I personally taste-tested a variety of maitake mushroom substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Oyster mushrooms are the best substitute for maitake mushrooms in terms of texture. But if you want to replicate the woodsy flavor, go for shiitake mushrooms or portobello mushrooms. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, chanterelle mushrooms are a good option.
I made several batches of stir-fried veggies to test out different maitake mushroom substitutes.
Maitakes are not ordinary mushrooms. Instead of the usual stalk and cap, these mushrooms are clustered at the base and form a bouquet-like structure. Some think the clusters look like a hen’s tail, which is why maitake mushrooms also have the nickname hen-of-the-woods.
They have a deep, earthy flavor with a prominent peppery kick, but they’re still versatile enough to be used in everything from soups to stir-fries, and even as a deep-fried treat. Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Oyster mushrooms||Very similar texture||9/10|
|Shiitake mushrooms||Similar woodsy flavor||9/10|
|Portobello mushrooms||Easy and cheap||8/10|
|King oyster mushrooms||Similar texture||7/10|
|Chanterelle mushrooms||Great, but expensive||8/10|
|Beech or enoki mushrooms||Perfect for soups||6/10|
Oyster mushrooms are one of the most accessible substitutes for maitake mushrooms You can find them in most grocery stores and they shouldn’t be too expensive. They don’t look as fancy as maitake mushrooms, but they have a similar meaty texture and they’ll crisp up nicely when deep-fried. They’re also great in soups and stews.
However, there is quite a big difference in taste. I found the flavor of the oyster mushroom to be very delicate compared to maitake mushrooms, with a hint of sweetness. They were delicious, but if your dish has lots of other strong flavors they might get lost.
Pro tip: If you feel your dish needs the earthy ‘mushroom’ flavor, add a pinch of mushroom powder or paste along with the oyster mushrooms.
How to substitute: Replace maitake mushroom with an equal amount (in weight) of oyster mushrooms.
If the lack of flavor is an issue for you, try shiitake mushrooms instead.
They’re not as meaty as maitake mushrooms, but they still have a satisfying bite and their flavor is next level. Shiitake mushrooms are rich and nutty with a hint of smokiness that sets them apart from other mushrooms – they definitely won’t get lost!
I always pull out the stem first when prepping the shiitakes because they can be too fibrous to eat. If you don’t want to waste them, you can dry the stems and then grind them up into a powder to use as seasoning.
Psst… porcini mushrooms would also be great, but they’re more expensive than shiitake mushrooms.
How to substitute: Replace maitake mushroom with an equal amount (in weight) of shiitake mushrooms.
When it comes to visual appeal, portobello mushrooms won’t be your first choice as a substitute for maitake mushrooms. But they’re cheap and very easy to find.
They’re what I would consider a ‘normal’ mushroom, in that there’s nothing fancy about them, but they have robust enough flavor to stand in for maitake mushrooms. And they’re super versatile, so you can use them in pretty much any recipe. Crimini mushrooms (which are young portobello mushrooms) would also work, but the flavors are slightly milder than the fully matured portobellos.
Portobello mushrooms are deliciously earthy and have similar woodsy undertones to maitake mushrooms. To get them even closer to maitakes, you can add an extra pinch of black pepper (I did this with my stir fry and it was great).
How to substitute: Replace maitake mushroom with an equal amount (in weight) of portobello mushrooms.
King oyster mushrooms
King oyster mushrooms are another substitute that’s great for replicating the firm texture of maitake mushrooms. The big stalks have such a hearty bite that these mushrooms are often used as a meat substitute, and they’re the perfect replacement if you were planning on grilling the maitake mushrooms.
King oyster mushrooms have a milder flavor profile compared to the woodsy taste of maitake, but they’ll readily absorb the other flavors in a dish. And when sliced and sautéed, their edges caramelize and crisp up in the same way as maitake mushrooms.
How to substitute: Substitute 1 head of maitake mushroom with 1 king oyster mushroom.
These mushrooms have a woody, earthy flavor with hints of fruit and pepper, like maitake. They also have a meaty texture. The only reason why these are not higher up on the list is because they’re foraged instead of cultivated, meaning they have a hefty price tag.
And you can’t find them all year round, you have to wait for them to be in season. The season will differ depending on where you’re from, but in North America, the season is summer to early fall.
Note: If you’re foraging for these mushrooms yourself, always consult an expert to make sure you don’t accidentally consume toxic mushrooms.
How to substitute: Replace maitake mushroom with an equal amount (in weight) of chanterelle mushrooms.
Beech or enoki mushrooms
If you’re just looking for a different mushroom that will have your guests intrigued, you can try beech or enoki mushrooms. Both these mushrooms have long stalks that are connected at the base and small caps. Enoki have thinner stalks than beech mushrooms.
You can use them in hot pots and soups to add texture, although they will be crunchy rather than chewy like maitake mushrooms. They’re also great for using in stir fries and turning into tempura.
Be careful not to overcook them – they need far less time than the meatier maitakes. They also have a much milder flavor than maitake mushrooms, so they’re better in applications where texture is the main concern and not taste.
How to substitute: Replace maitake mushroom with an equal amount (in weight) of beech or enoki mushrooms.
Zucchini – substitute to avoid
I came across this suggestion when I was researching different substitutes, but I didn’t think it was a good swap. Zucchinis are great for bulking up your dish, but they can’t stand in for maitake mushrooms. They lack the meaty texture, and their mildly sweet flavor is a far cry from Maitake’s rich, savory taste.
If you want to avoid mushrooms altogether, then I would recommend looking for a different recipe that doesn’t include maitake mushrooms in the first place.
- Substitutes for oyster mushrooms
- Substitutes for shiitake mushrooms
- Substitutes for wood ear mushrooms
Best Maitake Mushroom Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 12 ounces oyster mushrooms
- 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 12 ounces chanterelle mushrooms
- 12 ounces portobello mushrooms
- 1 king oyster mushroom
- 1 head or bundle of enoki mushrooms
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen maitake mushroom substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.