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Hen of the woods mushrooms have an earthy, savory flavor that’s delicious sautéed and roasted! Here’s a recipe and info about this variety.

Hen of the woods
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Here’s a delightful mushroom variety that’s got feathery, delicate clusters that look like a fluffed up chicken: it’s Hen of the Woods! This tasty mushroom is also known as the Maitake mushroom, and it’s been capturing hearts and minds for centuries. Here at A Couple Cooks, we’ve been cooking through all the types of mushrooms: and this one’s become a favorite. The feathery shape and savory, earthy flavor is absolutely irresistible: especially warm and crispy out of the oven. Here’s more about this type of fungi and a recipe for how to cook them up so everyone will be begging for more.

What are hen of the woods mushrooms?

Hen of the woods mushrooms are worth grabbing if you see them in the store or at a market! Their beautiful shape makes delightfully crunchy bites when roasted, and they’re fantastic sautéed as well. Here’s what you need to know this unique type of mushroom:

  • Hen of the woods mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) is an edible mushroom that grows at the base of trees. It’s light brown and grows in feathery clusters, hence the name. It’s also known as the maitake mushroom. Hen of the woods is native to North America, Europe and China. It’s been consumed for centuries in China and Japan; in fact, maitake means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese.
  • Where to find it? Find it at some grocery stores or health food stores and farmer’s markets. You can also forage for it, but be very careful about hen of the woods look alikes (please consult expert guidance when it comes to mushroom foraging!).
  • Are there health benefits? There might be. Some studies have shown the hen of the woods mushroom may be better than other fungi at preventing or treating cancer (source). This variety is also rich in antioxidants, vitamin B and C, and fiber, among other nutrients.
  • What do hen of the woods mushrooms taste like? They have a strong savory, earthy flavor with a peppery finish. They are best served cooked.
Hen of the Woods mushrooms

How to store and clean them

What to do once you get ahold of this unique variety of mushroom? Here are the best practices for storing and cleaning hen of the woods mushrooms:

  • Store the mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator (not the produce drawer). You can leave this mushroom in the package it comes in, but the best way to store them is in a paper bag. A bag allows them to breathe, which plastic does not. Another best practice: avoid the produce drawer! Leave them in the main part of the refrigerator so they get good airflow.
  • Clean them with a quick rinse. Typically hen of the woods mushrooms don’t come with a lot of dirt, since they grow on trees. For good measure, give the mushrooms a quick rinse. Just don’t soak them or they can become soggy.

Hen of the woods recipe: try them roasted!

Hen of the woods mushrooms have an earthy, almost peppery flavor that’s best when it’s cooked. It’s great sauteed and fabulous roasted. Roasting the hen of the woods mushrooms makes the edges get crispy, which makes each bite irresistible. For this preparation, we used Mediterranean-style flavors. If you’re looking for Japanese-style flavors, go to our Sauteed Maitake Mushrooms recipe! Here are the basic steps for roasting this type of mushroom (or jump to the recipe):

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use your fingers to pull them into 3-inch slices, discarding the bottom stem. You don’t need to slice hen of the woods mushrooms. Just pull them apart with your fingers, which preserves their shape. Discard the bottom stem that holds them together.
  • Mix with olive oil, salt and seasonings. Head to the recipe below for quantities.
  • Roast about 20 minutes, until tender and lightly crispy at the edges.
Hen of the woods recipe

Ways to serve hen of the woods mushrooms

Once you’ve roasted up your hen of the woods mushrooms, there’s so much to do with them! Here are a few options:

Hen of the woods mushroom

This hen of the woods mushroom recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Hen of the Woods

Roasted Hen of the Woods Mushrooms


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4 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Hen of the woods mushrooms have an earthy, savory flavor that’s delicious sautéed and roasted! Savor each warm and crispy bite. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound hen of the woods mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Rinse the mushrooms (if you see dirt) and pat them dry. Use your fingers to pull them into 3-inch pieces, discarding the bottom stem. 
  3. Toss the mushrooms in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, and salt. Place them a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned and crispy. Serve as is, or with a dipping sauce like pesto aioli.
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Roasted
  • Cuisine: Mushrooms
  • Diet: Vegan

More types of mushrooms

There are so many types of fungi to try! Here are all the mushrooms we’ve found at our local grocery stores and recipes for how to cook each one:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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8 Comments

  1. MiserableOldFart says:

    A quick rinse will never extricate the complex panoply of fauna that inhabit a good sized wild hen of the woods. A soaking in salt water is necessary, and you will find that your mushroom was a domicile to a wide range of critters, worms, spiders, slugs, snails, and creatures you have likely never seen anywhere else.
    Could it be that the authors are mostly using farm grown hen??
    I had a three pound hen last year that had over a dozen critters, few of which I could identify beyond “worm,” or “spider” or “bug.” Though they all got doused in a warm salt water bath, most were released back into the wild, and appeared to survive.
    The recipe is a good one if you have a pound to use all at once. I mostly use the hen a few ounces at a time in a compound butter made from scratch with heavy cream processed until butter is formed, pour off the buttermilk, and add, sauteed hen with garlic, salt and some olive oil and process until smooth. Can be kept if fridge for a few days or frozen indefinitely.






    1. Malcantro says:

      I have harvested about ten hens in the last five years. Always from old oaks and i jave never encountered a bigger flavor. My general rule is that once they grow beyond the size of a regulation football they star to get tough. This article says theybare best served cooked…. you should always cook them, at the least sautee them for 20-25 mintues with butter, garlic and herbs. It not only helps reduce the toughness but also a small portion of the population is allergic to one of the compounds in raw hen o the woods. Cooking them at least 25 mins breaks down the compound, otherwise you or someone you know could have a bad night! The other maitake is the Chicken of the woods laoerpitus sulphuris (sp?), hard to mistake one for the other, hens are brown and gray while chickens are orangish yellow. Also need to be cooked for the same reason as hens. If you find either one, mark it on the map because they come back in the same spot usually.

  2. David K Trombly says:

    Just made this and it’s no lie, this tastes more umani than portobello!!






  3. Lauren Jordan says:

    I just picked a large (5-6 lb) Hen Of The Woods and did the oven roasting method to cook. It was so tough and fibrous and difficult to even chew. Could it have just been too large to be tender? Any suggestions, I hate to waste it.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! Yes, it was probably beyond a tasty size. Sorry it didn’t work!

    2. James wilson says:

      It’s most likely not hen of the woods. Based on description and time of yr picked it was its cousin. I don’t know the Latin name off hand but in michigan hens done start fruiting till Sept. Cold nights! The look alike however is July. Its not poison but like you said. Very tough to eat.

  4. Mushroom lover says:

    Agree with previous post. I followed recipe (using stems) I used air fryer and they came out delicious. I did have to gently rinse for critters. Found the little white worms don’t like the oil for those I missed!

  5. MiserableOldFart says:

    NEVER, EVER “discard” the bottom stem!! The entire hen is edible, and the bottom stem has a unique character of its own. Never woody as are stems of some mushrooms, the stem and be cooked any way you cook the ‘feathers.”
    It tends to be crisp when properly cooked somewhat the consistency or a water chestnut but much more flavorful. You do want to slice the stem in thin enough pieces to be sure there are no bugs or worms bored into it, if you forage from the wild.