10 Ways to Use Mushrooms As a Substitute for Meat

From burgers, to bacon, to tacos, you can't go wrong with any of these options.

Toss mushrooms on baking tray

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Here’s a not-so-secret culinary truth: Mushrooms are one of the best vegetarian substitutes for meat. To start, mushrooms are naturally chewy, they crisp up beautifully, and they readily absorb delicious sauces to make them even more flavorful. In addition to taste and texture, mushrooms are also an environmentally-friendly swap and they’re generally cheaper compared to their meat counterparts. The only downside? While mushrooms are great as a culinary swap, they're not a great nutritional swap because they have little to no protein (so bulk up on these plant-based proteins instead).

The “portabella as a burger patty” is probably the most popular way to use mushrooms as a substitute for meat, but that’s just the beginning. King Oyster mushrooms, for example, can be turned into crave-worthy pulled pork or a vegan alternative to scallops. Those creminis from the grocery store can be transformed into a ground meat-like texture, which is ideal for sty-fries, burgers, and not-meat sauces. And shiitake mushrooms might even beat out pork as your favorite morning bacon. Need even more proof? Let’s take a look at just how delicious mushrooms can be in your favorite meaty recipes.

  • 01 of 10


    Vegan Mushroom Bean Burger

    The Spruce

    You don’t need a pre-made meat alternative to make a delectable veggie burger, you just need mushrooms, a little culinary know-how, and a hot pan. Unlike other vegetable-based patties, mushroom burgers brown beautifully with a little oil and enough heat. The results are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside — just like your favorite fast food burger.

  • 02 of 10


    shitake bacon

    Here is where mushroom’s ability to absorb flavorful sauces really pays off. Soaked in a smoky, umami-rich sauce (think soy sauce, liquid smoke, smoked paprika) mushrooms mop up all the flavors of bacon. Then they can be sliced thinly and pan-fried or oven-roasted for a faux bacon to top salads, burgers, and breakfast sandwiches.

  • 03 of 10

    Vegetarian Stuffing

    Mushroom-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

    Cameron Whitman / Stocksy

    You can stuff mushrooms in everything from empanadas, to zucchini, to Wellington (you know, without the beef). This is an easy way to bulk up your meals with something delicious and filling.

  • 04 of 10


    Grilled Mushrooms on wood skewers

    Ina Peters / Stocksy

    Swap mushrooms for your favorite marinated chicken on the grill. Mushroom kebabs rival the best poultry version due to  their power to take on your favorite marinade or BBQ sauce and they get wonderfully charred on the grill. King Oyster mushrooms are one of our favorites for this mushroom-for-meat m swap.

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  • 05 of 10

    Pasta Sauces

    Mushroom Carbonara

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    Mushrooms can be the meatless alternative to bacon or guanciale in creamy carbonara; Or they can be finely minced for a vegetarian version of your favorite bolognese or Sunday sauce (think that meat packed red sauce, sans meat).

  • 06 of 10


    Vegan Potstickers With Mushroom and Tofu on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Partnered with tofu, mushrooms can become the meaty filling of a vegan potsticker that tastes better than takeout. Shiitakes really shine in this simple, delicious filling. 

  • 07 of 10

    Pizza Topping

    Mushroom Pizza With Roasted Garlic and Mint

    Ivan/Getty Images

    This fungi pie is delicious and you get a full serving of vegetables with your Friday night pizza fix. The key is to cook the mushrooms down before adding them to the pizza to bring out their flavor.

  • 08 of 10


    Broiled Portobello Mushroom Caps

    Frank Schiefelbein/EyeEm/Getty Images

    We’d be hard pressed to say that mushrooms can really replace a steak on the grill or under the broiler — especially if they were put side-by-side. But consider this a call to try seasoning portobello mushrooms and putting them under the broiler or on the grill instead of just between burger buns.

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  • 09 of 10


    Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushroom Stir Fry Recipe

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

    This is the mushroom stir-fry to try if you love beef and broccoli. Mushrooms brown beautifully in a hot wok and take on every bit of stir-fry sauce as they cook.

  • 10 of 10


    Mushroom Tacos

    The Spruce Eats / Ubish Yaren

    Look no further than your grocery store produce section for vegetarian taco and enchilada filling. With a quick pan-fry or roast, mushrooms can be quickly wrapped in tortillas for a fast and satisfying meal.

Article Sources
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  1. Mushrooms, white button. Fooddata Central, United States Department of Agriculture