In order to enhance their health and contribute to environmental protection, a growing number of individuals are converting to plant-based diets. But they still need to consume enough food in order to satisfy their daily nutritional needs, which is where mushrooms come in.
They are delicious, nutrient-dense functional foods with top-notch proteins that grow with little room, water, and energy. But can meat be replaced by mushrooms? Continue reading to find out more concerning using mushrooms in place of meat and discover the top ten mushrooms to use in place of meat.
Are Mushrooms an Effective Meat Substitute?
Mushrooms are a wonderful meat substitute due to their umami flavor, meaty consistency, vitamin and mineral richness, and amino acid and protein composition.
Mushrooms are the fruiting structures of fungi, not vegetables, and their caloric content is more similar to that of animals than plants. Because they include a variety of critical amino acids that are uncommon in plant-based diets, their proteins make them a desirable addition to a diet that is vegetarian or vegan.
As they have less vitamin B12, zinc, and iron compared to meat as well as less protein, mushrooms alone cannot replace meat nutritionally. However, if combined with another high-quality source of protein, you are going to receive all the protein requirements as well as extra advantageous nutrients and active substances that are not present in meat.
Mushrooms are a low-fat and cholesterol-free alternative to meat that also tastes great. Another bonus.
Mushrooms vs. Meat in Terms of the Protein Content
The most noticeable distinction between the protein in mushrooms and meat is the amount of protein each contains. You would have to consume a lot of mushrooms if you used them as your only source of protein as meat has a lot more protein than mushrooms.
As an illustration, a meal of 3.5 oz (100g) of chicken, among the meats with the greatest protein content, contains 1.09 oz (31g) of protein, whereas a serving of 3.5 oz (100g) of oyster mushrooms has 0.12 oz (3.3g) of protein. However, it is simple for people following plant-based diets to achieve their protein needs when you mix mushrooms alongside other high-protein sources like lentils, beans, chickpeas, or tofu.
Many people might be surprised to learn that some types of mushrooms are referred to as “gourmet mushroom species” because they contain higher levels of protein than others. These are, for example, oyster mushrooms, morels, and enoki.
How Can You Replace Meat with Mushrooms?
Due to their ability to take on the flavors of their surroundings and impart a deep, umami flavor to savory meals, mushrooms are incredibly flexible as meat substitutes.
In order to respond to the subject matter of which mushroom would work best as a meat substitute, it depends on the type of meat you want to replace and the recipe for the dish you are producing. It is important to know which mushrooms to use in place of various types of meat because many of them when properly prepared and cooked, have a texture that is similar to that of meat.
Can Ground Beef Be Replaced with Mushrooms?
Yes, you may replace ground beef with mushrooms. Both fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms are some of the best choices.
Another common technique is to combine dried shiitake mushrooms that have been rehydrated with finely diced cremini mushrooms. The shiitakes that have been rehydrated have a chewy texture akin to ground beef and stronger, richer umami flavors.
Finely diced portobellos can also be used as a ground beef alternative, but they include a greater amount of water than the other options, so you will need to boil it off.
How Can You Replace Chicken with Mushrooms?
Cremini mushrooms and white button mushrooms are among the many varieties of mushrooms that can effectively replace chicken.
However, you can substitute chicken with slightly more exotic species like chicken of the woods mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. The latter type of mushrooms, with their slightly fibrous texture, is extremely akin to pulled chicken when cut into strips, but chicken of the woods is a real treat that is said to taste just like chicken.
Which Mushrooms Have Steak Flavor?
The enormous size, earthy, meaty flavor, and deep, steak-like texture of the portobello mushroom make it a well-liked alternative to beef. Rich, potent umami aromas in grilled portobello mushroom tops make them an excellent burger and steak replacements.
In addition to being meaty mushrooms, lion’s mane is frequently used in place of steak.
The Top 10 Mushrooms to Replace Meat With
The ten delectable mushroom species provided below, not in any particular sequence, can be used in place of all types of meat:
# 1 Creminis
Button mushrooms have been given a little extra time to mature before harvesting to become cremini mushrooms (Agricarus bisporus). They are more flavorful than button mushrooms, though they are still mellow and earthy. They have light brown, spherical caps, short, thick stems, and greater tastes.
Similar to button mushrooms, creminis are extremely adaptable and are frequently used in dishes in place of chicken and beef. They also work particularly well in sauces and stews.
Here are a few popular manners that substitute cremini mushrooms for meat:
• Added as a meat alternative in pasta sauce, finely diced.
• Prepared whole or cut in half and used for beef or chicken in hearty, saucy stews.
• To replace ground beef in meatballs, shepherd’s pie, and meatloaf, they ought to be chopped and blended with lentils.
• Sliced, sautéed, and used in a creamy stroganoff in place of sautéed beef.
# 2 White Button Mushrooms
The most popular mushrooms consumed worldwide are white button mushrooms (Agricarus bisporus), which can be found in most supermarkets.
Despite not having the most meat, these mushrooms have a subtle taste and a solid texture, and when properly seasoned, they may be used as an excellent meat alternative, particularly in dishes that call for chicken.
