Chanterelle Mushrooms: A Complete Guide

Written by Em Casalena
Published: December 20, 2022
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Chanterelle mushrooms may not be the most common cooking mushroom that you’ll find at the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean that these beautiful and meaty fungi aren’t absolutely delicious and safe to eat. In fact, foraging and harvesting chanterelle mushrooms are enjoyable and simple! Finding them in the wild is a true pleasure and they are tons of fun to cook and eat.

In this in-depth guide, you will learn all about how to recognize chanterelle mushrooms, where to get them, and many cooking techniques with this unique edible wild fungus. Let’s go mushroom hunting for chanterelles!

Information About Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelle Mushrooms
ClassificationCantharellus genus
DescriptionA species of small or medium-sized meaty mushroom with a convex, wavy cap and thick stem that is usually a vibrant yellow-orange hue.
How to GrowGrow spores in soil with excellent drainage and low pH. Grow outdoors during rainy seasons or in areas with a lot of coastal fog.
How to ForageLook around pine and oak trees, usually in the ground at the base of tree trunks. Always cut these mushrooms at the base instead of pulling them.
Key Identifying FeaturesThese mushrooms have an orange fan-like cap with usually white stems. Be sure to familiarize yourself with similar poisonous mushrooms to avoid foraging the wrong species.

Chanterelle Mushrooms: Classification

Chanterelle mushrooms belong to the cantharellus genus of fungi. Most of the species within this genus are collectively referred to as chanterelle mushrooms. Mushrooms in this genus form a symbiotic relationship with plants, notably trees. Some species of chanterelle mushrooms include the orange chanterelle, the ghost chanterelle, the red chanterelle, and many more. 

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Foraged chantarelle mushrooms held in hands

Chantarelle mushrooms (pictured) are usually yellowish-gold in appearance, making them easy to spot when foraging.

©Mathew Shawn Turner/

Chanterelle Mushrooms: Key Identifying Features and Appearance

Chanterelle mushrooms are a genus of edible mushrooms that are often referred to as the most common wild edible mushroom in the United States. Their wide color spectrum, which ranges from yellow to deep orange to red, makes them simple to identify in the summertime when visibility in woodland areas is best. The diameter of the caps can reach five inches, but two inches is more typical. Contrary to the circular, symmetrical caps of several other mushrooms, the caps are often convex, wavy, and commonly funnel-shaped.

The chanterelle mushroom’s fake gills are its most recognizable feature in addition to its beautiful color. Some mushrooms have genuine gills that are not forked, are thinner, have sharper edges, and are simple to remove from the cap. Instead, false gills have the same color as the rest of the mushroom and look more like forked, wavy wrinkles with blunt edges that run from the cap down the length of the stem. Their delicious, apricot-like scent is another distinguishing feature.

It is exceedingly difficult to grow chanterelles since they are mycorrhizal edible fungi, which create symbiotic relationships with plants. When recognizing chanterelles for food, caution must be exercised. Lookalikes, like the jack-o-lantern mushroom, can seriously harm a person.

Chanterelle Mushrooms: Where They Grow

In combination with mycorrhizal host plants, chanterelle mushroom species are found all over the world, including in Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia.

The white chanterelle, which resembles the yellow variety except for its off-white tint, is the most prevalent in California and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Although less common and more delicate than the yellow chanterelle, they can be considered to be close relatives.

Recent research has established the Pacific golden chanterelle as a distinct species from the yellow chanterelle. In the Pacific Northwest, it creates a mycorrhizal connection with sitka spruce and douglas fir forests. Due to its high economic importance and widespread distribution, this chanterelle has been named Oregon’s official state mushroom.

Depending on the species, chanterelles are either connected to conifers or hardwood trees. They are frequently seen in California, Texas, and Mexico with oak trees. Chanterelles thrive in silver birch and Scots pine mixed woodlands in Scotland, especially where there is an abundance of damp, mossy undergrowth.

Generally speaking, but not always, wild blueberries and chanterelles can be found together. They are also often connected to sweet chestnut trees in Spain. From late July through the fall, a stroll in the woods after a shower should be profitable. They are typically located next to Western hemlock trees in moist, mossy riparian areas in the coastal forests of Washington and British Columbia.

Black trumpet mushrooms in rissoto

Black trumpet chanterelle mushrooms (pictured) are particularly popular for cooking risotto.

©Lyudmila Mikhailovskaya/

Chanterelle Mushrooms: How They Are Used

The major application for chanterelle mushrooms is in food. In general, chanterelles pair nicely with eggs, chicken, pig, and veal. They can also be added to pizzas, stewed, marinated, fried in butter, or used as a stuffing for pancakes. Chanterelles are frequently eaten with venison in European cuisine. These mushrooms are often prepared by sautéing them and then adding them to scrambled eggs. Chicken is often topped with creamy sauces made from chanterelles in Poland. These are obviously only a few examples; chanterelles are a flexible component that may be used in a variety of meals.

Dry sautéing these mushrooms is a wonderful method of preparation since they retain a lot of water. The mushrooms are cleaned, then cut into slices, and placed in a skillet over medium heat. They are taken out of the heat and frozen in their own water after being submerged in the water they emitted. As an alternative, the water might be thrown away or utilized in sauces.

Additionally, chanterelles can be brine-pickled. The liquid that is left behind makes a fantastic soup stock. Chanterelles can keep for six to twelve months after being pickled in this manner. Just as well, chanterelles can be air-dried and kept in a container without a lid.

