Although many recipes call for mushrooms, you may not have them available. Or, perhaps someone you’re cooking for might not like mushrooms.
You may think your dinner may depend on the savory taste of mushrooms, but there are actually many viable and delicious substitutes that can be found at your local grocery store.
Common Types of Mushrooms
There are countless edible mushrooms that create unique and delicious flavors and textures. Not a fruit or vegetable, but this versatile fungi is enjoyed in cuisines throughout the world.
Here are some of the more common mushrooms you may find at any major grocery stores.
Perhaps the most common variety you’ll see is Portobello mushrooms. They are widely used in pasta dishes like beef stroganoff and creamy mushroom pasta.
Additionally, Portobello mushrooms are a great source of fiber and vitamins. They are also often served alone in many different forms. You can grill them, stuff them, and even sauté them to make a tasty dish or appetizer.
Something to keep in mind is that Portobellos, white mushrooms, and cremini mushrooms are actually the same species, called Agaricus bisporus.
The only difference between them is how mature they are. Portobello mushrooms are the oldest, while white button mushrooms are the youngest. And cremini mushrooms are right in the middle; they are the ‘teenager’ if you will.
Cremini mushrooms will be a bit firmer and have a more dominant taste than white mushrooms, while Portobello mushrooms are going to give that meaty flavor they are best known for.
Another common type of mushroom you’ll come across is shiitake mushrooms, which are commonly used in stir-fry, soups, and any other dish that needs a meaty texture.
These are also a wonderful source of nutrition, as they provide many key vitamins and minerals and are known to reduce cholesterol levels.
While there are many more types of mushrooms, the last one we’ll mention here is the oyster mushroom.
Funny enough, many describe oyster mushrooms as tasting fishy. They also have a more mild flavor compared to other mushroom varieties, so they are a nice addition to a recipe for a subtle layer that’s not too up-front.
Best Mushroom Substitutes
Not every recommendation will work with every recipe, but hopefully, you will find something below that will work for your needs and preferences.
Many of the best substitutes for mushrooms have nothing to do with mushrooms, but they offer a similar texture or complimentary flavor.
Tofu is used often as a replacement for mushrooms because of its similar texture. It isn’t as flavorful, however, a key characteristic of tofu is its ability to pick up surrounding flavors. So, if Tofu is placed in a recipe that requires mushrooms, it will have a similar feel and texture to it.
This great substitute for mushrooms is made from coagulated soy milk. While it may be able to achieve a mushroom flavor, it differs in nutritional value when compared to fresh mushrooms.
Even better is pairing tofu with Umami seasoning, which has a very meaty flavor similar to mushrooms. Likewise, dehydrated mushroom powder can be used in the same manner. When used with tofu, one can replicate both the texture and taste of mushrooms.
When cooking Tofu, keep in mind that it is rather delicate. It will go best with recipes including pasta and stir-fry dishes, in which the tofu can be stirred in after cooking, rather than something like a stew.
Tofu is often considered the perfect replacement for mushrooms. While it is an ideal substitute, there are also many more versatile ingredients that work wonderfully in place of mushrooms.
Tempeh is very similar to tofu, so it’s no wonder why it’s an extremely common mushroom alternative. It’s got a similar flavor, and while not as texturally accurate to mushrooms as tofu, it is still a very viable mushroom substitute if it’s prepared right.
Tempeh comes from Indonesia, and it’s similar to tofu because it also comes from soy. However, tempeh is actually fermented soy, which vastly improves its nutritional value. It’s a great source of protein and fiber.
Pair some tempeh with Umami seasoning, and you’ll be very close to the earthy and meaty taste of mushrooms.
Tempeh is a great mushroom substitute, especially in pasta dishes like beef stroganoff and on burgers and sandwiches.
Eggplants are a relatively common vegetable in many kitchens and have many uses. Even though you may think to make a dish such as eggplant parmesan, this hearty vegetable can also make a great option for replacing mushrooms.
Unlike tofu and tempeh, eggplant is a little more resilient when cooked, meaning that it’s great for putting on pizza! It’s going to have a slightly sweet taste as well, which will pair well with tomato sauce.
We recommend slightly sautéing and seasoning the eggplant before baking it on a pie. Just be sure to watch out for eggplant slices becoming overly soggy when cooked. On pizza, it’s a good idea to cover the eggplant with cheese or another topping.
In addition to being a tasty food to put in place of mushrooms, eggplants are also nutritious. They are a great source of fiber and vitamin B, and they are known for their antioxidants as well.
Zucchini is an extremely popular substitute for mushrooms. It’s kind of a jack of all trades when it comes to functioning as mushrooms in a recipe because it’s got a similar texture, it’s nutritious, and it has the ability to absorb surrounding flavors.
Zucchini is known to be a great substitute specifically for white-button mushrooms.
Just be careful when baking dishes with zucchini – much like eggplants, they can become soggy. Lots of chefs prefer zucchini to be used in pasta and stir-fry dishes, in which the vegetable can be sautéed and then added instead of baked.
Zucchini is a go-to substitute for mushrooms for many chefs, professional and amateur alike. If you have other forms of squash available, those will work as a mushroom replacement as well.
Although tomatoes might taste different than mushrooms, they will add a similar texture and unique flavor that just might enhance your recipe. Many kitchens also have sun-dried tomatoes in their pantries. So in a pinch, this might just save you!
