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

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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.

white button mushrooms, ground black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and 6 more
salt, crushed garlic, butter, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, onion and 1 more
button mushrooms, white pepper, heavy cream, all purpose flour and 6 more
vegetable oil, celery stalks, cornstarch, button mushrooms, butter and 5 more
pepper, tomato paste, spaghetti, all purpose flour, black pepper and 10 more
white button mushrooms, green onions, garlic, flat leaf parsley and 2 more

Cremini Mushrooms, aka "Baby Bellas"

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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.

kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil, thyme, freshly ground black pepper and 6 more
salt, soy sauce, farfalle pasta, vegetable broth, dried thyme and 8 more
cream of mushroom soup, fresh parsley, cremini mushrooms, chicken breasts and 3 more
dried parsley, onion powder, egg whites, unsalted butter, salt and 5 more
organic vegetable broth, salt, baby portobello mushrooms, fresh thyme and 7 more
worcestershire, garlic cloves, tomato paste, yellow onion, flour and 15 more

Portabella Mushrooms

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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.

portobello mushroom, sea salt, basil, thyme, tarragon, balsamic vinegar and 2 more
fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, portobello mushroom caps and 1 more
fresh parsley, freshly ground pepper, grated Parmesan cheese and 4 more
olive oil, cilantro leaves, low sodium vegetable broth, fine sea salt and 17 more
onion powder, hoagie buns, garlic, salted butter, liquid smoke and 13 more
portobello mushrooms, avocado oil, seasoning, juice, garlic, kosher salt and 1 more


Morel 01

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.

grated lemon zest, morels, black pepper, avocado, hazelnuts, whole wheat bread and 8 more
fresh fava beans, fleur de sel, eggs, butter, basil leaves, crème fraiche and 6 more
pepper, morels, frozen peas, marsala wine, heavy cream, tarragon and 7 more
kosher salt, dressing, olive oil, morel mushrooms, freshly ground pepper and 1 more
salt, Parmesan, pepper, morel mushrooms, extra-virgin olive oil and 4 more
unsalted butter, ramps, Fontina, salt, eggs, morel mushrooms and 1 more

Oyster Mushrooms

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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.

fresh parsley leaves, fresh spinach leaves, breadcrumbs, oyster mushrooms and 4 more
water, oil, pepper, hoisin sauce, salt, pepper, oyster mushrooms and 9 more
leaves, diced onion, lemon, coconut milk, coconut oil, salt, crushed garlic and 1 more
rustic bread, ramps, oyster mushrooms, kosher salt, flaky sea salt and 3 more
extra virgin olive oil, dried thyme, ground black pepper, lacinato kale and 8 more
olive oil, oyster mushrooms, salt, heavy cream, red wine, pepper

Shiitake Mushrooms

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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.

maple syrup, black pepper, shiitake mushrooms, oil, paprika, black pepper and 8 more
sushi rice, avocados, maple syrup, mirin, tamari, shiitake mushrooms and 4 more
soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, fresh ginger, sherry vinegar and 1 more
garlic, rice vinegar, ginger, cornstarch, oil, brown sugar, shiitakes and 7 more
red onion, eggs, garlic, spaghetti, fat free greek yogurt, grated cheese and 2 more
olive oil, shallots, salt, dried thyme, white wine, pepper, fresh shiitake mushrooms and 3 more

Hen of the Woods, aka Maitake Mushrooms

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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.

fine sea salt, wild rice, walnut pieces, yellow onion, fresh lemon juice and 4 more
grated Parmesan cheese, fresh gnocchi, butter, thyme, maitake mushrooms and 2 more
apple cider, leaves, whole black peppercorns, crushed red pepper and 8 more
heavy cream, dry white wine, crème fraîche, mushrooms, ciabatta and 9 more
chopped fresh chives, chopped hazelnuts, unsalted butter, cinnamon and 4 more
rolls, pumpkin, salt, onions, salt, garlic, paprika, sage leaves and 6 more

Enoki Mushrooms

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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.

scallion, oil, garlic, scallion, sugar, light soy sauce, light soy sauce and 5 more
sesame oil, soy sauce, kimchi, gochujang, silken tofu, fish sauce and 5 more
soy sauce, mirin, enoki mushroom
sesame oil, enoki, chilli powder, maple syrup, mushrooms, coconut oil and 12 more
oyster sauce, butter, sugar, ground black pepper, salt, rib eye steaks and 7 more
green onion, ramen noodles, roasted sesame seeds, fresh shiitake mushrooms and 5 more


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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, freshly ground pepper, sea salt, green onion, chanterelles and 5 more
black pepper, dry white wine, salt, broth, butter, arborio rice and 6 more
grated Gruyère cheese, chanterelles, butter, flour, ground black pepper and 7 more
dry white wine, onion, rosemary, sweet paprika, mustard, chanterelle mushrooms and 7 more
garlic, bacon, unsalted butter, freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt and 3 more
shallots, unsalted butter, Parmesan, chopped fresh cilantro, freshly ground black pepper and 9 more

Porcini Mushrooms

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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.

unsalted butter, large eggs, dried porcini mushrooms, whole milk and 2 more
porcini mushrooms, olive oil, red wine, jerusalem artichokes and 10 more
garlic, fresh rosemary, dried porcini mushrooms, water, salt and 6 more
large garlic clove, ground black pepper, sea salt, dried porcini mushrooms and 3 more
garlic cloves, Italian parsley, waxy potatoes, porcini mushrooms and 2 more
warm water, salt, pepper, flour, soy sauce, onion, dried porcini mushrooms and 4 more

Truffles and Truffle Oil

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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.

ground chuck, onions, mayonnaise, ground black pepper, cremini mushrooms and 10 more
fresh flat leaf parsley, freshly ground pepper, shiitake mushrooms and 5 more
water, olive oil, cremini mushrooms, soy sauce, garlic cloves and 11 more
butter, dried thyme, filet mignons, dry red wine, ground black pepper and 8 more
lemon juice, whole milk, truffle, spring onion
boneless magret duck breast halves, pinot noir, butter, chicken wings and 7 more

Straw Mushrooms

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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.

garlic, oil, fish sauce, straw mushrooms, spinach
Thai chilies, cilantro leaves, shallot, chicken, fresh lime juice and 9 more
unsweetened coconut milk, Thai chilies, galangal, palm sugar and 8 more
sugar, oil, soy sauce, firm tofu, chicken stock, minced ginger and 10 more
spring onions, snow peas, brown sugar, cabbage, diced tomatoes and 16 more
napa cabbage, soy sauce, baby carrots, ginkgo nuts, granulated sugar and 17 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!

shallots, gruyère, butter, ricotta, garlic clove, lemon, mixed mushrooms and 3 more
whole milk ricotta cheese, green onions, extra virgin olive oil and 14 more
heavy cream, finely chopped fresh parsley, dry white wine, chicken cutlets and 1 more

Want to know more about mushrooms? Read Mushrooms 101