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Substitute for Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are brown-capped mushrooms most commonly grown in Japan. They are known to have a meaty savory flavor to them. If you can’t find them or don’t have any on hand, they can easily be substituted.

The flavor may change a little but you will still get that savory flavor from other mushrooms as well.

Shiitake mushroom

Top 3 Shiitake mushroom substitute

Following a recipe only to realize that you don’t have the right mushrooms on hand can be really disappointing.

There are a few alternatives to substitute Shiitake mushrooms that will give you close to the same great flavor.

Before you use the shiitake you want to make sure that the mushroom has not gone bad.

1. Dried Shiitake mushrooms

Cooking with dried Shiitake mushrooms is the next best thing to use fresh. Once they are rehydrated you will get the same flavors but the flavor will be a little stronger with dried mushrooms.

You can either rehydrate them by putting them in water for a few minutes which helps if you want to cut them before adding them to your dish.

You can also throw them right into your dish as you are cooking just as you would if you were using fresh Shiitake mushrooms.

As with any other mushroom, they are like sponges and will soak up moisture quickly and come back to life.

2. Portabella Mushrooms

Portabella mushrooms are so meaty and savory that you can actually use them as a substitute for meat. This makes them a great alternative to Shiitake mushrooms.

They both share the same characteristics with their brown-colored tops, texture, and flavor. Shiitake mushrooms are a little softer than a portabella but you will achieve the same great taste replacing them with a portabella.

Another great thing about portabella mushrooms is that they are easier to find at the store.

I have a great post on how to cut mushrooms with all these varieties.

3. Cremini Mushrooms

These little guys are also brown-topped mushrooms also known as “Baby Bella’s” or portabella’s little brothers. They offer a milder flavor than a portabella or shiitake mushroom but a meatier flavor than a white mushroom.

Cremini mushrooms are smaller and softer than Shiitake mushrooms but pack some good savory flavors compared to their size. These make a great substitution for Shiitake mushrooms when you don’t have them on hand.

Did you know?

Portabella, cremini, and white mushrooms are all the same mushrooms?!
Shocking right? It is all about when they are harvested.

White-capped mushrooms are picked when they are young, while Portabella mushrooms are left to continue growing which is why they are so much bigger and meatier.

Then you have the cremini mushroom which is in the middle. It gets a chance to start browning and gets more flavor but is not quite as meaty as portabella.

How to store mushrooms

Storing mushrooms properly is key to preserving their taste and texture. First, don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them, as they can absorb water and spoil faster.

Instead, keep them dry and store them in the refrigerator in a paper bag, which absorbs excess moisture and allows the mushrooms to breathe. If you wish to store them for a longer period, you can either freeze or dehydrate them.

Both methods require initial cleaning and slicing, but while freezing involves blanching before storing, dehydrating requires complete drying in a dehydrator or oven.

Remember to store your frozen or dehydrated mushrooms in an airtight container to maintain their quality.

Frequently asked questions about shiitake mushroom substitutes

Oyster mushrooms can serve as a good substitute for shiitake mushrooms. They have a similar texture and a slightly sweet, woody flavor, although they lack the strong umami flavor of shiitakes.

Dried shiitake mushrooms are an excellent substitute for fresh ones. They have a concentrated flavor and need to be rehydrated in hot water before use, which also gives you a flavorful broth that can be used in your cooking.

If mushrooms aren’t an option, you might consider using tofu, eggplant, or zucchini. While they won’t provide the same flavor, they can offer a similar texture in many dishes. For the umami flavor, you could add ingredients like soy sauce or miso paste.


In conclusion, while shiitake mushrooms bring a unique flavor and texture to any dish, there are several viable substitutes available.

Whether you choose cremini, portobello, or dried shiitakes, you can still achieve a delightful umami flavor in your cooking.

Always remember, the key to a successful substitute lies in understanding the specific taste and texture of the ingredient and adjusting your recipes accordingly.

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