I personally taste-tested a variety of cremini mushroom substitutes to find the best one for every occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Portobello and button mushrooms are the best substitutes for creminis. Portbellos have a slightly stronger flavor while button mushrooms are slightly milder. If you want something with a lot more flavor, try shiitake mushrooms. For a non-mushroom option, use eggplant or bamboo shoots.
I made small batches of creamy mushroom pasta to put different cremini substitutes to the test.
Cremini mushrooms are also called baby bellas or baby portobellos. They’re perfectly mid-sized and boast a mildly earthy flavor with a slightly firm, dense texture. These characteristics make them super versatile – you can find cremini mushrooms in everything from humble casserole recipes to fancy risottos!
Here are the substitutes I tested and the verdicts:
|Portobello mushrooms||More mature version of cremini mushrooms||10/10|
|Button mushrooms||Less mature version of cremini mushrooms||10/10|
|Shiitake mushrooms||Deeper umami flavor||9/10|
|Oyster mushrooms||Mild flavor and softer texture||7/10|
|Canned mushrooms||Okay in a pinch||5/10|
|Eggplant||Good non-mushroom alternative||8/10|
|Tofu / tempeh||Extra protein||7/10|
Portobellos are the more mature versions of cremini mushrooms. As the cremini mushroom matures, the cap expands exposing the gills and you have portobello mushrooms. They have a denser, firmer texture than cremini mushrooms, which is why they’re so popular as a meat substitute, and a deeper, earthier flavor.
The robust flavor was delicious in my pasta. And if you have any of these mushrooms left over, they’re great for stuffing. Or for serving as a vegetarian alternative to steaks and burgers, or even as a low-calorie pizza base!
How to substitute: Replace cremini mushrooms in a 1:1 ratio with sliced portobello mushrooms.
In the same way portobello mushrooms are the more mature version of cremini mushrooms, button mushrooms are the less mature version. Cremini mushrooms sit in the middle of the two.
They’re smaller than creminis and have a milder flavor, and the texture is slightly more tender. They make a great swap for anyone who doesn’t like a strong mushroom flavor or if you need something super convenient.
You might already have some button mushrooms in your fridge (they’re the most common mushroom type), and if you don’t you can get them in any food store. They’re also super affordable.
Worried about missing out on flavor? You could always add a pinch of mushroom powder if you want to add more earthiness.
How to substitute: Replace cremini mushrooms in a 1:1 ratio with button mushrooms.
If cremini mushrooms and portobello mushrooms are still too mild for you, I recommend swapping them for shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms have a similar firm texture to cremini mushrooms, but they’re a little chewier.
The real difference comes from the flavor though. Shiitake mushrooms have a strong umami undertone and a potent earthiness. Some people also describe them as smokey and even meaty. They are much more intense than cremini mushrooms.
You can get them fresh or dried. The dried variety has a more concentrated flavor and are easily rehydrated by soaking in water. My mushroom pasta was next level when I used shiitake.
Psst… Shiitake mushrooms are more expensive than cremini mushrooms.
How to substitute: Replace cremini mushrooms with 1/2 the amount of shiitake mushrooms and add more to taste.
Next up, we have oyster mushrooms. These are quite a departure from cremini mushrooms but are great if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting and exotic.
Their texture is a touch softer than that of cremini mushrooms, meaning they have a more delicate mouthfeel. They also have a very delicate flavor and will soak up the taste of whatever you cook them in.
You’ll typically find them in Asian dishes, but the mild flavor means they’re just as versatile as cremini mushrooms. I fried mine in butter before tossing them into my creamy pasta, it was yum!
Pro tip: Because of the softer texture, oyster mushrooms are best when you add them towards the end of the cooking process.
How to substitute: Replace cremini mushrooms in a 1:1 ratio with oyster mushrooms.
In a real pinch, you can swap fresh cremini mushrooms for canned mushrooms. They’re very cheap and you can keep a few cans in your cupboard for emergencies.
The reason I recommend keeping them for emergencies is because they lose most of their ‘mushroomy’ taste in the can and instead pick up more of a metallic or salty flavor from the brine.
The canning process also softens the mushrooms significantly to the point where they can be pretty mushy. Can you tell I’m not a fan of canned mushrooms?
How to substitute: Replace cremini mushrooms in a 1:1 ratio with canned mushrooms.
If you don’t like mushrooms and want to swap them for something else completely, eggplant is the closest vegetable to mushrooms. It has a similar meaty texture (as long as you don’t overcook it), and while it doesn’t have the same earthy flavor it will absorb flavors from other ingredients in the dish.
You can cook eggplant in most of the same ways as cremini mushrooms. You can grill them, saute them, and roast them. The only application they don’t work as well in is soups.
I like using bamboo shoots in soup to get a similar texture to mushrooms. You can easily find them canned in regular grocery stores, just remember to rinse them before using them.
How to substitute: Replace cremini mushrooms in a 1:1 ratio with eggplant.
Tofu / tempeh
In dishes where the cremini mushrooms are adding bulk, you can consider replacing them with tofu or tempeh. These options are also good for replicating the texture of mushrooms.
Tofu has a neutral flavor, so to make the most of it you’ll want to marinade it before adding it to your dish. Tempeh has a nutty, earthy flavor that isn’t too different from mushrooms but has a denser texture. I crumbled it into my pasta and was pleasantly surprised with the results. I can also see it being a good option to use in tacos.
Psst… A big bonus of using tempeh or tofu is the added protein!
How to substitute: Replace cremini mushrooms in a 1:1 ratio with marinated tofu or tempeh.
Substitutes to avoid
I came across lots of suggestions for cremini mushroom substitutes while I was researching, but not all of them worked out. Nuts were one example, they’re too crunchy to use as a mushroom substitute and serve a different purpose in dishes. They’re more of a finishing ingredient.
Coconut meat was another example. It would probably work in curries, but it was too sweet for my pasta and just tasted weird!
Best Cremini Mushroom Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- 1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
- 1 cup button mushrooms
- 1 cup chestnut mushrooms
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms
- 1 cup eggplant
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chose cremini mushroom substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.