How to Clean Portobello Mushrooms: Trouble-Free Tips!

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Out of meat for your ramen or stir-fry? Or are you trying to cook and eat meatless options more often? Perhaps you have a vegan and vegetarian friend coming over to a cookout and you want a worthy substitute for steak.

Either way, portobello mushrooms are among the best options, even surpassing things like tofu and seitan. But if you are more used to canned mushrooms or smaller button mushrooms used in pizza and pasta toppings, portobello mushrooms may confound you.

Do you have a pound of fresh portobello mushrooms, that you aren’t sure how to prepare? Well, this article will tell you how to clean portobello mushrooms. If you want a crash course on cleaning and using these mushrooms, you’ve come to the right place.

What are Portobello Mushrooms?

portobello mushroom

Portobello mushrooms, also known as Agaricus Bisporus, are among the most popular and well-known fungi in the culinary world. They have a savory, umami flavor that adds depth and complexity to countless dishes.

This makes it a popular choice in broths, stocks, and stews when used in dried form. They are also a great component in ramen, pasta, stir-fries, and even BBQs!

These mushrooms can grow up to 5-inches in diameter, although you can get smaller baby portobello mushrooms. The texture of a portobello mushroom is noticeably meat-like, making it similar to shiitake mushrooms. As a result, it is popular as a meat substitute for plant-based diets.

You can easily grill, fry, boil, and sauté these mushrooms, and they have an earthy flavor once cooked. The mushrooms of a fully grown portobello will have a flat, dark cap that is firm, yet sliceable. The gills below the cap help identify the mushroom and give it a distinct appearance.

A baby portobello mushroom has a white and round cap, which is actually what people know as button mushrooms. They are also called baby Bellas, Bellas, and cremini mushrooms.

Can you eat the gills of portobello mushrooms?

While the gills of a portobello are perfectly edible, cooks often remove them before cooking. This is because they are pretty unappetizing to look at, and can ruin the appearance of the finished dish. Removing the gills also makes the mushrooms easier to clean.

What Do Portobello Mushrooms Taste Like?

As mentioned, these mushrooms have a very meaty texture and are quite fleshy and chewy. They have an earthy, almost woody flavor, with plenty of umami notes and a pronounced savory-ness.

Best of all, portobello mushrooms have an acute smokiness, which makes them great for grilling and pan-frying. Because of this, they add lots of flavors to stir-fries, noodles, and countless other dishes, Asian, Italian, and everything in between.

How to Clean Portobello Mushrooms

how to clean portobello mushrooms

The main issue with mushrooms is that they grow in damp places and tend to be quite dirty. And when not cleaned properly, they can cause health problems and illnesses. Moreover, the dirt can also make your dish taste off.

On the other hand, clean portobello mushrooms elevate the taste of anything you add them to. Cleaning is also vital if you want the mushroom to be the star of your meal, especially if you want to grill your mushrooms and serve them as a steak alternative.

Here is how you should clean your portobello mushroom so that there are no traces of dirt left in them.

What You Need:

  • Spray bottle
  • Kitchen towels or a sponge
  • Paring knife
  • Large spoon
  • Mushroom brush (Optional)

What You Need to Do:

  1. If your portobello mushrooms aren’t too dirty, you can clean them with a damp paper towel. Spray some water onto a kitchen towel, just enough to dampen it.
  2. Gently wipe down the exterior of the mushroom cap with the towel. Be careful as the mushrooms can get bruised quite easily.

    You can also use the soft side of a previously unused sponge. Clean one mushroom at a time, as they require some care.
  3. If the mushroom has stubborn dirt clinging to the cap and around the stem, you may need to use a brush. Use a light hand to prevent damage, and scrub the over the cap and around the stem of the portobello mushroom to dislodge soil or grit.
  4. Try to use as little water as possible and do not soak the mushrooms as they are spongy and soak up moisture, which makes them go soggy when cooking.
  5. Remove the stem off the cap, as it tends to be quite tough and woody. You can pull it off with just a bit of force, or use a paring knife to trim it off.
  6. Next, use a spoon to gently scrape away the gills on the underside of the cap. Just rake the spoon over the gills and they will be loosened off. Then, wipe the area with a damp paper towel to get rid of any remaining bits of the gills.
  7. Set the portobello mushrooms on dry kitchen towels and let them dry completely. Once they are dry, you can cut them up as needed or cook them whole.

