12 Mushrooms and How to Eat Them

12 Mushrooms and How To Eat Them

OK, so you love mushrooms. But which ones do you use when? And what's the best recipe for that "chef's assortment" you impulsively picked up at the market? Here's what you need to know to make the most of the 12 most popular mushrooms.

As with the wide world of cheese, one of the joys of eating mushrooms is experiencing the unique flavors of the different varieties. From meaty portabellos and shiitakes to mild oyster mushrooms and chanterelles, you'll just have to taste the rainbow of mushrooms to decide which one is your favorite. With their unique flavor profiles, mushrooms can be happily paired for different effect with steak, cream, pasta, wine, onions, in breakfast dishes with eggs, and (of course) cheese.

Here, we take a look at the defining characteristics and preparations for the most popular dozen mushrooms; read on and celebrate the glories of fungus!

Common Button/White Mushrooms

Button Mushrooms

Button mushrooms have the honor of being both the most common and least expensive mushroom in the United States. These versatile, everyday mushrooms have a mild flavor that gets stronger when cooked and blends well with other ingredients. Sturdy enough to hold up in sauces, stir-fries, and stews, sliced and sautéed button mushrooms are also what come to mind as classic toppings for pizza and mushroom-smothered cheeseburgers.

ground black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil and 6 more
pepper, butter, sliced mushrooms, crushed garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce and 1 more
salt, Dijon mustard, nutmeg, button mushrooms, unsalted butter and 5 more
soy sauce, butter, salt, button mushrooms, yellow onion, vegetable oil and 4 more
coriander powder, pepper, sesame seeds, tomato paste, all purpose flour and 10 more
garlic, white button mushrooms, green onions, brie cheese, white wine and 1 more

Cremini Mushrooms, aka "Baby Bellas"

Cremini Mushrooms

Cremini, or brown mushrooms, are almost identical biologically to white mushrooms. You can use them interchangeably in recipes that call for white mushrooms to add a slightly earthier, more full-bodied mushroom flavor. Like white mushrooms, the hardy cremini stand up well to slow cooking soups and stews. Oh, and that name, "baby bella"? It's exactly what it sounds like: cremini mushrooms are indeed immature, or baby, portabella mushrooms. More on that after these recipes.

fresh parsley leaves, garlic, cremini mushrooms, freshly ground black pepper and 6 more
vegan sour cream, dried thyme, soy sauce, salt, yellow onion and 8 more
fresh parsley, white wine, chicken breasts, cream of mushroom soup and 3 more
shredded Italian cheese, unsalted butter, egg whites, cremini mushrooms and 6 more
tapioca flour, fresh thyme, white onion, garlic powder, coconut aminos and 7 more
walnuts, worcestershire, yellow onion, green bell pepper, flax seed and 15 more

Portabella Mushrooms

Portabello Mushrooms

Large, substantial portabella (also called portobello) mushroom caps are the meatiest of the mushrooms, good for grilling and used as a healthy substitute in traditional meat dishes. The portabella is simply a cremini mushroom that's been allowed to grow to maturity, producing a wide, flat cap about the size of your palm. On the underside, you'll see dark gills, which should be removed before cooking. Freshness tip: look for portabellas whose gills still have pink undertones.

The stems can be quite woody and are typically composted or used to flavor soup broth. The taste of a grilled portabella mushroom cap is best described as meaty and earthy — but the real meat-like quality comes from the chewy texture, which provides a sensation similar to biting into a medium-rare steak.

tarragon, olive oil, sea salt, portobello mushroom, thyme, balsamic vinegar and 2 more
portobello mushroom caps, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, fresh mozzarella and 1 more
freshly ground pepper, plain dry breadcrumbs, portobello mushrooms and 4 more
black beans, olive oil, olive oil, olive oil, fine sea salt, quinoa and 15 more
swiss cheese, medium onion, onion powder, garlic, salted butter and 13 more
lemon, portobello mushrooms, kosher salt, avocado oil, garlic and 2 more

Morels

Morel Mushrooms

Hard-to-find morels are a springtime treat with a distinctive deep and earthy flavor and sponge-like appearance. If you see them fresh, buy them while you can! The short season for morels means they'll be gone in a flash. Fortunately, many recipes call for dried morels, which can easily be found online, bringing us the pleasure of morel's nutty flavor year round. Remember: morels should ALWAYS be cooked — they can make you sick if eaten raw.

olive oil, honey, black pepper, sea salt, grated lemon zest, avocado and 8 more
eggs, garlic, fresh peas, fresh fava beans, shallot, morels, crème fraiche and 5 more
lemon, pea tendrils, garganelli, salt, garlic clove, tarragon and 7 more
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, asparagus, dressing, morel mushrooms and 1 more
rigatoni, morel mushrooms, heavy cream, pepper, Parmesan, salt and 3 more
Fontina, salt, ramps, unsalted butter, freshly ground black pepper and 2 more

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms get their name from the shell-like shape of the caps, which grow on the side of trees in clustered stacks reminiscent of stadium seating. While they do have a distinctive shape, be careful when shopping not to confuse them with the long, thick-stemmed king oyster mushroom. Despite its name, the king oyster is a quite different species altogether.

