How to Cook Mushrooms for Pasta and Other Dishes

Packed with flavor, sautéed mushrooms are brown on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. Learn how to sauté mushrooms perfectly, and use the techniques for washing and storing mushrooms that'll give you the best results. Once you master these skills, try our favorite mushroom recipes and ideas.

Sautéing is a quick, versatile way to cook any kind of mushroom, including button, cremini, shiitake, portobello, and even morel mushrooms. (Better yet, cook up a combo of your favorites.) Once you know how to cook mushrooms, savor them as a side dish, try them seasoned simply with sea salt and cracked black pepper, or use them to top pizza and pasta. When sautéing mushrooms, start the process with the freshest fungi you can find, and use our pointers for cleaning and slicing them.

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How to Sauté Mushrooms

For four side-dish servings, start with about 8 ounces (3 cups) of sliced mushrooms and 2 Tbsp. oil or butter. To sauté mushrooms:

  1. Heat oil or butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet ($25, Target). When the oil or melted butter is hot, add the mushrooms. You should hear a sizzle. (If the fat isn't hot enough, the mushrooms will start to water out and steam instead of sautéing.)
  2. Cook the mushrooms 4 to 5 minutes or until they're tender and lightly browned.
  3. For even cooking, stir mushrooms occasionally with a heatproof spatula ($11, Crate & Barrel) or wooden spoon.

Test Kitchen Tip: Make sure not to crowd the mushrooms in the pan, or they'll steam instead of sautéing. A single layer with space between the mushrooms is ideal. Also, be sure the pan you're cooking in is large enough.

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Start with Clean and Dry Mushrooms

The steps for cleaning mushrooms are the same for almost every type, except morels (learn more on our page about how to clean mushrooms). Avoid placing them under running water. Don't soak fresh mushrooms in water; they'll absorb the water and become soggy, making browning difficult. The key to perfectly sautéed mushrooms is to get them as dry as possible after cleaning.

Cut Mushrooms for Sautéing

After cleaning, trim the end of each stem. On a cutting surface, use a sharp knife ($15, Bed Bath & Beyond) to slice the mushrooms into halves, quarters, or slices. The larger cuts do well in dishes for mushroom lovers because you get a more robust flavor than when they're diced or sliced.

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Ways to Enjoy Sautéed Mushrooms

Once you've perfected sautéing mushrooms, there are plenty of mushroom recipes to make to enjoy those tender fungi. Season your mushrooms with thyme, salt, and ground black pepper before spreading over cheesy sourdough toasts (pictured above). Grill or broil your favorite cut of steak or pork chops, then top with a scoop of sautéed mushrooms. Or you can begin by sautéing, then cooking the mushrooms with a pan sauce for the final few minutes. Add mushrooms to veggies and cheese to fill an omelet. For how to cook mushrooms for pasta, try mixing the hot, cooked noodles and mushrooms with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese. Add a bit of cooked and chopped bacon to the mix for even more flavor. The possibilities for using sautéed mushrooms in your dishes are endless.

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