Storing Portobello Mushrooms

The key to storing these mushrooms for maximum freshness is to start with good ones. Pick firm mushrooms with no bruises or weird spots. The gills also indicate freshness; avoid mushrooms with slimy, wet, or shriveled gills.

Mushrooms give off moisture as they sit, so store uneaten mushrooms in paper bags or between sheets of paper towels, giving them plenty of breathing room or ventilation.

Do not store them in plastic bags or boxes. For maximum freshness, use them up within 3 days. If you want to store them for much longer, you can freeze the mushrooms whole and uncooked.

Cooking Portobello Mushrooms

The best thing about these mushrooms is how versatile and easy they are to cook. These ideas may give you some inspiration:

Cooking Grown Portobello Mushrooms:


The best way to cook full-sized portobello mushrooms is to grill them.

This makes it a unique spin as you have a meatless main course and meat-based sides. You can marinate it in something like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or balsamic vinegar and an array of spices. You can also grill them first and then brush on some BBQ sauce just before taking them off the grill.


Oven-roasted portobello mushrooms are a great option for vegans and vegetarians. When seasoned and coated in garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper before roasting, they make a great alternative to burger patties.


Whether you pan-fry them whole, or dice and sauté them, they make a great addition to stir-fries and noodles. You can also add them to creamy dishes like pasta sauces and risotto for a boost in flavor and richness.

Cooking Baby Portobello Mushrooms:


The best way to cook cremini mushrooms is to pan roast them as they sear more easily and can be used as an addition to salads and a topping for bisques and stews.

Moreover, pan-frying whole baby portobello mushrooms in garlic-infused butter is a timelessly delicious and popular appetizer. You can add in things like prawns and even very thin strips of beef!

Besides this, they are best added to veggie stir-fries, and things like chow mein, lo mein, and other fried noodle dishes.

Have More Questions?

Here you will find answers to questions people tend to have about cleaning portobello mushrooms.

01. Can I Eat Raw Baby Portobello Mushrooms?

Yes, because baby Bella mushrooms are small, they can be consumed raw and cooked. Eating them raw actually leaves more of the nutrients intact.

02. Do I Need to Remove Portobello Mushroom Gills?

Although the mushroom gills are edible and safe, they have a nasty, overly-earthy taste and bitter taste. Also, their dark color can stain the rest of your dish. As a result, it is best to remove them when cleaning.

03. How Can I Remove Water from My Portobello Mushrooms?

If there is water in your mushrooms, they will come out when you cook them. This is why you need to cook them on high heat, as this will make the liquid evaporate and brown the surface of the mushroom.

But when cooked on low heat, the mushrooms will just simmer in the liquid and become soggy and rather tasteless.

04. What is the Best Way to Remove Stubborn Dirt from Mushrooms?

 A mushroom brush (or any small brush like an unused soft-bristle toothbrush) can be used to very gently buff off clingy dirt from the surface of the mushroom. They can also be used to remove dirt from crevices and around the stem.


It’s pretty clear from all this that portobello mushrooms are pretty straightforward to clean. Once you learn how to clean portobello mushrooms, you will discover that all you need is a little care and patience. Avoiding bruises and removing the gills is the most important part. Once you get the cleaning out of the way, there is a whole world of tasty possibilities waiting for you. You can use it as a chicken or beef substitute and even use it to bulk up salads and stews, as well as rice and pasta dishes.

Pair it with monkfish, or use it to fancy up an otherwise simple meal like homemade fries and you’ll never look back!

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