Button mushrooms are inexpensive, quick to prepare, and versatile. They can be prepared in a variety of ways and added to most cuisines. People liken them most to chicken when compared to meat.
Here are a few dishes that frequently substitute button mushrooms for meat:
• Sliced, then put on pizza as a topping.
• Placed on skewers in one piece and cooked as delectable kebabs.
• Creating a taco filling by combining finely chopped ingredients with lentils and walnuts.
# 3 Shiitake
You can occasionally get fresh shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) in supermarket stores, although dried shiitake mushrooms are more prevalent.
They are a great meat alternative and have a deeper, more robust aroma than button or cremini mushrooms. People compare them most to pig, turkey, or ducking, and they are frequently used for making mushroom jerky or as a bacon alternative. Shiitake are marinated in a mix of maple syrup, soy sauce, pepper, and smoked paprika, and then cooked until crispy to make shiitake bacon.
Here are a few dishes that frequently substitute shiitake mushrooms for meat:
• Used whole to replace the pork in teriyaki.
• To provide a rich, meaty replacement for ground beef, it should be diced and rehydrated.
• Sliced, seasoned, and used in place of bacon.
• Used to make meatballs, after being diced finely, in place of ground pork.
# 4 Portobello Mushrooms
Agricarus bisporus is a species that also includes portobello mushrooms, which are the mature form of this species.
These mushrooms have broad, flat crowns with deep, earthy flavors and dark gills. They are widely used as a beef substitute and are frequently found in supermarkets. Although famous portobello mushroom burgers, sandwiches, and steaks are popular, these mushrooms also taste great when stuffed, grilled, or roasted. You have countless alternatives thanks to their huge cap and delicious flavors, and you may get creative while stuffing and marinating them.
Here are a few popular recipes that substitute portobello mushrooms for meat:
• Used whole, sautéed, or grilled, as steaks or burger patties.
• Filled and given a marinade coating.
• Used in stews in place of beef by being diced.
• Used as a baby finger food that has been sliced and cooked.
• Used as an alternative to ground beef after being chopped finely.
# 5 Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) come in a number of kinds, although you will typically only encounter pearl oyster mushrooms in grocers.
Since they do not travel well, yellow, pink, and fresh blue oyster mushrooms are frequently only seen at farmer’s markets. They all have mild flavors with earthy undertones that are slightly distinct from one another. With their slightly fibrous texture, oyster mushrooms can be used to replace a variety of meats, including chicken, shellfish, and even pulled pork.
The oyster mushroom is a common alternative to white fish because many people say it has a flavor similar to shellfish. For an upcoming fried fish and chips night, oyster mushrooms can easily be substituted for the fish. You can use the entire cap or cut it into smaller chunks or strips, then dip them in batter and fry them, depending on the size of the pieces you desire.
Here are some well-known dishes that substitute oyster mushrooms for meat:
• In place of clams in clam chowder.
• In fish tacos in place of fish.
• White fish substituted with oyster mushrooms that are battered and cooked.
• As bacon substitutes, crispy, sautéed pink oysters work really well.
# 6 King Oyster Mushrooms
The largest known kind of oyster mushroom is the king oyster (Pleurotus eryngii), which differs from other oysters in that it grows on its own and has thick stems and tiny caps.
King oysters are prized for their robust stems that hold their firmness well when cooked, in contrast to other types of oyster mushrooms which have big caps and nearly no stem. You can use them in place of seafood, chicken, pig, and beef due to their excellent and highly umami flavor and capacity to absorb sauces.
Here are a few dishes that frequently substitute king oyster mushrooms for meat:
• Scallops made of vegan food, previously cut into horizontal slices and cooked.
• For delicious mushroom steaks, slice the mushrooms lengthwise and grill.
• For grilled kebabs, marinated beef is substituted for the chicken.
• Using coating and crispy frying to replace the chicken.
• Instead of pulled pork, use shredded cuts that have been mixed with barbecue sauce.
• To make chewy mushroom jerky, the mushrooms ought to be spiced.
• Used in place of tuna in grilled tuna cakes, finely diced.
# 7 Lion’s Mane
Hericium erinaceus, often known as the lion’s mane mushroom, has teeth or needles that cascade downward as it grows, giving it a shaggy appearance. However, they have a tender, chewy texture and an internal structure akin to cauliflower behind their hairy shell. Their teeth produce a meat-like texture when cooked, and people compare the mild, slightly syrupy flavor to that of crab or lobster.
While clams and shrimp can also be replaced with lion’s mane mushrooms, meatier shellfish like crab or lobster are a perfect match. Lion’s mane also takes tastes well despite being mild and seafood-like, and some people use it in place of steak.
Here are some common recipes that substitute lion’s mane mushrooms for meat:
• Used for making crab cakes after being shredded.
• A legitimate steak replacement that has been seasoned and sautéed.
• Used in lobster rolls in place of live lobster after being cooked and shredded.
# 8 Chanterelle
The Gomphus, Cantharellus, Craterellus, and Polyozellus families of mushrooms contain a number of diverse species that are collectively known as chanterelle mushrooms. However, these yellow, orange, and white mushrooms are similar enough in flavor and look that people refer to them all as chanterelles.
