When most people think about mushrooms, they probably think about what they see in the produce aisle of their local specialty food market - those are gourmet mushrooms!
There are numerous species of edible gourmet mushrooms that serve as an amazing addition to household dishes due to their unique taste, nutritional value, and fun textures.
In this blog post, we’re going to give you some more information about what gourmet mushrooms are, where to source them from, and the various species to consider trying for yourself.
Bon appetit! Let’s dive in.
What are gourmet mushrooms?
Gourmet mushrooms are commonly known as edible mushrooms. Many people have eaten white mushrooms which are commonly found in the produce aisle of major grocery stores (think the little white, button mushrooms that are in plastic-wrapped packaging), but many species of gourmet mushrooms are not as commonplace. Whether they’re grown in the wild or cultivated by small-scale farmers, many gourmet mushroom species are rare and, therefore, may be very expensive to purchase.
Which leads us to…
Where to source gourmet mushrooms from
Besides the mainstream mushrooms you can find and purchase at almost every major grocery store chain in the country, many gourmet mushrooms are grown by small-scale farmers and sold at local markets. You can also find some gourmet mushroom species in the wild - but it’s super important to know what you’re doing if you decide to take the foraging for your food route.
For the purposes of this article, and for everyone’s utmost safety, we’re going to focus on the best places to source and purchase the highest quality gourmet mushrooms for you to bring home and enjoy in your kitchen. Those places include:
- Local mushroom farm: You may not know it, but there are high chances that if you live in a rural area, you may have someone that is growing gourmet mushrooms right under your nose. Whether it’s a farm that focuses solely on mushrooms or a nearby farmer who grows every vegetable, fruit, and fungi they possibly can, local farms are a wonderful place to source gourmet mushrooms from. Check out this handy database to find a mushroom farmer near you.
- Specialty supermarket: If you’re in a more urban or suburban area, perhaps you have access to a specialty supermarket - this could range from your local co-op to an Asian grocery store. These grocery stores will likely feature a range of mushrooms and may even source them from a farm located in your state. All you have to do is Google “specialty grocer or supermarket near me”, find the best option, and ask one of their staff about the store’s gourmet mushroom selection. Bada-bing-bada-boom.
- Farmer’s market: Support your region’s local farmers by heading out to the nearest farmer’s market near you. Simply Google “Farmer’s market near me” and chances are you’ll find an amazing option where you can explore your local farmer community’s mushroom selection.
- Grow them yourself: A less common, but super fun and educational option for sourcing mushrooms is to grow them yourself! Of course, this will take some time and involves some hands-on work, but if you’re up for the challenge, we say power to you. Gourmet mushrooms can be grown indoors from the comfort of your home by purchasing a grow kit. If you take this route, get in touch to let us know how it goes for you! We’re always excited when people decide to be a fun guy and grow their own fungi.
Of course, you can purchase some types of gourmet mushrooms at your local chain grocer, but if you want the highest quality, we recommend sourcing your fungi from one of the above options.
Let’s get into the various species of gourmet mushrooms that we suggest you give a try.
What are the types of gourmet mushrooms?
Now that we’ve discussed what gourmet mushrooms are and where you can find them, knowing the types of mushrooms you may want to purchase is key. Let’s look at 12 different types of gourmet mushrooms - we’re sharing what they are, what they taste like, and popular dishes to try with that mushroom species. Here goes…
Shiitake mushrooms are a popular edible mushroom that grows wild in parts of Eastern Asia. It is used in many dishes cooked around the globe and is considered one of the most well-known gourmet mushrooms on the market.
Beyond its “well-known” status, shiitake mushrooms are also renowned for their medicinal benefits - they are rich in polysaccharides which protect against cell damage, increase white blood cell count, and are shown to help boost the body’s natural immune response. Shiitake is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. With these benefits, shiitake has been shown to help with:
Not too shabby.
What does shiitake taste like?
