Mushrooms are an absolute staple if you like to cook at home, and while most people are familiar with cremini and button mushrooms, there are plenty of other common types of mushrooms that make delicious and exciting food.
One of the best things about cooking with mushrooms is their versatility. They’re excellent in pasta, stir-fries, soups, and so much more.
They can be used as a way to add flavor to an existing dish, or they can be seasoned and turned into the main course.
If you’ve been feeling a little intimidated about cooking with mushrooms and are interested in learning about them, you’ve come to the right place.
Types of Mushrooms
This list will provide some basic information on thirteen of the most common types of mushrooms in the hopes that you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with these delicious fungi and feel more empowered to use them in your cooking!
Shiitake mushrooms are small but mighty mushrooms that absolutely pack a punch in terms of flavor.
These mushrooms are relatively small with dark brown spongy caps, long white stems, and thin gills.
While some people find the texture unappealing, shiitake mushrooms make an excellent addition to virtually any dish if they’re cooked correctly.
Globally, shiitake mushrooms are the second-most popular mushroom that people consume, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find them at pretty much any grocery store.
These mushrooms are sold both fresh and dried, so if you can’t find them in the produce section, look in the dried goods section.
Known for offering many health benefits and being an excellent source of dietary fiber, shiitakes add a rich umami flavor and can be served on everything from pizza to ramen.
If you were only familiar with one type of mushroom on this list, there’s a high likelihood that it was cremini mushrooms, also spelled crimini.
But did you know that cremini mushrooms are actually the same exact type of mushroom as white button mushrooms and portobello mushrooms?
All three of these are Agaricus bisporus mushrooms; they are just at different stages of life when picked.
Cremini mushrooms are in the middle in terms of age and are commonly listed as “Baby Bellas” at stores because they are younger portobello mushrooms.
Creminis are small, rounded mushrooms with brown tops and thick, meaty stems. Agaricus bisporus is the most common type of mushroom sold in the U.S. and go well in virtually everything!
As stated above, the portobello mushroom is a more mature Agaricus bisporus and is significantly larger in size.
It’s often sold in stores with its large stem already cut off; the skin is a dark brown, they are thick and meaty, and the gills are even darker.
Portobellos are known for their umami flavor and meaty texture, which is why they’re often used as a meat substitute and referred to as “portobello steaks.”
These large mushrooms can be cut into small pieces and used in place of cremini mushrooms in recipes, or you can cook them whole in dishes like portobello burgers or stuff them.
They can even be marinated and used in place of steak for more adventurous recipes like portobello french dip sandwiches.
Chanterelle mushrooms are known for their gorgeous yellow-orange hue and earthy flavor.
They have an upward-facing cap and long gills that extend from the underside of their cap to the upper portion of the stem.
Chanterelles are one of the most popular and easy to identify wild mushrooms and are available for foraging in moist forest underbrushes from the late summer to early fall.
They can range in size from very small to multiple pounds, and their sweet, almost nutty flavor is excellent in pasta and dishes with creamy, smooth sauces.
Cut Chanterelles up into small pieces and saute them with butter for a crispy treat that you can sprinkle on top of your meal.
If you plan to forage for chanterelles, be prepared to deal with hefty competition in areas where the mushroom is known to grow.
Oyster mushrooms are interesting-looking mushrooms that grow in a shelf-like formation on trees, and if you look directly at them, you can see their gills growing underneath their upwardly curved cap, which resembles an oyster; hence, their name.
These mushrooms have thick, meaty stems and small, light brown caps that often don’t extend much further than the width of the stem.
When cooked, they have a delicate texture, and they tend to absorb the flavors of whatever they’re cooked with, which makes them an ideal complement to most dishes.
However, some people choose to saute oyster mushrooms and eat them straight.
Also called Penny Bun or King Bolete, Porcini mushrooms are thick, bulbous mushrooms with bright brown caps and cream-colored stems.
Most popular in Western European cooking, porcini mushrooms grow in parts of Asia, North America, and Europe and are especially prized for cooking when they’re fresh.
However, because of how short of a window people have for harvesting fresh porcini, they are commonly sold dried year-round.
Therefore, you should be prepared to spend significantly more per pound to buy fresh porcini mushrooms than many other common varieties.
One of the benefits of buying dried mushrooms is that the water you use to rehydrate them makes excellent cooking water with significantly more flavor.
Because of their depth of flavor, porcini mushrooms are especially suited for meals in which they are highlighted, like mushroom risotto. Moreover, they also make for a great mushroom sauce for your pasta dishes.
Morel mushrooms are highly distinctive and are unlike other common mushroom types in that they have a hollow inside.
While mushroom varieties like porcini have rounded, meaty caps, morels are known for their honeycomb-like wrinkled appearance.
