14 Ways To Turn Mushrooms Into Plant-Based Meat

As the vegetarian movement grows, more people move further away from beef and closer to jackfruit. Home cooks everywhere are hungry for new ways to use plant-based meat in the kitchen. And while there are plenty of imitation meat products on the market that taste (eerily) close to the real thing, there's just something so satisfying about making your own food from scratch.  

When it comes to choosing a plant-based meat alternative, mushrooms have climbed their way to the top as both versatile and as having a similar flavor profile and texture to meat. In addition, new studies have revealed the environmental impact of swapping meat for fungus, and let us tell you, it's worth the substitution. Mushrooms also have a slight umami flavor, and when it comes to texture, there is quite a variety to choose from, so you're bound to come across one that is similar to the meat product you're trying to replicate. There are endless ways to turn mushrooms into plant-based meat, and for culinary creatives, the challenge can be quite exciting.

Even though mushrooms are not a vegetable at all (or a plant, for that matter), with each variety comes a unique flavor, texture, and mouthfeel. It's important to choose just the right mushroom when creating plant-based meat, and, luckily, we are not at a loss for choices.

Shredded pulled pork

For those hoping to make vegan pulled pork, there are plenty of vegetable, fruit, and fungi options to choose from including jackfruit, seitan, and even banana peels. Mushrooms, however, seem to have mock pork down in both texture and flavor. You can use just about any kind of edible mushroom to make this savory dish, but we recommend king oyster mushrooms.

King oyster mushrooms look like large mushroom stems and can be easily shredded with a fork. Once you have a big pile of shredded mushrooms, toss it in a stovetop pan with some hot oil and get cooking. Season with smoked paprika, chili powder, maple syrup, garlic powder, onion powder, lime juice, and tamari. Drizzle on some of your favorite barbecue sauce, and cook until crispy. Use enough oil to allow the mushroom to fry up with a few crispy ends in the mix, just like your favorite shredded pork dish. 


If you've ever been to the Middle East or walked by an authentic restaurant and seen a spit slowly turning near a fire with layers of seasoned meat, then you know just how intoxicating the smell can be. If you've tasted shawarma, then there's no need to convince you that you must try mushroom shawarma. The dish is traditionally made with lamb, but beef and chicken varieties are pretty common (even this unconventional shawarma meat is popular). Mushroom shawarma may be a newer concept, but is just as tender, chewy, and delicious.

Start by marinating oyster mushrooms in a sauce using garlic and onion powder; spices like cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon; and acidities like soy sauce and lemon juice; plus plenty of olive oil. Peel the mushroom into thick layers, and thread them onto water-soaked skewers. Lay them on a sheet pan and let them roast in the oven, turning the skewers often to ensure an even roast. 

You can also take your chances on the grill, but this can be a messy process and you'll want to ensure those grates are scrubbed clean to prevent sticking. The key is high-temperature cooking with frequent rotation, just as with the traditional meat version. Enjoy on its own, or in a wrap. 


Cooks have been trying to replicate steak with vegetables for some time, and it's hard to level up to. However, mushrooms have made it pretty darn close in appearance, juiciness, and flavor. There are several varieties of mushrooms that have been successfully used to create a steak-like entree, but our favorite is the good old portobello mushroom. 

Marinate mushroom caps in oil, tamari, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, vegan Worcestershire, garlic, liquid smoke, and black pepper. Add your favorite steak sauce or seasoning, but just be aware that it might not be vegan, so if you're going for an entirely plant-based steak, check the ingredients.

The unexpected method to get perfectly grilled mushrooms is to steam them first. This allows the inside of the mushroom to get nice a juicy, then you can focus solely on searing the outside. Allow those edges to crisp up slightly like a steak, let it set, and enjoy the juiciest plant-based "steak" you've ever had. Throw it between some toasted buns with burger fixings for the ultimate plant-based mushroom burger.

Crab cakes

Considering using lion's mane mushrooms when making plant-based crab cakes. Lion's mane mushrooms get their name from their appearance. They look like fuzzy white lion manes, which can be rather intriguing for mushroom lovers, but, perhaps, off-putting to those less open-minded eaters. We recommend using a fork or your fingers to shred the mushroom apart. 

Marinade it in everything you'd typically make a crab cake with, and consider using celery salt, old bay seasoning, lemon juice, black pepper, vegan mayonnaise, parsley, dill, and panko bread crumbs. Instead of an egg consider using a flax egg or some chickpea flour as a binder. Mix your ingredients together and add a little extra panko to the outside of your hand-shaped mushroom cakes.

