Guys and gals, I cannot wait for you to try my Creamy Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff!
Mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables to cook. Sure, they are kind of weird because they’re fungi or whatever. And yes, they get a bad rap for being slimy and mushy.
BUT, if you know how to cook mushrooms the right way, you will be treated to one of the most delicious foods on the planet! The smell of mushrooms cooking in olive oil or (vegan) butter, with garlic and fresh herbs, is one of my favorite scents. If it were acceptable, I would bottle up that scent into a perfume and spritz it on my neck and wrists daily. I’d probably call it Shiitake No. 5.
Anyhoo, in this Creamy Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff, mushrooms and leeks get cooked down until deeply browned, then paired with a luscious and umami-packed sauce, tossed with pasta, and then topped with more browned mushrooms. This dish is SO good that it got my lifelong mushroom-hating boyfriend to fall in love with mushrooms.
What is Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff?
Stroganoff is a rich meat-and-cream stew from Russia (not surprising, Russians love their meat). Traditionally, stroganoff contains mushrooms along with beef and sour cream. If I’m being perfectly honest, even before I became vegan, that combination sounded gross.
My version of mushroom stroganoff delivers the flavorful comfort food factor that people enjoy about this dish, but without any of the animal products. The copious amount of meaty mushrooms keeps this dish feeling hearty and substantial, and a combination of coconut milk and tahini make this so luxurious that no one would ever guess it’s dairy-free.
Mistakes to Avoid when Cooking Mushrooms
Mushrooms get a bad rap for two main reasons (this is according to my mushroom-hating boyfriend). First, they can be soggy, watery, and slimy in texture. Second, they can be not so flavorful (e.g., mushrooms on your standard pizza delivery).
But once you learn the secrets behind getting beautifully browned, even crispy mushrooms that are packed with flavor, a whole new culinary world opens up to you. So here are mistakes to avoid when cooking mushrooms + tips on how to cook mushrooms the right way.
1. Washing mushrooms.
Mushrooms are porous, like sponges, so when you wash them, you add water to them. And since mushrooms already have a high-water content, you end up with a soggy, watery texture. Which is precisely why some people hate mushrooms.
Do this instead: When you find dirt patches, just use a paper towel or dry kitchen cloth to wipe them off. A lot of store-bought mushrooms are grown on indoor farms and so they’re actually pretty clean.
2. Crowding the pan.
When you stuff a bunch of mushrooms in a pan on the stove, they don’t have enough surface area to sear. Instead, they’ll start steaming, and steaming mushrooms are rubbery and squishy.
Do this instead: If cooking a big pot of mushrooms, cook in batches (e.g., this recipe calls for cooking 20 ounces of mushrooms in two batches).
3. Stirring frequently.
It can be very tempting to stir a pan of food frequently. You don’t want the food to burn, you’re bored, etc. But if you stir mushrooms frequently, you rob them of their ability to brown.
Do this instead: Stir every few minutes.
4. Using low or medium heat.
Cooking mushrooms at low or medium heat will not help them brown, which means you’re not going to get the best texture.
Do this instead: Cook at medium-high or high heat.
5. Salting at the start
While I typically salt most vegetables at the start of cooking (it’s all about layering in the flavor at various stages), mushrooms are an exception to my rule. When you add salt, it draws out the moisture in food, and as mentioned, mushrooms have a ton of moisture. So, salting at the beginning means you’ll be helping your mushrooms steam more than sear.
Do this instead: Wait until the last few minutes of cooking, once the mushrooms are already fairly browned, to season with salt.
6. Sticking with just one mushroom variety
If the white button mushroom is the only mushroom you’ve cooked, it’s time to expand the culinary tool chest. Don’t get me wrong, white button mushrooms cooked properly can be quite tasty. But if you just leave it at that, you’re truly missing out on some meaty deliciousness.
Do this instead: Use a mixture of mushrooms. From velvety chanterelle mushrooms that almost melt in your mouth and meaty shiitake mushrooms to maitake mushrooms that taste like chicken and king oyster mushrooms that mimic scallops remarkably well, there is an amazing variety of mushrooms that deserve your attention, especially when you eat a plant-based diet and eschew meat.
Watch! How to make the best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
Mushrooms are the star of this show! You can use any combo of shrooms you like, but I recommend trying at least two different mushroom varieties that aren’t too similar so you can get a mix of tastes and textures.
