Ultimate Guide To Edible Mushrooms (Explained With Pictures)

Mushrooms are a staple ingredient in a plethora of recipes, and they're popular around the world due to their versatility and meaty texture.

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However, with a huge variety of mushrooms available, it would be a shame to stick to the same mushrooms all the time.

All the Types of Edible Mushrooms

In this article, I will cover some key information about edible mushrooms. So, next time you’re looking to add mushrooms to a recipe, you have some inspiration!

Keep reading to find out more.

Notes on edible mushrooms

Before getting started, you should know a few things about edible mushrooms, particularly when foraging for wild mushrooms.

  • Mushrooms should always be thoroughly washed before adding to your dishes.

  • When foraging for wild mushrooms, you should always go with an experienced guide. Some wild mushrooms look very similar to certain mushrooms, but can actually be poisonous. Failure to research specific mushrooms and take the necessary precautions could result in you accidentally eating a poisonous mushroom.

Edible mushrooms and their uses

1. Button mushrooms

Button mushrooms

Button mushrooms, also known as white mushrooms, are Agaricus bisporus mushrooms. Button mushrooms are the most common type of mushroom you’ll find at the store, and are the youngest and least mature variety of Agaricus bisporus mushrooms. The babies, if you will.

Button mushrooms work well in a variety of different dishes, either cooked or raw. This variation works well on top of pizza, and makes a delicious addition to stir-fries and soups!

2. Cremini mushrooms

Cremini mushrooms

Cremini mushrooms, (also referred to as crimini mushrooms) are the same type of mushroom as white mushrooms and portobello mushrooms, the only difference being their stage of maturity. Cremini mushrooms are at the medium stage of maturity and have a mild, earthy flavor and a meaty texture.

Cremini mushrooms are more flavorful than button mushrooms, and can be stuffed and baked, roasted, sauteed, or stewed. You can even chop these delicious mushrooms up, place them in a salad, and eat them raw.

3. Portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms are the most mature, or "adult" Agaricus bisporus mushrooms. They tend to be much larger, and are often sold as just the cap alone. 

Portobello mushrooms provide a meaty texture and rich flavor for all kinds of dishes. Portobello mushrooms are great to stuff with a variety of ingredients, such as garlic butter and cheese for a delicious vegetarian main course.

Other uses for portobello mushrooms include adding them to salads, vegetarian pâté, and a variety of pasta dishes.

4. Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are known for their delicate texture and mild flavor. 

These mushrooms get their name from the fact that they typically have broad, thin, oyster or fan-shaped caps. The flavor is delicate and savory, with some people likening the flavor to seafood.

Found in many Chinese and Japanese dishes, Oyster mushrooms work beautifully in stir-fries and soups. While you can eat oyster mushrooms raw and they can look nice when added to salads, they tend to bring a somewhat metallic flavor to a dish when they are uncooked. That being said, these mushrooms are best sauteed, roasted, stir-fried, or grilled.

5. Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) are mushrooms native to East Asia. They have a meaty flavor and texture, and thus work well in recipes such as stir-fries, soups, and stews.

Shiitake mushrooms are best identified by their umbrella-shaped brown caps, which curl under ever so slightly. When fresh, their flavor is quite mild. However, drying them concentrates their flavor, bringing out strong, earthy notes.

6. Enoki mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms (Flammulina velutipes) are long-stemmed mushrooms you often see in Asian cuisine. These tasty mushrooms look like strings, and are easy to find at non-speciality grocery stores as well as Asian supermarkets. 

This mushroom is often sold in clusters, and has a delicate, savory flavor and delicious crunch from the thin strands. These mushrooms are the perfect addition to many different recipes!

Saute them and throw them into noodle dishes and savory pancakes, or chuck them raw into ramen for a nice crunch.

7. Maitake mushrooms

Maitake mushrooms

Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) is an edible mushroom that grows at the base of trees. These mushrooms are light brown and grow in feathery clusters, with their name translating to dancing mushroom in Japanese. 

Maitake mushrooms have a strong earthy, peppery flavor and are best served when they have been cooked. These mushrooms are perfect on top of pizza, added to stir fries, and make any ramen bowl a delight to eat.

There are also a variety of health benefits associated with maitake mushrooms. Maitake mushrooms have been known to prevent and help treat cancer and other health conditions. They are also packed with antioxidants, and therefore can have a positive effect on your overall immunity. 