Pan-fry them in hot oil, and dip them into a homemade tartar sauce. For the sauce, mix together vegan mayonnaise, diced dill pickles, pickle juice, fresh dill, dijon mustard, and a tiny splash of maple syrup to balance the tartness. Enjoy the freshest inland seafood you've ever had. 


If you have fond memories of enjoying your family's homemade meatloaf you may feel a bit deprived if you're focusing on plant-based eating. Luckily, vegetarian meatloaf, although slightly different in texture and taste, is quite delicious. Although it won't taste just like your mama used to make, you can get pretty darn close by including some of her secret ingredients like spices, chopped vegetables, and aromatics. When doubling down to throw this veggie-tastic dish together, it's a good idea to use a variety of mushrooms instead of focusing on one in particular. A mix of oyster, shiitake, and portobello can work beautifully, but consider experimenting with whatever your local market has to offer.

The beauty of meatloaf is that it already contains so many plant-based ingredients like onions, garlic, celery, and often other vegetables depending on the recipe. Roll up your sleeves and make this vegetarian mushroom meatloaf recipe, and swap the eggs for flax eggs to make it vegan. Don't forget to add those secret ingredients that you grew up enjoying to make it your own.


Scallops are a delicacy with an incredibly unique texture that makes them so desirable. They can be quite expensive and are best enjoyed fresh so those living in the middle of the country don't often get to enjoy them in all of their glory. Incredibly, king oyster mushrooms look and bare a shockingly similar texture to the mollusks.

Simply slice the king oyster mushroom stem to the thickness of scallops, and start by steaming them in some slightly salted water. Once they are moist, remove the pan, crank up the heat, and add vegan butter or oil to sear. Add freshly minced garlic, lemon juice, fresh parsley, a dash of maple syrup, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Allow the mushrooms to brown on each side, and spoon the sauce over them to ensure they are absorbing the flavors. If you would like a fisher flavor, try adding some crumbled nori or minced kelp to the pan.

These plant-based scallops are delicious on their own or served over pasta as a scampi. We can assure you, you will be pleasantly surprised by how closely these mushrooms mimic the texture of fresh scallops.

Fried chicken

Chicken is one of those meats without a distinctly strong flavor, which is why it is often served with more than just salt and pepper for seasoning. Therefore, fried vegan chicken isn't too difficult to replicate if you're able to mimic the texture using vegetables or fungi. Luckily, oyster mushrooms peel apart just like chicken, and even have the rough edges and appearance of a chicken breast that has been pounded thin before frying. Both king oyster mushrooms and oyster mushrooms taste similar to chicken, so when it comes to seasonings, half of the work is done for you. Peel apart wide layers of oyster mushrooms to mimic thin pieces of chicken.

Look for vegan chicken seasonings, or throw a mix together of nutritional yeast, celery salt, garlic powder, and onion powder to flavor the mushrooms. Then, simply dampen the mushrooms, coat them in cornstarch, dip them in unsweetened plant-based milk, and then into breadcrumbs seasoned with parsley, garlic powder, and sea salt. Deep or shallow fry them in vegetable or canola oil until crispy brown and let them rest on a paper towel. 

Use these vegan chicken slices on your Southern fried chicken sandwich, over chicken parmesan, or simply as the main part of your dinner along with some veggie side dishes.


Vegans have been trying to replicate bacon since the beginning of their existence, simply because bacon is delicious. And while rice paper, banana peels, and tempeh have all been quite successful, nothing seems to really capture the delicate balance between juicy and crispy like mushrooms do. Shiitake mushrooms carry an intense umami flavor, while king oyster mushrooms capture the shape of bacon perfectly when cut lengthwise into thick strips. Choose your mushroom wisely and then follow some expert tips you need to transform mushrooms into vegan bacon.

Create a marinade using tomato paste, soy sauce, maple syrup, black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Let your mushrooms sit in the marinade for at least 15 minutes before adding them to a hot pan with plenty of oil. Let them fry until they are crispy, only turning them over once. Avoid moving or touching them while they cook, but instead, allow them to brown in place. 

Use this bacon just like you would the pork version: Add it to a sandwich, enjoy it alongside pancakes, or crumble it over a salad. Rest easy knowing this cholesterol-free version isn't wreaking quite as much havoc on your arteries.

Lobster rolls

If you've never heard of lobster mushrooms, then there's no time like the present to get yourself in the car and make your way to the store. Although they may be more difficult to track down than say, portobello mushrooms or white buttons, the effort you put into the scavenger hunt will be well worth it in the end. So, what are lobster mushrooms? These fungi are not just lobster flavored, but they are actually colored like cooked lobster too, as they are reddish-orange on the outside and white in the center. Many chefs believe that their iodine content is what makes them taste like seafood, which, of course, is a surprising flavor for something grown on land.

