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.

kosher salt, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil and 5 more
crushed garlic, onion, salt, butter, Worcestershire sauce, sliced mushrooms and 1 more
cayenne pepper, nutmeg, white pepper, salt, Dijon mustard, all purpose flour and 4 more
butter, vegetable oil, celery stalks, salt, soy sauce, button mushrooms and 4 more
sesame seeds, garlic, pepper, soy sauce, cloves, spaghetti, salt and 8 more
brie cheese, white wine, flat leaf parsley, green onions, garlic 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.

breadcrumbs, unsalted butter, kosher salt, fresh parsley leaves and 6 more
farfalle pasta, fresh parsley, dried thyme, garlic cloves, baby portobello mushrooms and 8 more
cream of mushroom soup, white wine, butter, fresh parsley, chicken breasts and 2 more
dried parsley, onion powder, egg whites, cremini mushrooms, salt and 5 more
baby portobello mushrooms, salt, fresh thyme, bay leaf, white button mushrooms and 7 more
flax seed, dried parsley, large carrots, tomato paste, garlic cloves 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, sea salt, thyme, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, portobello mushroom and 2 more
fresh basil, olive oil, cherry tomatoes, portobello mushroom caps and 1 more
virgin olive oil, portobello mushrooms, plain dry breadcrumbs and 4 more
frozen corn kernels, low sodium vegetable broth, fine sea salt and 18 more
paprika, salted butter, hoagie buns, portabella mushrooms, medium onion and 13 more
garlic, juice, kosher salt, portobello mushrooms, avocado oil and 2 more


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.

fresh thyme, kosher salt, hazelnuts, fresh lemon juice, morels and 9 more
fresh fava beans, olive oil, crème fraiche, morels, eggs, garlic and 6 more
pepper, butter, marsala wine, frozen peas, shallot, tarragon and 7 more
kosher salt, asparagus, freshly ground pepper, dressing, olive oil and 1 more
morel mushrooms, heavy cream, extra-virgin olive oil, rigatoni and 5 more
Fontina, salt, eggs, ramps, unsalted butter, morel mushrooms and 1 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.

salt, fresh spinach leaves, breadcrumbs, minced garlic, fresh parsley leaves and 3 more
pepper, oyster mushrooms, garlic cloves, beans, water, salt, hoisin sauce and 9 more
toasted sesame seeds, king oyster mushrooms, sake, light soy sauce and 4 more
oyster mushrooms, flaky sea salt, rustic bread, freshly ground pepper and 4 more
fine sea salt, unsalted butter, celery stalks, red onion, dried thyme and 7 more
salt, olive oil, pepper, heavy cream, red wine, oyster mushrooms

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.

apple cider vinegar, oil, tamari, oil, maple syrup, maple syrup and 8 more
scallions, mirin, tamari, bean sprouts, sushi rice, maple syrup and 4 more
soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, fresh ginger, sugar, sherry vinegar
cornstarch, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, boiling water, oil and 8 more
garlic, chili flakes, grated cheese, dried shiitake mushrooms and 4 more
olive oil, pepper, mushroom stock, white wine, shallots, all purpose flour 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.

chopped fresh chives, extra virgin olive oil, maitake mushrooms and 6 more
thyme, maitake mushrooms, shallot, ear of corn, grated Parmesan cheese and 2 more
garlic, honey, crushed red pepper, sea salt, fresh parsley, onion and 6 more
fresh thyme leaves, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and 11 more
wild mushrooms, unsalted butter, chopped hazelnuts, kosher salt and 4 more
salt, paprika, maitake mushroom, pumpkin, garlic, onions, lemon juice 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.

scallion, light soy sauce, sugar, garlic, light soy sauce, sugar and 6 more
silken tofu, fish sauce, kimchi, green onion, mushrooms, kimchi and 5 more
soy sauce, enoki mushroom, mirin
chilli powder, maple syrup, brown sugar, mushrooms, salt, gochujang and 12 more
ground black pepper, butter, corn starch, enokitake, oyster sauce and 8 more
green onion, taro root, enoki mushrooms, roasted sesame seeds and 5 more


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.

cheese, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, onion, olive oil, unsalted butter and 4 more
arborio rice, broth, salt, cheddar cheese, fresh basil, grated Parmesan cheese and 6 more
chanterelles, salt, ground black pepper, ground black pepper and 8 more
heavy cream, mustard, dry white wine, salt, sweet paprika, chanterelle mushrooms and 7 more
freshly ground black pepper, chanterelles, lemon juice, bacon and 4 more
olive oil, pearl barley, garlic clove, shallots, Parmesan, mushrooms 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.

all purpose flour, dried porcini mushrooms, large eggs, unsalted butter and 2 more
fresh parsley, red wine, country bread, Parmesan, unsalted butter and 9 more
garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, dried porcini mushrooms and 7 more
sea salt, lamb loin chops, ground black pepper, olive oil, rosemary leaves and 2 more
Italian parsley, extra-virgin olive oil, waxy potatoes, salt and 2 more
salt, flour, onion, pepper, breadcrumbs, butter, soy sauce, warm water and 3 more

Truffles and Truffle Oil


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.

white onions, mayonnaise, kosher salt, mushrooms, butter, ground chuck and 9 more
olive oil, shredded mozzarella cheese, truffle oil, fresh flat leaf parsley and 4 more
pepper, grated Parmesan, soy sauce, onions, chicken broth, chopped parsley and 10 more
ground black pepper, crimini mushrooms, peanut oil, beef broth and 9 more
whole milk, spring onion, lemon juice, truffle
butter, pinot noir, olive oil, low salt chicken broth, shallots and 6 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.

spinach, oil, straw mushrooms, fish sauce, garlic
fresh galangal, straw mushrooms, chili paste in soybean oil, makrut lime leaves and 10 more
palm sugar, fish sauce, boneless skinless chicken breast, Thai chilies and 8 more
straw mushrooms, garlic, carrot, bok choy, chicken stock, firm tofu and 10 more
salt, snow peas, ground pork, straw mushrooms, ginger, diced tomatoes and 15 more
napa cabbage, granulated sugar, shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy 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!

gruyère, thyme, garlic clove, mixed mushrooms, egg, lemon, ricotta and 3 more
fresh lemon juice, fresh thyme leaves, whole milk ricotta cheese and 14 more
mixed mushrooms, dry white wine, finely chopped fresh parsley and 2 more

Want to know more about mushrooms? Read Mushrooms 101