Mushrooms are the fun guys of the forest. They have a distinct meaty texture to them and can be used in many dishes, including soups, stews, and even burgers.
How many types of edible mushrooms are there?
Amazingly, there may be more than 10,000 edible mushrooms around the world. Because there are so many species of edible mushrooms, and many more that are either just inedible or even poisonous, you want to be an expert forager before going out and picking your own mushrooms.
15 Popular Edible Mushrooms
1. Hedgehog Mushrooms
Cute in name, hedgehog mushrooms have adorable yellow tops with semi-long stems. They are actually quite sweet, as evidenced by their nickname, “sweet tooth”.
Hedgehog mushrooms have a fruity and earthy odor to them and should be cooked when eaten. Simply sauté them in butter and add them to any pasta or meat dish for a truly scrumptious experience.
2. Portobello Mushrooms
While the first two stages of growth for this type of mushroom are button and then cremini, once they are mature, they are known as portobello mushrooms.
Portobello mushrooms have a lovely brown color to them and are often as large as the palm of your hand. They can be used chopped up but are commonly used to substitute beef burgers.
3. Button Mushrooms
Perhaps the most common mushrooms you’ll find in your grocery store, white button mushrooms are mild-tasting and thus fairly versatile. You can chop them up and add them to many different dishes.
Button mushrooms are great because they can be both eaten raw or cooked, and are often used in Italian cooking in sauces. Interestingly, button mushrooms are the immature state and once they mature, they become portobello mushrooms.
4. Shiitake Mushrooms
Commonly found in Japan, Korea, and China, shiitake mushrooms are often used in Asian cuisine. They are also known as black forest mushrooms and brown oak mushrooms.
Shiitake mushrooms can be eaten cooked and because they have a meaty, savory taste to them, they are often used with meat dishes or sauces. Furthermore, shiitake mushrooms are often dried as the process really enhances their flavor.
5. Wood Blewit Mushrooms
With a beautiful, blue color when they are still young, wood blewit mushrooms take on a violet color as they mature. In fact, their natural color is so impressive, they have actually been used to dye paper and fabric.
Wood blewit mushrooms are mostly found in Europe and North America, and have large caps and thick stems. They are not edible raw, so you must cook them, and when you do, they pair well with most meats and pastas. If not cooked fully, these mushrooms can cause indigestion in some people.
6. Matsutake Mushrooms
Extremely sought after in Japan and other parts of Asia, matsutake mushrooms have a spicy aroma to them. They are also known as pine mushrooms because they can usually be found growing on or around pine trees.
Matsutake mushrooms can be hard to find in the wild and therefore can be expensive to purchase. They are often grilled or used in stir-fries, as well as Raman dishes.
7. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
In order to understand their name, all you need to do is look at lion’s mane mushrooms to see their shaggy growth. They are often used in Chinese and Japanese cuisine, as well as used for medical practices.
Lion’s mane mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked, and for their full benefits, are often steeped in tea.
While more studies need to be performed, there is some evidence that lion’s mane mushrooms can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as protect against stomach ulcers.
8. Reishi Mushrooms
While reishi mushrooms are commonly eaten, they are also used for their protection against illnesses. Unlike most mushrooms that prefer cool, damp climates, reishi mushrooms grow in hot and humid areas, particularly in Asia.
Reishi mushrooms have a lovely golden brown color and a large cap. They are often used to boost the health of the immune system as well as fight depression and fatigue.
9. Maitake Mushrooms
If you’re not familiar with this type of mushroom, you might recognize it as its other name, “hen of the woods”. Maitake mushrooms grow at the base of oak trees and have wonderful, frilled tops with long stems.
Maitake mushrooms are very popular in Chinese and Japanese cuisine thanks to their earthy flavor and meaty texture. They are commonly found in Ramen dishes and can even be used as pizza toppings.
10. Oyster Mushrooms
A popular wild mushroom, oyster mushrooms often grow on the side of trees and have a unique, layered look to them. They are also known as tree oysters or abalone mushrooms.
