How to Cook with Mushrooms

Five Methods:Making Basic Dishes with MushroomsMaking Mushroom a Basic Mushroom SauceMaking a Basic Mushroom SoupUsing Dried MushroomsFinding Mushrooms

Edible mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes and there is a great deal you can do with them in cooking, from simple dishes using just mushrooms to using them in a range of sauces and meals. Mushrooms are filled with nutrients, including vitamin B and minerals such as selenium, copper and potassium, making them a nutritious addition to your diet.[1] This article addresses how to find mushrooms and make nutritious and wonderful dishes with them.

Method 1
Making Basic Dishes with Mushrooms

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    Prepare the mushrooms for cooking. You want mushrooms to be clean and dry when they are cooked.[2]
    • Avoid washing mushrooms. You should never soak them.
    • Mushrooms will absorb water if they are soaked and won't brown during cooking. This will also diminish their subtle flavor.
    • Wipe each mushroom with a damp cloth or with kitchen paper towel and only do this as need to remove dirt and debris.
    • You can also use a special mushroom brush.
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    Cook the mushrooms as they are. Mushrooms have a distinctive flavor of their own that can be brought out with simple additions such as butter or olive oil. Mushrooms contain a lot of water, so they'll shrink considerably during cooking. Also be aware that they soak up fat readily, so always use quality butter or oil for cooking.[3]
    • Roast mushrooms to bring out their natural sweetness. Coat them in oil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees until well browned.
    • Bread mushrooms as you would chicken and fry them in hot oil. Make sure you use a high quality oil suitable for frying.
    • Stir fry sliced mushrooms with soy sauce and oil for a simple dish.
    • Grill mushrooms in the summertime. Simply place the mushrooms directly on the grill pan and cook until browned. Experiment with marinades for extra flavor.
    • Sauté them in a pan. This is one of the most common methods. Start with plenty of hot oil or butter and sauté until browned.
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    Cook mushrooms with eggs.

    Eggs and mushrooms go well together in very simple and easy dishes. [4]
    • You can spice up scrambled eggs by adding mushrooms and garlic.
    • Mushrooms make an excellent addition to any omelette.
    • Add mushrooms to frittatas and quiches for an earthy flavor.
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    Stuff mushrooms for a quick appetizer. These are featured at many restaurants and parties. [5]
    • First, clean out the gills of the mushroom. You don't want these in stuffed mushrooms because you need room to put the stuffing.
    • You can make a quick and easy stuffing from breadcrumbs, egg, sauteed onion, spices and cheese.
    • Put stuffing into the mushroom until there is a small mound above the mushroom cap.
    • Bake these in a 400 degree oven until the mushrooms are browned and the stuffing is golden.
    • Experiment with different types of stuffings and fillers. This can be creative and fun!
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    Add mushrooms to common dishes. When added to existing recipes, mushrooms can add depth of flavor and complexity.
    • Make pasta sauces with mushrooms. Mushrooms make an excellent addition to pasta sauces. You can even add them to alfredo sauce.
    • Mushrooms make great stuffings for raviolis and tarts.
    • You can add mushrooms as fillings in sandwiches, paninis, tortillas, and other lunch staples for a substantial flavor and bulk. You can even make a portobello mushroom sandwich.
    • Put mushrooms on pizza as a topping.
    • Add mushrooms to meat dishes for extra flavor. They go especially well with beef or chicken. They are common toppings for steak and roasts.

