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.

lemon, extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, extra-virgin olive oil and 5 more
butter, salt, sliced mushrooms, onion, pepper, crushed garlic and 1 more
dijon mustard, all purpose flour, white pepper, unsalted butter and 6 more
celery stalks, pot roast, butter, button mushrooms, soy sauce and 5 more
cloves, all purpose flour, black pepper, spaghetti, salt, sesame seeds and 9 more
brie cheese, white wine, flat leaf parsley, white button mushrooms 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.

spaghetti, fresh parsley leaves, kosher salt, thyme, garlic, cremini mushrooms and 4 more
dried thyme, fresh parsley, farfalle pasta, salt, baby portobello mushrooms and 8 more
fresh parsley, butter, cremini mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup and 3 more
fresh thyme, freshly ground pepper, bay leaf, almond milk, organic vegetable broth and 6 more
brown lentils, crimini mushrooms, tomato paste, large carrots and 16 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.

thyme, rosemary, olive oil, tarragon, sea salt, portobello mushroom and 2 more
fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, cherry tomatoes, portobello mushroom caps
grated parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, salt, freshly ground pepper and 3 more
garlic, olive oil, fine sea salt, avocado, portabella mushrooms and 16 more
olive oil, salted butter, swiss cheese, paprika, black pepper and 13 more
garlic, lemon, avocado oil, portobello mushrooms, kosher salt and 2 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.

fresh thyme, grated lemon zest, hazelnuts, garlic cloves, whole wheat bread and 9 more
butter, eggs, fresh fava beans, shallot, olive oil, fresh peas and 6 more
marsala wine, tarragon, heavy cream, morels, shallot, garganelli and 7 more
dressing, olive oil, morel mushrooms, kosher salt, asparagus and 1 more
pepper, peas, morel mushrooms, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, heavy cream and 3 more
freshly ground black pepper, fontina, eggs, unsalted butter, morel mushrooms and 2 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.

grated parmesan cheese, fresh spinach leaves, minced garlic, butter and 4 more
hoisin sauce, oil, pepper, water, salt, garlic cloves, hoisin sauce and 9 more
oyster mushrooms, coconut milk, diced onion, coconut oil, salt and 3 more
flaky sea salt, oyster mushrooms, rustic bread, kosher salt, ramps and 3 more
unsalted butter, lacinato kale, sourdough bread, chicken broth and 8 more
salt, heavy cream, red wine, pepper, olive oil, oyster mushrooms

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.

apple cider vinegar, oil, oil, apple cider vinegar, black pepper and 9 more
sesame oil, bean sprouts, scallions, sesame seeds, tamari, shiitake mushrooms and 4 more
fresh ginger, dried shiitake mushrooms, dark soy sauce, sugar and 1 more
Sriracha sauce, brown sugar, green onion, sesame oil, ginger and 9 more
spaghetti, fat free greek yogurt, garlic, red onion, eggs, grated cheese and 2 more
water, salt, fresh shiitake mushrooms, all purpose flour, white wine and 5 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.

extra virgin olive oil, ground black pepper, walnut pieces, fresh lemon juice and 5 more
hen of the woods, canola oil, chopped parsley, fresh lemon juice and 9 more
whole black peppercorns, avocado oil, chopped fresh chives, apple cider and 8 more
heavy cream, confit, freshly ground black pepper, mushrooms, extra-virgin olive oil and 9 more
chopped fresh chives, unsalted butter, kosher salt, cinnamon and 4 more
lemon juice, oil, salt, tahini, cumin, maitake mushroom, paprika and 7 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.

garlic, scallion, light soy sauce, oil, sugar, enoki mushrooms
soy sauce, sesame seeds, eggs, gochujang, sesame oil, fish sauce and 5 more
enoki mushroom, soy sauce, mirin
garlic, gochujang, coconut oil, onions, gochugaru, salt, maple syrup and 11 more
corn starch, oil, ground black pepper, oyster sauce, enokitake and 8 more
enoki mushrooms, bamboo shoots, roasted sesame seeds, taro root 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.

olive oil, sea salt, onion, freshly ground pepper, chanterelles and 5 more
garlic cloves, yellow onion, fresh basil, butter, black pepper and 7 more
ground black pepper, salt, ground black pepper, chanterelles and 8 more
flour, chanterelle mushrooms, chicken breast, garlic, sweet paprika and 8 more
chopped parsley, unsalted butter, freshly ground black pepper and 5 more
fresh lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, vegetable oil and 11 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.

large eggs, whole milk, dried porcini mushrooms, unsalted butter and 2 more
parmesan, unsalted butter, country bread, black pepper, fennel and 9 more
extra virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, small new potatoes and 7 more
sea salt, olive oil, dried porcini mushrooms, ground black pepper and 3 more
waxy potatoes, porcini mushrooms, Italian parsley, extra-virgin olive oil and 2 more
salt, soy sauce, onion, warm water, dried porcini mushrooms, salt and 5 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.

seasoned salt, mushrooms, ground chuck, mayonnaise, truffle oil and 10 more
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, shredded mozzarella cheese and 5 more
olive oil, dry white wine, unsalted butter, arborio rice, grated parmesan and 11 more
truffle salt, crimini mushrooms, dried thyme, garlic cloves, heavy whipping cream and 8 more
lemon juice, whole milk, spring onion, truffle
chicken wings, beef broth, olive oil, butter, carrots, pinot noir and 5 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.

spinach, garlic, oil, straw mushrooms, fish sauce
cornstarch, bamboo shoots, chicken breast, oyster sauce, white pepper and 15 more
fish sauce, cilantro leaves, kaffir lime leaves, straw mushrooms and 8 more
sugar, sesame oil, fish sauce, carrot, dried shiitake mushrooms and 11 more
snow peas, straw mushrooms, ginger, ginger, fish sauce, spring onions and 15 more
bamboo shoot, bean curd sticks, peeled fresh ginger, baby carrots 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!

puff pastry, ricotta, shallots, egg, butter, thyme, mixed mushrooms and 3 more
large egg yolk, wild mushrooms, Italian parsley leaves, frozen puff pastry and 13 more
mixed mushrooms, heavy cream, chicken cutlets, dry white wine and 1 more

Want to know more about mushrooms? Read Mushrooms 101