My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

What The Heck Is Vital Wheat Gluten & Why Do I Need It?


Have you noticed I include an ingredient called “Vital Wheat Gluten” in my bread recipes?  Ever wonder what it is?  For a long time, so did I.  Several years ago, a good friend of mine mentioned that my super-amazing-baker friend, Aimee, used gluten in her bread, and that’s why it was so yummy.  I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I wasn’t baking my own bread, so I didn’t inquire about it.


Fast forward a few years, and I found myself making bread.  It was turning out okay, but it wasn’t as lovely and light as everything Aimee made!  I saw a recipe calling for “Vital Wheat Gluten” and decided I better find out what the heck it was.



Bakin' my own bread!

Bakin’ my own bread!


Simply put, Gluten is the protein found in wheat.  Vital Wheat Gluten is gluten (protein) which has been separated from the flour.  It is used to add additional texture and elasticity to bread.  As it contains about 75% protein, it is often used by many vegetarians to make a meat substitute called “Seitan” (pronounced sey-tan).


Want to see  it?  Here it is:


These bowls contain (starting in the top left-hand corner and moving clockwise): Dough Enhancer, Vital Wheat Gluten, and Bread Flour.  They look very similar, but the vital wheat gluten has a tan tint to it.

These bowls contain (starting in the top left-hand corner and moving clockwise): Dough Enhancer, Vital Wheat Gluten, and Bread Flour. They look very similar, but the vital wheat gluten has a tan tint to it.  The textures also differ with vital wheat gluten being very smooth.


Working hand in hand with vital wheat gluten are dough enhancers or conditioners.  Truth is, most of the stuff we add to bread is a dough “enhancer.”  All you need to make bread is flour, yeast, salt, and water.  That’s it!  Everything else is an “enhancer.”


If we’re already using enhancers, why would you use a commercial one?  I’ve found that it adds additional “lift” to my bread, making it lighter and softer (particularly helpful when I’m trying to get my kids to eat whole grain bread).  It also increases the shelf-life by a couple of days (not that freshly baked bread lasts that long in my house).  There are also homemade dough enhancer recipes available online, if you’re interested in going that route.


I bought my first cans at a grocery store in Utah while visiting my son at school.  Unfortunately, they do not carry it in my local grocery store, so I bought a couple of large (#10) cans from Honeyville Grain online for my food storage.  One thing I love about Honeyville Grain is that they have a flat $4.49 shipping cost regardless of how much you purchase.  I am not affiliated with them, but I was impressed with the quality and price of their baking products.  If you do not eat gluten, you may be interested to know that they have a wide variety of gluten free flours, too. 


Vital Wheat Gluten and Dough Enhancer (Conditioner)

Vital Wheat Gluten and Dough Enhancer (Conditioner)


To sum it all up, you do not “need” vital wheat gluten or dough enhancers.  BUT, if you’re having problems getting the texture you want in your bread, you may want to give them a try.


Have you ever used vital wheat gluten or dough enhancers? 

Do you love them as much as I do?

Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, Have a question about Food Storage? Email me:

15 thoughts on “What The Heck Is Vital Wheat Gluten & Why Do I Need It?

  1. Just what I wanted to see! I read your last post about bread and was wondering about this! One question, I’m on a quest for a bread that is close to store bought sandwich bread. Does the vital wheat gluten make the bread fold better without breaking?????


  2. I don’t use vital wheat gluten when I bake, but I do add a little potato flour when I make a loaf of white sandwich bread.


  3. Ms. Laurie, I love this entry and I absolutely love your blog! It’s original and I’m learning lots from you!


  4. Laurie – thanks so much for your comment that you left on our blog “Framboise Manor”. i have now added you to our blogroll and will enjoy going through all of your backposts. i did a quick scan of some of your post and there is much to be learned here. again, thanks for stopping into our blog…now i have a new blog to learn from. and a new friend.



  5. I always wondered what it was! Thanks for the helpful post 🙂


  6. Really interesting article!
    Dough enhancers aren’t allowed in the EU and subway have just stopped using it, too! It seems pretty safe unless you’re going to chow down on the whole pot, haha.
    Thanks for such an informative post 🙂


  7. Pingback: Best Whole Grain Dinner Rolls Ever! | My Foray Into Food Storage

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