Edible mushrooms are a staple cooking ingredient all over the world. They’re used to add texture, bulk, and savoriness to dishes. Different types of mushrooms also have different individual tastes and have been used in particular recipes for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Mushrooms are a pretty unique ingredient and it’s not easy to find a substitute that is similar across the board. Nonetheless, sometimes people don’t like mushrooms or they’re allergic to them and other times, people run out of them or can’t get hold of them. When that happens they need a substitute.
This article will tell you all the best substitutes for mushrooms, from what’s available.
Are there really any good mushroom substitutes?
When you’re substituting mushrooms for something else, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to really match the taste. This is good news for people who don’t like them and bad news for people who do. What you should aim to do, when you’re substituting mushrooms for something else, is try to match the volume and texture and add savoriness in a different way.
This leads to our first tip. When you’re using any of the suggested substitutes, if they are not savory themselves then use a sauce or another ingredient to add savoriness…
Here are some suggestions of things that you can use to add savoriness when you’re using an alternative ingredient as a replacement for mushrooms.
- Tomato puree
- Beef broth
- Miso paste
- Soy sauce
These should all work pretty well. Some of the substitutes below have a reasonable amount of savoriness by themselves and so won’t necessarily need anything to be added. But if you think you need your dish to be a bit more savory then add a bit of something from the list above.
Just make sure whatever you choose goes with the rest of the dish, obviously!
Tofu is a good mushroom substitute. It has a similar consistency and you can cut it up to match whatever mushrooms you are trying to copy. One good piece of advice is to mix it with some soy sauce before you add it to your recipe. Soy sauce goes really well with tofu and adds a nice savoriness and an earthy feel that mushrooms tend to have.
Tofu will work well in most dishes but does best in fried dishes and vegetable dishes.
Tempeh is similar to tofu and can replace mushrooms in a similar way. It’s not very well known and you might not have heard of it, but the reason it’s on this list is that the taste isn’t actually that far off mushrooms.
Tempeh is chewier than tofu and has a distinctive, earthy flavor which is similar to mushrooms. The chewy feel and the earthy flavor make this one of the best mushroom substitutes. Depending on what you are cooking, you can often swap this in at equal ratios.
If you’re making a recipe that would normally take a lot of its flavor from mushrooms, then you may want to add something else to give the dish even more savoriness and a distinctive taste.
Of all the vegetable substitutes for mushrooms, zucchini is probably the best. The texture of zucchini makes a nice swap for mushrooms and they have a nice sweet taste that works pretty well. On top of that, they have a nice earthiness that makes them a fitting replacement for mushrooms.
Zucchini is a good all-around vegetable by itself and a lot of people love it. So swap them in and see what you think. While you won’t really think ‘mushroom’ when you’re eating your food, you will think something else good.
Often zucchini lack the umami savoriness that mushrooms have. If you really need that, then try adding some anchovies to add a bit of that. Anchovies work really well with zucchini and there are a lot of recipes that are mainly based on anchovies and zucchini.
Eggplant can be used to replace mushrooms in much the same way as zucchini. It possibly makes a better substitute in terms of texture and it does have an earthiness about it. However, eggplant can be a bit bland compared to mushrooms.
To make up for the lack of flavor, you might want to add a little something extra. Mustard and tomato puree both work really well with eggplant and are a popular additional ingredient.
Sun-dried tomatoes are one of the more unexpected mushroom substitutes. These make a great substitute for dried mushrooms.
Sun-dried tomatoes match the consistency of dried mushrooms really well and also cook in an alike way. They do differ in flavor, so be prepared for something quite different. These are a nice alternative for people who don’t like mushrooms. The taste is not the same, but they can be used to fill the hole that is left when mushrooms aren’t an option.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
Garbanzo beans (or chickpeas as they’re otherwise known) might not sound like a good substitute for mushrooms, but they are a suitable alternative.
The texture is a lot different to mushrooms, which must be pointed out, but they have a nice earthiness and a slight nuttiness about them that make them a good swap. Be careful because they cook a lot differently to mushrooms. They won’t reduce in size at all and they increase the heaviness of meals substantially.
For some recipes, you might have to cook your garbanzo beans separately to the main dish and then add them in at the end.
