Thinking about cooking lion’s mane mushroom? Maybe you’ve heard of some of the health-supporting benefits of lion’s mane and want to find some tasty ways to add them to your diet. Or perhaps you want to branch out from your standard portobello and button varieties and try your hand at a different gourmet mushroom. Whatever the reason, you’re in the right place to learn how to make the most of cooking this versatile, delicious mushroom.
Along with a couple of simple recipes, we’ll cover where to buy lion’s mane and how to clean, store and prepare it. We’ll also briefly review some of the fascinating ways this mushroom can support your health. Read on to learn everything you need to know to begin cooking lion’s mane mushroom.
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Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a common mushroom found throughout the Northern United States and Canada. They’re often found growing on dead and decaying trees, as well as birch, beech, elm, and oak trees.
The lion’s mane mushroom gets its name from its shaggy, mane-like appearance. They are large, white, and covered with hair-like structures called teeth that hang down around the mushroom. Its fuzzy appearance is also what earned it the nickname the bearded hedgehog mushroom and the pom-pom mushroom.
This unique mushroom is used all over the world for culinary purposes and for its health-supporting properties. It’s a versatile mushroom and can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried, or steeped as a tea. Lion’s mane extracts are often used in supplements for health support.
Most of us would like to receive more health benefits from our food, which is one advantage of cooking with lion’s mane mushrooms (another is that they’re delicious!). From brain health to gut health, to being possibly one of the best mushrooms for anxiety, there are a lot of reasons to eat more lion’s mane.
Lion’s mane mushroom has a long history of use in Asian medicine. In Chinese and Japanese medicine, it has traditionally been used to support spleen and gut health. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners employ this mushroom to promote good digestion, vigor, and strength (1).
Modern research suggests that lion’s mane mushrooms may be able to support your health in a variety of different ways. One of the most exciting discoveries made about them is their potential to support brain health.
Lion’s mane mushrooms contain two unique compounds that may be able to protect the neurons and nerves in our bodies. These compounds are called hericenones and erinacines. Studies show that these compounds may be able to protect the brain from cognitive decline associated with aging (2).
Studies show that lion’s mane can increase the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a compound that maintains neural health in our brains (3). This compound is linked to supporting the growth of nerve tissue and nerve function as shown in animal studies (2).
Research suggests that this mighty mushroom may be able to support brain health in other ways including:
Lion’s mane may be one of the best mushrooms for anxiety. In a clinical trial, lion’s mane mushroom was able to decrease feelings of anxiety, irritation, and frustration (6).
Lion's mane could support your health in other areas of your body as well. For instance, it can promote a healthy immune response. Studies show that it can do this by regulating bacteria in the gut and intestines (7). Animal studies show that these mushrooms can support immune system strength by regulating intestinal mucosal activity (8).
Cooking with lion’s mane mushrooms is also a fantastic way to get more nutrients in your diet. Mushroom proteins contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to stay healthy. Amino acids are the building blocks of each individual cell, and finding complete sources of all essential amino acids is required to give your body the fuel it needs to function.
Together with the low-fat content and high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, these nutritional properties add to the significant health value of lion’s mane mushrooms. When reliable extraction methods are used, lion’s mane extract can be used as a supplement to more easily tap into some of the desirable health benefits mentioned above (9).
If you’ve never tasted lion's mane mushrooms before, you’re in for a treat. When it’s cooked it’s juicy, delicate, tender, and meaty. The taste of lion’s mane mushrooms is best described as seafood-like and it’s often compared to crab, lobster, and other shellfish. This is why it’s often used as a vegetarian substitute in seafood dishes.
You can purchase lion’s mane mushrooms fresh, dried, or as a powder. Each format is useful for different culinary purposes.
For instance, fresh and dried lion’s mushrooms may be better for frying and grilling, whereas powders may be better for broths, baking, and drink mixes.
Mushrooms are very absorbent which is great when it comes to marinades and sauces, but not so great when it comes to pesticides. That’s why it’s best to purchase organic lion’s mane mushrooms.
If you’re on the hunt for fresh or dried lion’s mane mushrooms, the first place to look would be your local health-food or farmer's market. They are sometimes sold at Asian markets as well, just make sure they were grown organically.
If you’re not having any luck finding them in your area, you can try ordering them online or growing your own. You can use a quick Google search to find fresh and dried lion’s mane and lion’s mane grow kits.