Break the mushroom apart into bite-sized chunks and pan-fry it with lemon juice, salt, and plenty of hot oil. Finish with a little bit of garlic and paprika and dab dry with a paper towel.

If you enjoy a mayo-based lobster roll, let them cool, and then mix them with vegan mayo, lemon juice, diced celery, chives, and parsley. Enjoy chilled in a toasted hot dog bun. For butter lovers, enjoy at room temperature with lemon, butter or ghee, green onions, garlic powder, and chopped parsley. Get ready to fall in love with this eerily spot-on plant-based mushroom lobster roll.

Chicken skewers

Chicken satay is a university-loved dish, as chicken skewers in general are typically packed with flavor and have quite a pleasing texture. If you're moving away from animal protein to the veggie world, then it might be a good idea to use lion's mane mushrooms in place of chicken in your next batch of skewers. 

Simply rip off large chunks of your lion's main mushroom and marinade them in your favorite satay chicken seasoning. Consider making your marinade with oil, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, shallots, lime juice, and a little sweeter like maple syrup. Let the mushroom soak for at least 15 minutes (but the longer the better) and then thread them onto a water-soaked skewer. Brush with additional sauce and grill for several minutes on each side until the ends start to get nice and crispy. Dip your plant-based chicken satay into a spicy peanut sauce and top with fresh herbs like parsley, green onion, and cilantro.  


Freshwater eel has a very distinct flavor and is best known for its appearance in sushi accompanied by a sweet, soy-based sauce. And while it seems like food only enjoyed by the brave, eel is actually quite popular and exceptionally delicious. It has a slightly slimy texture and sometimes comes crusted and fried when rolled up into sushi. Luckily, there is a mushroom that resembles the texture of unagi quite closely and even carries a bit of the same flavors.

There are several ways you can slice shiitake mushrooms, but we recommend removing the stems and slicing them across to make little "U"-shaped slivers. Steam them first, then marinade them in soy sauce, minced ginger, and sweeteners like sugar or maple syrup. Toss in a little cornstarch and pan-fry in hot oil. Use these little slivers as your would in unagi sushi or sashimi, and drizzle with a homemade eel sauce recipe


There's nothing that mushrooms can't do, and shrimp is no exception. Deep-fried foods are, of course, much easier to replicate because their subtle notes in flavor often go overlooked because of the crispy, crunchy, salty, and breaded exteriors. This is good news when it comes to meat alternatives because we can focus mainly on the texture. 

Lion's mane mushroom takes the cake when it comes to creating that peel-apart spongy shrimp-like texture. Simply use your fingers to peel shrimp-sized portions of lion's mane mushroom apart. Then soak it in a wet batter of flour, chickpea flour, starch, garlic powder, and sea salt. Next, toss it in a dry batter of bread crumbs, cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper. Deep fry or shallow fry in a hot pan until crispy and crunchy, remove and let rest on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Then toss in your favorite sauce like maple chili or ginger soy, or dip into a creamy sauce like vegan bang-bang sauce. Better yet, enjoy it in a vegan po'boy sandwich.


There's a reason they call them chicken of the wood mushrooms, and that's because those oddly colored mushrooms taste just like chicken. When it comes to seasoning these bad boys, don't waste your breath because when it comes to making buffalo wings everyone knows it's all about the sauce. Simply break your chicken of the wood mushrooms into wing-sized pieces, dip them in batter, and deep fry or air fry them until crispy.

Remove from the heat and toss in your favorite barbecue, buffalo, or teriyaki sauce. The choices are endless when it comes to seasoning wings, so use this as an opportunity to be experimental or try a bottled sauce you've been curious about. Next, dip into a coordinating creamy vegan sauce to take the heat down a peg and serve with raw celery and carrots. Not only will you be blown away by the dark meat chicken texture of the mushrooms, but by how much they actually taste like chicken, too.


Although heart of palm has dominated the scene when it comes to vegan calamari in the past, we think you'll find a new affinity with this version made from king oyster mushrooms. They are a bit spongier and mimic the rubberiness of calamari more closely. Start by slicing your king oyster mushroom's stem into quarter-inch disks and hollowing out the center with a sharp knife. Don't toss the insides or the caps of the mushrooms away, because we don't want to waste an inch of these delicious 'shrooms.

Create a basic wet batter using flour, water, garlic powder, celery salt, paprika, and black pepper. Dip your rings and all of the leftover scraps into the batter and then deep fry in hot oil or air fry until brown and crispy. Top with lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, fresh parsley, and sliced banana peppers. Get fancy and drizzle your pile of fried mushrooms with a balsamic reduction. Consider using a dipping sauce like tartar sauce or a sweetened marinara.