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What Do Mushrooms Taste Like? 6 Flavors Of Medicinal Mushrooms
Dec 28, 22
Tags: Usage
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Author: Sony Sherpa

What Do Mushrooms Taste Like? 6 Flavors Of Medicinal Mushrooms

  • by Sony Sherpa
  • |
  • 13 min read

Mushrooms have recently risen to the top of the list of popular ingredients in plant-based cuisine, restaurants, and fine dining. With so many choices, you might be curious about the taste of mushrooms and the benefits of these novel and unusual fungi.

Mushrooms' flavor depends on their type. They add a vaguely sweet, earthy, and umami flavor that, in many ways, resembles gamey meat. They add flavor to any dish and can be easily seasoned to take them in different directions.

Nevertheless, not all mushrooms are created equal. In addition to the mushroom flavor, the texture is very significant. At times, you might enjoy the flavor but dislike the texture.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about what do mushrooms taste like, their health benefits, and how to select them.

How Do Mushrooms Taste?

If you have never done so, you might be hesitant to try mushrooms for the first time. But fungi give any recipe an entirely new flavor profile as they have a unique umami element. For the same, some people adore mushrooms, while others hold them in profound contempt. So, what does mushroom taste like? Let’s find out!

The most widely available edible mushrooms have a distinct musty or earthy flavor frequently described as umami. Chefs characterize it as a savory, brothy flavor that saturates the tongue and lingers in the mouth. Since it is the fifth primary taste, it is distinct and cannot be produced by combining other tastes.

Because of their meaty flavor, mushrooms are often used in place of beef in recipes that call for plant-based ingredients. With the proper seasoning, you can take them from mediocre to the best thing ever.

While some mushrooms have a mild flavor with a hint of sweetness, others have a robust, rich flavor that is slightly nutty. And while some people love the flavor of mushrooms, others find their texture intolerable. Few of these fungi are so delicate that they almost resemble sponges.

Flavors Of The Top Six Medicinal Mushrooms

Flavors Of The Top Six Medicinal Mushrooms

Here's how the top six medicinal mushroom taste and their health benefits:

Lion’s mane mushrooms taste

Hericium erinaceus, or Lion's mane, looks exactly like its name. But what about its taste?

The flavor of lion's mane mushrooms is very similar to seafood. Many people frequently compare the taste of this mushroom to that of lobster or crab meat, but with earthier undertones.

Raw Lion's mane is exceptionally spongy and chewy. But you can eat it raw if you can get past these drawbacks. However, it's best to prepare them simply to fully appreciate their distinctive flavor because, like other mushrooms, they will absorb the flavor of any sauces they are prepared. Lion's mane is juicy and tender when cooked, and in vegan recipes, it frequently takes the place of seafood.

Lion's mane mushrooms are ideal for roasting, sautéing, deep frying, or adding to sauces and stews because they have a thick stringy texture and are meatier than most mushrooms.

Lion’s mane mushroom benefits

The following are the health benefits of Hericium erinaceus:

  • Enhances mental performance and overall brain health.
  • Reduces the signs of anxiety and depression.
  • Prevents memory loss and mild cognitive impairment in conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
  • Reduces inflammation and pain in the nerves.
  • Enhances the function of the digestive system.
  • Encourages cancer cells to undergo apoptosis or cell death.
  • Helps maintain weight.
  • Lowers blood sugar.
  • Reduces the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Activates the antioxidant system
  • Has protective effects on the nervous system.

Maitake flavor

The aroma and flavor of maitake mushrooms are distinctive, rich, and woodsy. Even those who dislike mushrooms enjoy their delicate, feathery texture.

Maitake can be cooked whole or cut into smaller pieces to suit any recipe. It's an excellent option for both side dishes and soups in addition to main dishes.

Maitake offers the careful taster even more subtleties. To begin with, it has a stronger savory side than a porcini and is more delicate than a shiitake. Maitake has a slight hint of spice, but it's not hot. Like most mushrooms, Maitake will absorb many flavors from the food it is cooked with; for example, if you fry it with soy sauce and garlic, it will taste strongly of those particular flavors.

