I hope you love this vegan ham recipe as much as we do!
- 1 cup extra firm tofu, pressed
- 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Vegetarian Base (see note)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh beets, washed and peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
- 1 ¼ cups vital wheat gluten
Maple Pineapple Basting Sauce
- ½ cup pineapple juice from a can of crushed pineapple
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- ½ cup crushed pineapple
- 10 whole cloves
For the Vegan Ham Roast
- Press the tofu, then crumble it and press it into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add this to a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except for the vital wheat gluten). Process until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add vital wheat gluten. Use a rubber spatula to stir the ingredients together. To make sure it's all equally distributed, use your hands to gently "knead" the mixture in the bowl, only until just combined and none of the powdery vital wheat gluten is visible.
- Turn the dough out onto a cutting board. Shape it into an oval loaf. Tightly wrap the loaf in foil, being careful to seal the ends. Place the loaf in a steamer basket over boiling water and steam for 60 minutes. Check the water occasionally and add more if it's needed.
- Once it's done, use tongs to remove from the basket. Leave it in the foil and set aside to cool.
- You can eat the roast as is, but it transforms into something amazing after being roasted with basting liquids. To do this, carefully remove the foil and transfer the roast to a baking pan.
For Roasted Vegan Ham
- Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.
- Transfer the roast to a baking pan. Use a knife to cut diagonal, thin slices in the top of the roast to create a criss-cross pattern. Add a whole clove in the intersecting points.
- Stir together the basting ingredients. Drizzle this sauce over the roast.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, spooning the basting sauce over the ham once or twice as it bakes. When it's done remove it from the oven and set it aside.
- The loaf will firm up as it cools. Cut the roast into slices to serve for dinners. To cut thinner slices for sandwiches, allow the roast to cool completely, then refrigerate for an hour or so. Use a serrated knife to cut the chilled roast.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.