Here are the most popular types of mushrooms and how to use them! These different types of edible mushrooms are each uniquely delicious.
Move over, button mushrooms: there are so many types of mushrooms to enjoy! Button and portobello mushrooms might be the most popular, but there’s a whole world of fungi to discover. These days, more varieties than ever are becoming available at grocery stores in the US, not to mention farmer’s markets! Mushrooms are low in calories and fat, high in vitamins, and best of all: over the top delicious when cooked correctly.
Here at A Couple Cooks, we’ve become mushroom experts: experimenting with each one to find its best qualities. Here are all the most popular types of mushrooms we’ve found at our local grocery stores! There’s a bit about the mushroom, what it tastes like, and the best ways to use it. Whatever recipe you choose: you won’t be disappointed.
Type: Button mushrooms are a small mushroom with a round top. This variety, scientific name Agaricus bisporus, is one of the most widely consumed in the world. They’re one of the cheapest and easiest to find at grocery stores in the US. This variety is the same as the cremini and portobello, but it's the first growth stage.
Flavor: Very mild; they're great raw and their flavor develops even more when sautéed and grilled
How to use them: Sauteed, grilled, or roasted, stuffed, in salads, in pizza, risotto, pasta, and more
Type: Cremini mushrooms, aka baby bella mushrooms, are a small mushroom with a round brown top. They're one of the most widely consumed mushroom varieties in the world, called Agaricus bisporus. Cremini mushrooms are the same variety as button mushrooms and portobellos, but one growth stage after button mushrooms. This gives them a more complex, meaty and savory flavor: making them a top choice for use in recipes.
Flavor: Robust, savory and meaty; like a mini portobello
How to use them: Sauteed, grilled, or roasted, in salads, stuffed, in pizza, risotto, pasta, and more
Type: The portobello mushroom (aka portobella or portabella) is one of the most widely consumed mushroom varieties in the world, called Agaricus bisporus. The white mushroom and cremini (aka baby bella) are the same variety of mushroom, just earlier growth stages. The portobello is the oldest stage, so it has the most meaty and savory flavor.
Flavor: Intensely meaty and savory, with loads of umami; ideal for use as a meat substitute (for flavor, not protein)
How to use them: Sauteed, grilled, or roasted, stuffed, chopped on pizza or in pasta, risotto, and tacos
Type: Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular edible mushrooms in the world, native to East Asia. They are slender and light brown, with a tough, inedible stem.
Flavor: Savory and meaty
How to use them: Shiitake mushrooms are often included in Asian-style dishes like Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. Use them in ramen and stir fries, and they also work in pasta, pizza, and risotto.
Type: Oyster mushrooms are a common type of edible fungus with caps that are shaped like oysters. The stems are very short and they grow in clusters. There are seven main varieties. The most common types you’ll encounter at the store are pearl oyster mushrooms and King oyster mushrooms (below).
Flavor: Delicate and savory, with a hint of complexity on the finish. Some people say they have a slight seafood flavor, or a subtle anise finish (black licorice).
How to use them: Sauteed as a side dish, fried as a vegan meat substitute, or in sit fries, pasta or risotto
Type: King oyster mushrooms are the largest in the oyster mushroom family. They’re also known as king trumpet mushrooms or French horn mushrooms. They grow individually, instead of clusters like the pearl oyster. Native to the Mediterranean, they’re commonly used in Chinese, Korean and Japanese cooking.
Flavor: Earthy, aromatic, and very savory. King oyster mushrooms are very meaty and almost tough. Expect a tougher texture than most mushrooms.
How to use them: Sauteed, in stir fires, or texture makes them a great choice as a meat substitute, shredded with BBQ sauce or as "scallops"
Type: The maitake mushroom is an edible mushroom that grows at the base of trees; it’s light brown and grows in feathery clusters. Also known as the hen of the woods mushroom, it’s 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.
Flavor: It has a strong earthy, peppery flavor and is best served cooked.
How to use them: Sauteed, roasted, add to soba noodles, stir fries, pizza or ramen
Type: The enoki mushroom is an edible mushroom that looks like long strings; almost like noodles! Enoki mushrooms are common in Japanese cuisine, where they’re known as enokitake, and Chinese cuisine where they’re known as golden needle or lily mushrooms.
Flavor: Delicate, savory flavor and a crunch from the thin strands
How to use it: Sautéed or raw in salads, or throw it raw into ramen and hot pot and it cooks up right in the broth
Type: The lion’s mane mushroom is a white fungus with a hair-like texture that bears resemblance to its namesake. It’s also known as the hedgehog mushroom and is native to North America, Europe and Asia.
Flavor: Delicate, tender, juicy and meaty. Some people say it tastes like seafood or crab meat.
How to use it: Sauteed as a side dish, in stir fries, in a sandwich as a vegan meat substitute
Type: The beech mushroom is an edible mushroom that grows on beech trees, hence the name. They’re also known as shimeji mushrooms or clamshell mushrooms, and native to East Asia (they’re also cultivated in the US, Australia and Europe). They grow in clusters and are small and thin, with round tops.
Flavor: Lightly sweet, savory and nutty flavor, with a subtly crunchy texture
How to use it: Sauteed as a side dish, in stir fries, soups, risotto, pasta, and soups
Once you bring home your mushrooms, what’s the best way to store them? And should you wash them before using them? Here’s our two cents:
Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the main portion of the refrigerator (not the produce drawer). The paper bag lets the breathe and helps them stay fresh longer. Mushrooms do best in the main part of the refrigerator where there’s the most airflow.
Give them a quick rinse before using. Despite conventional wisdom, you can wash your mushrooms! Just make sure not to soak them. Give them a rinse to clean off any dirt. Go to How to Clean Mushrooms…the Right Way.
More mushroom recipes
Want more ideas on how to use mushrooms? We’ve got lots of great mushroom recipes: