The Best Vegan Substitute For Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is a classic dish — but it is, obviously, not vegetarian-friendly, so it's something that vegetarians and vegans have likely assumed that they'll just have to skip. Well, as it turns out, there's a vegan-friendly ingredient that works as a substitute for beef in a stroganoff recipe: mushrooms.

Thanks to mushroom's umami-rich flavor and meaty texture, mushrooms make for a great meat alternative — the flavor will be similar (especially with the right blend of spices) and the texture difference, when mixed into a bigger recipe, will be basically impossible to notice. After all, this is why mushrooms often show up in meat-free recipes, such as mushroom-based veggie burgers and BBQ mushroom sandwiches that are similar to pulled pork; in fact, there are plenty of ways to turn mushrooms into plant-based meat dishes.

Our for vegan mushroom stroganoff lays out exactly how to make the swap. To get the flavor just right, you'll start by sauteeing the onions and garlic, then adding in the mushrooms and the blend of spices, which includes paprika and nutritional yeast (the latter of which brings in extra umami). The dish is brought together with another substitute, vegetable stock (as traditional recipes use beef stock), but, again, there is so much flavor from the mushrooms and spices that the end product will be just as satisfying and savory as the traditional dish.

Which mushrooms are the best substitute?

Most types of mushrooms will work just fine, but there are some factors that you can consider when standing in front of your options at the grocery store. One great option is portobello mushrooms, which are often used in place of beef because of the large caps that take on a meat-like texture, which are also able to absorb plenty of flavor from spices or marinades (which, in turn, can help it to taste closer to meat). As for the umami flavor, it is rich and earthy. Further, prepared portobellos even have a chewy texture that is similar to some other meat dishes, such as steak. Cremini mushrooms boast many of the same qualities as portobellos — as portobellos are simply creminis that have been harvested for longer — so creminis may be a good option if you want to work with a smaller mushroom. 

Two other fantastic options include shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms boast a strong smoky element to them, which tastes reminiscent of meat and also have a meaty texture that will work well in the stroganoff dish. Meanwhile, oyster mushrooms also have an earthy flavor and are another type that easily absorbs flavors, which you'll want for this flavorful brothy dish. But, of course, feel free to experiment with your favorite mushroom type or even mix several mushroom types together for one dish.