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Shiitake Mushroom Substitute

You can substitute Shiitake Mushrooms with Portobello, Dried Shiitake, porcini, oyster or cremini mushrooms. For a more detailed list of substitutions and descriptions scroll to the post sections below!

photo of shiitake mushrooms with text that says best substitutes for shiitake mushrooms

If you love mushrooms than shiitake mushrooms need no introduction. While they’re my favorite go-to mushroom, if you need a Substitute For Shiitake Mushroom look no further. This comprehensive guide covers the best shiitake mushroom alternatives for all different kinds of recipes and types of cooking. I also cover how to cook, clean, prepare, store, what shiitake taste like and more.

After reading this quick guide you’ll know exactly how to pick a shiitake mushroom substitute for any occasion with confidence!

When I was in culinary school I got my first introduction to shiitake mushrooms in my macrobiotic cooking classes where I learned how to prepare, clean and select the best mushrooms. My favorite memory of shiitake mushrooms from school was when my teacher made a big pot of miso soup to combat the sweetness of the cakes we were baking. The shiitake mushrooms in the soup were meaty, buttery and earthy. Eating them reminded me of eating meat, a special treat for a vegetarian like me.

7 Shiitake Mushroom Substitutes For Recipes

This special type of mushroom is often called for in recipes. They’re typically easy to find in supermarkets but you may need to substitute them for one reason or another.

  • Allergies – Although allergies to shiitake mushrooms are not common, they do exist.
  • Cost – Shiitake mushrooms are expensive! If you’re on a budget it would make sense to swap them out for a more affordable option.
  • Taste – Shiitake mushrooms have a more concentrated “mushroomy” flavor that turn off some people. Other mushrooms like button or cremini offer the same texture with a less intense flavor.
  • Texture – Lots of people don’t like the chewy and slippery texture of mushrooms, often calling them, “slimy.”
  • Availability – Shiitake mushrooms simply may not be in stock or available at your local super market.

You can substitute Shiitake Mushrooms with Portobello, Dried Shiitake, porcini, oyster or cremini mushrooms.

1. Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms are commonly used in European cooking. So they work well as a substitute for shiitake mushrooms for Italian and American recipes. They’re hardy and have an intense earthy/nutty flavor which is similar to shiitake.

You can cook them any way you like since they don’t loose their texture; frying, stir-frying, sautéing, grilling, baking and blending are not a problem for these versatile little mushrooms. Porcini are especially good in brown sauces and bbq recipes.

Just like preparing shiitake mushrooms, you need to remove the stems before cooking. Follow the same washing instructions that I wrote for how to clean shiitake mushrooms.

If you’re on a budget, these aren’t the mushrooms for you because porcini mushrooms are one of the most expensive options.

Health wise, porcini mushrooms are low in calories but give your body protein, fiber and iron. They’re also high in antioxidants, may reduce inflammation, improve gut health, assist weight loss and kill off colon cancer cells.

Dried Shiitake

Dried shiitake are one of the best substitutes for shiitake mushrooms because they’re essentially the same. They last much longer in storage than their fresh counterparts and you can essentially cook with them the same way. You should soak them in near boiling water for a few minutes before cooking them. Since they’re dehydrated, dried shiitake take longer to cook than fresh ones.

Portobello Mushrooms

In my opinion, portobellos are the best substitute for shiitake mushrooms for a few reasons.

  1. Flavor: They are the most similar in flavor out of all of the other shiitake alternatives.
  2. Availability: Portobello mushrooms are some of the most common and easy to find ingredients there are.
  3. Affordability: Portobello mushrooms are much cheaper than oyster, lobster, porcini and the rest of the alternatives (aside from button and cremini mushrooms).
  4. Taste: Portobellos aren’t as concentrated in flavor as shiitake mushrooms but they are mature and still quite flavorful.
  5. Versatility: You can do anything with a portobello mushroom that you can with a shiitake and more! Blending, sautéing, frying and grilling won’t be a problem for these guys!

You would clean and prepare portobello mushrooms the same way you would shiitake mushrooms. Portobellos make a great burger replacement for vegetarians looking for healthy burger alternatives.

portobello mushroom with text that says portobello mushrooms are the best substitutes for shiitake mushrooms

Cremini Mushrooms

Cremini mushrooms, also known as baby bellas are another great substitute for shiitake mushrooms. Cremini are slightly older than button mushrooms when they’re picked so their flavor is more intense than their closely related cousins.

FACT: The older a mushroom is before it’s picked the more intense its flavor will be.

Like all mushrooms, cremini ‘shrooms are low in calories and fat. But they’re rich in antioxidants, fiber, and potassium. They even have some protein! Eating cremini mushrooms could help you prevent constipation, oxidative stress, heart disease, and pregnancy-related high blood pressure and diabetes.

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are a true delicacy! They have a delicate flavor with a buttery texture making them the perfect seafood replacement. Since their flavor is so mild they can replace shiitake mushrooms but they aren’t my first choice.

Vegans and vegetarians often use oyster mushrooms to replace sea scallops by slicing them 1 inch thick and lightly sautéing them in butter or olive oil.

Oyster mushrooms are delicate so they are best sautéed or fried. They don’t hold up well when grilled and they aren’t thick enough to make a burger replacement. In fact you only need to cook them for 2-3 minutes.

Believe it or not oyster mushrooms are good for you too, they provide anti-inflammatory effects, are rich in antioxidants and can help control blood sugar levels. Like all mushrooms, oyster mushrooms are low in fat and calories but are high in protein.

White Button Mushrooms

White button mushrooms are the easiest kind of mushroom to buy in the store and are usually the cheapest. Their flavor is mild and their flesh is delicate so you can use the whole mushroom (stems included). Since they’re similar in size to shiitake mushrooms you can substitute them out 1:1.

While white button mushrooms are among the easiest substitute to find, along with cremini and portobello, their flavor is not as meaty or earthy. They would be a great substitute to use if you don’t like the flavor of mushrooms. Many people who don’t like mushrooms are O.K. with eating white mushrooms.

White mushrooms are good in sauces, soups and raw in salads.

Lobster Mushrooms

Lobster mushrooms are among the rarest. If you can’t find shiitake then the chances of finding lobster mushrooms are slim to none. Lobsters grow naturally in the woods and are known as lobster mushrooms because of their bright red color and bumpy texture that makes them look like lobsters.

They also taste like lobster! Their flesh is delicate and breaks apart in stringy pieces similar to lobster meat.

I absolutely love using lobster mushrooms for seafood inspired recipes or as a seafood replacement. Their delicate flavor and meaty flesh remind me of scallops and white fish like sea bass.

If you’re on a budget then I would stay away from these guys, they’re so expensive! Lobster mushrooms cost about the same as grass fed, organic filet mignon.

How To Choose A Shiitake Mushroom Substitute

With all of these substitutes for shiitake mushrooms at our disposal it’s hard to know which one to choose! This article contains both mushrooms that are very close in flavor and texture to shiitakes and some others that are different but will still get the job done.

Like I said before, portobellos are the best substitute for shiitake mushrooms because they’re readily available, have a similar flavor profile, are affordable and versatile. The second best option include porcini, cremini and dried shiitake.

  1. For meaty dishes portobello, porcini, and cremini are best.
  2. For seafood dishes white button, oyster and lobster mushrooms are the ideal choice.
  3. For omelets and as a toping on salads, pizza and sandwiches sautéed cremini mushrooms work the best since they’re small and taste meaty.
  4. If you’re looking for a replacement for shiitake mushrooms in brown sauces or bbq recipes portobello or porcini mushrooms work well.
  5. To make soups delicate affordable mushrooms like cremini and white button mushrooms work well. This Gluten Free Mushroom Soup is made with cremini mushrooms and it’s affordable, vegan, and insanely delicious.
  6. Stocks and broths can be made with the woody stems of porcini and portobello mushrooms.

What Do Shiitake Mushrooms Taste Like

Shiitake mushrooms must taste amazing because they’re the second most popular mushroom in America next to white button mushrooms! Probably because they’re way more expensive then button mushrooms which are otherwise known as Cremini mushrooms.

These savory fungi taste buttery, meaty and have a lot of “umami” flavor. Umami is one of the five tastes along with sweet, bitter, sour, and salty. Imagine a thick charred portobello mushroom, a shiitake tastes similar with a more concentrated flavor.

How Are Shiitake Mushrooms Used In Recipes

Mushrooms are versatile. They can be prepared in many ways and are used in lots of Asian, American, and European recipes. Typically, shiitake mushrooms are sliced thinly, with stems removed and are sautéed in a skillet or a wok with a fat and a flavoring.

  • For example one of the most popular ways to prepare shiitake mushrooms is to saute them in a skillet with butter, garlic soy sauce and lemon juice. Like this Miso Soup and Gluten Free Ramen.
  • After the mushrooms have been cooked they’re added to soups, stews, omelets and savory tarts.
  • Cooked shiitake are also used a topping on salads, pizza and as a filler in sandwiches.
  • Some people use shiitake mushrooms as a burger replacement.
  • Shiitake mushrooms can also be simply grilled and served whole.

What is the difference between white button, cremini and portobello mushrooms?

Believe it or not, the only difference between white button mushrooms, cremini and portobello mushrooms is their age. They are all the same type of mushroom called Agaricus Bisporus that have been picked at different stages in their growth. Button mushrooms are picked when they are babies, while cremini mushrooms are picked when they’re middle aged. Lastly, portobello mushrooms are mature agaricus bisporus that are picked when they reach adulthood.