Shiitake mushrooms have a meaty, buttery taste when cooked. In fact, shiitake mushrooms are actually used as a meat substitute and protein option for vegetarians and vegans. On that note, let’s discuss…
Popular dishes using shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are a tasty addition to common household dishes like sautés, stir fries, soups, dumplings, and more. Some of our favorite recipes include:
- Shiitake mushroom risotto
- Green bean and shiitake mushroom stir fry
- Pulled shiitake mushroom BBQ sandwich
- Linguine with shiitake mushroom wine sauce
- Garlic sautéd shiitake mushrooms
Maitake mushroom, also known as the dancing mushroom for its flowy skirt-like appearance, is another popular edible mushroom that is well-known outside of the fungi community. It grows at the base of trees in China, Europe, and North America, and is on the more affordable side when it comes to gourmet mushrooms. It’s also commonly known as “hen of the wood”
Beyond its great taste, maitake is also known for containing maitake d-fraction which has been proven to have cancer-fighting properties and other health benefits. These health benefits include:
- Cancer treatment or prevention
- Liver protection
- Cholesterol regulation
- Enhanced immune function
- Lowered blood glucose levels
What does maitake taste like?
Maitake is known for its strong, earthy, and even (sometimes) peppery flavor.
Popular dishes using maitake mushrooms
Because of the dense consistency of maitake mushrooms, they make a great addition or focal point for many types of meals - they can even be grilled! Our top five favorites are:
- Sautéd maitake mushrooms
- Creamy, one pan maitake mushroom chicken
- Maitake mushroom soup
- Maitake mushroom toast
- Grilled thai marinated maitake mushrooms
Now we’re getting into the wild gourmet mushrooms…chanterelle is a super popular wild species that’s fruiting body has a yellow-orange color and comes in a funnel shape. Interestingly, chanterelle mushrooms are part of the cantharellus family which includes many other mushroom species that are found growing throughout Europe. Chanterelle mushrooms cannot be farmed as they must grow from a tree or shrub.
As for health benefits, chanterelle mushrooms are chock full of vitamin D - it’s said that a half cup of chanterelles may have 5 to 20 micrograms of vitamin D which can be anywhere from 30-100% of your daily recommended allotment. We all need more vitamin D, so this is a win.
What does chanterelle taste like?
Unlike many other mushroom species which may have an earthy taste and texture, chanterelle mushrooms lean more fruity. In fact, some say that the taste resembles an apricot or peach, but less sweet.
Fruity? We’re intrigued.
Popular dishes using chanterelle mushrooms
Because of their unique taste, chanterelle mushrooms make a great addition to some unexpected meals for some sweet and savory notes. Here are our five faves:
- Bavarian chanterelle mushrooms with bacon
- Chanterelle mushroom creamy parmesan pasta
- White pizza with chanterelle mushrooms, brie, arugula, and lemon
- Chanterelle and fontina frittata
- Chanterelle mushrooms and potatoes
4. Oyster mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are a common edible mushroom that was first grown in Europe during World War I and is not cultivated by farmers around the world. There are numerous species of oyster mushrooms including pearl oyster, blue oyster, golden oyster, pink oyster (we know, sounds like the rainbow at this point), elm oyster, phoenix oyster, and one of the most commonly known types, king trumpet oyster.
The oyster mushroom family is not only super nutritious, but they also contain powerful medicinal compounds (e.g., antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.) that have been shown to help with:
- Heart health
- Blood sugar regulation
- Immune boosting benefits
- Anti-tumor activities
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Gut health
What do oyster mushrooms taste like?
Oyster mushrooms are said to taste delicate and savory, which makes them a great addition to stir fry dishes and pasta. Speaking of…
Popular dishes using oyster mushrooms
Since oyster mushrooms are such a popular meat substitute (mostly because of their delicate, savory flavor lending well to meat heavy dishes), we recommend using oyster mushrooms in dishes like:
- Garlic butter oyster mushrooms
- Vegan fried chicken (made using oyster mushrooms)
- Teriyaki oyster mushroom “steak”
- Oyster mushroom stir fry
- Pulled “pork” oyster mushrooms
Enoki mushrooms are one of the most *fun-to-look-at* mushrooms as they look like little tiny mushroom caps on long stems. Enoki has been used by the Japanese for centuries, and is still a staple in Japanese diets today. It grows wild but can also be cultivated - it will just have a slightly different appearance when comparing the two (wild v. cultivated).
Although studies are still ongoing about enoki’s potential health benefits, it’s been shown that enoki mushrooms may contain antitumor compounds called proflamin. Additionally, it’s been shown that enoki has vitamin B, niacin, and potassium.
