5 Ways to Cook Morel Mushrooms—If You're Lucky Enough to Find Some

Follow these tips to cook morels—some of the most treasured and tasty mushrooms on earth—and put your harvest to delicious use.

The first bite I ever took of these unique mushrooms was in a risotto. A bed of lusciously creamy arborio rice came blanketed in sautéed local mushrooms, including the stand-out morels. Each bite was better than the last. From that moment on, I kept my eyes peeled for more, both on menus and in the wild.

Luckily, I spotted morels soon after. This time, the mushrooms topped ricotta-slathered toast, which came complete with nature's best condiment: a runny egg yolk. Perhaps I've been spoiled by a couple of creations that would have been delicious nonetheless, but what made the dishes truly memorable were the morels.

Why Morels Are So Coveted

Since they're next to impossible to farm or raise (although its being done), morels are gathered in their native, wild habitat. They're fairly rare—hence the fierce competition come mushroom hunting season—only pop up in specific weather conditions, and for just a few months each spring. Their scarcity is a big reason they sell for top dollar (one pound can sell for anywhere between $20 and $100). But don't go out and forage unless you know what you're doing, as "false morels" can be extremely toxic.

Unlike some other varieties of mushrooms that can err on the slimy side, morels have a nutty, toasted flavor and meaty texture that stands up beautifully once cooked.

So how do you cook these treasures? First (and very importantly), give them a good clean, then consider one of these delicious methods.

Pile of halved, cleaned morel mushrooms on light wood cutting board
Sheena Chihak

How to Cook Morel Mushrooms

Once your morels are sufficiently cleaned (thoroughly rinsed in cold water, then briefly soaked in lightly salted water), you're ready to start cooking.

Fry Morels

Frying is probably the most popular way to cook morel mushrooms. Here's how to do it so you can enjoy them right out of the pan, or added to burgers and other dishes.

  • Preheat the skillet over medium heat and melt a good chunk of butter. The amount you'll need depends on how many mushrooms you're preparing. If needed, you can always add more butter as you go.
  • Prep your coating or breading. Some folks swear by just a bit of flour, others by seasoned bread crumbs. I'm a fan of crushed crackers, because they're already seasoned (even if just with salt). Crush the crackers in a zip-top bag and dump into a bowl.
  • Crack a couple of eggs in a separate bowl and beat well.
  • Coat the cleaned morels in egg, then crackers, and pop them in the butter-coated skillet. Sauté about five minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. You'll have everyone reaching for more.

Sauté Morels

Sautéeing is a splendid way to showcase the pure flavor of morels. For the best results, cook small batches (only in a single layer) in a dry skillet for five minutes, and turn them a few times until they're golden brown and tender. Remove one batch, then replace with the next, until you have all of the morels tender. Season as desired.

For more flavor, follow the directions in this Sautéed Mushroom Medley and return all the mushrooms back to the skillet, adding equal parts butter and oil. Stir in some diced shallots and a dash of bourbon and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Morel and Asparagus Crispy Pizza
Blaine Moats

Put Morels on Pizza

Pretty much anything can be enjoyed in pizza form. But skip sausage and pepperoni, and go for a full-on celebration of spring. Toss halved morels and diced asparagus in a skillet with shallots, fresh thyme, and a splash of white wine for a next-level pizza topping. Alongside Gruyère cheese, the morels really shine.

Simmer Morels

To recreate that risotto at home, I've been playing around with this Mushroom Fricassee (creamy stewed sauce). Try it yourself: Sauté morels in walnut oil to echo the nutty qualities of the mushrooms (more common oils, like canola, will also work just fine), then simmer them to tender, bubbly perfection with Madeira cooking wine, whipping cream, chives, and rosemary.

Wild Mushroom and Pancetta Tart
Andy Lyons

Bake Morels in a Quiche or Savory Tart

In a quiche or a tart, morels make a delightful addition to any brunch menu. Cook the mushrooms in bacon drippings, then combine with eggs, bacon, green onions, thyme, and cheese to fill a flaky, buttery pastry crust. Use our wild mushroom tart as your inspiration.

I think these are the five best ways to cook morel mushrooms, since they really allow the morels themselves to take center stage. If you'd prefer to keep their flavor and texture a bit quieter, though, consider cooking them in butter, or olive oil, and stuffing them inside ravioli or blending them into mushroom patties for a meatless burger substitute.

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