How Do I Wash Shiitake Mushrooms?

I might get some hate mail for saying this. But the best way to wash shiitake mushrooms is not to wash them at all! Shiitake mushrooms are like little sponges, they absorb liquid quickly. So if you wash them in water they’ll absorb more water and their flavor will become less concentrated. It will also take them longer to cook, and they won’t get as crispy or crunchy! Soggy mushrooms will also relase more liquid into your dish making it less flavorful and runny. Crisp and crunch are important if you’re making shiitake bacon or stir frying. Soggy mushrooms in salad will wilt your lettuce and dilute the dressing.

someone cleaning a mushroom with a brush

So if you can’t “wash” your mushrooms with water, how do you clean them? The best way to wash shiitake mushrooms is with a damp rag or a gentle basting brush.

Step 1

Remove the stems. Shiitake mushroom stems are too woody to eat.

Step 2

Use a wet rag to wipe the top of the shiitake mushrooms off or a bristle brush to dust the dirt off of the tops of the mushrooms and out of the gills on the underside of the mushroom.

If You Insist on Washing Shiitake Mushrooms with Water this is the Best Way

If not washing your shiitake mushrooms with water grosses you out, the second best way to wash them is to quickly drop them into a bowl of cold water and agitate the water. Scoop out the mushrooms within a few seconds of rinsing. Then set them on top of a towel to dry, Pat the mushrooms with a paper towel to remove more water.

If the mushrooms are still soggy put them in the oven at 135 degrees for 30 minutes to dry them out.

How Long Are Shiitake’s Good To Keep?

The length of time shiitake mushrooms will stay fresh depends on how you store them. Freezing, refrigeration, canning, and drying all result in different lengths of time that the shiitake will stay fresh. Since shiitake mushrooms are so expensive, you should definitely take care to store them properly if you aren’t going to use them right away.

Let’s start with the most simple way to store mushrooms are go to the least common way.

On the Counter

On the kitchen counter shiitake mushrooms will stay fresh on the counter in a brown paper bag for one week. If you keep mushrooms out of the fridge storing them in a paper bag will help retain their moisture so that they don’t dry out as quickly.

In the Fridge

I’ve had shiitake mushrooms last in the fridge for up to 14 days with the minimum being 1 week. Make sure to keep the mushrooms sealed in their original plastic packaging or in an airtight container like a ziplock bag or Tupperware to keep them fresher longer.

Storing Shiitake Mushrooms in the Freezer

You can store shiitake mushrooms in the freezer for 3-6 months. You should chop and saute them before you freeze them. That way they’ll be easy to throw into omelets and soups without having to recook them.

Freezing shiitake mushrooms also makes them more flavorful. Store the shiitake mushrooms in a freezer safe zip lock bag or container to prevent freezer burn.

Pro Tip: Store shiitake mushrooms in single serving amounts since they tend to freeze together and can therefore be hard to portion out.

Drying Shiitake Mushrooms

I’ve purchased dried shiitake mushrooms in the past to use to flavor broths and soups like this popular Gluten Free Ramen Noodle Soup Recipe. If you have extra mushrooms on hand you can dry them instead of buying them at a later date. Drying mushrooms increases their shelf life by 1 year. Some people say that dried shiitake mushrooms can be used indefinitely! I haven’t tried this out yet.

Canning or Jarring Shiitake Mushrooms

Canned shiitake mushrooms will last for two years when stored in a cool dry place. You can can shiitake mushrooms the same way you would any other fruit or vegetable. Blanch the shiitake mushrooms, place them in a pre-boiled mason jar, cover with oil or salt water and boil the jars. For a more comprehensive guide on how to can shiitake mushrooms check out this article by Masala Herb.

How Long Do Shiitake Mushrooms Need to be Cooked?

The goal of shiitake mushrooms is to cook them long enough to release their moisture to concentrate their flavor. Fresh shiitake mushrooms take:

  • 8 minutes in a skillet.
  • 20 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees.
  • On the grill 3 minutes.
  • In a wok 5 minutes.
What are the differences between Porcini and Shiitake Mushrooms?

Can I grow shiitake mushrooms?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is, it isn’t easy. Mushrooms grow in the dark on decaying oak logs. In order to grow them yourself you would need to mimic the natural conditions upon which they occur. So you would need to get an oak log, drill tons of holes into it. Then you would have to fill the holes with shiitake fungus and then plug up the holes with wax so that no other fungus got into the holes. After that you would need to put the log outside in a shaded spot and make sure it stays wet for 6 to 9 months while you wait for the mushrooms to mature.

You can buy kits that make this whole process easier that contain the wax and the shiitake spores. You still need to get your own log, drill and patience.

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