8 Vital Wheat Gluten vs. Dough Enhancer

Update: Many readers have asked me if it is REALLY necessary to add vital wheat gluten in my bread recipes. No, it is not. It is a preference that I have. Make it both ways, with and without the gluten, and you can be the judge!

What is vital wheat gluten? Basically it is wheat flour with most of the starch taken out. It is a natural protein derived from wheat that is very concentrated. Just 1-2 Tablespoons added to your bread recipes will give you:
  • additional protein
  • gives strength to yeast to work well when raising
  • extends the shelf life of your bread
  • traps the gases given off by the yeast, enabling the dough to raise higher
  • provides elasticity, strength, added texture
  • helps retain moisture in bread
  • helps prevent crumbling
This is what I believe gives me the soft, light 'wonderbread like' texture to my whole wheat breads and extends the shelf life to at least 4-5 days before it gets moldy.

I buy Grandma's Country 27 oz. vital wheat gluten at Macey's for $5.99 and keep it in the refrigerator; it lasts me a whole year, making bread weekly. Store it in the freezer if you make bread less often, as it will go rancid. You can find it as Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, although it is more expensive. Look for vital wheat gluten at a Bosch kitchen store, where they sell it by the pound and you can get what you need. The best deal on this was $2.99 (27 oz) at the Blue Chip Group factory in SLC (the place that makes Morning Moo). Unopened, these have a shelf life of 6 years.

Dough enhancer has the following ingredients:

Whey (a dairy protein), soy lecithin, tofu powder, citric acid, dry yeast, sea salt, spice blend, corn starch, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), natural flavor

After looking at the dough enhancer ingredients, I thought, "Why add additional ingredients? Why am I adding additional yeast? What the heck is 'natural flavor'?

I was introduced to vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer at a bread class. I have tried both, and I favor the wheat gluten. I have tried recipes with and without dough enhancer and have not noticed any difference.

10/2011 update:
I was given a sample of dough enhancer to try.  I tested it on my whole wheat bread, made one batch with the enhancer and one without.  The one with the dough enhancer rose to double 8 minutes faster and developed a large, uneven cell structure in the bread.  Both slices were equally soft and tender.  The slice with the dough enhancer did not develop any mold, while my slice began to develop mold on day 8.  My bread never lasts beyond 2-3 days, as it gets gobbled up!


  1. Frieda, thanks for the explanation. I never even thought of looking at the ingredients in the dough enhancer! I've used both and I like the vital wheat gluten so much better. Why back when I got my first Bosh mixer the lady that demode it told me if I didn't have dough enhancer to just break open a couple of vitamin c capsules, or crush some up, she said it worked well for her. When we lived in Calif. I never used either in my bread, and it always turned out wonderful and fluffy, but not so in Utah. Could be an altitude thing.

  2. Carol, thanks for stopping by! Altitude does affect the quality and rising of your bread. Also, Utah is a desert, so be careful about adding too much flour; it will make your bread dense and heavy. When in doubt (in adding more flour) let it mix/knead for a couple of minutes longer and touch your dough to see if it is soft, wet, and not sticking to your fingers.

  3. I have a whole wheat bread recipe which calls for both dough enhancer and gluten flour. Should I use both? From your description above it appears to me the gluten flour is the same as dough enhancer.

    If you reccommend use of both, where can I purchase dough enhancer?

  4. Anonymous,
    After researching gluten flour, I believe it is the same thing as vital wheat gluten. It is often used to help make baked goods lighter, such as wheat bread. After trying both gluten and dough enhancer, I found that I was able to make a great tasting wheat bread with only vital wheat gluten, or in your case, gluten flour. A couple of tablespoons for 6 c. wheat flour is all you need. Dough enhancer has 'extra' stuff in it that I already have in my bread recipe.

    resource: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-gluten-flour.htm

  5. Frieda, Thank you so much for your knowledge and expertise. I have been attempting to make yummy bread for about five years now, and I just recently found a basic recipe that I LOVE! It has both Vital Wheat Gluten and Dough Enhancer in it. I am excited to try it without the dough enhancer now. Thank you!

  6. Hi Frieda thanks for the info regarding the whole wheat gluten and dough enhancer, I was using both in my bread, but I ran out the dough enhancer and just used the whole wheat gluten. The end result SUCCESS! Thanks again.

    An amateur bread maker

  7. Hi Frieda I read a recipe for making ketogenic pasta and this guy use Vital Wheat Grain 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup of oatmeal fiber flour; because I have already dough enhancer do you think that it is possible to use 1/2 cup of dough enhancer instead of VWG?

    1. My understanding of making pasta is that you don't want to work the dough as it develops gluten. You want to be able to stretch the dough while rolling it thin.
      Dough enhancer is not the same thing as vital wheat gluten, so I wouldn't use it as a substitute in this recipe. :-)


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