The 10 Best Culinary Mushrooms

Bowl of shiitake mushrooms held by human hands
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Written by Em Casalena

Updated: June 12, 2023

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Many of the 14,000 or so types of mushrooms that exist in the world make for absolutely fantastic additions to soups, salads, sauces, casseroles, and plant-based burgers. Additionally, mushrooms contain a ton of nutrients. They are the only veggie sources of vitamin D. Additionally, they contain considerable levels of selenium, vitamins A, C, B6, and B12, and are low in fat and carbs.

It’s clear why mushrooms are so popular in cuisine. They’re nutritious and simply delicious. But which mushrooms are the best for cooking? With so many species out there, it can be difficult to pick a mushroom that would be ideal for your specific recipe. In this article, we’ll break down 10 of the best culinary mushrooms out there that would be perfect for cooking virtually any meal that calls for mushrooms.

1. White Button Mushrooms

The white button mushroom is classified as agaricus bisporus. White button mushrooms are by far the most popular option among Americans. Its flavor isn’t very distinctive or stand out, though. So why is it so well-liked? This group’s adaptability is perhaps what accounts for its significant appeal in cuisine. While the flavor may not be robust, due to its mildness, it may be used in any recipe.

Think of white button mushrooms like tofu. There aren’t a lot of flavors there, but when cooked with spices and other ingredients, white buttons will absorb a ton of flavor and offer some nice texture.

You’ll get something fantastic whether you use it raw as a pizza or salad topping or cooked with whatever spice you can think of. White button mushrooms are a good choice for your next dinner if you’re seeking a non-fussy component that will nevertheless finish your dish.

White button mushrooms (pictured) are the most commonly-used mushrooms in cuisine.

©Stephen Gibson/Shutterstock.com

2. King Trumpet Mushrooms

The king trumpet mushroom is classified as pleurotus eryngii. King trumpet mushrooms are a hearty choice for cooking that may be either raw or cooked. They are also commonly referred to as king oyster mushrooms. King trumpet mushrooms are the biggest of the oyster mushroom genus and normally grow in colder regions of the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa.

King trumpet mushrooms have a flavor that is a combination of portobello and maitake. The meaty feel is similar to seafood like calamari when it is cooked. Since trumpet mushrooms are just as flavorful as porcini but less costly, they are considered a budget-friendly alternative to use in dishes. These mushrooms can withstand high heat better because they are denser than other mushroom species. They work well in a variety of dishes, such as salads, stir-fries, and soups. If you live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you can even remove and shred these mushrooms; it makes a terrific meat alternative.

basket of black trumpet mushrooms

King trumpet mushrooms (pictured) are popular mushrooms for culinary uses due to their health attributes.

©Lorenzo Martinelli/Shutterstock.com

3. Cremini Mushrooms

The cremini mushroom is classified as agaricus bisporus. It’s worth noting that cremini mushrooms and white button mushrooms are the same types of mushrooms, but they are worth differentiating because they are at very different growth stages. The white button mushroom is a young and mostly white mushroom. The cremini mushroom is also in a young stage, but is further along than the white mushroom and is browner in appearance, but still quite small. They are used in place of white mushrooms in recipes that call for small mushrooms, but they have a bit more flavor than white button mushrooms.

Cremini mushrooms have a meatier texture than white mushrooms, which makes them perfect for soups and stews where they will withstand liquids better. Because they have a deeper, more favored taste than their white cousins, these brown types are frequently more costly. Despite having a stronger flavor than white versions, this option is still very moderate. You are welcome to use them in sauces and meat recipes, among other things.

Brown cremini mushrooms growing out of soil

Cremini mushrooms (pictured) are the same as white button mushrooms but are older, browner, and more flavorful.

©Wild As Light/Shutterstock.com

4. Maitake Mushrooms

The maitake mushroom is classified as grifola frondosa. An edible mushroom that grows near tree bases is the maitake. The Japanese term for these mushrooms, which are light brown and grow in feathery clusters, is “dancing mushrooms.”

It is recommended to sauté maitake mushrooms since they have a distinctly earthy, peppery taste. These mushrooms taste wonderful on top of pizza, in stir-fries, and in any ramen bowl. Maitake mushrooms are also linked to a number of health advantages. Cancer and other illnesses can be prevented and treated using maitake mushrooms. They can boost your immune system as a whole since they are also rich in antioxidants.

Maitake mushroom growing in nature

Maitake mushrooms (pictured) are a popular mushroom used in Japanese cuisine.

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5. Portabello Mushrooms

The portobello mushroom is classified as agaricus bisporus. Like the white button mushroom and cremini mushroom, portobello mushrooms are actually the same species but at a different stages of growth. Portobello mushrooms are brown like the cremini mushroom, but they are significantly larger and more mature in growth than the white button mushroom and cremini mushroom. Portobello mushrooms are distinctive in that they pack a bit more flavor than their younger stages. They are also much larger and thus can be used for very different recipes (such as portobello burgers or stuffed mushrooms) that white button mushrooms and cremini mushrooms would not be called for because they are too small.

With portobellos, you have a reliable option whether you need to exclude meat or even bread. The size of your hand’s palm is roughly how big portobello mushrooms are. But more than simply size makes it unique. Additionally, this mushroom has a mouthwatering flavor that makes you desire more.

