'Shrooms for You (and Your Family, Too!) 8 Kid-Friendly Ways to Cook with Your Favorite Fungi

reaching for mushrooms

Mushrooms—some kids love ’em, some kids hate ’em, and many parents don’t even think to let their kids give ’em a chance. If you fall into that last category, we’ve got some good reasons to put this season’s mushrooms on the menu:

From wild chanterelles to the humble supermarket-staple white buttons, all mushrooms are extremely nutrient dense—in fact, common creminis are a richer source of good stuff than most of their more expensive cousins. One of the top plant-based sources of protein, mushrooms are also packed with antioxidants (they’ve been used medicinally in Asia for centuries) and provide fiber, vitamin B12, vitamin C, Vitamin D, niacin, riboflavin, folate, potassium, iron, and selenium, an essential mineral that plays a critical role in DNA synthesis, thyroid function, and immunity. Phew!

Mushrooms can lend an earthy, savory umami flavor and meaty texture to all sorts of yummy dishes. That said, it’s these exact traits that can sometimes send little ones (and a few grownups) screaming in the opposite direction. A great rule of thumb for opening minds—and mouths—is to try adding mushrooms to recipes your kids already know and love. Experiment with different types of mushrooms (morels, enoki, shiitake, porcini, portobello, etc.) and lots of different styles (chopped, whole, roasted, fried, puréed!).

Not sure where to get started? Here are eight tasty ways to add some family-friendly fungi fun into your regular meal rotation:

mini mushroom pizza round with carrot sticks, crayons, and milk

1. Pizza! There’s a certain je ne sais quo that “mushies” gain when baked up in a mess of gooey cheese (and possibly surrounded by pepperoni, olives, and pineapple). If your kiddo is already a fan, go all-in with the Pioneer Woman’s 30-minute portobello pizzas—all the usual toppings on a big ol’ mushroom cap “crust.”

2. Eggs! Slice or dice your mushrooms and then toss ’em in your morning breakfast scramble. You could always add a little chopped sausage (if your child likes it) for a color match with a known-quantity food. 

3. Mac and cheese! Pretty much anything that comes à la mac and cheese is delicious. Add your fungus of choice (consider more exotic options like white oyster or trumpet mushrooms) to your favorite recipe or boxed brand! Or, if your child is down with bold flavors, try this divine version with truffle oil from Giada De Laurentiis.

4. A dip! Offer sliced veggies or whole-grain crackers with this mushroom and roasted garlic hummus from Cupcakes & Kale Chips, and your child likely won’t bat an eyelash.

5. Cheesy rice (a.k.a. risotto)! Unlike many risotto recipes, Sandra Lee’s roasted garlic and mushroom version doesn’t include dry white wine. If your child likes the risotto, try using it to make other fresh veggies, like peas or cauliflower, more appealing as well. Have leftovers? Use it to make Sandra Lee’s risotto cakes.

6. Soup! Mushrooms were made to lend their meaty richness to all sorts of soups: lentil, veggie, beef barley, chicken noodle, chili, and more. Jamie Oliver’s creamy “real” mushroom soup is a perfect option for kids who will turn up their noses if they actually see a mushroom.

7. Baked! If your child is already a fan of mushrooms, try these crispy, baked Romano cheese and garlic breaded mushrooms from The Girl Who Ate Everything. They use panko breadcrumbs to mimic the yummy golden crunch you get from the breaded-and-deep-fried mushrooms you’ll find at places like Outback Steakhouse.

8. Fries! Whip up a batch of the Food Network’s portobello fries and serve with ketchup or a healthy homemade ranch dressing—we doubt you’ll hear many complaints.

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