Lentils are much like garbanzo beans when they’re used to replace mushrooms and are something that most people know quite well.
Lentils are a bit easier to work with than garbanzo beans and are easier to swap in in general, but they don’t have quite the same earthiness. They will add a nice bulk to food and may fill some of the flavor gaps. If you want to add some savoriness, then try adding mustard. Mustard works surprisingly well with lentils.
Just like with garbanzo beans, make sure you don’t add too many when you’re swapping them in for mushrooms. They are heavier than you might think.
Russet potatoes work well in place of mushrooms in fried and baked dishes. Russet potatoes have a nice, thick brown skin and are quite dry. The thickness of the skin and the dry flesh of the potato mimics some of the look and qualities of a mushroom.
On top of that, they add a nice earthiness which works well in a lot of mushroom recipes. Just like with chickpeas and lentils, be careful not to use too many because they are quite filling and will take up quite a bit of space.
Brown rice is easy to find and you can use it in virtually any recipe as a swap for mushrooms. As has already been said, edible mushrooms are usually used in cooking to provide earthiness, savoriness, and consistency.
Brown rice matches the earthiness and consistency really well and you can use it in a recipe in like-for-like ratios. Obviously, pieces of brown rice are quite small, so it will usually work best in recipes with shredded mushrooms. You might want to get one of our savory ingredients and use it as an additive as well. Miso paste and soy sauce are both good things to try.
For soups, stews, and things like that, you’ll usually have to cook it ahead of time and then add it to your meal as you cook it. Brown rice is most suitable if you’re cooking meat-based meals and particularly if you’re cooking a stew.
Browned onions or leeks
Browned onions or leeks work as mushroom substitutes and do particularly well in meat dishes. The flavor is a little bit sweeter, but they add a good chewy consistency that mushrooms would otherwise provide.
The key to using onions and leeks is browning them properly. The best thing to brown them in is butter and you should brown them quite heavily to bring out the earthiness that they can provide for your meal.
They do lack some of the umami flavor that you get when you eat mushrooms and so it’s a good idea to use some horseradish, beef broth, or something else to replace it. Add whatever you use to your mushrooms while you are browning them and you should be okay.
Using nuts, usually, walnuts or cashews work quite well for people who are allergic to mushrooms or just don’t like them.
Nuts, like walnuts and cashews, will substantially change your meal but they replace the earthiness and some of the savoriness. They work well as a replacement in recipes that aren’t too dry. You might find that you love using nuts instead of mushrooms and use them every time in the future.
Artichoke hearts are great vegetables and often served as a meal by themselves. Luckily they work great as an alternative to mushrooms.
If the type of mushroom that you’re trying to swap has a firm texture then these will work really well. The earthy wholesome taste that artichokes have is great and, while it’s different from the taste of a mushroom, it makes a nice substitute.
If you don’t know artichoke hearts too well or you’ve never eaten them, they are something like a cross between asparagus and broccoli. They have something unique about them, though, and a lot of people really love them.
Artichoke hearts will cook differently from a mushroom. Mushrooms usually leak a lot of the flavor and leave it throughout the dish. Artichoke hearts won’t do this as well and so will work better when mushrooms are a side part of a recipe with lots of other flavors. If you need to flavor your meal more, one thing you can do is chuck in a little mustard or horseradish.
Coriander is something that lots of people eat plenty of and really love. You might know coriander by the name cilantro.
You can use coriander in mushroom recipes, but only to add a nice earthiness that will be missing without the mushroom. They are obviously just herbs and so will have no bulk or real presence in the meal. They are worth mentioning, though, because a lot of people will have coriander available and they match the earthiness quite well.
There are many popular chicken recipes that use coriander as flavoring. One possibility is to cook coriander with chicken and to use that as a swap for mushrooms. If you are doing this, it will be a good idea to stew the chicken, in order to tenderize it as much as possible. This will work best in vegetable recipes, rather than ones with other types of meat. To add some savoriness, soy sauce will work really well.
Hopefully, this article has helped people who don’t have any mushrooms available, don’t like to eat mushrooms, are allergic to them, or just want an alternative to finding something different.