8. King Trumpet mushrooms

King Oyster Mushroom

King Trumpet mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii) also known as King Oyster mushrooms are a hearty option that can be eaten either raw or cooked. King trumpet mushrooms naturally grow in cooler climates throughout the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa and are the largest of the oyster mushroom genus.

In terms of flavor, King trumpet mushrooms taste like a cross between a portobello mushroom and a maitake. When cooked, the meaty texture is comparable to seafood such as calamari. Trumpet mushrooms have been called the “cheap porcini” as they are packed full of flavor, but are not as expensive.

These mushrooms are more dense than other mushroom varieties and can therefore hold up to high heat better. They are great in various recipes, including soups, stir fries, and salads. You can even pull and shred these mushrooms and it makes a great meat substitute if you lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle! 

9. Beech mushrooms

Beech mushrooms (Hypsizygus tessellatus) are a type of edible mushroom that grow in small clusters on beech trees, hence their name.

There are brown and white beech mushrooms. They have a lightly sweet, savory and nutty flavor, with a subtly crunchy texture. These types of mushrooms should always be served cooked, since the flavor is slightly bitter when raw.

Once you’ve cooked these beech mushrooms, you can add them to a variety of dishes, or use them in place of other varieties in a stir fry, risotto, or chopped up on pizza.

10. Porcini mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis) are one of the most prized wild mushrooms in Italian and French cuisine, however, they’re a popular choice worldwide!

These delicious mushrooms are known for their thick stem and are sought out for their smooth texture and aromatic, woodsy flavor. Due to their strong and slightly creamy nutty flavor, they are considered an incredibly popular gourmet mushroom. Perfect in pasta and rice dishes such as risotto, you won’t be able to get enough of porcini mushrooms.

Porcini mushrooms can be bought fresh or canned, but they are most commonly available dried. To use dried porcini, you will need to soak them in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking with them.

11. Hedgehog mushrooms

Hedgehog mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis) are one of the most prized wild mushrooms in Italian and French cuisine, however, they’re a popular choice worldwide!

These delicious mushrooms are known for their thick stem and are sought out for their smooth texture and aromatic, woodsy flavor. Due to their strong and slightly creamy nutty flavor, they are considered an incredibly popular gourmet mushroom. Perfect in pasta and rice dishes such as risotto, you won’t be able to get enough of porcini mushrooms.

Porcini mushrooms can be bought fresh or canned, but they are most commonly available dried. To use dried porcini, you will need to soak them in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking with them.

12. Morel mushrooms

Morel mushroom

Morel mushrooms (Morchella esculenta) are only grown in the wild, making them a hot commodity amongst chefs. These mushrooms are easy to distinguish by their exterior, which resembles a honeycomb. 

These mushrooms have a strong, nutty flavor and an earthy aroma. They also have a meaty texture, unlike the slimy texture of other mushroom varieties. This makes them a great alternative to meat if you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative.

Morels should always be cooked thoroughly and are fantastic in a wide range of dishes, including pastas and cream sauces.

While there have been efforts to cultivate morel mushrooms, they are extremely challenging to farm. As a result, they must be foraged from where they naturally grow, making them a tricky mushroom to get your hands on. 

You should also be aware of false morels, as there are a number of species that look similar but are in fact poisonous. Bearing this in mind, when you are foraging for morel mushrooms, you should always go with an experienced guide.

13. Chanterelle mushrooms

chanterelle mushrooms

Chanterelle mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius) are wild mushrooms that grow in small groups in woodland areas, more often with beech or birch trees.

Their rich flavor pairs well with eggs and cream sauces. Chanterelles can be used in any recipe calling for mushrooms, but they do best in dishes where they're celebrated as the star.

These mushrooms are expensive because they need specific growing conditions. They are yellow to orange in color. Their bright color makes them easy to spot on the forest floor, but once you have a chanterelle candidate in hand be sure to verify that it’s not a poisonous look alike.

In summary

There are a variety of different mushrooms to choose from that will compliment a variety of your favorite dishes. 

That being said, you should always take an experienced forager when looking for certain wild mushrooms and inspect them carefully before picking and eating them. Confusing an edible mushroom with a poisonous mushroom can be fatal, so it’s absolutely crucial that you take this important step.

Happy cooking!

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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