Maitake mushroom benefits

Grifola frondosa, or Maitake, is one of the unsung heroes of the medicinal mushroom species. It is frequently regarded as a delicacy for dinner, and its significant benefits are disregarded because it is loved for its delicate texture and earthy flavor.

The health benefits of Maitake are:

  • Helps modulate immune responses.
  • Activates natural killer (NK) cells.
  • Has anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Keeps blood sugar under check.
  • Prevents cancer cells from proliferating or induces cell death.
  • Decreases blood pressure levels.
  • Inhibits the replication of certain viruses (e.g., Herpes simplex virus).
  • Improves gut health and conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Lowers blood cholesterol levels.

Reishi mushroom taste

Reishi mushroom taste

Reishi mushrooms have an earthy bitterness, which may not be palatable to most. For some, this flavor can be similar to rich dark chocolate (this one’s for you, chocolate lovers!). However, the texture of fresh mushrooms is hard.

Ganoderma mushrooms don't typically make the cut as a culinary staple in the mushroom world because their flavor is less alluring than that of other mushrooms. But, as the bitter flavor of a Reishi comes from the inner yellow parts, removing it leaves the white portion, which tastes like meat.

Reishi mushrooms do have culinary advantages, but not everyone will agree. These mushrooms are typically quite chewy, but eastern cuisines have discovered a way to make them tender—almost like tofu—in their recipes. With time and patience, you can make your mushrooms taste as delicate and flavorful as beef. However, it depends on the cooking technique you use and the ingredients you choose.

The mushroom is best enjoyed with other drinks and food or as health supplements.

Reishi mushroom benefits

Here are the health perks of Reishi mushroom:

  • Combats bacterial infections.
  • Aids in immune system regulation.
  • Soothes sore muscles and decreases inflammation.
  • Helps lower blood pressure.
  • Contains antioxidants that serve as scavengers of free radicals.
  • Can improve memory, concentration, and focus.
  • Naturally prevents histamine (substances that give you allergic reactions) from being released.
  • Supports the liver's function.
  • Can reduce cortisol and support the adrenals.
  • Gives you almost immediate energy.
  • Is thought to induce feelings of serenity and peace.

Chaga mushroom flavors

If you’ve ever had twig tea or kukicha, Chaga mushroom flavor resonates with that. It has a tinge of sweetness and mild, soothing bitterness. In addition, some say Chaga has a coffee-like flavor.

Despite being a mushroom, it lacks any flavoring that would identify it as such.  But they still have an earthy flavor, which could be the closest taste to a mushroom.

Chaga that tastes incredibly bitter or repulsive should make you wonder what kind of tree it came from. Was the tree still alive, and was the Chaga dried and prepared safely and correctly? Usually, the flavor of Chaga is a reliable indicator of its origin and quality.

Chaga mushroom benefits

Although Chaga may not be the most popular flavor among mushrooms, the nutritional advantages make up for it. Here are the Chaga mushroom benefits:

  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports the immune system.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Decreases cholesterol.
  • Improves skin and hair quality.
  • Fights cancer.
  • Protects from stress.
  • Balances the thyroid glands.
  • Supports digestive health.
  • Gives you energy.
  • Improves brain functioning.

Cordyceps taste

Cordyceps taste

Cordyceps mushroom has a mild taste like mushrooms, but they have a sweet aftertaste. It's not the sweet that makes you want to include them in a dessert; it tastes more like the savory sweetness that a nice ripe tomato or a cooked-down onion can have. Honey mushrooms and club mushrooms have a similar sweetness.

A fake Cordyceps mushroom is bitter. This is how you can distinguish it from an authentic one.

Cordyceps benefits

Cordyceps has several beneficial effects on the human body, which include:

  • Improve physical performance and reduce fatigue.
  • Antioxidants in the mushroom have anti-aging benefits.
  • Improvement in immune function.
  • Enhances brain function.
  • Boosts libido.
  • Potential anticancer activity.
  • Helps lower blood sugar and bad cholesterol levels.
  • Protects the kidney and improves liver function.
  • Cardiovascular protective effects.