Portobellos may be the centerpiece of the dish because they have so much to offer. You may grill them or stuff them with delectable foods like cheese or ground meat. Given the extra space in their big caps, these mushrooms are special when compared to other culinary mushrooms in that they can be filled with ingredients. These mushrooms are very well-liked in Italy, where they are grilled and served on their own or in sauces.

A close-up image of portabello mushroom caps

Portabello mushrooms (pictured) are the same species as white button and cremini mushrooms but are much larger and more flavorful.

©ChoKee/Shutterstock.com

6. Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms are classified as any mushroom under the morchella genus of fungi, though morchella esculenta are the most commonly-used species for cooking. Since morel mushrooms can only be found in the wild, chefs prize them as a rare and valuable ingredient. These mushrooms may be identified by their exterior, which has a honeycomb-like pattern. These mushrooms smell earthy and have a powerful, nutty taste. In contrast to other mushroom types, which have a slimy feel, they have a more meaty texture. If you’re searching for a vegetarian alternative to meat, they offer a terrific choice.

The best method to prepare morels is to always cook them fully. They go great with pasta and cream sauces, among many other recipes. Morel mushrooms are incredibly difficult to produce, despite efforts to cultivate them. They are a challenging fungus to find since they have to be foraged from the areas where they naturally grow.

As there are other species that resemble true morels but are toxic, you should also be careful of false morels. Keeping this in mind, you should always go foraging for morel mushrooms with a knowledgeable guide.

The common morel mushroom growing in nature

Morel mushrooms (pictured) are excellent culinary mushrooms that are high in antioxidants and immunostimulatory properties.

©Tomasz Czadowski/Shutterstock.com

7. Shiitake Mushrooms

The shiitake mushroom is classified as lentinula edodes. Shiitake mushrooms are a kind of native East Asian mushroom. They taste and feel like meat, so they go nicely in dishes like stir-fries, soups, and stews.

Shiitake mushrooms may be recognized by their brown, umbrella-shaped crowns that slightly curve under. Their flavor is rather subdued when it is fresh. The taste is concentrated by drying them, bringing out rich, earthy undertones.

Shiitake mushrooms (pictured) are considered the second most common culinary mushroom in the world.

©puttography/Shutterstock.com

8. Enoki Mushrooms

The enoki mushroom is classified as flammulina velutipes. The long-stemmed enoki mushroom is a common ingredient in Asian cuisine. These delectable strings-shaped mushrooms may be easily found in Asian shops and non-specialty grocery stores.

This mushroom, which is sometimes offered in clusters, has a delectable crunch from the thin threads and a delicate, savory flavor. These mushrooms are an excellent complement to a variety of dishes! You may sauté them, add them to savory pancakes and noodle meals, or add them raw to ramen for a satisfying crunch.

Unlike other culinary mushrooms that are used for their caps, enoki mushrooms (pictured) are used for their crunchy, noodle-like stems in recipes.

©Tamakhin Mykhailo/Shutterstock.com

9. Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are classified as any mushroom in the pleurotus genus of fungi, though the species pleurotus ostreatus are the most commonly-used oyster mushroom in cuisine.

They usually have broad, thin, oyster-or-fan-shaped caps, which is how these mushrooms got their name. Some individuals have compared the flavor to shellfish since it is delicate and delicious.

Oyster mushrooms are common in Chinese and Japanese cuisine and are excellent in stir-fries and soups. Oyster mushrooms may be eaten raw, and they lend a wonderful visual element to salads, but their uncooked flavor has a tendency to be slightly metallic. Consequently, the ideal preparation for these mushrooms is sautéed, roasted, stir-fried, or grilled.

oyster mushroom in wild

Oyster mushrooms (pictured) are used both raw and cooked in dishes.

©NK-55/Shutterstock.com

10. Porcini Mushrooms

The porcini mushroom is classified as boletus edulis. Although they’re a favorite option across the world, porcini mushrooms are among the most treasured wild mushrooms in Italian and French cuisine.

These delectable mushrooms are prized for their silky texture, fragrant, woodsy flavor, and sturdy stem. They are regarded as a very well-liked gourmet mushrooms because of their robust and somewhat creamy nutty flavor. Porcini mushrooms are fantastic in pasta and rice dishes like risotto, and you won’t be able to get enough of them. Although they can be purchased dry or fresh, porcini mushrooms are most frequently found in cans. You must first rehydrate dried porcini by soaking them in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes before using them in recipes.

basket of porcini mushrooms

While porcini mushrooms (pictured) make great culinary mushrooms, they must be used quickly as they are very perishable after harvesting.

©All for you friend/Shutterstock.com

Summary of the 10 Best Culinary Mushrooms

The mushrooms in this list are used by cooks all over the world but are mostly known for their use in the following cuisines

#MushroomCuisine
1White Button MushroomsAmerican
2King Trumpet MushroomsMiddle Eastern, European, and North African
3Cremini MushroomsAmerican
4Maitake MushroomsJapanese
5Portabello MushroomsItalian
6Morel MushroomsInternational
7Shiitake MushroomsAsian
8Enoki MushroomsAsian
9Oyster MushroomsChinese and Japanese
10Porcini MushroomsItalian and French


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About the Author

Em Casalena is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on plants, gardening, and sustainability. Em has been writing and researching about plants for nearly a decade and is a proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor. Em is a resident of Arizona and enjoys learning about eco-conscious living, thrifting at local shops, and caring for their Siamese cat Vladimir.

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