Organic mushroom powders can be found in some health food stores and easily online. However, if you are buying mushroom powders to support your health, it’s important to make sure you are buying the highest quality product. Check out our 4-point buying guide for Lion’s Mane powder extracts to learn how to spot a quality mushroom product.
When cooking lion’s mane mushroom, fresh is best. But, you don’t want any extras to go bad before you can enjoy them. If you’re not planning on eating them right away, you’ll need to store them properly.
If you plan on eating your fresh lion’s mane mushrooms within a few days, storing them in your refrigerator is fine. Store them in a roomy paper bag so that they can breathe. Keep them away from water and other liquids to prevent mold from developing.
As they age, lion’s mane mushrooms will begin to turn yellow. You can cut off any yellow parts to preserve their flavor. If they turn orange, feel soft or slimy, or show signs of rot, it’s time to throw them out.
With proper storage, fresh lion’s mane can last for about a week in the fridge. If you’re not planning on using them that soon, you’ll need to consider other storage options.
One option is to dry them, but first, you’ll need to clean excess dirt off them. You can do this by rinsing them off with water, or by using a mushroom brush to gently sweep off any particles. If you rinse them in water, let them sit in the sun for a couple of hours so excess water can evaporate.
Once your mushrooms are clean, you can dehydrate them in an oven or a food dehydrator. Using a shape knife, cut the lion’s mane from top to bottom about a quarter of an inch thick. Then place them on dehydrator trays or parchment-lined baking trays in a single layer so the slices don’t touch each other.
If you’re using a dehydrator, set the temperature to 135 degrees for four to six hours. You can dehydrate the mushrooms at a lower temperature for a longer period of time if you want your pieces to be less firm and more delicate. If you’re using an oven, set it to the lowest temperature and let the lion’s mane dry for two to four hours.
When you can easily snap the mushrooms between your fingers, they’re ready. Let them cool and place them in canning jars or storage bags. You’ll want to make sure the containers you store them in are air-tight to reduce the risk of them going bad. With proper storage, dried lion’s mane mushrooms can last indefinitely.
Another option is to freeze your lion’s mane mushrooms. Because of their high water content, it’s best to sauté them before freezing. Cook them as you normally would, or use our sauteed lion’s mane recipe below, and then let them cool. When ready, put them in an airtight freezer bag or a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent freezer burn, and store them in your freezer for up to a year.
Cooking lion’s mane mushrooms is as easy as it is delicious. The best way to cook lion’s mane mushrooms is to sauté or roast them. Once they’re cooked, you can eat them in a sandwich, stir-fry, or on their own.
Sauteeing or roasting is a great place to start if you’ve never cooked lion’s mane mushrooms before. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could try making your own lion’s mane “crab” cakes with them, or using them in a vegan lobster roll.
Before you cook your lion’s mane mushrooms, you’ll need to prep them. Rinse them in water or use a mushroom brush to remove any excess dirt. If you rinse them, set them out to dry for a couple of hours, preferably in sunlight so the extra water evaporates.
The bottom of the mushroom is likely dirty and maybe a little tough. You’ll want to cut that piece off and any other dirty or yellowing spots.
Depending on the dish you’re using your mushrooms in, you can either cut them into slices or shred them into pieces.
If slicing, use a chef's knife to cut the mushroom in half from top to bottom. From there, you can cut it into half-inch segments for a thicker slice, or quarter-inch segments for a crispier slice. If shredding, you can simply use your hands to pull the mushroom apart into bite-sized pieces. Just like with slicing, the smaller you shred the mushroom, the crispier it will be.
Sauteing is an easy and quick way to prepare lion’s mane mushrooms. Here is a simple and tasty recipe for sauteing mushrooms.
Roasting is a decadent way to cook lion’s mane mushrooms without having to do a ton of prep work. Try this method to impress your friends and family at your next dinner party.
We’ve assembled a collection of 7 more delicious meals that you can make using this mushroom in our article Lion’s Mane Recipes: 7 Creations Using This Unique Mushroom.
We've also combined the addictive flavors and textures of avocado toast with this brain-boosting mushroom in our Lion’s Mane Mushroom Avocado Toast Recipe. Give is a try for yourself!
We hope you have fun trying these tasty lion’s mane recipes! We’d love to hear how they worked for you, share you’re mushroom dishes in our Facebook Group or on Instagram, and don’t forget to tag @Real_Mushrooms.
Disclaimer: The information or products mentioned in this article are provided as information resources only, and are not to be used or relied on to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information does not create any patient-doctor relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. The information is intended for health care professionals only. The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.