The delicious texture and flavor of mushrooms make them a great base for vegetarian versions of meat-centric dishes. While it’s difficult to say that mushrooms taste identical to animal protein, they can stand on their own as dense, hearty, and flavorful elements of plant-based recipes.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Mushrooms cook like vegetables, but offer a meaty savoriness you can’t achieve with other types of produce. When cooked correctly, they have the ability to become incredibly tender and juicy—especially when cooked in cast iron. A uniquely savory umami flavor is brought about by cooking mushrooms at high heat, and they act essentially as sponges, soaking up any fat and seasoning that you cook them in.

We’ve mentioned the magic of Maillard Reactions in our Cast Iron Smashburger recipe, which gives the burger a delicious crust while concentrating the umami flavor on the inside. This cooking method also works incredibly well for ingredients like mushrooms—searing a mushroom in a hot cast iron skillet sears and browns the outside of the mushroom, while creating a juicy, dense, meaty inside texture.


We’ve created a few recipes that demonstrate three ways to get the most out of mushrooms when cooking with cast iron. The first, a Pressed Mushroom Steak, utilizes two skillets to cook oyster mushrooms, yielding a chewy, almost meat-like texture.

Get the recipe: Pressed Mushroom Steak

Photo: Laura Wolfe

The second, Mushroom Lettuce Wraps, employs a “sauté and simmer” that makes use of mushroom’s browning capabilities and its spongy ability to soak up other ingredients and flavors when braising.

Get the recipe: Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

Photo: Laura Wolfe

And finally, a simple, classic mushroom preparation: Pan-Seared Mushrooms with Butter and Thyme. Don't crowd the pan (or size up to a larger skillet) to make your 'shrooms are seared, not steamed.

Get the recipe: Pan-Seared Mushrooms with Butter and Thyme

Photo: Julia Kemper Johnson