Standing in the vegetable aisle in a supermarket, looking for the right mushroom is like the toughest job ever, especially for someone who is not familiar with all the different types of mushrooms, their names and their uses. Trust me; I know the struggle!
Cremini mushrooms are one of the most commonly used mushrooms that we add to soups, stews, stir-fries, and other appetizers, yet not many of us know that baby bell mushrooms and cremini mushrooms are one and the same.
The thing is that, not always, you are going to find cremini mushrooms in your refrigerator – take it from someone who is a great fond of mushrooms and loves to use them in every other recipe possible. So, I often run out of them. But that’s okay! Because I have a complete list of cremini mushroom substitutes that I try in different recipes, and they taste just as amazing and delicious.
White button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms or homegrown mushrooms are the obvious substitutes for cremini mushrooms, whereas eggplant, cauliflower, chickpeas, tofu, potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes are some non-mushroom substitutes for cremini mushrooms.
What are Cremini Mushrooms?
Cremini mushrooms come second on the list of most familiar types of mushrooms, the white button being the first. They are slightly expensive, but they taste great moreover they have a very good, juicy texture. Every part of this mushroom is edible, including the mushroom stem and the cap. Mushrooms are present in endless varieties, but the edible ones that we usually serve on the tables include a white button, cremini, or portobello mushrooms. They all belong to the same cultivar or species, and they all are simply delicious.
The interesting thing about cremini mushrooms is that they have a mix of the properties of the white button and portobello mushroom, which means that they are moderately mature, and they have a similar flavor, to the white button mushroom. But they are comparatively younger than the portobello mushroom. Hence, they are called baby Bella or baby portobello mushrooms. They have a brownish color with a firmer texture and a flavor, which is better than the younger versions of white mushrooms.
Ways to Use Cremini Mushrooms in Cooking:
Cremini mushrooms are edible in both raw and cooked forms. They are particularly used in stewing, sauteing, roasting and baking.
Raw mushrooms are sliced and added to salads and greens. You can use these mushrooms to make different types of stuffing and spread them to serve as an appetizer.
The taste of the cremini mushrooms complements a variety of other vegetables like tomatoes, celery, potatoes, carrot, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, onions, Kimchi, lime, etc.
They go well with or all sorts of meat, poultry, and fish. You can try adding these mushrooms to make the cream sauce, marinara sauce, or add them to pizza topping, cook rice, ad risotto etc.
How to Store Cremini Mushrooms?
Fresh cremini mushrooms can be stored in your refrigerator. You need to keep them packed in a plastic bag and keep them away from excessive moisture. In this way, the mushrooms will last fresh for almost a week. You can freeze these mushrooms, as well. What I personally do is I slice the fresh cremini mushrooms or chop them depending on the requirement of my recipes, and I pack them in Ziploc bags and then freeze them in my freezer for as long as I want.
Top 11 Best Substitutes for Cremini Mushrooms
Can you recall the little comparison that I just did between the cremini mushrooms, white button and portobello mushrooms? If so, then it will definitely help you figure out the trick of picking the right substitute for cremini mushrooms. This comparative analysis sure worked for me. After considering the taste, color, texture and uses of the cremini mushrooms, I find the following alternatives as better suited to replace these mushrooms in a recipe.
1. White Button Mushrooms
White button mushrooms were my first choice! I knew that if there is anything that can replace cremini mushroom in a recipe, then it ought to be white button mushrooms. They belong to the same cultivars of mushrooms, and they are easily available in the supermarket. They are generally present in most households, and they also taste great.
White button mushrooms are milder in taste than the cremini as they are younger; still, they are suitable to make a variety of recipes from soups to stews and stir-fries. When paired with the right ingredients, spices and seasonings, they can taste just as delicious as the cremini mushrooms.
2. Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are also known as open caps or giant cremini mushrooms. These are the names this mushroom gets because of a large shaped cap that has a stronger taste and darker colour. These mushrooms are mostly used to make stuffed mushroom recipes, but you can also use them to replace cremini mushrooms in other recipes as well.
They have a very meaty texture with a soil-like earthy aroma. They can also retain a good amount of moisture. So, if you are making marinara sauce, pizza toppings, or pasta, you can easily add sliced or chopped portobello mushroom to those recipes.
3. Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms, or Chinese black mushrooms, Forest, Black Forest, brown oak, Golden Oak, Oak, or oriental black mushrooms, all are the names of the same mushroom. They are similar to cremini mushrooms in shape and size. But these mushrooms have a brown color with a soft woody and spongy texture.
They are also a good substitute for cremini mushrooms. Fresh shiitake mushrooms are better than dried ones; they are more nutritious, packed with fibres, minerals and other vitamins. You can use them to make curries, pasta, risotto, soups, marinara sauce, and stir-fries.
