Whether you’re knee-deep in the vast world of outdoor TikTok, if you’re an aspiring forager or if you simply want to expand your culinary horizons, you may be interested in knowing about the different types of mushrooms. Sure, you’ve likely come across portobellos and shiitakes in the produce aisle at the grocery store, but there are so many varieties out there, waiting to be slow-cooked in stews and baked into casseroles. And on that note, identifying the non-poisonous varieties, however, is absolutely crucial, especially for foragers.
18 Types of Mushrooms to Look For, Whether You're into Foraging the Woods or the Produce Aisle
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First: What are mushrooms, exactly?
To become a mushroom aficionado, it’s important to know what a mushroom really is. Technically, it’s the fruit of a certain type of fungi. Most have a cap and a stem, and many—but not all—are edible. Some can be used to emulate meat (mushroom nachos are truly amazing) while others add a little umami flair to whatever the main event may be. But at the end of the day, each one looks and tastes completely different.
19 TYPES OF MUSHROOMS TO KNOW
1. Portobello Mushrooms
These massive, brown umbrellas are native to the grasslands of Europe and North America. They’re extremely thick and have an earthy-yet-meaty flavor, especially when marinated in olive oil and spices, before getting tossed on the grill. You can prepare them in a myriad of ways, but melting a little mozz on top and squeezing it between two slices of bread is a safe bet. Needless to say, they’re a must at barbecues, especially if you’re vegetarian.
2. Black Trumpet Mushrooms
The Black Trumpet is rather unusual looking, as it’s one of the only varieties on this list that’s almost completely black. Because they’re extremely difficult to grow, they are a predominantly foraged ingredient, and therefore, they’re often quite expensive. Black trumpets have a slight smoky flavor, and flourish when steamed and thrown into a salad, or if they’re made into a sauce for a savory roast chicken.
3. Chicken Of The Woods Mushrooms
As another popularly foraged ingredient, Chicken of the Woods is extremely difficult to identify. Resembling many types of fungi, it lacks a stem, fanning out from trees and other types of plants. Many attest to its juicy, succulent and slightly citrusy flavor, which may very well be how it got its name. It’s often deep fried to emulate fried chicken, and is said to pair beautifully with steamed lobster.
4. White Button Mushrooms
White buttons look like your everyday, run-of-the-mill shroom, and that’s because they’re the most commonly consumed variety, according to Epicurious. They’re mild yet have full-bodied flavor, especially when sautéed or roasted. And whether you’re dipping them in hummus and eating them raw, or slicing them up and roasting them for some meatless tacos, they’re extremely versatile. They’re the Meryl Streep of mushrooms, one might say.
5. Shiitake Mushrooms
These don’t just make for a funny punchline—they’re a real treat, too. Notable for their wavy ridgelines, shiitakes are velvety and incredibly robust. Add them to your next stir fry, whip them into some risotto or blend them into a savory bowl of mushroom soup for a cozy night in.
6. Bunashimeji Mushrooms
Native to East Asia, Bunashimeji mushrooms are recognized for their small caps and long stems. When eaten raw, they taste bitter and can be hard to digest, so it’s advised to only eat them cooked, according to Oregon Mushroom. They’re tender and buttery when cooked properly, though, so mix them into an omelet or try creating a “steak” sandwich with them.
7. Maitake Mushrooms
Nicknamed Hen of the Woods (not to be confused with chicken of the woods!), these babies look like a mother hen sitting with her feathers ruffled. They’re tan, brow, and grey, and have a somewhat peppery flavor. They pair well with salty flavors—toss them atop some pizza or incorporate them into a chicken bake with prosciutto, to balance out their complex flavor.
8. Oyster Mushrooms
No, this isn’t a photograph of coral, nor is it a flower. However, it certainly is a mysterious and gorgeous sight to see. With a delicate-yet-complex taste, these integrate seamlessly into pasta bakes and taste great on their own when battered and fried.
9. King Oyster Mushrooms
King oysters almost resemble blocks with their thick stems, which are almost as broad as their caps. They’re super aromatic, with a slight licorice taste in the finish. Impress your dinner guests by glazing them in miso, including them in your next batch of fried rice or sautéing them in Gochujang for something extra spicy.
10. Chanterelle Mushrooms
If you’re delving into the world of foraging, chanterelles are the most popular wild edible shroom. These funnel-shaped beauties can come in a few different colors—mainly orange, yellow and white. They melt in your mouth, and some say they have a slightly tangy taste, making for a truly unreal cream sauce for a standing rib roast and pairing impeccably with eggs. What we’re trying to say is they’re definitely our new favorite brunch guest.
11. Crimini Mushrooms
Psst: Crimini mushrooms are part of the same species as the button mushroom—they’re just brown instead of white. They basically taste the same as buttons, giving off a deeper flavor after they’ve been cooked. Try roasting them in garlic butter or including them in your next batch of chili, if you happen to grab some on your next grocery haul.
12. Enoki Mushrooms
Enokis are stringy and almost noodle-like. Hailing from Japan, they taste mild with a vague nutty flavor. They’re super delicate and can be thrown into a steamy bowl of udon noodle soup or fried with garlic and scallion sauce—and if you cook them long enough, the thin stalks will get extra crispy.
13. Morel Mushrooms
Resembling a brain or peach pit, morels have a beautiful, wavy design on the cap, with a much thinner, shorter stem. Many attest to the fact they have a “woody” flavor, and since they’re literally found in the woods, it’s advised to boil them in salt water before consuming them. Include them in your quiche this Sunday, or whip them up with your grits and breakfast is served.
14. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Named for its resemblance to the head of a lion, the lion’s mane is relatively easy to recognize if you’re delving into the art of foraging. (In stores, you’re more likely to find it ground into a powder.) It has a tender taste, apparently resembling crab meat or other types of seafood. Make vegetarian “crab cakes,” or include them in your next seafood pasta dish for added flavor.
16. Wood Ear Mushrooms
This dark brown ear-like fungi generally grows on wood, mainly older trees. They’re extremely chewy and fragrant, yet they’re relatively mild. You’ve likely had them in hot and sour soup or in moo shoo pork, which both have bold spices and sauces, and truth be told, you may have confused it for some sort of meat, considering their unique texture.
17. Fairy Ring Mushrooms
Although you most likely won’t see any of these in Neverland, these auburn-capped mushrooms with off-white gills are often found grouped together in ring-like formations. They’re super dry and smooth, with a definitively sweet taste. They thrive atop a piece of toast, pair well with crayfish and other shellfish, and—of course—they can play an important role in a wide range of pasta dishes.
18. Cauliflower Mushroom
Although it closely resembles the adaptable cauliflower, this mushroom has a musky flavor, with hints of almond and fennel. Incorporate these babies in a dish with wild rice, or into a frittata, but seriously, don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of wine to sip alongside ‘em.