How mushrooms can be used to replace meaty textures

Mushrooms are one of those foods that I didn’t like so much growing up. I used to see them more as a side to the bigger picture, that was either meat, or some type of dairy-based dish. 

Going vegan I learned that mushrooms are the real goat when it comes to getting a taste of some meatiness, without actually eating any meat. This post is going to go through how you can use mushrooms for your meaty cravings. 

So many types of mushrooms

There are literally so many types of mushroom, but most people limit themselves to merely white and brown button mushrooms. I know I was that kid, so limited to the point where I used to think mushrooms taste like fake meat. 

That was until I explored different mushroom options, a few of which I’ll recommend below. With these new varieties, I was once again able to enjoy chicken-ey, or beefy textures (if you will), alongside my new plant-based favourites.

Portobello mushrooms

Portobellos are large mushrooms with a big meaty texture. Ideal for marinading and roasting, also served often at barbecues as a meat-free burger alternative. 

They soak up flavour really well, so much so I’d recommend having them as a main entree, such as with our jerk-style portobello mushroom recipe. 

jerk portobello close up

Oyster & king oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are easily my favourite mushroom on this list. I enjoy them at least 3-5 times a week, and am able to get my fried chicken fix, with these being the star of the show. 

To clarify, the large flat oyster mushrooms are perfect for using in a vegan fried chicken recipe, whilst the king oyster mushrooms are better in soups and stews, such as our veganised clam chowder. 

If you wanted to be really fancy, you can also make veganised scallops with king oyster mushrooms. 

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are ideal in a ramen, stir fry or as an option in a pasta or cream of mushroom soup. Shiitake mushrooms are really meaty and a great go-to option who wants a quick fix. 

Cremini mushrooms

These Italian classics are beautiful in a stew, and are technically the “young” version of a portobello. These are beautiful on top of a pizza or pasta, for a meaty texture, but also a rich taste. 

Lion’s mane

Lion’s mane mushrooms are lesser common in Europe than in say, the US, but if you do get your hands on them, just know there’s a lot that you can do with them. 

Turnip vegan is infamous for his efforts on making the lion’s mane mushroom known. Check out his socials for some inspiration on how he uses the mushroom!

What’s the meatiest tasting mushroom?

In my opinion, I’ve got to say the oyster mushrooms take the cake here. Never have I ever had a fried chicken substitute that has tasted so good, and I’ve had soy, seitan and other options.

The texture is so close to flesh, you can tear it, and the bite is bouncy, highly recommend you get some oyster mushrooms if you’re having doubts. 

Why do mushrooms taste meaty?

Mushrooms taste meaty due to its amino acid called glutamate. Being the same reason meat tastes so savoury, it’s really and truly down to the glutamate. 

To enhance this flavour, be sure to season your mushrooms well, with seasonings such as smoked paprika, thyme, garlic, black pepper, as well as Italian herbs. 

Pair it with a protein for a perfect meat substitute

Mushrooms are well-known for being rich in nutrients, but not so much in protein. This is one of the main reasons why you can’t truly “substitute” the protein-rich alternative for mushrooms. 

That being said, experiment with plant-based protein sources and find your fit. Personally I like oyster mushroom chicken alongside lentils, or even tofu, find what works for you!

Pro tip: Get dried mushrooms, they last longer!

One thing I love asian supermarkets for, is that they sell dried mushrooms. Not only do they last longer than store-bought fresh versions, they also have more of a texture!

Try getting a pack of dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms, soak em for 30 mins, then cook them for your next pasta dish – you won’t regret it!

If you liked this post on how to replace meat with mushrooms, feel free to share if you found it valuable. Thanks for stopping by veganising it for your vegan lifestyle inspiration. Stay well and stay blessed.