Substitutes for Mushrooms – What Can I Use Instead

Mushrooms are not plants, nor are animals. These fleshy umbrella-like spore-bearing organisms belong to the fungi kingdom. Yes, they’re one with the yeasts and the molds. These are the species that love dark, cool, and humid environments.

Science has discovered thousands of species of mushrooms. Some are edible; some are poisonous too. Hence, it is crucial to know which ones are for culinary use and which ones may affect health.

In the culinary world, mushrooms are prepared in many cuisines worldwide, especially in European and Asian countries. Mushrooms possess a meaty texture that comes with the touch of the umami flavor. The fleshy mushrooms are often used as meat substitutes for vegetarians.

Some people culture their mushrooms while some acquire it in supermarkets. Yes, there are many types of mushrooms to choose from: portobello, oyster, porcini, black trumpet, shiitake, hedgehog, king oyster, enoki, lion’s mane, cremini, matsutake, and more!

Nutritionally, mushrooms are generally low in fat and cholesterol. These fungi are food sources of protein, fiber, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, folate, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium. Although it is nutritious, it’s a fact mushroom is not everyone’s cup of tea – especially for the kids’ palate. Or some are just allergic to mushrooms.

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When you find yourself in the middle of a recipe, you just realized your kitchen is out of mushrooms! It’s easy to omit an ingredient if the dish does not necessarily require it.

On the other hand, it’s hard to complete the dish without the important ingredients. A missing ingredient situation does happen. Sometimes, the grocery stores may run out of mushrooms or you do not have the time to drive to the store anymore.

If you’re out of mushrooms, don’t panic. This article will provide you with the common substitutes for mushrooms. You might be surprised if you already have these items in your pantry.

Whether you need a fleshy replacement, or the savory taste of mushroom, or something that won’t cause an allergic reaction, feel free to choose among the alternatives we have compiled for you. Let’s dive into the details!

9 Best substitutes for mushrooms

1. Tempeh


If China has tofu, Indonesia has tempeh. However, they differ in the method of processing.

Tempeh is a popular soy product made from soy curds. This product characteristic is a little closer to mushrooms because of its firm, rubbery, and chunky texture, loaded with the savor of umami. Just like a mushroom, tempeh is an excellent high-protein meat alternative. It’s popular among vegans/vegetarians.

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Tempeh is processed by fermenting and partly cooking the soybeans under controlled conditions to create a firm and rubbery cake. Mold from the Rhizopus genus introduced in the production is responsible for its texture.

Other varieties of tempeh are made from different types of bean, wheat, or a combination of grains and legumes.

Remember, tempeh is a soy product. It can trigger allergic reactions if you cannot tolerate soy.


2. Zucchini


You might wonder how this squash can be a substitute for mushroom.

Zucchini belongs to the squash family with its earthy flavor, just like how mushrooms have its own. You just have to choose the young zucchinis because it has the sweet earthy flavor, almost similar to mushrooms. But just expect the dish will taste different.

This squash can also give body to your dish just like how fleshy the mushrooms are.

So if your pasta calls for mushrooms , go ahead and substitute it with some chopped or grated zucchini (just like in this amazing summer recipe).


3. Dried/canned mushrooms

dried mushrooms

Fresh mushrooms are obtainable in supermarkets or directly from the farm. The freshest harvested mushroom is always the best choice to make your dish tastier. The downside of fresh mushrooms? They only have a short shelf-life that usually lasts for only a few days, even if you store it n the fridge.

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When there are no locally available fresh mushrooms, you can opt for dried or canned mushrooms. They may have undergone preservation, but it’s not far from the taste of fresh mushrooms.

Dried mushrooms are dehydrated mushrooms. Some people rehydrate dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes before cooking. The water-soaked with mushrooms can be reduced under low to medium heat to create a flavorful mushroom soup base.

You can store canned mushrooms longer than fresh mushrooms. There are whole and sliced mushrooms available in the supermarket. Despite that its’ mostly accessible, there are only limited varieties available.


4. Tofu


The origin of tofu, also known as bean curd, is traced during ancient times in China. This soft, relatively flavorless product is made from condensed soy milk that undergoes a process almost similar to cheesemaking. Moreover, tofu has been an essential protein food source in Chinese cuisines.