Due to their difficulty in cultivation due to their mycorrhizal nature, foragers pick the majority of chanterelles in hardwood forests seasonally. When cooked properly, they have a distinctive sweet, nutty, somewhat peppery flavor that makes them a great alternative for seafood and go exceedingly well with creamy sauces. People liken them most to a crab when compared to meat.
Here are a few recipes that frequently substitute chanterelle mushrooms for meat:
• In place of the meat in a creamy stroganoff.
• In a thick chowder in place of fish.
# 9 Maitake
Maitake mushrooms, also known as Grifola frondosa or hen of the woods, are bracket fungi that develop at the roots of hardwood trees. They are not identical to chicken of the woods mushrooms (about these in a minute), and the two species have very different appearances, which can often be perplexing. Because a cluster of maitake mushrooms resembles the sitting hen’s ruffled feathers, they are known as “hen of the woods” and have a light brown color.
While maitake is less well-known in the West than a few of the other types of mushrooms we have covered, it is highly revered in Japan and China for its delectable flavor, distinctive texture, and therapeutic benefits.
The rich, meaty maitake mushroom resembles dark chicken meat. Hen of the woods mushroom clusters can grow to be rather enormous, and a common method of cooking them is to use the entire cluster to make delicious mushroom steaks.
Here are some additional methods to substitute maitake mushrooms for meat:
• Crumbed chicken breasts can be replaced with crumbed clusters that have been sautéed while being pressed.
• Shredded and used in taco filling in place of shredded chicken.
# 10 Chicken of the Woods
Bright yellow to orange bracket fungi called chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus, cincinnatus, and gilbertsonii) develop near the base of dead or decaying hardwood trees. They have a fan-like form, pores in place of gills, and are most enjoyable to consume when young because as they get older, they get hard and woody.
As you could have deduced from their name, these mushrooms are a great chicken substitute because of how much they resemble chicken breasts in terms of flavor and texture. The majority of people scavenge for chicken of the woods because they are one of the most difficult mushrooms to grow, although you might find some at your neighborhood farmer’s market.
Any recipe that calls for chicken can be substituted with pieces or ribbons of chicken of the woods. Here are some popular methods to replace meat using chicken of the woods mushrooms:
• Chopped and used into stews and casseroles instead of chicken chunks.
• Fried, chopped, and crumbed as a wonderful alternative to chicken nuggets.
• For the finest plant-based chicken wings, bake them instead of deep-frying them.
Picking, Cleaning, and Storing Mushrooms
Regardless of which of the scrumptious mushrooms listed above you choose to use in place of meat, there are a few factors to take into account.
Avoid any curled or sticky mushrooms and always choose ones that are firm, plump, and have smooth, dry tops. A mushroom’s top and stem should be free of stains or discoloration to indicate its age and short shelf life. Try to smell the mushrooms if you can. They ought to have a barely perceptible earthy fragrance. Mushrooms with a strong odor may already be bad.
Although it is preferable to use mushrooms that are fresh right away, you may preserve them in the refrigerator if you must. Properly stored mushrooms will keep for up to a week. The crisper drawer is not the greatest place to keep mushrooms; instead, place them in your refrigerator’s ventilated sack or container on a shelf.
It is a moment to wash your fresh mushrooms when you are ready to make your meal. They might only require a brief brush depending on the variety of mushrooms and their technique of growth. Foraged mushrooms and mushrooms with gills, however, usually benefit from a fast rinsing under running water to get rid of any insects, dust, or substrate debris.
Use of Mushroom Mycelium in Place of Meat
Researchers have found that fungus mycelium, in addition to mushrooms, contains entire proteins. Additionally, in response to consumer demand for sustainable protein sources, a number of forward-thinking businesses have created mycelium-based meat alternatives.
One such product is a delectable bacon substitute produced from sliced and spiced farm-grown mycelium. However, you can always use meal delivery services like Home Chef or others to get a variety of meals that include mushrooms: kits, quick kits, oven-ready meals, cooked meals, or just your preferred mushrooms.
The texture is the secret to mycelium’s success as a meat substitute, and some businesses use mycelium as a canvas to create fiber-rich meat substitutes like mycelium-based steaks and chicken cutlets.
Some meat-loving-owned businesses have gone beyond just bacon and cutlets. To make deli products like ham, smoked turkey, pepperoni, pate, and salami, they combine a fungus called koji with other plant-based ingredients.
Fusarium venenatum, a fungus developed through fermentation to produce mycoprotein, the component term for a food-grade source of protein that has only been accessible for use in food since 1985, can also be used to create meat substitutes.
Gourmet mushrooms are nutrient-dense foods that give meals a rich umami flavor and offer a number of health advantages. It is an extra benefit that their production is so environmentally friendly. We hope that the material above has inspired you and shown you some fresh methods to substitute mushrooms for meat in dishes that you enjoy.
P.S. Growing your own mushrooms at home is one of the greatest ways to guarantee a steady supply, and oyster mushrooms are the best variety to start with. Discover an online course on growing mushrooms at home, such as oyster mushrooms, which may be grown using basic techniques and little to no equipment.