Method 2
Making Mushroom a Basic Mushroom Sauce

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    Gather ingredients. It will make it easier to make your sauce quickly if you have everything on hand. You will need the following: [6]
    • Butter
    • 8oz sliced mushrooms
    • 1 finely diced shallot
    • 3/4 cup beef stock
    • Fresh herbs
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    Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Do this in a large skillet big enough that the mushrooms can be spread out in a single layer. [7]
    • Don't do this on too high a heat or the butter will start to brown.
    • Keep an eye on the melting butter, making sure it coats the bottom of the pan.
    • When the butter stops foaming it is hot enough to add other ingredients.
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    Add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms and a finely diced shallot to the pan. Make sure the mushrooms aren't too crowded in the pan. [8]
    • Sauté the mushrooms until they are golden and soft.
    • Take care not to burn the shallots. Their flavor is very delicate.
    • Turn the heat to medium/high.
    • Add 3/4 cup of beef stock and simmer rapidly for 5 minutes. This make your sauce thicken.
    • Simmer at medium to low heat.
    • Stir the sauce occasionally to keep bits from sticking to the pan.
    • Watch it carefully to see that it doesn't boil over.
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    Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and fresh herbs to your preference. [9]
    • You can add thyme or tarragon as a nice complementary seasoning to your mushrooms. Chives or basil are also good choices.
    • Stir thoroughly so that the butter and herbs are well mixed into your sauce.
    • Spoon the sauce over your dish while it is still hot. It will go well with chicken, beef, or even pasta dishes.

Method 3
Making a Basic Mushroom Soup

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    Obtain all ingredients. You will need to have everything accessible so you can make the soup quickly. You will need the following: [10]
    • 1/4 cup of onion, chopped.
    • Butter
    • 3 cups of chopped mushrooms
    • 6 tablespoons of flour
    • 2 cans chicken broth
    • Salt and pepper
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    Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. It will need to be large enough to accommodate 3 cups of mushrooms plus broth. [11]
    • Don't heat the butter on very high heat or it will brown quickly.
    • Try a medium/high heat, making sure the butter coats the bottom of the pan as it melts.
    • When the butter ceases to foam, it is hot enough to add ingredients.
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    Add the onion. You will now brown the onion in the butter. [12]
    • Stir the onions frequently so they cook evenly.
    • Sauté them until they become translucent and slightly browned.
    • Turn down the heat to medium.
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    Add the chopped mushrooms to the sauteed onions. They will cook over the next several minutes. [13]
    • Cook the mushrooms until they are golden and tender.
    • Avoid overcooking the mushrooms or they will end up having a rubbery texture.
    • If you want, you can add a little bit of garlic at this stage.
    • When mushrooms are done cooking, you will then proceed to making the rest of the soup.
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    Combine the flour and chicken broth. Add this mixture to the mushrooms.[14]
    • Bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally so that the mushrooms don't stick to the pan.
    • Cook for two minutes. By this time the mixture will thicken.
    • If your soup isn't thickened by the end of the two minutes, try cooking it a few minutes longer.
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    Add the half and half, and a dash of salt and pepper. This is the final stage of cooking. [15]
    • Reduce the heat to low.
    • Simmer the soup for 15 minutes.
    • Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
    • Serve warm.

Method 4
Using Dried Mushrooms

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    Purchase dried mushrooms. You can find these at most grocery stores. They used to be more expensive but they are going down in price. An advantage of using these is you only need a very small amount to pack in a lot of flavor to a mushroom dish. [16]
    • These generally come in two varieties: Asian mushrooms (such as shiitake and wood ear) and Euro-American (morels, porcini, trumpet etc.).
    • These will last a year if kept in a tight, dry container.
    • Dried mushrooms are often used with cheaper fresh mushrooms to boost flavor.
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    Rehydrate the mushrooms. You will need to do this to use them. [17]
    • There are advantages to this. The mushrooms themselves will rehydrate quickly by soaking in water and the soaking liquid has lots of flavor and can be used in many different recipes.
    • Before you start doing anything else in a recipe that calls for using dried mushrooms, start rehydrating them.
    • Use room temperature water. Cover the mushrooms generously.
    • Thinly sliced mushrooms should only need to soak for about 1/2 an hour.
    • Whole cap or thickly sliced mushrooms might need to soak 8 hours or more.
    • After soaking them, rinse the mushrooms to remove any grit. One of the pitfalls of using dried mushrooms is many varieties have an unpleasant grit to them. Rinsing them after soaking will help to remove this grit.
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    Save the soaking liquid. This is full of flavor and a wonderful addition to recipes which call for stock. [18]
    • If you don't want to use this right away, put it in a container and refrigerate it. It will keep for several days.
    • You can also freeze it for longer periods if necessary.
    • The remaining liquid will have lots of the grit from the mushrooms in it.
    • You will need to strain it before using it to avoid the grit getting into your dish.

