Here is the guide for the best substitutes for dried porcini mushrooms. Porcini mushrooms add some earthiness and plenty of vitamins to pretty much any dish.
They’re a great way to bulk out your sauces, stir fries, or risottos, and thanks to their mild, pleasant flavor, they go with pretty much everything. They’re also a very nutritious addition to any meal, packed with copper, protein, potassium, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. Move over, kale, there’s a new superfood in town!
Dried porcinis have a stronger flavor than fresh mushrooms, and they’re just as versatile. But what will you do when you need mushrooms for a recipe, but you don’t have any dried porcinis handy? Fortunately, we’ve come up with a list of the best substitutes for dried porcini mushrooms.
Sometimes, the measure of a good cook isn’t what you can do with the recipe, but how you can integrate other ingredients and substitutions when you’re missing a key component. If you can improvise and come up with a creative solution to your missing dried porcini mushrooms, you’ll still serve up an awesome, delicious dinner.
We say the best substitute for dried porcini mushrooms is shiitake mushroom. With their similar flavor and texture, this substitution is fantastic for almost any recipe.
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
These delicious little fungi are also known as Sep mushrooms or King Boletus. They’re a very widely used mushroom thanks to their versatility and ability to grow in a wide variety of climates. The porcini, as its name suggests, is native to Italy, but it’s made its way into kitchens and tables around the globe.
Dried porcini mushrooms, as the Italians known them, are typically made by sun-drying fresh mushrooms until they are thin and dehydrated. Just like with sundried tomatoes, this process concentrates and enhances the natural flavor of the mushrooms. That’s why you’ll often see dried porcini mushrooms as an ingredient in mushroom-heavy, earthy recipes, particularly those from the mountainous northern regions of Italy. Dried mushrooms are also great in recipes involving a nice piece of meat, like steak or pork, or for making yourself a delicious mushrooms sauce.
Generally speaking we cook with dried mushrooms either whole or ground. Whole mushrooms will spice up your meals with their robust, meaty flavor. You can rehydrate them in hot water by soaking for one to two hours. Then, all you have to do is throw them into the sauce or soup you’re preparing. Soaking is very important here, as it softens up your hardened, dried mushroom.
As an extra tip, the soaking process will impart much of the mushroom’s strong, earthy flavor into the water. You can use the mushroom-infused water as a cooking liquid, not unlike a mushroom “stock”!
The other way to use dried porcini mushrooms is to grind them up into a powder. If you love the taste of mushrooms, but you don’t love their meaty texture, you can grind the dried mushrooms into a powder and use this as a seasoning to provide the meaty, lovely taste of porcini mushrooms for your meal without its texture.
Typically, ground porcini mushrooms are commonly used in sauces and soups. You could also use the ground variety as seasoning in a dry rub for meat, fish, or chicken. The mushroom powder is actually very versatile precisely because it does not add texture.
Why Would You Replace Porcini Mushrooms?
There are plenty of good reasons to replace porcini mushrooms in your recipes.
You might be looking to shake things up and add a less common mushroom, for example. Our taste buds can become accustomed to particular tastes, and our brains are hard-wired for us to try new things. It’s a great chance to avoid food boredom and embrace new experiences by substituting mushrooms.
The porcini mushroom could also be out of season, and unavailable in your grocery store. Sometimes you’ve simply run out of your supply of mushrooms and you need to make dinner ASAP.
You might also be cooking for someone - or be someone - who prefers other types of mushroom to the porcini. That’s a great reason to try the shiitake or another cultivar.
Best Substitute for Dried Porcini Mushrooms: Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake has a thicker, sweeter taste than porcini mushrooms. This might suit your palate even better than dried porcini! The aroma from shiitake mushrooms is also far milder than that of the earthy, robust porcini. This makes it very versatile as it won’t dominate the bouquet of your recipe.
Dried shiitake, although it is subtly different from dried porcini mushroom, is a great substitute. Its nutrients, texture, and presentation in a meal, whether dried or powdered, are very similar to the porcini mushroom. It’s a great option if you’re not using porcini mushrooms.
Other Substitutes for Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Admittedly, this is a luxurious alternative, but if you’re truly going for gold, you should consider truffles. Truffles have an earthy, fragrant aroma, and a very mild flavor. They have a similar nutritional profile to porcini mushrooms, so they will make a great substitute if you’re looking for something that smells similar but lacks the stronger, meatier taste of the porcini. It will also provide the texture you were looking for in your mushrooms.
Obviously, a pinch of dried thyme won’t provide any meaty texture. You can, however, use dried thyme to replace powdered porcini mushroom. Thyme actually contains over 80% of the nutrients commonly found in porcini mushrooms, and has an earthy, herby aroma not unlike the mushroom itself. In fact, it’s quite common to find thyme used as the main seasoning for mushrooms anyway, as their flavors are so compatible.
Thyme is best used as a substitute for the powdery dried porcini mushrooms. It’s not as if you can rehydrate a handful of dried thyme leaves to get the mushroom texture.
Zucchini is a surprisingly versatile substitution, and in recent years has become quite fashionable for those looking to replace various ingredients. You may have heard of “zoodles”, or zucchini noodles, before. What if we tried “zushrooms”... zucchini mushrooms?
Zucchini has a naturally mild, earthy taste and an aroma reminiscent of the porcini mushroom. It cooks well in olive oil, and this will intensify its flavor and help highlight the zucchini’s awesome texture. Zucchini isn’t as rich in nutrients as the porcini mushroom, however, but it’s also low in calories so if you’re looking to cut calories perhaps this is the option for you.
You can even make your own dried zucchini by spreading it out in the sun for a week or so. This allows you to use zucchini just as you would use dried porcini mushrooms.
This is by far the strangest suggestion we have, but bear with us. Tomato paste is effectively a highly concentrated burst of tomato flavoring. Tomato paste tastes nothing like mushrooms, won’t provide texture to your food, and matches the nutritional profile of a bowl of tomatoes. So why would you use it instead of dried porcini mushrooms?
Sometimes, we use dried porcini - particularly in its powdered form - to add a strong, robust dose of umami flavoring to a sauce, stew, or rub. Tomato paste does the same job, albeit with a more acidic, tomato-ey taste. If you need that umami factor in a recipe, tomato paste will do the trick. It won’t, however, work as a like-for-like substitution for dried porcini mushrooms.