To keep this meal reasonably priced, you can try ~70% cremini mushrooms (brown button mushrooms) and try a more exotic mushroom for the remaining mushrooms. Options to consider include shiitake, maitake, oyster, enoki, chanterelle, king oyster, or portobello. Or, you can splurge and try a variety of exotic or wild mushrooms.
I’ve made this recipe with several different combinations, but most recently, I used this combination.
- Cremini mushrooms: AKA brown button mushrooms. These are inexpensive and can be found at almost any grocery store but have more flavor than white button mushrooms.
- Shiitake mushrooms: these have a robust flavor and meaty texture
- Oyster mushrooms: these are velvety and not watery in texture; they have a subtle woodsy flavor but not too earthy.
- Maitake mushrooms: AKA “hen of the woods.” They have deep, rich flavor that’s almost like, well, chicken. They naturally contain L-glutamate, which is basically the essence of umami. They crisp up very nicely.
Relatives of onions but milder and more delicate in flavor. I often opt for leeks over onions in mushroom recipes because the combination of the slightly sweet leeks and earthy, bold, nutty mushrooms is just delightful.
An ingredient traditionally used in Stroganoff, it brings a lot of savory depth of flavor. It’s also a bit vinegary, and that helps enhance and balance rich meaty dishes.
Typically, Worcestershire sauce is not vegan (it contains anchovies). However, there are some vegan Worcestershire sauces available on the market. I recently purchased the Whole Foods 365 brand which is vegan, and have also used the one from Annie’s in the past. This brand is also gluten-free. Other store brands include Sprouts, Simple Truth, and O Organics.
Check out this link for more vegan Worcestershire sauce options. If you can’t find it, though, you can omit it.
As mentioned above, classic stroganoff is thickened with sour cream. But I find full-fat coconut milk to be an excellent substitute. Along with the flour, it helps thicken this sauce incredibly well. And don’t worry, you can’t taste the coconut – it gets masked by all of the other bold flavors.
Since stroganoff is intended to be very rich, I add a couple tablespoons of tahini for even more creaminess and subtle nuttiness.
And since stroganoff is packed with umami-containing animal products, I also add in a bit of nutritional yeast to accentuate the natural umami notes in the mushrooms.
Another ingredient commonly found in stroganoff. If you use regular paprika, the primary benefit is its beautiful red color – it lends an orange-ish hue to the color of the sauce.
But if you have Hungarian paprika, use that. It has a more complex flavor that is pungent, peppery, and sweet.
If you’ve made some of my savory recipes before or watch my Youtube videos, you know I’m a big fan of finishing creamy, heavy dishes with a splash of acid. It helps balance the richness of the meal and brightens the flavors. Here, just a tiny bit of Dijon mustard perks up the flavors of this dish with a sharp tang.
I originally wrote this recipe to include flat-leaf parsley as a garnish, and it was nice, but swapping it out for fresh dill really transformed this dish. Dill’s grassy, citrus freshness help enhance and freshen balance all the flavors, and the dill-mushroom-leek combo is just fantastic.
Slice the mushrooms and/or tear them into roughly even pieces. Trim and slice the leeks, but don’t slice too thinly.
Cook HALF of the mushrooms and leeks over medium-high heat in olive oil. Cook for 8-10 minutes, then add HALF of the minced garlic and fresh thyme with a bit of salt and cook for 2-4 minutes. Set aside this mixture and repeat with the remaining mushrooms, leeks, garlic, and thyme.
Deglaze the pot with the second batch of mushroom with white wine, then pour in the “vegetable broth roux” mixture and bring to a simmer.
Pour in the coconut milk, tahini, nutritional yeast, paprika, and salt.
Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes until thickened and very creamy. Finish with Dijon mustard.
Stir in hot cooked pasta and toss to coat.
Add the reserved first batch of mushrooms and fresh chopped dill.
Why I updated this recipe
When I first posted this recipe in February 2019, I really liked the dish. And they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
BUT, when I remade it a few months ago, I did a few things differently, and it truly blew my mind. It also got my boyfriend (who has been a mushroom hater for 30+ years) to fall in love with this dish. So I decided that even if it wasn’t broke, it was worth upgrading.
The major updates to this recipe include (1) using a variety of different mushrooms and (2) cooking the mushrooms in separate batches.
In the original recipe, I cooked all 20 ounces of mushrooms in the same large frying pan. They were not soggy or watery by any means, but I felt like I didn’t give the mushrooms an opportunity to truly shine. The sauce was the star of the show, with the mushrooms in a clear second place.