We love using sun-dried tomatoes in pizza and pasta dishes. And it’s easy to know if you’ll like them or not; if you like tomatoes, then you’ll also like them as a mushroom substitute!
Sun-dried tomatoes are full of antioxidants and are a great source of vitamins.
If you usually substitute mushrooms with a mild vegetable like eggplant or zucchini, try sun-dried tomatoes for a new spin on a classic flavor.
Similar to mushrooms, onions provide many dishes with a unique flavor. If you are looking for a fresh ingredient to replace mushrooms in a soup or sauce, then onions can be a great alternative. Additionally, you can replace mushrooms on a kebab with onions – this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Additionally, you can caramelize your onions to add even more flavor, much like you would with sautéed mushrooms.
Just keep in mind that sometimes onions won’t be your best bet to replace the texture that mushrooms provide. If you are looking for that, we suggest pairing onions with another substitute we’ve discussed on this list, such as tofu, zucchini, or eggplant.
We recommend staying away from red onions for these purposes; yellow or white will work the best, and definitely go with yellow for caramelizing.
Garbanzo beans, otherwise known as chickpeas, make a wonderful substitute for mushrooms. Canned chickpeas come already cooked and dried chickpeas can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
If you really want that earthy flavor that mushrooms give you in a dish, then chickpeas may be your best option. They provide an organic flavor similar to mushrooms, with a soft and palatable texture that is sure to glue any dish together.
Garbanzo beans also have a lot of protein, so using them in pasta dishes that are lacking protein sources is a good idea.
Bell peppers are another common, versatile ingredient that you can pick up at your local grocery store. Peppers are great in many dishes because they can be baked, cooked, or grilled.
We find that peppers are best for replacing enoki mushrooms, a smaller type of mushroom with a firm texture and a sweet taste.
You may find that peppers don’t have as much of a nutty and savory flavor as Portobello mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms, but they still have a somewhat meaty texture when cooked.
Bell peppers will make a very suitable substitute for mushrooms in your pizza and pasta dishes.
If you want a really earthy taste, then potatoes are the way to go. They are a popular ingredient in the kitchen and can be found at any local grocery store.
Russet potatoes are possibly the best kind of potato to substitute for mushrooms. They can have a chewy texture when cut into thin slices.
While they are a wonderful earthy addition to any dish, potatoes are going to be a mild taste in the background of your dish. They are one of the best choices for earthiness and texture, and a can be a great addition to many dishes.
Stir fry and pasta dishes can benefit immensely from the complex taste of artichoke, and this ingredient can be seasoned and marinated to your liking, fitting right in where fresh mushrooms would normally be in your recipe.
Artichoke has a huge nutritional value as well – they provide lots of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins while being low in fat. The health benefits of artichoke may be a key deciding factor in choosing them as a mushroom alternative.
Artichoke has a complex flavor that makes it a popular substitute for mushrooms.
How to Replicate the Unique Taste of Mushrooms
We’ve discussed umami seasoning before here, and for good reason. Many people desire the mushroom flavor in their dishes because it deepens and enriches the flavor of the dish. Mushrooms are often more “sensed” than “tasted.” For that reason, you may elect to choose something that specializes in capturing the earthy taste that mushrooms are well known for. There's a reason many people describe that unmistakable taste of mushrooms as having "umami flavor".
Most umami seasoning is a fine powder made comprised of a combination of mushrooms, garlic, onion, and herbs.
It is used throughout the culinary world, and sometimes it’s not even intended to be a direct mushroom substitute. It’s an extremely versatile ingredient that is found in many pantries.
Umami seasoning is an excellent substitute for shiitake mushrooms because it’s extra flavorful. Add it with some tofu or tempeh to capture a strong mushroom flavor with a similar texture as well.
Because it is a liquid, beef broth is not a direct replacement for mushrooms. It can, however, potentially enhance the flavor that would normally be created by mushrooms in a recipe. It’s going to give you a wonderful meaty flavor, but not the earthy side of mushrooms.
Not only can you put beef broth directly in recipes, but you can also season other mushroom substitutes with it. Sautéing some eggplant or tempeh in beef broth or a beef broth mixture can seal in some meaty flavor and provide your recipe with a shroom-like texture as well.
Slow Cooked Meats
Mushrooms are often are used to provide a “meaty” flavor to a main dish, so why not just use real meat? This is sure to please the meat lovers you’re cooking for.
Meat is a very versatile ingredient. You can use it in stews, soups, pasta, and more.
Slow cooked meat really achieves the feel that mushrooms provide to a dish. If given the option, go with slow cooked meats over meat that has been prepare in a short amount of time.
We suggest pairing meat with various dry herbs such as thyme, mustard powder, and pepper to get a flavor similar to mushrooms. You can even pair it with umami as well.
What’s the Best Mushroom Substitute for Your Dish?
Many cooks look to fresh mushrooms to provide a unique texture to their food. If you are looking for a substitute that gives a similar feel, then tofu, tempeh, and any squash-like vegetable will be an excellent option. However, if you’re going for that meaty and earthy flavor, using something such as umami seasoning, beef broth, or even slow-cooked meats can achieve this for you.
Additionally, don’t forget that other types of mushrooms are often the best options for mushroom replacements. For example, you may need white button mushrooms but only have Portobello mushrooms. That will work! While the taste may ultimately be richer, Portobellos will still capture the essence of white button and many other common types of mushrooms.
Do you have any other tried and true substitution recommendations? Please let me know in the comments!