Oyster mushrooms are part of the Pleurotus species but are the most common of this group. They are popular in cooking because they have such a sweet flavor. For best results when cooking, slice the oyster mushrooms thin and use them in stir-fries.
11. Cremini Mushrooms
Some mushrooms go through various states as they mature, and thus are known as different types in each of these parts. Cremini mushrooms start as button mushrooms, but when they mature and turn brown, they are then known by this name.
Cremini mushrooms are light brown in color and a bit larger than button mushrooms. They have a subtle flavor and are still versatile.
12. Morel Mushrooms
While there are some types of cultivated mushrooms that are easy to grow, morel mushrooms are unfortunately hard to cultivate and therefore need to be harvested in the wild. As a result, morel mushrooms are incredibly expensive.
With a distinctive honeycomb top, morel mushrooms are prized by French cuisine due to their savory taste. They are often sauteed in butter and can be served with both poultry and meat.
13. Porcini Mushrooms
While porcini mushrooms are similar to portobello mushrooms, because they have such a meaty texture, they are a bit smaller and have a smoother feel to them. Porcini mushrooms are hard to find fresh in the United States but they are commonly found in dried form.
Because of their rich taste, porcini mushrooms are commonly used in soups, pasta, and especially risottos.
14. Enoki Mushrooms
Unlike other types of mushrooms, Enoki mushrooms can be found both fresh and canned. They have a very unique appearance, with multiple tendrils coming down from their caps.
Enoki mushrooms are very popular in Asian cuisine but are becoming more popular due to their versatility. They have a crisp texture to them, so can be used in salads. Or, if you want to cook them, Enoki mushrooms are great in soups.
15. Chanterelle Mushrooms
Mushroom foragers will know that chanterelle mushrooms are some of the best to find. They are orange or yellow in color and have a trumpet shape to them.
Chanterelle mushrooms are very popular in European cuisine, especially French cooking, and they can be found in the forests of Europe and the United States.
With an earthy taste to them, chanterelle mushrooms are usually sauteed in butter or cream, and are often added to sauces and soups.
Other Less Popular Choice
Giant Puffball Mushrooms
Sometimes plants get their names in an obvious manner and this is especially true of giant puffball mushrooms. Essentially, they look like overstuffed marshmallows and grow between 4 and 20 inches in diameter.
Giant puffball mushrooms are really only edible when they are immature and if they grow too long, can cause severe digestive issues. Their interiors should be solid white; if they aren’t then don’t eat them.
King Oyster Mushrooms
There’s a reason king oyster mushrooms have earned their name. While similar to regular oyster mushrooms, this variety is much larger and a lot thicker in its stem.
King oyster mushrooms don’t actually have a lot of flavor when consumed raw, and they also don’t smell. However when you cook them, their true flavors are revealed and they have a very meaty texture along with a rich, savory taste.
Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Described as absolutely delicious, black trumpet mushrooms are found in the wild and have a very distinct taste and look. They are a dark color that blends in with tree bark and the forest floor, making them hard to spot.
Taste-wise, black trumpet mushrooms have a smoky taste to them, along with a fruity aroma. They can be used in stir-fries and soups but last quite long when they are dried.
Unlike other mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms are not best when eaten raw as they have a bitter taste. Instead, they should be cooked so that their full flavor can be enjoyed.
While the cap of shimeji mushrooms is quite large, underneath you will find many small tendrils that have their own caps on them. They are delicious in stews, sauces, and soups where their nutty flavor can really come out.
Which type of mushroom is best?
Deciding which type of mushroom truly is the best is a matter of personal perspective.
For cultivated mushrooms, portobello mushrooms usually reign supreme because of their thick, meaty texture. For wild mushrooms, morels are prized due to their earthy taste and scarcity.
There are many types of edible mushrooms, whether they have been cultivated or found growing in the wild.
While many people are aware of common types such as button and portobello mushrooms, there are many more interesting types to try from around the world.