Shiitake mushrooms are commonly available in Asian countries because they are more popular there, but you can also find them in any grocery store nearby; you just have to look a little harder!
You don’t always have to try mushrooms to replace the cremini mushrooms in a recipe. There are some non-mushroom options as well. The idea is that if there is any other ingredient that can replace the taste and texture of the cremini mushroom in a recipe, then it is good to use. Keeping that in mind, I find eggplant another useful alternative to replace cremini mushrooms.
Eggplant is also known as brinjal, Guinea squash, garden egg and melongene in different parts of the world. So, if you don’t like mushrooms, or somehow you are allergic to them then, using eggplant is one of the healthier choices.
Eggplants are low in carbs. They have high fibre content, and they are simply delicious. You can use eggplant to make sauces, stews and curries. The good part is that eggplant is completely vegan, so it is particularly suitable for people living on a plant-based diet.
Another good way of giving your recipe a desired chunky texture and a good taste is to add mashed or ground chickpeas. Chickpeas are highly nutritious, contain complex carbs, are rich in fibres, and are packed with lots of energy. You can mash and mince canned or cooked chickpeas and then add them to replace cremini mushrooms in a recipe, then enjoy the best of their flavors.
A good low carb substitute for cremini mushrooms is zucchini. I’m a great fan of zucchini because this juicy vegetable is loaded with so many fibres, vitamins and minerals, and it does not increase the caloric content of your recipe. So, if you replace the mushrooms with zucchini, you will have healthy, low-carb food on your table.
There are many stir-fries, in which we use cremini mushrooms chunks and slices. In such recipes, you can always try marinated tofu cubes to replace the mushrooms. They are easy to cook. They are packed with proteins. So, tofu, in short, comes with convenience, good health and great taste. They are firm, dense, and not too soft, so they are, in a way, perfect to use for sauteing and stir-fries.
There are many recipes in which cremini mushrooms are added to have a little bit of taste, and a thick chunky texture, like in a stew, a sauce or a soup. In such a case, you can always substitute the mushrooms with the non-mushroom alternatives, such as cauliflower.
Cauliflower is my favourite substitution ingredient; whether I want to substitute high carb ingredients in a recipe or I want to turn a recipe Vegan, I always try to adjust cauliflower on the menu. In the case of cremini mushrooms, you can replace them with an equal amount of cauliflower.
Use cauliflower chunks and florets to replace cremini mushrooms in stir-fries and stews. But if you are making a sauce or a soup, use grated or chopped cauliflower to substitute cremini mushrooms.
If you like eating potatoes then, using them as a replacement for cremini mushrooms is not a bad idea! Potatoes contain lots of starch and carbohydrates, So there they are high energy and high-carb substitute for mushrooms.
You can add mashed potatoes to sauces to give them a very thick consistency. Or you can add chopped or diced potatoes to make stir-fries. Russet potatoes are particularly suitable to substitute cremini mushrooms.
The amazing thing about potatoes is that they are very versatile, and they can be cooked in a variety of ways. You can boil them, fry them, Sauté them and sear them according to the requirement of a recipe.
10. Sun-dried Tomatoes
Surprisingly, sun-dried tomatoes also passed my cremini mushroom substitution test. I tried them to replace the mushrooms in a salad, some sauces and a stir-fry. They tasted delicious. So, yes! You can replace cremini mushrooms with sun-dried tomatoes. They have a sweet and tart strong taste with a chewy texture. They come in a container packed with oil.
If you want to replace cremini mushroom with sun-dried tomatoes, make sure to remove the oil, or use that extra oil to sauté other ingredients, and then add them to the salads, soups, stews, and stir fries’ recipes.
11. Homegrown Mushrooms: Growing Mushrooms at home
Growing mushrooms in your kitchen garden are the smartest choice of all. In this way, you will never run out of them. It is not difficult to grow mushrooms at home. You just need a mushroom kit that comes with everything you should have to grow the mushroom. All you need to do is water the mushrooms regular and harvest them.
In the market, there are several mushroom kits available such as:
- Loin’s mane mushroom kit
- Blue oyster mushroom kit
- Pink oyster mushroom kit
- Golden oyster mushroom kit
All those kits are legal and safe to use. Before growing them at home, understand the process first! Mushrooms are a fungus, so they need a substrate to thrive on. A suitable substrate for their growth is “mushroom compost.”
Spread the mushroom compost in a 14×16 inch tray, and then sprinkle the spawn on top that comes in the mushroom kit. Now regularly water the compost and keep the tray at a cool, dark and damp place like a basement. Cover the spawn with some compost and water it.
Use a heating pad to adjust the temperature of the soil. Initially, keep the temperature at 70 degrees F, then reduce the temperature for soil to 50-60 degrees F.
After 3-4 weeks, you will see full-grown mushrooms that you can harvest. You can use the leftover compost for growing onions as well.