You’ve probably seen morel mushrooms in the grocery store and wondered whether they are worth buying.
After all, they’re not cheap. But morels are a unique, delicious mushroom worth the price.
These mushrooms are typically used in recipes that require long cooking times.
They can be cooked in various dishes, such as casseroles or soups.
Morels have a strong, almost nutty flavor and a firm texture.
However, they happen to be one of the most expensive varieties of mushrooms – sometimes costing as much as $20 per pound.
Luckily, several substitutes for morel mushrooms offer similar flavors and textures at a lower cost.
Cooking with these substitutes is a great way to add variety to your meals and enjoy the taste of morels without breaking the bank.
This article will go over some of the best substitutes for morel mushrooms.
What is Morel Mushroom?
Morel mushrooms, known by several names such as sponge mushrooms and Morchella or morels, are a popular mushroom species in many cuisines around the world.
Morel mushrooms are often used in French cuisine.
They can be cooked by sauteing, fried, or steamed with butter and shallots.
These mushrooms are also commonly used in soups or sauces.
Some chefs even use them to make their risotto.
Fresh morels should be rinsed with cold water before cooking.
They should never be soaked in water or cooked in aluminum foil because the high acidity of these foods will cause them to become black.
You can usually recognize morel mushrooms by looking for their unique honeycomb patterns visible on the caps of these fungi.
These mushrooms have a very distinct appearance, so they are relatively easy to recognize.
If you are interested in growing these mushrooms, you can purchase morel mushroom spawn online or at some gardening supply stores.
Morel mushroom spawn is usually sold by kilogram, and it will grow when placed on trays of soil.
The shelf life of dried morels is 6-8 months if they are stored properly.
Fresh morels should only be stored for a day or two.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Morel Mushrooms
When you want to cook a meal with morel mushrooms but can’t find them in your local grocery store or farmer’s market, there are several options that you can choose from as substitutes.
These substitutes will give you some ideas on how you can use ingredients from your kitchen instead of buying the silky and chewy texture of this fungi.
1 – Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelle mushrooms are often considered one of the best substitutes for morel mushrooms.
These fungi can grow in many different habitats, including meadows.
Chanterelles usually have a golden or yellow color and an apricot-like scent that is quite strong.
This mushroom may also have a nutty, fruity, or wine-like flavor.
These mushrooms are typically sold fresh in trays at farmers’ markets and sometimes in supermarkets because they are easy to cultivate.
In addition, these fungi can be frozen or dried for later use.
However, many chefs prefer to buy them fresh rather than use the substitutes that may be available.
If you decide to use chanterelle mushrooms as a substitute, you must know that they will absorb the flavors of the sauce or soup you are cooking with them.
2 – Black Trumpet Mushrooms
The next substitute for morel mushrooms is known as black trumpet mushrooms.
These fungi have a distinctive and mild flavor that is earthy.
You can either use them fresh or dried to prepare your favorite dishes.
Black trumpet mushrooms also have a tough texture, and without cooking, they may be too chewy.
Black trumpet mushrooms typically grow in the wild, and they are known as black chanterelles and horns of plenty.
The shape is trumpet-like, and the color is black.
However, the base of these fungi may be yellow or white.
In addition, many chefs recommend using this mushroom as a substitute for morel mushrooms because it has a similar consistency.
Finally, you can pair this mushroom with seafood such as lobster and oysters to create delicious dishes.
3 – Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are another option if you need to find a substitute for morel mushrooms.
You can enjoy this fungus with many different dishes, including vegan recipes.
Oyster mushrooms have a mild flavor that will absorb the flavors of any dish that it is cooked with.
This mushroom may be white, gray, or brown, and it has thick and meaty caps.
Furthermore, these mushrooms don’t have an overpowering flavor, so that they will blend well with the other ingredients in your recipe.
When using this substitute for morel mushrooms, you can pan-fry them until they are golden brown or cook them into a sauce to enjoy during your meal.
You can also eat oyster mushrooms raw if you wish.
4 – Maitake Mushrooms
Maitake mushrooms are known by many different names, including hen of the woods and ram’s head.
These fungi have a creamy texture similar to morel mushrooms and have a distinctive flavor.
Hen of the woods mushrooms typically grow in clumps, and you will find them in the wild during the late autumn months.
However, these fungi can be grown in your backyard during the spring and summer.
This mushroom is usually brown or gray, and it may have wrinkles on the caps that are somewhat similar to a brain.
In addition, this fungus is sometimes sold as a medicinal mushroom because it reportedly helps with certain health problems such as diabetes.
When you have hen of the woods mushrooms, you can pan fry them, grill them or even boil them.
In addition, this fungi has a chewy texture similar to morel mushrooms, and it may be used as a substitute in most recipes that call for the latter fungi.
5 – Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are another option that you can use to replace morel mushrooms.
These fungi have a distinctive flavor, and they are more firm than other substitutes on this list.
These mushrooms can be bought fresh, canned, or in dried form.
Shiitake mushrooms typically come in brown or black colors, and their caps may also turn yellow when they are dried.
When you eat shiitake mushrooms, you will find that they have a meaty texture and absorb other flavors in your recipe.
You can use these fungi instead of morel mushrooms when preparing many different meals, including vegan recipes.
Morel mushrooms are known for their meaty texture and distinctive flavor.
However, you can find many substitutes for morel mushrooms that offer similar flavors when dining.
If you are a vegan, you can use trumpet mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and hen of the woods to create dishes with a creamy texture.
In addition, these substitutes will offer your meals a meaty flavor if you have a dish that calls for morel mushrooms.
Make sure to try out different substitutes for morel mushrooms if these are hard to find.