Turkey tail mushroom flavor

Turkey tail mushrooms don't taste as bitter as some other medicinal mushrooms, like Reishi. However, they don't taste all that great, either.

Some have characterized the taste of turkey tail mushrooms as "slightly bitter, but not particularly mushroomy," "rather mild and unimpressive," and "somewhat earthy." Turkey tail has a more robust flavor and a texture that requires blending than some other valuable mushrooms. But people consume Turkey tail mushrooms for their medicinal benefit, not their taste.

Turkey tail benefits

The benefits of Turkey tail mushrooms are:

  • Supports the immune system.
  • Has adaptogenic properties.
  • Helps to maintain blood sugar balance.
  • Encourages a healthy inflammatory response.
  • Prevents DNA damage.
  • Supports digestive health.
  • Enhances performance in sports.

What If You Cannot Enjoy Medicinal Mushroom Flavor?

What if you want to take advantage of the many benefits of these medicinal mushrooms but don't like their taste and texture?

Fortunately, supplements and fortified foods are now widely available that effectively disguise the flavor of the mushroom. You can use the capsule or scoops of mushroom powders in meals and beverages without the texture and flavor of the fungi. 

A Breakdown On The Health Benefits Of Mushrooms

A Breakdown On The Health Benefits Of Mushrooms

Edible culinary and medicinal mushrooms have numerous health benefits, such as:

  1. High nutritional value: Lion's mane, Reishi, Chaga, Turkey tail, Cordyceps, and Maitake are a few examples of edible mushrooms with high fiber, vitamin, and mineral content as well as low-fat levels.

  2. Rich energy sources: medicinal mushrooms are loaded with B vitamins that provide all-day energy sources.

  3. Balances hormone levels: mushrooms like Cordyceps (1) have been explored for their benefits in sexual dysfunction.

  4. Stress-busters: Many adaptogen mushrooms like Reishi (2), Cordyceps, and Lion's mane support the body's response to stress and anxiety.

  5. Heart-healthy: Mushrooms lower blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol levels and are low in sodium, making them excellent food for the heart.

  6. Powerhouses of antioxidants: Several medicinal mushrooms have remarkable antioxidant properties, which help combat aging and cancer.

  7. Best friends to your brains: Mushrooms like Lion’s mane enhance memory, focus, and cognition.

Tips For Buying Mushrooms

There are specific recommendations for selecting high-quality mushrooms for cooking when purchasing mushrooms.

It's critical to look for fresh mushrooms with the following characteristics:

  • A sweet, earthy smell.
  • Solid texture.
  • A uniform surface.
  • A surface that is dry but not scorched and has a rounded appearance.

If the veil under the mushroom is closed when you look under it, the flavor of the mushroom will be delicate. However, the mushroom flavor will be more intense if the veil covering it is open and the gills are visible.

Skip the mushrooms that have a spongy texture, a sour or fishy odor, and are bruised. Mushrooms should be used within a week of purchase and kept in the refrigerator in a paper bag.


Does Mushrooms Taste Like Meat?

Mushrooms have a "meaty" texture and an umami flavor that is often very satisfying. This makes it simpler to pass them off as meat in many common dishes.

Can You Eat Mushrooms Raw?

Although it might not be the healthiest or most appetizing way to eat them, all of the common mushrooms that can be bought in supermarkets or neighborhood markets are safe to eat raw. Never, though, consume any wild mushrooms raw.

Which Is The Tastiest Mushroom?

Maitake,  also known as Hen-of-the-Wood, is the most flavorful mushroom available. But seafood lovers are known to enjoy the crab and lobster-like taste of Lion's mane mushroom as well.

Final Thoughts

There is not just one term that describes the taste of mushrooms. However, most mushrooms have a meat-like umami flavor, making them an excellent addition to soup, casseroles, and pasta. And the added health benefits of medicinal mushrooms are a bonus!

Now that you know what do mushrooms taste like grab your grocery bag and bring home your favorite one.

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  1. Review of Naturopathy of Medical Mushroom, Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, in Sexual Dysfunction, (1)
  2. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide, (2)

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