Mushrooms are a quirky food. They’re neither vegetable nor meat. Technically, they’re the fruit of fungus plants. There are over 14,000 types of mushrooms, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some mushrooms are expensive delicacies, while others will just pop up uninvited in your lawn.
Edible mushrooms are full of umami flavor, which makes them hearty and satisfying. This natural savory taste is one of the reasons they are often used as a meat substitute. Mushrooms can add rich flavor and texture to everything from a bowl of ramen to a slice of pizza. These are some of our favorite types of mushrooms to cook with.
What you’re about to read may shock you: button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms are actually all the same type of mushroom. The main difference between tiny mild button mushrooms and big flavorful portobello mushrooms is actually just maturity. Button mushrooms are harvested while they’re very young. These mushrooms have a mild flavor and soft texture that make them suitable for eating raw. Slice them up and throw them in salads, or sauté them and use them to top off a classic steakhouse burger.
These small dark brown mushrooms are sometimes marketed as ‘baby bellas’ or ‘baby portobello’ mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms have matured enough to develop a rich flavor. They’re delicious sautéed. Cremini mushrooms are younger, smaller, and slightly milder than portobello mushrooms.
These big ol’ mushrooms are one of the most popular types of mushrooms to use as a meat substitute. They’re hearty and satisfying. Their large size makes them durable, which means that they’ll fare extremely well in a hot pan or on the grill. You’ll often see them taking the place of a beef patty in a burger.
Also known as “hen of the woods”, these flowery mushrooms are less common in supermarkets than button or cremini. Try searing them in a hot pan to crisp up the outside and serving them as a side dish. The word “maitake” means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, apparently because foragers used to be so happy to find a maitake that they’d dance for joy!
Shiitake mushroom originated in Asia. You’ll find them in both fresh and dried form. Like many mushrooms, they have a meaty taste. Shiitake mushrooms also have a low water content that gives them a chewy texture. This makes them excellent for adding a bit of texture to dishes like this Artichoke-Shiitake Risotto.
Oyster mushrooms are some of our favorite types of mushrooms. These fungi have a delicate texture and lovely savory flavor. Their natural richness makes them easy to prepare: they don’t need a lot to be delicious! Try incorporating them into a simple sauté and serving alongside your favorite protein.
King Oyster Mushroom
King oyster mushrooms, also known as king trumpet mushrooms, are the largest in the grouping of oyster mushrooms. Served raw, they’re extremely mild. Their rich, earthy flavor becomes apparent when they’re browned to a crisp, like in our recipe for tomato-mushroom toast. Try these thick slices of golden toast with herbed mayo and juicy tomatoes, for a truly one-of-a-kind meal.
Enoki mushrooms have a pleasantly crunchy texture that comes from their long stems. These mild mushrooms are common in Asian cuisine, and can be found raw, cooked in soups, or sauteed.
Porcini mushrooms are light brown mushrooms with a pleasant savory, nutty flavor. Porcini mushrooms are common in Italian cuisine. We love them in rich pastas and risottos.