There are few foodie pleasures greater than the simple combination of garlic and butter. This heavenly match is ideal for oyster mushrooms because it adds a punch of flavor to the nutty, earthy flavor of the mushrooms. Learn how to sauté beautiful oyster mushrooms in garlic butter to enhance your next meal.
We have the Germans to thank for widely cultivating oyster mushrooms as a food. The tale goes that the Germans grew oyster mushrooms during World War I to address food shortages because oyster mushrooms contain plenty of nutrients, and they grow on almost everything. While I haven’t confirmed the story about oyster mushroom in WWI, it’s true they grow on just about anything. I saw oyster mushrooms growing on the cardboard tube left over from a used toilet paper roll at the Santa Cruz Fungi Fair.
Luckily, you and I don’t have to resort to the desperate measures of growing mushrooms on toilet paper tubes. Instead, we can buy a variety of oyster mushrooms at the supermarket or grow them from hygienic kits in the comfort of our living rooms.
The beauty of oyster mushrooms is that they taste far superior in flavor and texture to your common button mushroom. Let’s learn one of the easiest ways to showcase these tasty mushrooms gently cooked in garlic butter.
What kind of mushrooms to use
This recipe started as a pink oyster mushroom dish. However, since we were growing 4 different kinds of oyster mushrooms in our living room, I transformed the recipe into a mix of pink, blue, and white oyster mushrooms (the stipes from the white oysters were left over from the Oyster Mushroom Burger recipe — to be published soon).
Like the Creamy Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms recipe, you can adapt this sautéed mushroom dish with any kind of oyster mushrooms, including grey, blue, yellow, pearl, pink, white, brown, or king oyster mushrooms.
Let your imagination go: This garlic butter sauté works for any kind of mushroom. Use the same sauté technique to cook white button, crimini, portobello (which is the mature, full-sized crimini mushroom), shiitake, lion’s mane, porcini, or chanterelle mushrooms.
NOTE: If you’re using canned oyster mushrooms, drain and dry them thoroughly before cooking them.
How to prepare the mushrooms
Because we grew our oyster mushrooms from a kit, I didn’t clean them before cooking them. After spritzing the mushrooms everyday, dust is likely the worst debris to land on the mushrooms.
However, if you purchase mushrooms from the store, you may be inclined to wash them. After all, what animals, insects or other people have touched the mushrooms? (Mushrooms grown in warehouses live in sterile conditions, but outdoors mushrooms can encounter all kinds of bugs.)
Some people like to clean mushrooms with a special mushroom brush or wipe them individually with a damp kitchen towel or paper towel. I find that too fussy. I like to sprinkle store-bought mushrooms with water to rinse any dirt off them. Sometimes I rub them between my fingers if there’s dirt. I drain and dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel.
WARNING: Avoid soaking the mushrooms in water. You don’t want to waterlog them before cooking.
How to know when pink oyster mushrooms are cooked
Pink oyster mushrooms turn golden when they are cooked. While it’s disappointing that they don’t retain their coral pink hue, they take on a bright marigold color that adds a sunny touch to any dish.
Garlic butter mushroom variations
Here are creative ways that you can tailor this garlic butter mushroom recipe to your mood and season.
Add herbs: Fresh or dried herbs add fantastic new flavors to the dish. Thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary are hardy choices that give your sautéed mushrooms a wintery, comfort-food taste. For a summery taste, you can top the mushrooms with freshly chopped cilantro or chives before serving.
TIP: Chop the hardy fresh herbs and add them to the butter after the garlic. If using dried herbs, add them after the mushrooms are softened. Allow the herbs to cook for at least 5 minutes to release their flavors into the mushrooms.
Add white wine: You can add 1/4 cup of dry white wine to the garlic butter after the garlic has cooked for 1 minute in the butter. White wine brings new flavors from the grapes and a touch of acidity, which adds brightness to the mushrooms.
TIP: If adding soy sauce, remember to adjust your salt accordingly (you may want to use unsalted butter or skip the extra salt).
Add grated cheese: Another way to add umami is to sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or another aged hard cheese packed with glutamates. Check out suggestions in the Creamy Pasta Sauce with Oyster Mushrooms for ideas on different cheeses you can add.
How to substitute ingredients
Use different mushrooms: As discussed earlier, you can use your favorite mushrooms.
Make this recipe vegan by replacing the butter with olive oil or canola oil. It’s also a great way to speed up the cooking time because these oils have higher smoking points. You can use other plant-based oils if you like the flavor they add, such as avocado oil or walnut oil.
NOTE: Some people may perceive oyster mushrooms as not being vegan. (More on this in a future post on oyster mushrooms.) As a result, you may want to substitute a different kind of mushroom, like crimini or shiitake.
How to sauté mushrooms faster
This recipe takes its sweet time to deeply caramelize the oyster mushrooms. With 15 minutes of sautéing, you maximize the time that the garlic butter infuses its magical flavors into the mushrooms. The result are intensely savory mushrooms where as few as 5 mushrooms could overload your palate.
If you have the time, I recommend giving it in the full 15 minutes. However, I appreciate that some nights, you just want to be done cooking.
Here’s how to cook the mushrooms if you’ve got 5 minutes or less. The key is cooking them on medium-high heat without burning the garlic butter.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or a neutral oil like canola oil) instead of the 4 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Olive oil can cook at a higher temperature than butter, which allows you to cook the mushrooms faster.
- Add the mushrooms. Don’t add any garlic.
- Add the salt and pepper immediately to draw out the water from the mushrooms. Salt adequately.
- Cook until the mushrooms are softened and sizzling.
- Add the butter and chopped garlic.
