Most people love using mushrooms in their recipes. However, if you don’t or have an allergy, that doesn’t mean you need to avoid all recipes with mushrooms. Check our list below with the 9 best options and pick the best mushroom substitute option that works for you!
Mushrooms are not a vegetable – they are fungi that like to grow in damp and dark environments. They are interesting food items because they find food sources and then grow into that food source to provide nutrients for themselves.
They are consumed not only for the flavor they add to dishes but also for their available nutrients. Mushrooms contain protein along with vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants. Because of this, many vegetarians and vegans use mushrooms as a source of protein. Mushrooms are often used instead of meat alternatives or tofu.
When adding mushrooms to a dish, expect to find earthy and meaty (aka umami) flavors. You can purchase fresh, canned, or pickled. Most dishes utilize fresh mushrooms.
There are many types of mushrooms available – some are edible mushrooms, and some are non-edible. For the edible variety, 19+ different mushrooms can be used in recipes. Some of the most common include cremini mushrooms – this category contains portobello, cremini, and white button mushrooms. While the appearance of these three mushrooms differs, they are the same type of mushrooms.
They have been harvested at different ages, creating a difference in appearance. Other common mushrooms include shiitake, oyster, and porcini. Surprisingly, the truffle is mushroom/fungi, even though it might seem like a completely different plant.
Tofu is an excellent substitute for mushrooms. It is created using soy milk that is pressed into a square form. This food item originated in China thousands of years ago. There is no exact timeline for when tofu was created. It is estimated to be about 2000 years in the past.
Tofu is beneficial to use in recipes that usually require mushrooms because it has a very neutral flavor. It can easily adapt to dishes and taste like a mushroom by adding soy sauce to provide the umami flavor. It also provides a similar texture to finely chopped mushrooms in dishes, making it a good option for a swap. Tofu offers many health benefits, it provides a high amount of protein, along with essential minerals and amino acids.
Eggplant is another excellent mushroom replacement. It also has a similar texture as mushrooms – both in their raw form and cooked form. When raw, the eggplant is spongy and bouncy like a raw mushroom. When eggplant is cooked, it becomes softer, like a cooked mushroom.
Using an eggplant in a recipe will alter the taste and create a different flavor. When using eggplant, expect a sweet flavor that becomes decadent once the eggplant is cooked. Some eggplant can have a bitter taste if the skin is left on for recipes.
Overall, eggplant does have a subtle flavor which makes it work as a mushroom alternative. You can use eggplant in fried and baked recipes.
Zucchini is similar to eggplant in the taste that it provides to dishes and the springy texture. Because of this, it is one of the best substitutes for mushrooms. Zucchinis have an earthy and slightly sweet taste similar to the flavor provided by mushrooms in dishes.
Zucchini is in the summer squash category and is a fruit despite being used in dishes as a vegetable would. The zucchinis found most in US grocery stores originated in Italy in the 1800s and can be either yellow or green. Zucchinis have many vitamins and minerals in them, like vitamin A and phosphorous. Zucchini is excellent in pasta dishes.
Garbanzo beans are another mushroom alternative. These are more commonly referred to as chickpeas – you’ve most likely eaten these in hummus and Indian dishes before. These are a good swap if you’re looking to add texture to a dish.
They provide a nutty and buttery flavor, so they will not taste the same in dishes as mushrooms.
The consistency is also different than that of a mushroom. Garbanzo beans have a smooth mouthfeel to them when consumed. Expect the flavor and texture to be different when subbing chickpeas for mushrooms.
They do work well both in cooked recipes as well as raw. Garbanzo beans can be purchased both dried and canned. Using the dried version, you’ll need to boil the chickpeas for 2-3 hours before including them in a meal.
If you’ve never tried a vegetarian or vegan meal before, you may not have heard of tempeh. Are you are wondering what is tempeh and how it’s used in cooking? It is created from soy (like tofu); however, the process is different. Instead of using soy milk, soybeans are fermented and then pressed into their shape.
Tempeh is not always made from soybeans, it can also be made from wheat or wheat and soybeans combined. Tempeh has both a different texture and flavor than mushrooms. However, it can still be used as a replacement for mushrooms.
Tempeh adds texture to dishes as well as protein. When using tempeh, expect to encounter a nutty flavor that is not normally present in mushrooms. You’ll also find the texture to be quite chewy. This ingredient is known for being on the drier side, so you will want to marinate it before using it. Tempeh should be cooked before use and not consumed raw.