If the taste of mushrooms is not your type, tofu can substitute that for a different taste. Tofu is a common ingredient for entrees such as soups, stews, and fried dishes.

Or, if you enjoy dipping sliced mushrooms in soy sauce dip, you can alternatively use tofu as a substitute. You’ll just have to slice the tofu as thin as the slices you prefer for mushrooms. You should also keep in mind that you’ll have to remove any excess water from tofu by pressing it.

Note that tofu is made from soybean. If you’re allergic to soy, this may not be the best mushroom substitute for you.

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5. Eggplants


Eggplants are the long elongated egg-shaped vegetables that have a mildly sweet earthy taste. The thing about the eggplant is that it has a soft and fleshy texture almost akin to mushrooms. These make a mushroom substitute as base or topping.

Slice the eggplants of your preferred size and incorporate it into your dish. If you’re not immediately going to use it, soak your sliced eggplants in a bowl of cold water to prevent discoloration.

Be mindful when cooking eggplants. Make sure you don’t overcook it, or it will get soggy.


6. Sun-dried tomatoes

sun dried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are ripe red tomatoes that have been dehydrated and preserved through sun exposure for a period. Dried tomatoes produce a savory, earthy flavor. Hence, it becomes a mushroom substitute as toppings of different dishes. Pizza is a typical example of this.

However, you have to prepare these ahead of time. Transform your pizza with the use of sun-dried tomatoes!

To make sun-dried tomatoes, cut selected fresh tomatoes in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds without removing its pulp. To enhance its flavor, you can sprinkle a combination of different spices and condiments you want for your sun-dried tomatoes. People often use a mixture of salt, oregano, basil, and thyme. When it’s ready, dry the tomatoes under the sun until it’s dehydrated. Or, you can do oven-drying.

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7. Miso


Miso is a traditional Japanese soybean paste that is originated from China, known as huangdou Jiang. This condiment was invented to preserve soybeans. Miso or soybean paste has been a part of the Japanese diet for many years.

Miso-making involves the fermentation of soybeans, rice, barley, and wheat, combined to produce a thick, textured paste. The colors of soybean paste come can be light brown as peanut butter to dark brownish-red. The longer the fermentation process it undergoes, the stronger its taste and color.

If you want that umami element from the mushrooms, miso can offer that. Miso comes in red, white, and awase varieties. However, miso has its unique umami flavor.


8. Umami Seasoning


Sweet, bitter, salty, and sour are the basic tastes that most people know for many centuries. The latest type of flavor was only discovered in Japan during the early 1900s. That flavor is called umami. It’s the fifth flavor that is described as “meaty” or savory.

Glutamate is the amino acid that is responsible for the umami’s brothy or meaty taste. Umami flavor is naturally present in meats, seaweed, tomatoes, soy-based foods, aged cheese, and kimchi.

If your recipe requires a savory taste, using umami seasoning instead can help just like how mushrooms can to boost the flavor of your dishes.

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Some people make their “do-it-yourself” umami seasoning using the following ingredients: porcini powder, mushroom powder, onion powder, crushed red chile flakes, and mustard powder, dried thyme, salt, and ground black pepper.


9. Beef Broth

meat broth soup

Beef broth is another alternative if you’re after the umami effect of mushrooms. It is another suitable substitute for adding meaty flavor to your soups, and stews dishes, and sauces.


Mushroom Substitutes Conclusion

Mushrooms are known for its fleshy unique savory taste. If a recipe calls for it, you can substitute mushrooms with other ingredients whether you ran out of it, or if you’re allergic to it, or you just don’t like the taste of it.

If you need an ingredient that will give bulk or body to your dish, canned or dried mushrooms, tempeh, tofu, zucchinis, and eggplants will do the trick.

If you only intend to obtain the mushroom’s umami flavor, use some dash of umami seasoning, beef broth, or miso. Though these may not copy the original umami taste of mushrooms, these are the closest ones that are recommended.

If you want something to replace mushroom as a food garnish, sun-dried tomatoes will do.

All in all, just make sure you are using the right substitute ingredient to blend well with the dish you are preparing.

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