Now, however, I cook the mushrooms and leeks in two separate batches, and it does a few different things. First, it allows the mushrooms to truly sear and brown because they’re not overcrowded. That enhances their texture, making them less rubbery and more crisp. Second, reserving the first batch of mushrooms and using it as a last-minute topper introduces textural complexity into this dish.
Instead of this being a uniformly creamy dish, there’s now a slightly crispy element introduced and the contrast between the two is exquisite. I truly think this updated recipe will blow your mind, but if this recipe happens to have been a regular in your rotation, I’m pasting the original version of step 3 so you have it handy.
Heat a large sauté pan with deep sides (or a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the 2 diced leeks and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add another 1 tablespoon of olive oil, along with the garlic, sliced mushrooms, and thyme, and stir to combine. Sauté for 4-5 minutes or until the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender. Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and cook for one more minute.
How to make vegan mushroom stroganoff gluten-free
Flour. Sub with gluten-free all-purpose flour, or use half the amount of cornstarch.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Omit, unless you can find a vegan, gluten-free variety like this one.
Soy Sauce. The recipe calls for tamari, which is gluten-free soy sauce, so be sure to use tamari, not soy-sauce (which usually contains gluten).
Pasta. I used this twisted pasta shape because it mimics the classic egg noodles commonly used in stroganoff, but I’ve made this recipe with many pasta varieties and it’s always delicious. To make it gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you serve mushroom stroganoff with?
If you’re not keen on serving the stroganoff sauce over pasta, you can serve it over millet, rice, quinoa, or even mashed potatoes (talk about comforting!).
What can I substitute for the white wine?
The alcohol cooks off, but if you do not buy or consume any alcohol, you can do omit the wine and deglaze with (1) a bit of vegetable broth (1/4 cup), or (2) two tablespoons white vinegar mixed with two tablespoons water.
Can I use something besides full-fat coconut milk?
Coconut milk is what makes this recipe so creamy, but if you want to scale back on the richness a bit, use “lite” coconut milk. If allergic to coconut milk, you can try vegan sour cream (Tofutti brand is my fave) and thin it somewhat with water. I don’t recommend a thin plant-based milk like almond milk, as you won’t get the creamy factor.
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil*, divided
- 2 large leeks or 3 small-medium leeks
- 20 ounces of mixed mushrooms (~560g) (see “Ingredient Rundown” section for which variety I used)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- ¼ cup (~30g) all-purpose flour**
- ½ cup (~120 ml) dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 (13.5 ounce) (400 ml) can of full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard or coarse-grain mustard
- 12 ounces (340g) pasta of choice
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Prep the mushrooms. Wipe off any dirt patches with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Depending on the variety, slice them or tear them with your hands (oyster and maitake are much easier to tear than slice).
- Prep the leeks. Slice off the dark green tops and discard or save for making vegetable broth. Cut each leek in half vertically and then slice horizontally, but not too thinly, as they’ll cook down with the mushrooms for quite a while.NOTE: Leeks are very dirty, so you need to wash them at this stage. Submerge chopped leeks in a bowl of cold water, run your hands through the bowl to loosen the dirt, and then scoop the leeks out using your hands or a slotted spoon. Pat dry the washed leeks.
- Heat a large sauté pan with deep sides (or a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat and add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add HALF of the leeks and mushrooms. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until mushrooms are nicely browned, stirring occasionally but not too frequently.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add HALF of the garlic, HALF of the thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook for 2-4 minutes, or until the mushrooms are browned and crispy. When done cooking, transfer this batch to a plate or bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining oil, mushrooms, leeks, garlic, thyme, and salt.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, make the “vegetable broth roux.” In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, tamari, Worcestershire sauce (if using), and flour in. Whisk until until no clumps remain.
- Pour the white wine into the pan with the cooked mushrooms, and use a wooden spoon or flat-ended spatula to deglaze the pan by scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat as needed to simmer for 3 minutes, or until the smell of alcohol has dissipated and the wine has mostly evaporated.
- Pour the vegetable broth roux into the pan and whisk to combine, ensuring there are no clumps. Bring to a simmer, then pour in the coconut milk, tahini, nutritional yeast, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and paprika. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and very creamy.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and keep warm.
- Stir the Dijon mustard into the stroganoff sauce and stir. Add the hot cooked pasta and chopped dill (or parsley), and toss to coat.
- Divide the pasta among plates or bowls, and top each with a handful of the first batch of crispy mushrooms and extra dill (or parsley) to garnish.