What does enoki taste like?
When cooked, enoki mushrooms have a mild, nutty, and slightly fruity taste. It’s texture is slightly crunchy at first with a chewy bite to follow.
Popular dishes using enoki mushrooms
Enoki are commonly cooked and served bunched together in ramen, hot pots, sushi, curries, and more. Here are a few winning dishes in our book:
- Enoki mushrooms with garlic and scallion sauce
- Creamy sesame and enoki mushroom ramen
- Tofu and enoki mushroom sushi
- Coconut curry soup featuring enoki mushrooms
- Korean enoki mushroom pancake
Agaricus mushrooms are a family of mushrooms that includes button, crimini, and portobello mushroom (to name the most popular ones). Members of this family are easily identified by their fleshy cap, radiated gills, and longer stem with a brownish color. But what many people don’t know - and just assume that they’re different species within the same family - is that button, crimini, and portobello mushrooms are actually all the same mushroom. Each name is meant to indicate a different life stage of the mushroom’s growth. Mindblown? We were too when we found that out.
Some of these mushrooms are the most heavily cultivated gourmet mushrooms in the world, but many of the agaricus family members also have amazing health benefits which also puts them in the medicinal category. Those benefits include:
- Chemotherapy symptom reduction
- Type 2 diabetes insulin resistance improvement
- Boosted immune response for colorectal cancer patients
- Reduction of ulcerative colitis symptoms
- Antitumor properties
- Antiviral properties
- Anti-allergy effects
But let’s look at how they taste…
What does agaricus taste like?
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the big dogs: button, crimini, and portobello. Each of these mushrooms has an earthy, savory taste which gets more intense as the mushrooms mature. It’s said that the portobello mushroom is a great substitute for meat because of its consistency and taste when cooked.
Popular dishes using agaricus mushrooms
With the above in mind, some of our favorite agaricus dishes include:
- Couscous stuffing with crimini mushrooms
- Portobello mushroom burger
- Garlic button mushrooms
- Baked portobello mushrooms
- Creamy pasta with crispy (crimini) mushrooms
Morel mushrooms, part of the family called “morchella”, resemble honeycombs and are a genus of edible sac mushrooms. Morel is one of the pricier mushroom varieties, sometimes ranging from $200+ per pound. They are super popular with chefs and have earned high ranks within the edible mushroom-loving community. They are never grown on a farm and can only be found in the wild in heavily wooded areas at the base of tall trees.
Morel mushrooms contain a lot of antioxidants that are shown to protect the body against free radicals (e.g., heart disease, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and more).
What does morel taste like?
Unlike many edible mushrooms, morel has a subtle texture and taste. They’re described as woody, nutty, and earthy, but are super subtle. People tend to really like them for their denser texture that does not get slimy when cooked like other mushrooms.
Popular dishes using morel mushrooms
Given their high society status, morel mushrooms are a bit harder to come by - but if you get your hands on some, we recommend using them in simple, but delicious dishes like:
- Sauteed morel mushrooms
- Sauteed asparagus with morel mushrooms
- Fried morel mushrooms
- Morel mushroom pasta in parmesan sauce
- Wild morel mushroom toast
Porcini mushrooms have a brown cap with thick white stalks, and are commonly known and grown in the mushroom community. They are cultivated all over the world, but also grow wild in forests at the foot of trees. Autumn is known as “porcini season” in various parts of Europe where they grow wild more freely.
Low in calories, this mushroom is also known to reduce inflammation in the body, promote weight loss, kill off colon cancer cells, improve digestion, and more. They’re a great source of vitamin B, protein, copper, potassium, and many other great nutrients.
What does porcini taste like?
The taste of porcini mushrooms is intensely woody with nutty undertones in every bite.
Popular dishes using porcini mushrooms
Let’s just say that porcini mushrooms are a great pasta addition - both in the sauce or with the pasta itself. Try cooking with porcini mushrooms by making:
- Dried porcini mushroom risotto
- Fettuccine with porcini
- Tagliatelli with porcini
- Porcini mushroom ragu
- Mushroom and dried porcini soup
9. Lion’s mane
Lion’s mane is a funky fungus that resembles, well..a white lion’s mane. Despite its odd appearance, it’s actually quite a tasty gourmet mushroom that is nutritionally jam packed with all the good stuff - think fiber, nutrients, and bioactive compounds.
