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Food & Recipes

Wipe Instead of Washing — And 3 More Quick Tips To Avoiding Soggy Mushrooms

Who wants to bite into a rubbery morsel? Not you! These chef tricks ensure you'll never have to

Sautéed mushrooms are great for adding hearty, earthy flavor to so many dishes, from pastas to veggie tosses and sandwiches. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to end up with soggy, rubbery mushrooms rather than tender, meaty mushrooms you crave. Luckily, the fix is easy. Keep reading to learn about common mistakes many home chefs make as they’re cooking mushrooms and the easy tricks that help you avoid soggy mushrooms.

Why mushrooms get soggy during the cooking process

Mushrooms vary in size, shape and taste, but they all share one thing in common: they’re full of water. While this high moisture content gives mushrooms their spongy texture, it begins seeping out when exposed to heat. And for a cooking method like sautéing, the liquid needs to fully evaporate before the mushrooms get super brown and crispy.

Preparing mushrooms correctly allows you to savor the earthiness, plus receive a health boost from nutrients like vitamin D and potassium — which are linked with helping lower inflammation, cholesterol levels and chronic disease risk. (Click through to learn more about the benefits of eating specific varieties like oyster mushrooms for bone health and white mushrooms for immune and heart health.)

How to avoid soggy mushrooms

We asked First for Women Test Kitchen Manager Susan Chiusano how she cooks up perfect mushrooms every time, and she let us in on these 4 tricks:

1. Clean the mushrooms with a lemon water mixture.

Rinsing or submerging dirty mushrooms in water causes them to absorb extra liquid that won’t evaporate during cooking. Instead, wipe each mushroom with a damp paper towel that contains a 50/50 mix of water and lemon juice. The lemon water’s acidity helps break down the grit and prevents the mushrooms from turning brown while they are waiting to be cooked — all without affecting the fungi’s flavor.

2. Make sure the pan is throughly heated and greased.

Cooking mushrooms in a pan that isn’t properly heated will cause them to boil and steam in their own released moisture rather than brown. That’s why Susan suggests preheating the skillet over a medium to medium-high heat for around 2 to 3 minutes beforehand.

Next, add your oil and butter to the pan, waiting for the fat to either ripple or get frothy around the surface, before placing in the mushrooms. You should hear a sizzle as soon as you toss the mushrooms in, which lets you know the skillet is evenly heated.

3. Don’t overcrowd the pan.

Placing a large batch of mushrooms in the pan leaves little room for air and heat to circulate, causing them to become mushy. Because of this, Susan says it’s best to cook them in handful-sized batches instead of a huge pile.

Start with a few mushrooms in the pan, then when they start to brown you can push them aside to add some more. You won’t have to worry about any of the mushrooms overcooking or burning since they’re sautéed at medium heat instead of a higher temperature. 

4. Add salt during this stage of cooking.

Knowing the best time to salt your mushrooms can help avoid soggy results, too. Susan recommends waiting until they’re almost done to add in a sprinkle — or even after you take them off the heat. The reason? It turns out salting the mushrooms too early not only makes more sneaky liquid to eke out, but it takes longer for them to cook and therefore produces a rubbery texture.

3 mouthwatering mushroom recipes

Using these tips, you can add cooked mushrooms to your favorite dishes and never have to worry about a soggy mess agai.! Below, you can find three delicious mushroom recipes straight from our test kitchen that are brimming with savory flavors. Yum!

Mushroom Barley Pilaf

A mushroom barley pilaf recipe as part of a guide on how to prevent mushrooms from getting soggy

Good-for-you barley swaps in for rice in our upgraded classic side.


  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs.butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups quick-cooking barley 
  • ½ cup chopped chives


  • Active: 20 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Mix chicken broth with enough water to equal 2½ cups; reserve. In large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook until softened, 5 minutes, adding garlic during last 30 seconds of cooking time. Transfer ⅓ cup mixture to small bowl and mix in ¼ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper; reserve.
  2. Add barley to skillet; cook, stirring, until browned, 2 minutes. Add broth mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Simmer until barley is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in chives; transfer to serving dish. Top with reserved mushroom mixture.

Mushroom and Veggie Subs

A veggie subs recipe as part of a guide on how to prevent mushrooms from getting soggy

Mozzarella adds creaminess to this garden-fresh delight — try subbing in smoked cheese for variety or even adding your favorite cold cuts.


  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 cup sliced red or white onion
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese
  • 6 oz. marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 1 (10 oz.) loaf Italian bread
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • ¼ cup pesto sauce


  • Active: 25 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion; cook, stirring, until browned, 15 minutes.
  2. Cut chokes; quarter if whole. Cut pepper into thin strips. Cut bread crosswise into 4 pieces; split each. Spread cut sides of bottom bread pieces with pesto. Dividing evenly, top pesto with cheese, mushroom mixture, artichokes, peppers, arugula and bread tops.

Mushroom-Spinach Fettuccine

A mushroom barley pilaf recipe as part of a guide on how to prevent mushrooms from getting soggy

This toss-together dish is filling and satisfies carb cravings any night of the week!


  • 8 oz. fettuccine pasta
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 6 cups baby spinach, 3 oz.
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. Cook pasta per package directions. Reserve ⅓ cup cooking liquid; drain.
  2. Heat butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook mushrooms in batches in skillet until all browned, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cream; bring to a boil. Cook until thick, 2 minutes.
  3. Wilt in spinach; stir in pasta, reserved liquid and cheese. Serve portions of pasta as desired. Enjoy!

Looking for other cooking tips? Check out the stories below:

Chef Reveals the Surprise Secret to Fluffy Scrambled Eggs — And It’s So Easy

Air-Fryer Carrots: How to Cook a Deliciously Caramelized Batch in Just 12 Minutes

Want the Benefits of Broccoli Rabe But Not the Bitterness? Do This While Cooking

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