The cap extends tall above the mushroom’s stem and resembles a wrinkled gnome cap.
Morels are hugely coveted for two primary reasons; firstly, their growing season is very short, so the window to buy fresh morels is limited.
Secondly, you cannot cultivate morels the way some other types of mushrooms can be farmed, so the only way to get them is by foraging in the wild.
Because of their rich umami flavor, prepare morels in a way that showcases their incredible flavor and meaty texture, but make sure to cook them before eating to avoid getting stomach cramps.
Enoki mushrooms, sometimes called velvet shank, are an incredibly delicious and delicate mushroom variety that are small and grow in bunches.
The bunches are then sold and contain dozens of mushrooms, each several inches tall but only a few centimeters wide.
Enoki mushrooms are crisp and crunchy, with a bright, earthy flavor, and are especially popular in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisine.
Enoki mushrooms pick up the flavors of the dishes they’re cooked in and, because of their crispy texture, are especially suited for brothy or saucy dishes, including hot pot and stir fry.
Maitake mushrooms are popular not only because they’re delicious in cooking but also because they offer numerous health benefits and are even believed to help fight off cancer.
Maitake mushrooms are rich in potassium, antioxidants, fiber, and more and are at the forefront of much scientific research to explore just what this medicinal mushroom can do.
They grow in clusters like enoki mushrooms, but each mushroom fans out with its feathery tips. Although it’s possible to grow maitake mushrooms, they can be difficult and thus are most commonly found in the wild.
Maitake mushrooms have a powerful flavor, so they are often cooked in soy sauce and added to dishes like stir fry or ramen in smaller amounts.
Hedgehog mushrooms are highly desirable wild mushrooms that are extremely easy to identify, unlike many mushroom varieties.
They have broad, yellow-orange caps, similar to chanterelles, with lighter white stems.
Commonly called sweet tooths, hedgehog mushrooms don’t have gills under their caps but rather tooth-like spines that grow directly downwards from the cap.
Hedgehog mushrooms have an earthy, sweet flavor, similar to a chanterelle but slightly nuttier.
They are often sauteed and placed atop pasta to showcase their delicate flavor profile.
I made sure to add button mushrooms to this list because there is so much confusion around the cremini, portobello, and button mushroom concept.
As discussed in the above “cremini mushroom” and “portobello mushroom” sections, these mushrooms may have different names but are, in fact, all the same type of mushroom: Agaricus bisporus.
“Button mushroom,” like “Baby Bella,” is just another term for cremini mushrooms and refers to the small, brown, adolescent phase of the Agaricus bisporus.
White Button Mushroom
White button mushrooms are the youngest Agaricus bisporus that you’ll find in stores.
They are still the same type of mushroom but are picked before they’ve reached the part in their development where their skin turns brown.
Because they are so young, these mushrooms have a light, delicate flavor and are an especially popular choice for salads or other dishes requiring raw mushrooms.
They can also be sauteed and used in various recipes, and if your recipe calls for creminis but you don’t have any, or the store is out, white button mushrooms are a perfectly acceptable substitute.
However, be prepared that with their lighter flavor profile comes less depth of flavor, so if your dish requires a strong mushroom flavor, these baby creminis may not be the best choice.
Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Black trumpet mushrooms, also commonly called the horn of plenty or black chanterelle, for their similarity in appearance (aside from color) to this other mushroom variety, is an excellent mushroom to cook with, albeit sometimes difficult to come across.
Like morels, you must forage for black trumpet mushrooms n the wild, and their dark appearance can make them difficult to see, as they tend to blend into the forest floor around them.
With a dark, nearly black appearance, these mushrooms have a proper trumpet shape and are hollow on the inside.
They have a unique smokey flavor profile, which makes them ideal in dishes that display their flavor like soups, or as an addition to any meat dish, particularly red meat.
Types of Mushrooms
- Shiitake Mushroom
- Cremini Mushrooms
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Chanterelle Mushroom
- Oyster Mushrooms
- Porcini Mushrooms
- Morel Mushrooms
- Enoki Mushroom
- Maitake Mushrooms
- Hedgehog Mushroom
- Button Mushrooms
- White Button Mushroom
- Black Trumpet Mushrooms
While you’ve probably heard of several types of mushrooms on this list, like button mushrooms and white button mushrooms, hopefully, you learned a little more about some mushrooms with which you’re less familiar!
While it may be slightly more challenging to find mushrooms like Enoki and Maitake mushrooms at just any store, these mushrooms are still relatively common and are likely available near you if you look for them.
Mushrooms of all kinds can add rich flavor and texture to your dishes, and different types of mushrooms are particularly suited to certain dishes.
Next time you’re planning a meal with mushrooms, try to branch out and cook with one of the mushrooms you learned about on this list.
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