Making a recipe that calls for cremini mushrooms, and you do not have any? Don’t stop cooking. Read on and use one of these eight best cremini mushroom substitutes.
It can be confusing to know what variety of mushrooms to use. The same variety can go by a different name or as an ingredient, "morel." Some mushrooms can taste "earthy," while others have a mild taste, making it hard to know which is the best variety to substitute.
Have no fear; this list is designed to make your life easier. I go over what a cremini mushroom is, how to clean it (you might be doing it all wrong) and what are the best substitutes.
What are Cremini Mushrooms?
Creminis are more commonly known as baby bellas. In fact, white button mushrooms, creminis (baby bellas), and portabellas are all the same fungus.
The difference between the three is maturity. White buttons are picked early and have a lighter flavor. Creminis have more time to age and have a richer flavor. Finally, portabellas have had even longer to age.
How to Clean Mushrooms
Not long ago, I learned I had been cleaning mushrooms wrong my entire life. Like all vegetables, I rinsed them with water, did a quick pat dry, and cooked them. It turns out the water absorbs into the shroom, changing the texture. Here is how you clean them
Store-Bought Varieties- Most store-bought are cultivated and can be wiped clean with a paper towel.
Wild Varieties- All wild mushrooms need to be washed and dried out. This process should take about an hour.
A great substitute imitates the flavor and texture. I have included eggplant as the eighth substitute, which allows for personal preference and allergies.
1. White Button
Otherwise known as a button, table, or cultivated mushroom, this variety is the perfect substitute. White buttons are accessible all year round in most supermarkets, making it a great alternative if cremini isn’t available in your region. White buttons have a milder taste because they are younger and at different stages of development. For this reason, the two share many of the same qualities and flavor profiles.
When balanced with the right ingredients, spices, and seasonings, white button mushrooms can taste just as rich as creminis. Without seasonings, they tend to have a more delicate flavor.
These are ideal substitutes when it comes to lighter flavors. I recommend a 1:1 replacement in a recipe.
Portobello mushrooms are also called giant creminis. Similar to how white buttons are at an early growth stage, portabellas are at a later growth stage. As a result, you will get a stronger taste and a darker color. Portobello is also high in riboflavin and protein, making them more nutritious and giving them earthy umami flavors.
To use a portobello as a cremini substitute, cut it into smaller bite-sized pieces. While they have a meaty flavor and texture, you must cook them properly before adding them to your dish. When placed in a sauce or container too early, the shroom will absorb the moisture, and you will get a mushy meal.
Oyster mushrooms are distinctive with a mildly sweet flavor and an excellent substitute for savory dishes like soups and curries. First cultivated in Germany, this variety is accessible in pink, tan, brown, yellow, and white colors.
Generally, the brown varieties taste identical to creminis. Use oysters as a 1:1 substitute. Note: they take a little longer to cook, so add them in a little earlier.
I can find fresh oyster mushrooms in my local Kroger about 30% of the time. To ensure I always have some on hand, I recommend having a bag of dried oyster mushrooms handy
Shiitake mushrooms are also called Chinese black morels, brown oak, black forest, or oriental black. In terms of shape and size, shitakes are similar to creminis. However, they have a soft, woody, and spongy texture.
Shitakes are packed with fibers, are nutritious, and have higher minerals and vitamins than creminis. Shitakes can be used to make curries, stir-fries, pasta, marinara sauce, and risotto.
They are available in almost all grocery stores, but you might have to look harder. If you cannot find them at your local store, head to the nearest Asian market. Another option is dried shitakes on Amazon.
5. Chanterelle mushrooms
Chanterelle mushrooms have a similar meaty texture as crimini mushrooms. I like the peppery and fruity flavor chanterelle mushrooms can add to a recipe. Because chanterelle is delicate and tender, they add to creamy pasta sauces, risotto, and sauteed dishes.
6. Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms have a stronger, meatier flavor and a dense texture than crimini mushrooms. If you are substituting crimini mushrooms with porcini mushrooms, I recommend considering their stronger flavor and texture. For example, if you're using Porcini mushrooms in a pasta sauce that calls for Crimini mushrooms, you may want to use less of them or combine them with a milder mushroom, like button mushrooms, to balance out the flavor.
7. Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms can be a good substitute for Crimini mushrooms when adding flavor depth. If you have never seen or tasted a morel mushroom, they have a distinctive honeycomb texture and an earthy, nutty flavor
Morel mushrooms can be substituted for crimini mushrooms and work especially well in creamy French sauces. When substituting a morel mushroom for crimini mushrooms, you'll need to consider their stronger flavor and texture. For example, if you're using morel mushrooms in a soup that calls for Crimini mushrooms, you may want to use less of morels or combine them with a milder mushroom, like button mushrooms, to balance out the flavor.
If you want a vegetable option, eggplant comes close to matching the texture and taste. Also known as brinjal, Guinea Squash, or the garden egg, this is a healthy replacement. Eggplant might look different; however, deep-fried or sautéed, a chemical reaction occurs, and there are similarities in the flavor and texture.
Eggplant has a high fiber content, is low in carbs, and, when prepared correctly, is delicious.
|Crimini Mushroom Substitute||Description||Best Uses|
|Button mushrooms||Similar in appearance and taste to Crimini mushrooms, but slightly less flavorful||Sauteing, roasting, and in soups|
|Portobello mushrooms||Larger and meatier than Crimini mushrooms, with a slightly earthy and nutty flavor.||Grilling, roasting, and as a vegetarian burger patty|
|Shitake mushrooms||Meaty and slightly chewy texture with a rich, umami flavor||Stir-fries, soups, and Asian cuisine|
|Oyster mushrooms||Delicate and tender texture with a mild, slightly sweet flavor||Stir fries, soups, and as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes|
|Chanterelle mushrooms||Fragile texture, with a fruity and slightly peppery flavor||Sauteing in creamy pasta sauces and in risottos|
|Porcini mushrooms||Rich, meaty flavor with a dense, chewy texture||In Italian cuisine, soups and stews|
|Morel mushrooms||Distinctive honeycomb texture and earthy, nutty flavor||In creamy sauces, in French cuisine, and as a substitute for Crimini mushrooms in most dishes|
|Eggplant||Similar in texture and taste. Very easy to find.||Stews, sauces, and curries|
It's important to note that while these substitutes can provide a similar texture and flavor profile to Crimini mushrooms, they may not be an exact replacement in all recipes. It's always a good idea to experiment with different varieties to find the best substitute for your specific dish.
Check out My Other Substitute Suggestions
Typically, cremini mushrooms are used when sautéing, roasting, stewing, and baking. If you eat them raw, slice them and add them to your salad or greens.
Creminis have a meaty taste that complements several other vegetables, such as celery, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, Kimchi, lime, etc. They also go well with fish, meat, and poultry. You can use it to make a cream sauce, add it as a pizza topping, in marinara sauce, cook rice, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Creminis are also marketed as “baby portabellas” because they are a young version of them. Both of these varieties are packed with flavor but have different sizes.
They have a nutty and earthy taste, similar to the white button variety.
There is an enormous variety of morels available in the world. The flavors go from bold, to earthy, to subtle. In the US, cooks rely on cultivated varieties such as white button, baby bella, and portabellas because they are readily available.
Store them in a container they were sold in or something that allows the air to flow. Generally, most varieties will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.