- Cook until the garlic is browned and the mushrooms look cooked through.
- Voilà garlic butter mushrooms in 5 minutes or less.
TIP: If you’re doing the accelerated sauté method, chop the garlic into bigger pieces. Grated or pressed garlic will burn much faster because they’re smaller pieces.
Tips for success
- Use a heavy-bottomed sauté or frying pan: I love my thick-bottomed frying pan because it heats evenly and caramelized the mushrooms in a way that a nonstick frying pan could not. It retains heat well, allowing the garlic and butter to brown slowly without burning.
- How to scale the recipe: I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe. Just make sure your pan is big enough to handle more mushrooms. You want enough room so the mushrooms are not stacked on top of each other, which makes them harder to mix and cook evenly.
- Mushrooms absorb a lot of fat: When you start cooking the mushrooms in butter or oil, it always seems as if there is too much fat or oil. Like potatoes, the mushrooms soak up the fat. Soon, you’ll worry there isn’t enough fat, causing them to burn. This is normal.
I have a bottle of oil handy whenever I sauté mushrooms to solve this problem. Add a teaspoon or two at a time if it looks like you need more oil to prevent the mushrooms from burning. Adding salt will help too.
- The magic of sprinkling salt on mushrooms: Moisture makes up 85-95% of the body of fresh mushrooms. When you sprinkle salt on the mushrooms, the salt draws out the water. This helps concentrate the flavor of your mushrooms and allows them to caramelize. It also reduces the chances of burning the ‘shrooms without adding more oil. Ensure you adequately salt your mushrooms so they can develop a brown crust.
Mixed oyster mushrooms sautéed with garlic butter
- Chopping Board
- Frying Pan
- 12 oz. (340 g) oyster mushrooms, any oyster mushrooms work or use a mixture
- 8 cloves (25 g) garlic
- 6 tablespoons (90 g) butter, salted butter, separate into 4 tablespoons and 2 tablespoons
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) Salt, to taste, add more if using unsalted butter or olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon (1 g) Black pepper, a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
- Gather the ingredients.
- If the mushrooms aren't already split apart, separate them into individual "petals" (the fruiting body, including the cap and stipe). You can leave the small oyster mushrooms and cook them as is. If you're cooking King Oyster mushrooms, cut the caps off. Then slice the stipe into flat cylinders about 0.5 inch/1 cm thick (like what these egg tofu slices look like).
- Peel off the garlic skins and discard. Roughly chop the garlic.
- Heat the frying pan over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of butter. When the butter looks like it's half melted (meaning most of the butter is liquid but there is still some soft solid chunks), turn the heat down to low.
- Add the chopped garlic into the butter. Stir to combine.
- Add the chopped mushrooms to the garlic and butter.
- Stir the mushrooms so they are coated in the garlic butter.
- Leave the mushrooms to sauté in the garlic butter. The oyster mushrooms should begin to soften. If you're using pink oyster mushroms, they should begin turning gold. Keep the heat low such that you see the garlic and mushrooms sizzle around the edges but they are not turning brown quickly. If the garlic is turning brown within 2-3 minutes, turn the heat down to avoid burning the garlic.
- Add the salt and pepper. Stir to combine. After adding the salt, the mushrooms should wilt further and release any liquid they may be holding.
- The mushrooms should be cooked through by now. They are ready to serve. Optionally, you can caramelize them further if you're not in a hurry and want to add extra flavor.
- If you want to caramelize the mushrooms, add the reamining 2 tablespoons of butter as the mushrooms have likely soaked up all the previously added fat.Spread the mushrooms into 1 layer with even spacing between them. Avoid stirring them too much as you want to give them adequate contact time with the hot pan to caramelize.
- Allow the mushrooms to cook until they are browned on the edges. The butter should have also developed a golden brown color and a nutty aroma.
- Flip the mushrooms once to caramelize both sides. Once the mushrooms are brown to your satisfaction, turn the heat off and allow the mushrooms to cook in the residual heat while you prepare to serve them.
- Serve the sautéed oyster mushrooms as a side dish or a topping. Enjoy!
What to eat with garlic mushrooms
I use these mushrooms as a side dish, a topping, or a filling. As a side dish, you’ll love them alongside:
- Grilled chicken
- Stir-fried ramen
- Grilled sandwich
- Miso soup
- Stir-fried vegetables like this Green Bean Stir Fry or Sautéed Garlic Scapes
- Pan-fried block tofu or egg tofu
As a topping or a stuffing/filling, they would add a boost of flavor to:
And it doesn’t have to be fancy. Garlic butter mushrooms would be an excellent addition to liven up plain food, such as a bowl of Jasmine rice, a plate of angel hair pasta, or boiled potatoes.
Can you make this in advance?
Absolutely! Garlic Butter Mushrooms is one of my favorite dishes for “mini batch cooking“. Instead of making vats of food and eating the same thing over a week, I make components of meals in large quantities. Then I combine the components to make different dishes that introduce variety to our diet.
This Sautéed Garlic Butter Mushrooms is an ideal dish to prepare ahead of time on the weekend and enjoy during the week.
How to store and reheat leftovers
Once the mushrooms have cooled, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They last about 5-7 days in the fridge. Reheat by zapping the mushrooms in the microwave. You can also reheat them by adding them to a hot dish, such as topping a steaming soup with the mushrooms.
The mushrooms taste excellent chilled so you can scatter them over a salad or toss them into a sandwich to enjoy.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze these sautéed mushrooms. Once they’re cool, store them in a sealed airtight container to freeze. Use within 3 months to avoid freezer burn. You can defrost them overnight in the fridge, reheat them in the microwave, or add them to a hot pan to thaw.