Mushrooms are once again taking the world by storm! And what might this new trendy recipe category include? Well, today, we are going back to basics with flavors and flavor pairing. Specifically, we will be looking at herbs!
So, which herbs go best with mushrooms? The herbs that go best with mushrooms include rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, and coriander. As well as the aforementioned herbs, there is also dill and oregano which go excellently with many mushroom-based dishes.
The more important question we will be looking at today is how exactly to pair these herbs with specific flavor profiles and specific types of mushrooms.
We hope that after reading this article you will walk away feeling more confident in substituting herbs in recipes, and creating new and unique dishes using our guide. So, let’s get started!
What Do Mushrooms Taste Like?
As you probably know, there are hundreds of different types of mushrooms. And naturally, they all have their own unique flavor profile. So when pairing herbs with mushrooms, it is important to consider that.
We will briefly discuss some of the most popular types of mushrooms and what they taste like. This way, you can easily choose the best herb pairings possible.
Also, keep in mind that the way you prepare a mushroom will affect how the flavor develops. This will also alter the herb pairings you should choose.
This is the most common type of mushroom that can be found across the globe! They are easy to grow, easy to find, and very affordable.
Fortunately for most, they also have a pretty neutral flavor, making them an excellent choice when pairing with other ingredients. Their flavor at first is subtle, but as they cook it becomes more intense.
These mushrooms work best for grilling and sauteing.
These are mature cremini mushrooms. Naturally, this makes them larger in size. They have a rich earthy and very meaty flavor profile. They also resemble steak in texture, which is why they are commonly used as an animal meat substitute.
Furthermore, their large sizes allow them to be used in a much larger way. For example, they can be roasted whole, grilled, baked, and sliced for other pan-frying methods.
This category includes quite a variety of types. However, in general, they are mildly flavored and have only slight hints of earthiness.
Pink oyster mushrooms have a slight bacon-like or ham flavor, while blue oyster mushrooms are fishier. Yellow oyster mushrooms have hints of cinnamon and citrus, and phoenix oysters have an anise undertone.
These have become very popular over the last couple of years. They have a very rich and deep flavor that immediately makes you think of mushrooms!
You can expect buttery and meaty flavors with a slightly smoky and woody undertone. Many people also describe them as having an earthy flavor.
The last type of mushroom on our list is the famous porcini mushroom, well known as a mushroom often used for pasta dishes. They are extremely rich and creamy, which is why they are so popular.
Their flavor is noticeably earthy with a very prominent nutty and meaty flavor as well.
How To Pair Herbs With Mushrooms
Now, there are many ways that you can pair herbs with mushrooms specifically. It depends on what the flavors are that you want to showcase.
As an example, if you would like to make a predominantly herb-flavored sauteed mushroom dish, you will naturally want to add a ton of herbs.
If you want to create a very umami mushroom dish, you would need to use more savory herbs, like rosemary or thyme. And, if you are making a refreshing mushroom recipe, lighter and softer herbs will work the best.
So, always think about the final result first. And don’t hesitate to experiment. At the end of the day, that is how we find new and exciting flavor combinations!
And of course, as we have mentioned above, different mushrooms have different flavors. So, while parsley may work well with button mushrooms, it may be completely overpowered by porcini mushrooms.
If you want to make herb mushrooms, then you wouldn’t be able to pick them up amongst the strong porcini flavors.
We will discuss in a lot more depth how we would pair the below-mentioned herbs. Of course, you should play around, but these are pairings that are known to work exceptionally well.
What Herbs Go With Mushrooms?
Now, let’s jump right into the fun part! Let’s have a look at some of the best mushroom and herb flavor pairings that you should try. And remember, you can even mix and match some herbs to create an even more complex flavor profile.
Sage is a very flavorful soft herb that works very well for umami dishes. So, especially if you are using mushrooms to substitute meat, sage will help carry the meaty flavor through.
This herb is also a great choice if you want to prominently feature the flavors of a herb instead of a mushroom. So, if you are using it with bland types (like button mushrooms) it will dominate the flavor profile.
But, when paired with porcini or portobello, they will simply blend in seamlessly thanks to their meaty flavor too.
Just keep in mind, that sage has a very strong flavor, so don’t use too much. Otherwise, it could result in the dish developing a bitter flavor.
Thyme is a type of robust herb, meaning that it isn’t very soft. This makes it a great choice for cooking methods that use high heat. This can include roasting, pan-frying, baking, and grilling.
This herb has a sharp grass-like flavor with woody and floral notes too. However, it should be used in very savory dishes. For “refreshing” flavors, it won’t help much.
You do also get lemon thyme with will add a lemony flavor. This varietal may work better for fresher mushroom dishes and will add complexity to the overall profile.
Rosemary is also one of the most-used herbs with mushrooms. Just like thyme, it has an incredibly savory flavor with notes of evergreen. Many people even say it includes thyme-like flavors, mixed with pepper, sage, and pine.
It is another robust herb, meaning it can withstand high-heat cooking. And, it will pair exceptionally well with deeper-flavored mushrooms like oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms.
Parsley is a soft herb, meaning it completely wilts when high temperatures are applied. So, we recommend using it more as a garnish or finishing herb.
The way you can do this is by first cooking the mushrooms, then only adding the chopped parsley in the last couple of minutes.
This will still add the fresh herb flavor to the dish without giving it a strange unappealing texture.
Furthermore, this herb will work best with more neutrally flavored mushrooms like button mushrooms and pink oyster mushrooms. Very umami flavors can work with this herb, but not as well.
A good alternative to parsley is another soft herb called coriander. This herb is also referred to as dhania, Chinese parsley, or cilantro.
Coriander also works best as a refreshing herb for lighter flavored mushrooms. It has prominent floral and citrus-like flavors. Lemon is exceptionally prominent, followed by a slight sweetness.
It is a herb that is very easy to pair with more savory herbs like rosemary and thyme. But, when used alone, don’t over-complicate the flavors.
Dill is a soft herb with a very complex flavor profile. It lies somewhere between parsley, anise (licorice), and celery. It can be peppery but also has a prominent sweetness.
The best way to use dill is fresh and for fresher dishes. And, because it is a soft herb, it won’t be able to withstand (or properly infuse) baked, grilled, or roasted mushrooms.
Finally, we have oregano on our list, which is another very unique herb to use. This herb has a texture somewhere between robust and soft. While it isn’t as hard as thyme and rosemary, it also isn’t as fragile as parsley or dill.
So, this is one of the most versatile herbs you can use for mushrooms when it comes to cooking.
However, it has an equally unique flavor that can ruin the entire dish if paired incorrectly. This herb has a bold earthy flavor with a bitter compound. So, when overcooking it, it will completely dominate the flavor.
Use this herb sparingly and do your research well before using it in a specific mushroom recipe.
If you’re looking for some new mushroom recipes to try out, here’s a great video from the folks over at Tasty!
Up Next: How Long Can Fried Chicken Sit Out?