Who would have thought that a type of fungus, like mushrooms, would have such an important role in the kitchen? Nutritionally, mushrooms are a vegetable but everywhere else they’re classified as fungi. Despite this classification, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying mushrooms in your recipes. In fact, they have numerous health benefits and are a delicious addition to many meals.
While you can eat mushrooms raw, if you want to include them in your lunch or dinner recipes, you have to know how to cook mushrooms. Whether you’re looking for a creative side dish or a topping for your pizza, let’s first dive into the most common types of mushrooms.
What Type of Mushroom Is Best for Eating?
The first question you might have is what kind of mushroom is best for cooking? There are thousands of mushroom varieties out there, but they’re not all safe to eat. Even in the grocery store or farmer’s market, you’ll find a wide variety of edible mushrooms, but the most common type of edible mushroom is the button mushroom.
Button mushrooms are small, white mushrooms that are available in most grocery stores. You can purchase them fresh or canned, but either way, they’re safe to eat raw. These mushrooms aren’t as flavorful as some other types in the same family but their mild flavor is part of what makes them so popular.
Another common mushroom is the crimini mushroom, which has a similar shape and size but is darker in color than the button mushroom. It’s no surprise that they look similar since button and crimini mushrooms come from the same family.
Some other popular types of mushrooms are:
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Oyster Mushrooms
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Porcini Mushrooms
No matter what size or type of mushroom you use, the process of cooking most mushrooms depends more on the size of the mushroom than the type. The cooking methods below will work for most mushroom types as long as you cut them to the proper size.
How to Prepare Mushrooms for Cooking
The good thing about mushrooms is they’re relatively easy to prepare. Mushroom preparation does include cleaning the mushrooms, but you have to be careful about washing most mushrooms because they can get mushy if they’re in water too long. Soaking the mushrooms will lead to them absorbing the water, which will prevent them from browning during the cooking process.
Instead, you can wipe the mushrooms down with a damp cloth or completely dry them with a towel or cloth after rinsing them. How you decide to cut up your mushrooms will depend on the type of mushroom and dish you’re serving as well.
With most mushrooms, you can actually eat the stem, but it’s best to remove it simply because it’s chewier than the rest of the mushroom and won’t come out as tender as the other parts of the mushrooms.
Before preparing your mushrooms for cooking, keep in mind that the size and variety of mushrooms will make a difference in certain recipes. With smaller mushrooms like the crimini variety, you’ll slice them into small pieces before putting them on a pizza or in an omelet.
However, with large mushrooms like portobellos, you might cut larger slices if you’re making stuffed mushrooms or you’re cooking up portobello mushroom burgers, which can be a delicious alternative to beef burgers for vegetarians or vegans.
How to Saute Mushrooms
Sauteing mushrooms is one of the best ways to cook them. While you can eat mushrooms raw, many people prefer the taste of cooked mushrooms. Sauteing them is a simple way to bring out a lot of flavor without a lot of hassle.
Here’s the best way to saute mushrooms:
- Clean the mushrooms and cut them into slices
- Add butter or oil to a saucepan or skillet
- Heat your skillet to medium-high heat
- Add mushrooms to the skillet once it's hot
- Cook the mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings
- Serve the mushrooms with your prepared dish
Sauting is one of the most simple and delicious ways to cook any type of mushroom. Even sauteing them for a brief period of time will allow them to brown and you can add a variety of seasonings and flavors, depending on the rest of your recipe.
How to Boil Mushrooms
If you’re going to be adding mushrooms to a dish such as a casserole or on a pizza, you might choose to cook them before mixing them in with the rest of the ingredients. In this case, boiling the mushrooms is an easy way to cook them without many extra steps.
Here’s the best way to boil mushrooms:
- Clean the mushrooms and cut them into slices, or you can boil them whole
- Pour enough water into the saucepan to cover the mushrooms
- Let the water boil and add salt
- Once the water is boiling, add the mushrooms
- Cook for about 15 minutes
- Once the mushrooms have darkened and softened, remove them from the pot and strain them
If you’re looking for a simple way to cook mushrooms before adding them to your recipe, boiling mushrooms is the way to go. You can add butter or oil to the water while you’re boiling the as well, but it’s optional.
How to Grill Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are one of the most common types to grill. If you’re already a fan of mushrooms, you’ll enjoy the smokey flavor you get from grilling them. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, grilling them just might change your mind!
Here’s how to grill mushrooms:
- Trim the stems of the mushrooms and slice them to the desired size
- Place the sliced mushrooms on a serving dish
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
- Preheat your grill to medium heat
- Place the mushrooms on the grill
- Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side
How you prepare the mushrooms for grilling will depend on what type of mushrooms you’re using. For portobello mushrooms, it’s best to remove the stems and scrape the gills out before grilling. The gills are the brown lines on the inside of the mushroom under the cap.
If you’re using smaller mushrooms, such as crimini or button mushrooms, you can place them on metal skewers for easy grilling.
How to Cook Mushrooms in the Air Fryer
The air fryer has become more and more popular in recent years. It provides an easy and healthy to deep frying and cuts down the amount of oil used in your recipe.
Here’s how to cook mushrooms in an air fryer:
- Clean the mushrooms by rinsing or wiping them with a wet cloth
- Slice the mushrooms and remove the stems
- Place the mushrooms in a medium bowl and toss them with olive oil and seasoning
- Add the mushrooms to the air fryer basket
- Air fry the mushrooms for 5-7 minutes at 400 degrees F
- Check if the mushrooms are browned and crispy
Cooking mushrooms in the air fryer leads to delicious mushrooms with very little preparation. There are also a variety of recipes you can try if you’re looking to add your own flair to the air-fried mushrooms.
How to Serve Mushrooms
Mushrooms are the kind of vegetable that many people either love or hate. However, many people who aren’t a fan of mushrooms also want to find a way to cook them so they can enjoy the many health benefits of mushrooms. There are no limits to the ways you can serve mushrooms, but here are a few possibilities:
- Add them to your pizza
- Use them as a steak or burger topping
- Grill portobello burgers
- Bake stuffed mushrooms
- Make a mushroom risotto
- Add them to your pasta or use them to make pasta sauce
Mushrooms can be a delicious topping for pizzas, burgers, or steaks, or they can serve as the main dish with something like portobello burgers. They’re also a great option for vegetarian or vegan cooking since they’re often described as having a texture similar to meat. No matter how you choose to include them in your meals, mushrooms have many benefits and can add a lot of flavor to any recipe.
- Ravioli with Spinach and Mushrooms
- Cheesy Chicken and Mushrooms
- Crab Dip-Stuffed Mushrooms
- Turkey Tetrazzini with Fresh Mushrooms
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Ezume Images/Shutterstock.com.