Chanterelle Mushrooms: Where They Are Purchased

If you’re lucky, you might find fresh chanterelles in your local grocery store. However, they are not as common as their cousins, the button mushroom or portobello mushroom. At specialty stores or Asian grocery markets, you’ll be more likely to find pickled or dehydrated chanterelle mushrooms.

The Chanterelle Mushroom Life Cycle and Behavior

The majority of the time, chanterelle fungus exists as a network of mycelium-like fungi in the soil, symbiotically growing alongside tree roots. When the mycelium is ready to multiply, it grows mushrooms, which release spores, which then help other places build new mycelia. Chanterelles start to bear fruit in May and keep doing so until October. Early fall is a good time to look since there is less dense vegetation and bug problems, and the leaves haven’t yet covered them up.

Animals of many sizes, including mammals, consume chanterelles. In mutually beneficial or symbiotic interactions with tree roots, the fungus that produces mushrooms helps the roots absorb water and nutrients while the trees feed the fungus.

Chanterelle Mushroom Lookalikes

Because of their yellow-orange color, chanterelles are often quite simple to detect. However, in the fall the vibrant leaves on the ground might make it more challenging. They can fluctuate in hue from being virtually white to being rich yellow or even orange. A chanterelle’s crown is initially flat and gradually conical in form. With time, the edges grow wavy or lobed. Solid, continuous with the cap, smooth, and lighter in color at the base, the stem is also solid. The firm flesh has an apricot or fresh pumpkin flavor to it. When opened up, the inside is white. True gills are absent from chanterelles, which instead have ridges that branch and extend down the stem. In between the ridges, especially on bigger mushroom specimens, there are frequently connecting veins.

Even though these mushrooms are simple to recognize, there are several lookalikes that you should be aware of. The first resemblance is the very poisonous jack-o-lantern mushroom, or omphalotus illudens, which can result in serious stomach trouble. It has real gills with very little forking and is an orange tint similar to chanterelles. On rotting wood, Jack-o-lanterns grow in clumps in a manner akin to oyster mushrooms. Finally, unlike chanterelles, which have an orange inside when sliced open.

The false chanterelle, also known as hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, is another fungus that resembles chanterelles. They have low toxicity, but some people may experience digestive problems. False chanterelles have an orange body and a brownish-orange crown. The cap’s edge often curves downward. True gills, which are narrow and closely spaced, are present. They do fork in a similar manner to chanterelles, though.

Human hand cutting mushrooms with sheers

Chanterelle mushrooms (pictured) are the most common type of wild mushroom to forage in the United States.

©Grusho Anna/

How to Forage for Chanterelle Mushrooms

Finding a patch of chanterelle mushrooms is always thrilling, and if you know what to look for, they are among the simplest mushrooms to recognize.

The cantharellus genus contains numerous species of chanterelle mushrooms, the most popular of which is the cantharellus cibarius, popularly known as the girolle. Black trumpet mushrooms and yellowfoot chanterelles are two other closely related species.

Depending on your location, chanterelles can be found from July through October. Eastern North America and New England are among the most humid, summer-rainy places where they might be found. In areas with dry summers, like western North America, they often don’t appear until the end of the rainy season in September or October.

Chanterelles are a kind of wild fungus with close mycorrhizal ties to trees. Near hardwood trees like beech, oak, maple, birch, and poplar are where you’ll typically find them. They can also be found next to conifers like hemlock or pine. Chanterelles frequently appear after heavy rains and enjoy old-growth woods with damp forest bottoms. Another fantastic spot to look for them is in moist, mossy woodland clearings. Keep seeking since there probably are more chanterelles around if you discover one.

How to Grow Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelles are notoriously difficult to grow, as they have a symbiotic relationship with other plants that can be difficult to replicate. However, growing chanterelles at home is far from impossible.

You need trees where you want chanterelles to grow in order to cultivate them in your backyard or anywhere else. They are a mycorrhizal kind of fungus, which means they must reside in tree roots in order to survive. For the greatest results, use douglas fir, oak, beech, birch, or spruce trees. Although less desirable, maple or poplar can also be used.

Chanterelle mushrooms thrive in soils that drain well, have little nitrogen content, and have a pH of four to five. You can add limestone to your soil if the pH is too low. You may add aluminum sulfate to make it more acidic if it’s too high. Achieving the ideal pH level is essential for chanterelle mushroom development.

You must first rake or till the soil to make it nice and loose before you can begin growing your chanterelles. Compared to other varieties of mushrooms, chanterelles don’t generate as many spores. Typically, breaking up a few old chanterelle mushrooms and scattering them around the area is the easiest approach to get them in the ground.

After sowing chanterelle fragments, it could take several years before any mushrooms start to develop. Try your best not to disrupt the surroundings while you wait, and be patient.

Chanterelle mushrooms are a ton of fun to forage for, and they can be somewhat easy to find, depending on where you live. Just be mindful of potential lookalikes and you’ll be able to harvest some seriously tasty chanterelles!

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © K Quinn Ferris/

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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.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are chanterelle mushrooms healthy?

Chanterelle mushrooms are rich in vitamins B and D, as well as fiber and antioxidants.

Are there any poisonous mushrooms that look like chanterelle mushrooms?

The jack-o-lantern mushroom is orange in color like the chanterelle mushroom, but they do have very different shapes.

Are there differences between false chanterelles and true chanterelles?

False chanterelles tend to have forked gills that are orange in color and grow deeper than true chanterelles. True chanterelles have forked ridges and not actual gills.

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