Sun-dried tomatoes are an excellent replacement in recipes where a mushroom taste is not required. Their flavor is much different, providing a sweet, tangy, tomato taste to all dishes. However, you’ll find that sun-dried tomatoes have a similar texture, though slightly chewier.
Another benefit to using sun-dried tomatoes is that they pick up flavors easily, like mushrooms. They work well in sauces, salads, pasta dishes, and even with poultry.
These tomatoes are named so after the way they are dried – by the sun. Sun-dried tomatoes originate in the Mediterranean and are now dried by multiple methods, including the oven and dehydrators. This ingredient can be found in the grocery store in containers by themselves or jars with olive oil for flavor and preservation.
Potatoes work well as substitutions due to their mild taste and ability to absorb flavors from other added ingredients, like mushrooms. Since they do not present much flavor, they can easily work with any recipe containing mushrooms.
You can use potatoes as a substitution when making soup, pasta sauce, pizza topping, fried foods, and many other dishes. Since potatoes come in many forms, such as russet, Idaho, sweet – it allows for you to choose the variety that works the best with your intended recipe.
Beyond multiple types of potatoes, you can also cook them in many forms, which opens the number of recipes you can use with this swap. For example, potatoes can be boiled and mashed for soups and as fillings for pasta (like ravioli). Or, they can be fried, boiled, baked, etc.
You will notice a different texture with potatoes, and they lack the earthy, “meaty” flavor produced by mushrooms. Instead, you can expect a creamy and starchy taste. Do not use potatoes for cold, uncooked dishes like a salad topper.
Olives can be used in many recipes that generally call for mushrooms. This is due to the similar texture provided by olives in comparison to cooked mushrooms. You’ll also find some of the flavor notes similar, such as the meaty flavor and earthy notes in each option.
You can use olives in popular mushroom dishes like a pizza topping. Keep in mind; these are much saltier, so you’ll want to use them in smaller quantities. They also work well in salads and even cooked dishes.
Another noticeable difference is the vinegary taste due to the curing process of the olives. You cannot eat this food item raw due to its extremely bitter taste. However, once the olives are cured with either saltwater or oil, they become the tasty morsels that sit on grocery store shelves.
There are many varieties of olives ranging from black to purple and green. As each presents different flavor notes, double-check which fits best with your recipe before purchasing.
Yellow summer squash is another excellent replacement in dishes. Like zucchini, you can expect this squash to provide a similar texture to mushrooms in recipes. You’ll want to prepare it similarly by cutting it into small pieces in dishes.
This squash is one of the squash varieties that can be consumed raw or cooked. The word squash originated from the word askutasquash. This Narrangesett Native American word means to eat raw or without cooking.
When using this squash in cooked recipes, it is ideal for soups and rice dishes. If you’re swapping it in a raw recipe, consider adding it to salads.
The flavor of yellow summer squash is similar to that of zucchini- it’s slightly sweet and mild. Again, this swap will not be a perfect flavor match with mushrooms. However, yellow summer squash will work well if you’re only concerned about substituting for the texture/consistency.
You can add mushroom flavor without having mushrooms in a few ways. If you’re looking to create a mushroom soup or stew – you can incorporate canned cream of mushroom in certain dishes. Otherwise, use one of the above options, like tofu, and add soy sauce for a similar flavor.
Yes, mushrooms add an earthy, umami flavor to dishes. Different mushrooms have slightly different flavors. Some mushrooms have a more pungent taste than others.
Eggplant is the best alternative for portobello mushrooms. It can be used in sauces and as a meat alternative in sandwiches or Italian dishes. You can swap eggplant in for nearly every portobello mushroom recipe due to its mild flavor.
If not using mushrooms the flavor of the dish will be altered. The following ingredients might work as substitutes: tofu, carrots, olives, chestnuts, shallots, caramelized onions. To mimic umami flavor you will need to add additional ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, anchovies.
When looking for the best mushroom substitute in Beef Stroganoff, consider the following ingredients: zucchini, peas, carrots, canned heart of palm. You will also need to add additional savory umami flavors that you can get using a fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
Choose zucchini as the best swap for mushrooms in dishes. It is very versatile and will provide a deliciously sweet and earthy flavor. Plus, the texture is similar to that of mushrooms.
Whether you’re looking for an alternative because you ran out of mushrooms or because you don’t enjoy the taste, there are many available options. Each food item listed will provide texture to your recipe.