Edible fungi have been a part of home cooking for thousands of years. There are countless varieties, some commonly found at groceries and some that can only be found through foraging in the woods. Unless you are an experienced mycologist, do not eat mushrooms you find growing wild. Many poisonous species look very similar to more savory ones.
Learn more about the most common cultivated mushroom varieties, how to identify them, and how to prepare them.
01 of 09
Button (White) Mushrooms
Widely available, button mushrooms are typically white or very light brown can the caps can range in size from a nickel to a half-dollar. Plump and dome-shaped, these mushrooms have a mild, pleasing flavor that intensifies when cooked. These easy-to-find mushrooms are quite versatile and excellent for use both raw and cooked. They are also commonly available canned and sometimes dried.
02 of 09
Chanterelle (Girolle) Mushrooms
Intrinsic to French cuisine, chanterelle mushrooms are vase-shaped, bright yellow to orange, and expensive when fresh. Nutty and delicate in flavor and texture, they are also available dried and canned. Don't over-cook chanterelles to avoid toughening and serve as a side dish or add to pasta and risottos.
03 of 09
Cremini (Italian Brown) Mushrooms
Cremini mushrooms have naturally dark caps that range in color from light tan to rich brown. They're often found next to the button mushrooms at the grocery store and are slightly bigger and more expensive. They're sometimes called "baby bella" mushrooms because they are the younger, smaller version of portabella mushrooms. Substitute for button mushrooms in soups, sautés, and more to add a more full-bodied flavor.
04 of 09
Shiitake (Forest or Oak) Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms range in color from tan to dark brown and have broad, umbrella-shaped caps up to ten inches in diameter with wide open veils and tan gills. They have a rich, full-bodied flavor that is almost steak-like, with a meaty texture when cooked. These mushrooms can be cooked by almost any method, including stir-frying and roasting. Remove the stems before cooking but reserve them for soup stocks.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
The fluted cap of the oyster mushroom resembles a fan and ranges in color from a soft beige-brown to gray. They can be eaten raw in salads but more often are briefly cooked to bring out their delicate flavor and velvety texture. Some say this mushroom has a faint oyster-like or seafood flavor that matches its physical likeness to oysters.
06 of 09
Enoki (Snow Puff) Mushrooms
With long stems and tiny, snow-white caps, these mushrooms are joined at the base and resemble bean sprouts. The flavor is light and mild, almost fruity, with a crisp texture. They are also available canned. Before using, cut away from the communal base. Use in sandwiches, salads, soups, and as garnishes. If you use them in a cooked dish, add at the last possible moment as over-cooking can toughen enoki.
07 of 09
Portabello (Portabella) Mushrooms
Largest of the commercially available mushrooms, portabello mushrooms are the mature version of the cremini. Their popularity is derived from a brilliant marketing campaign in the 1980s to sell what was then perceived as "over-mature" common mushrooms. The long growing cycle gives it a deep, meat-like flavor and substantial texture. They are delicious cooked whole or sliced—grilled, baked, stir-fried, or deep-fried. Be sure to trim off the dry, fibrous portion of the stem.
08 of 09
Porcini (Cepe or Bolete) Mushrooms
A favorite in Tuscan recipes, pale brown porcini mushrooms resemble the toadstool in a fairytale. Weighing from a couple of ounces to a pound each, with caps from 1 to 10 inches in diameter, porcini have a smooth, meaty texture with a pungent flavor. They are delicious cooked in a variety of ways and can hold their shape when used in soups and stews. The mushrooms are available in many grades and can be expensive, and are also sold dried.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
A relative of the highly-prized truffle, morel mushrooms are tan to dark-brown, cone-shaped, and spongy with a smoky, earthy, and nutty flavor. The darker the mushroom, the more pronounced the flavor. This mushroom must be cleaned well when fresh due to its dimpled head. Like the truffle, it’s expensive, but also available canned and dried.