Method 5
Finding Mushrooms

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    Know your mushroom species. You will need a very good knowledge of which mushrooms are safe to eat, what they look like, and where they grow. [19]
    • Some popular varieties of wild mushrooms include morels, oysters, and lion's mane.
    • Be careful. Some species of poisonous mushroom can look very similar or just like some popular varieties of edible mushrooms
    • For example, the green spored lepiota mushroom is very toxic but resembles the white button mushrooms you can find in the grocery store.
    • Only eat a mushroom if you have a 100% positive id.
    • Even after identifying the mushroom's safety, only try a little to begin with to ensure that you don't react to it badly.
    • Use multiple field guides to identify a mushroom. If you aren't sure of an ID, ask an expert before you cook it.
    • When in doubt, throw the mushroom away.
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    Search for mushrooms in local wooded areas. This activity is not for the casual forager. Poisonous mushrooms are highly toxic and can cause severe illness and death. [20]
    • Some mushrooms grow on fallen trees or roots, and others grow in the ground.
    • It is a good idea to carry a mushroom guide with you to help you identify areas where mushrooms will grow and what species they are.
    • Mushrooms have different seasons. The mushroom season is between late spring and early fall in most areas of North America.
    • The best time to look for mushrooms is after a rainy period. Mushrooms need a lot of moisture to grow.
    • If you're mushroom hunting somewhere new to you, ask locals for advice. Deadly twins exist, where a mushroom that is safe in one place may be poisonous in another even though they look the same.
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    Gather some mushrooms. Make sure you keep each variety of mushrooms separate. If you accidentally pick a toxic mushroom, it could contaminate the rest. [21]
    • Grab a flat bottomed basket. You can also use a flat bottomed cloth bag reinforced with a piece of cardboard.
    • Avoid using grocery bags. These will allow too much moisture to build up and might diminish the taste and quality of your mushrooms.
    • Plastic grocery bags also don't offer enough protection. If you carry your mushrooms in these they might get bruised or ruined if you bump into anything.
    • Use a pocket knife to cut the mushroom at the base.
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    Check for freshness. You do not want any blemished or old specimens.[22]
    • Mushrooms are fresh if their caps are clean, bright, and have no blemishes or bruises.
    • The gills should be pale pink or not too dark.
    • If you doubt the freshness or integrity of a mushroom, don't pick it.
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    Buy mushrooms at the grocery store. If you don't want to go to the trouble or foraging for mushrooms or don't have the necessary knowledge to do so, mushrooms can be bought at the grocery store relatively inexpensively. [23]
    • Most chain grocery stores will at least carry white button mushrooms and portobellos.
    • Specialty stores will have rare and more expensive varieties of mushroom such as morels, chanterelles, truffles, and maitake.
    • Many stores are now selling rarer or imported mushrooms in dried form. These are often more inexpensive than fresh mushrooms and can be rehydrated for cooking.


  • Avoid slimy or spotted mushrooms.
  • Never soak mushrooms or they will soak up too much water.
  • Mushrooms need to breathe so they shouldn't be stored in plastic. Plastic will also build condensation which will soak into the mushrooms.
  • Store mushrooms in the refrigerator for 1-2 days in a paper bag.
  • Don't overcook mushrooms. They will end up with a rubbery texture.


  • Don't eat mushrooms you find in wild unless you're certain of what they are. It is very dangerous because there is a chance what you are picking is poisonous!
  • Consult a mushrooming expert if you want to get a 100% confident ID on a wild mushroom.
  • Be conscious of any wildlife ordinances that prohibit mushroom picking or you could get a fine.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Mushrooms