Oyster mushrooms are known for their mild yet complex flavor and come in a range of colors from blue-gray to salmon to golden-brown, with slight variations in taste. Orange-hued oyster mushrooms, for example, will tend to have a light nutty flavor. All varieties taste best paired with other mild flavors — or even better, served alone, sautéed in butter. While oyster mushrooms are on the fragile side, you'll still want to remove the tougher stem before cooking and be sure to eat them while young and somewhat firm. Because of their delicate nature, they're often used in Asian soups, stir-fries, and other quick-cooking preparations.

butter, breadcrumbs, fresh parsley leaves, salt, minced garlic and 3 more
beans, hoisin sauce, salt, garlic cloves, water, garlic cloves and 10 more
sake, peanut oil, green onion, sugar, light soy sauce, king oyster mushrooms and 2 more
ramps, kosher salt, oyster mushrooms, rustic bread, ricotta cheese and 3 more
sourdough bread, unsalted butter, extra virgin olive oil, dried thyme and 8 more
salt, heavy cream, oyster mushrooms, red wine, pepper, olive oil

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitakes are meaty mushrooms similar to portabellas, if without their signature massive girth. These mushrooms have an intense and woodsy flavor, with smaller shiitakes offering a tender texture and larger ones providing more robust flavor. A chewier mushroom, shiitakes are a good choice to add both texture and umami to flavor-rich dishes.

If using fresh, the woody stem should be removed and saved to add to stocks. Like morels, shiitakes should never be eaten raw, so keep these off your salads unless you've sautéed them first. If fresh shiitakes aren't available, there are many recipes that call for dried shiitakes for an even more intense mushroom flavor. In fact, dried shiitakes have been noted as an excellent substitute for the much pricier wild porcini — with a deeper flavor to boot.

shiitake mushrooms, paprika, black pepper, paprika, shiitake mushrooms and 9 more
avocados, mirin, scallions, bean sprouts, maple syrup, sesame seeds and 4 more
sugar, dried shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, fresh ginger
sesame oil, oil, green onion, garlic, shiitakes, boiling water and 8 more
garlic, red onion, dried shiitake mushrooms, chili flakes, eggs and 3 more
white wine, dried thyme, pepper, olive oil, mushroom stock, water and 4 more

Hen of the Woods, aka Maitake Mushrooms

Maitake Mushrooms

One of the most delicate mushrooms, the Hen of the Woods mushroom sports a tattered head held together by a sturdier core at the base. Also known as maitake or sheepshead (but not to be confused with chicken of the woods), this shaggy clump of mushroom is most often prepared simply by breaking and tearing the mushroom into bits and pieces by hand. These mushrooms have an earthy, woodsy, and somewhat spicy flavor that helps makes dishes taste richer. Hen of the Woods are excellent when roasted or sautéed in butter, allowing the delicate edges to curl up and crisp.

fresh lemon juice, walnut pieces, ground black pepper, yellow onion and 5 more
fresh gnocchi, grated Parmesan cheese, shallot, ear of corn, thyme and 2 more
honey, crushed red pepper, whole black peppercorns, fresh parsley and 8 more
confit, mushrooms, freshly ground black pepper, heavy cream, hen of the woods and 9 more
chopped hazelnuts, wild mushrooms, cinnamon, kosher salt, unsalted butter and 3 more
onions, oil, sage leaves, pumpkin, maitake mushroom, garlic, salt and 7 more

Enoki Mushrooms

Enoki Mushrooms

The enoki mushroom, sometimes labeled as enokitake, is a very mild, crunchy Asian favorite that is quickly gaining popularity in the United States. Pale, long, and skinny little mushrooms, these are often eaten quick fried in little bundles or scattered atop a hot dish as a garnish after cooking.

To prepare, cut off the connected stem end and separate the mushrooms with your fingers into smaller clumps. Enoki mushrooms are quite good for soup, where they can be put in raw to just barely cook themselves in the hot broth while adding a textural crunch to the dish. Other preparations involve a quick stir fry where the mushrooms jump in and out of the pan in a flash.

enoki mushrooms, sugar, scallion, oil, light soy sauce, garlic and 6 more
silken tofu, fish sauce, gochujang, green onion, kimchi, eggs and 5 more
enoki mushroom, mirin, soy sauce
gochugaru, sesame oil, salt, maple syrup, enoki, coconut oil and 12 more
salt, soy sauce, corn starch, water, oil, ground black pepper and 7 more
roasted sesame seeds, corn kernels, taro root, toasted sesame oil and 5 more