Lion’s mane is linked to numerous health benefits, including:
- Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
- Improved cognitive function
- Stimulation of brain cell growth
- Prevention of brain plaque build up
- Reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms
What does lion’s mane taste like?
Lion’s mane taste is an interesting one and can often be described as resembling a light, seafood-esque taste - some even compare it to crab or lobster. But hey, it’s a great option if you’re a seafood loving vegan!
Popular dishes using lion’s mane mushrooms
Lion’s mane is a great addition to numerous meals. Some of our favorites are:
- Spicy cumin lion’s mane mushroom kebabs
- Lion’s mane mushroom “crab” cakes
- Pan fried lion’s mane
- Lion’s mane mushroom “steak”
- Lion’s mane pasta
10. Chestnut mushrooms
A sibling of the white button mushroom, chestnut mushrooms are essentially the exact same mushroom except that they grow with a darker, browner color. Chestnut mushrooms are widely cultivated by farmers all over the country to sell to grocery stores and small markets. They grow in clusters (similar to oyster mushrooms).
It is said that chestnut mushrooms are good for cell regeneration, blood health, and boosting the immune system.
Ok, great. But how do they taste?
What do chestnut mushrooms taste like?
Chestnut mushrooms taste like a more mild shiitake mushroom - so, they essentially have a mild meaty, buttery taste.
Popular dishes using chestnut mushrooms
Chestnut mushrooms are extremely versatile and are used in a number of dishes, including:
- Chestnut mushroom bourguignon
- Creamy chestnut mushroom soup
- Chestnut mushroom omelet
- Sticky rice chestnut mushroom bowl
- Balsamic chestnut mushroom spaghetti
Ahh truffles - the delicacy of the mushroom world and arguably the most expensive gourmet mushroom on the market. Why are they so expensive? Well, they’re rare for one thing and it requires a special eye (and sometimes a special type of pig) to sniff them out as they grow underground in the wild. We’re talking thousands of dollars per pounds for certain species of truffles - yup, the big bucks.
However, the price tag is for good reason. Not only is the taste of truffle mushrooms to die for (we’ll get to this below), but there are numerous health benefits associated with consuming truffles, including the potential to:
- Lower cholesterol
- Control blood sugar
- Prevent liver damage
- Reduce inflammation throughout the body
- Fight bad bacteria and infections
- Help prevent cancer
Now, let’s get to the tasting.
What does truffles taste like?
There’s a reason truffles show up on fancy menus - and that reason is for the taste. Truffles have a garlicky taste that is similar to shallots. Yum.
Popular dishes using truffle mushrooms
Is your mouth watering yet? It will be now…:
- Truffle mushroom pasta
- Wild mushroom toast with truffle butter
- Tenderloin with truffle mushroom sauce
- Sausage roll with black truffles
- Roasted mushrooms, truffled and herbed
The pioppini mushroom, a.k.a. the velvet pioppini has earned a positive reputation in recent years as a top gourmet mushroom with highly ranked American chefs. It somewhat resembles enoki mushrooms visually, but has larger caps and a darker brown color. They tend to grow wild in parts of Asia.
The pioppini mushroom has been shown to potentially slow down the negative symptoms of osteoporosis. Their antioxidant properties are also supposed to prevent aging and protect against age-related diseases.
What does pioppini taste like?
Many people say that the pioppini mushroom tastes like a bite of the forest, making it a great addition to a number of dishes.
Popular dishes using pioppini mushrooms
Some of our favorite ways to enjoy pioppini include:
- Pioppini mushroom soup with pancetta
- Skillet gnocchi with pioppini mushrooms and spinach
- Pasta with ricotta and pioppini
- Stewed pioppini mushrooms with creamy polenta
- Crostinis with pioppini mushrooms and harissa
Pro tip if you’re trying to be fancy: chefs say dishes with pioppini tend to pair nicely with red wine.
Are you as hungry as we are? Hard not to be after reading through all of those delicious sounding mushroom recipes.
Which one are you going to try first?
Let us know.