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Mushroom Substitute


Most people love using mushrooms in their recipes. However, if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you need to avoid all recipes with mushrooms. Try the below mushroom substitute list for similar flavors and textures without the need for physical mushrooms.

large white plate with whole Mini Bella mushrooms

What are mushrooms?

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.

Mushrooms 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.

What types of mushrooms are there?

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.

Top 5 Mushroom Substitutes and Alternatives

1. Tofu

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 a high amount of protein – 8g per serving, along with essential minerals and amino acids.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use tofu in a 1:1 ratio when a recipe requests mushrooms.
  • For tofu to properly absorb marinades and seasoning, you will need to drain the liquid out of it first. The easiest method is by wrapping it in a towel and pressing it with a heavy object like a large pan.

2. Eggplant

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 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.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use in a 1:1 ratio for any recipes that require mushrooms.
  • To mimic mushrooms better, remove the skin from the eggplant and cube it into small pieces.

3. Zucchini

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.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio for zucchini when using it to replace mushrooms in a dish.
  • You’ll want to slice it into small pieces (like eggplant). You can keep the skin on as it helps create a similar texture to mushrooms.

4. Garbanzo Beans

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.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use in a 1:1 ratio for mushrooms in your desired dish.
  • For a faster cooking method – purchase canned chickpeas. Rinse the liquid off of the beans before using it in a recipe.

5. Tempeh

If you’ve never tried a vegetarian or vegan meal before, you may not have heard of tempeh. 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. It also adds nutrients like iron and calcium to dishes.
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.

Cooking Tips:

  • Tempeh can be used in a 1:1 ratio when substituting it for mushrooms.
  • Many meat alternatives need additional seasoning as they tend to have a neutral or mild taste. Add more seasoning than you normally would with meat or vegetables.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you Create mushroom flavor without mushrooms?

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.

Do mushrooms add 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.

What can I use instead of portobello mushrooms?

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.

Summary

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.

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. Additional alternatives not listed above are russet potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.

Recipes with Mushrooms

Instant Pot Chicken Spaghetti

white pasta dish with spaghetti in creamy sauce

Instant Pot Tuna Casserole

white plate with pasta in creamy sauce, dill and green peas

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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