Chanterelles

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelles are the belle of the ball at the wild mushroom dance. Delicate yellow or orange in color, chanterelles look like little golden horns with their inverted bell shape, and may even smell faintly of apricot. The have a gentle nutty flavor with hints of pepper and spice, making chanterelles a good substitute for morels or the even rarer hedgehog mushroom. Although firmer than the maitake or enoki mushrooms, chanterelles are still best prepared by tearing them instead of chopping. Like many of the other mushrooms here, they can have tough stems which can be removed and added to homemade stocks to make the most of this exceptional flavor.

garlic, onion, freshly ground pepper, cheese, corn tortillas and 5 more
salt, fresh basil, grated Parmesan cheese, chanterelle mushrooms and 8 more
chanterelles, grated Gruyère cheese, leeks, fresh thyme leaves and 8 more
mustard, rosemary, chicken breast, flour, onion, salt, heavy cream and 6 more
freshly ground black pepper, unsalted butter, bacon, garlic, kosher salt and 3 more
olive oil, fresh lemon juice, shallots, thyme, garlic clove, chopped fresh cilantro and 8 more

Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms are some of the most highly prized in the culinary world, known for their bold, nutty flavor. Porcinis impart a deep, pure mushroom flavor to any dish, and are classically used in many Italian recipes. Their hearty flavor and meaty bite work well with pasta and grains, thick soups, and in flavorful gravies.

Porcinis are bulbous, both in cap and stem, with a classic mushroom-brown hue. They may be easier to find dried; if they're cost-prohibitive to buy, you can substitute dried shiitakes easily in the recipes below.

dried porcini mushrooms, large eggs, whole milk, all purpose flour and 2 more
fennel, jerusalem artichokes, Parmesan, unsalted butter, fresh parsley and 9 more
freshly grated Parmesan, garlic, small new potatoes, fresh rosemary and 7 more
sea salt, large garlic clove, rosemary leaves, lamb loin chops and 3 more
waxy potatoes, garlic cloves, extra-virgin olive oil, Italian parsley and 2 more
breadcrumbs, warm water, salt, flour, dried porcini mushrooms and 6 more

Truffles and Truffle Oil

Truffles

Only the truffle, one of the most expensive gourmet foods in the world, can give the porcini a run for its money (or yours). This hard, bulbous mushroom grows underground; historically dogs and pigs have been used to help truffle hunters sniff them out in the wild. The two main varieties are the white or "Alba" truffle from the Piedmont region of Italy and the black "Perigord" truffle grown in France, Italy, and Spain.

Despite being so hard that they are typically served shaved, truffles are among the most perishable of mushrooms, with peak flavor lasting only 3-4 days. Truffles have a very strong, almost musky flavor associated with the finest of dining; however, you can more affordably boost your day-to-day cooking by using a small amount of truffle oil as with many of the elegant recipes that follow.

mushrooms, ground chuck, cremini mushrooms, truffle oil, mayonnaise and 10 more
pizza dough, fresh flat leaf parsley, truffle oil, kosher salt and 4 more
unsalted butter, mousse, onions, garlic cloves, olive oil, chicken broth and 10 more
dried thyme, marjoram, ground black pepper, garlic cloves, filet mignons and 8 more
whole milk, spring onion, truffle, lemon juice
low salt chicken broth, fresh black truffles, chicken wings, olive oil and 7 more

Straw Mushrooms

Straw Mushrooms

Straw mushrooms, sometimes called paddy straw mushrooms, are easily recognizable for their small, pointy shape and dark caps. Most often purchased canned here in the States, these bite-size 'shrooms are frequently seen in stir fry dishes and classic Thai soups such as Tom Yum and Tom Kha Gai. If you do use canned straw mushrooms, remember that they've already been partially cooked during canning, so they're well suited for quick cooking weeknight recipes.

straw mushrooms, fish sauce, spinach, garlic, oil
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large shrimp, shallot, garlic cloves, makrut lime leaves, straw mushrooms and 9 more
boneless skinless chicken breast, cilantro leaves, straw mushrooms and 9 more
straw mushrooms, chicken stock, fish sauce, carrot, sesame oil and 11 more
water chestnuts, spring onions, ginger, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and 16 more
steamed white rice, bean curd sticks, baby bok choy, black fungus and 18 more

Can't Decide? Mix 'Em Up!

Can't choose just one? Me neither. Here are just a few ideas for when one kind of mushroom just isn't enough!

garlic clove, butter, ricotta, egg, thyme, mixed mushrooms, puff pastry and 3 more
extra virgin olive oil, large egg yolk, gruyère cheese, Italian parsley leaves and 13 more
chicken cutlets, mixed mushrooms, dry white wine, finely chopped fresh parsley and 1 more

Want to know more about mushrooms? Read Mushrooms 101

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