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What part of Portobello mushrooms do you eat?

Portobello mushrooms are a variety of mushroom that have become increasingly popular in recent years. They are much larger than your average button mushroom and have a meaty, rich flavor. But when it comes to eating portobellos, what parts can you eat and what should you avoid? Here is a comprehensive guide on what part of the portobello mushroom you can and should eat.

The Cap

The cap is the main part of the portobello mushroom that is eaten. It is the large, round top portion of the mushroom. The cap consists of the fleshy, tender mushroom tissue and can grow up to 6 inches in diameter when fully mature. This section of the mushroom contains the majority of the nutrients and has the best flavor and texture for cooking. When preparing portobellos, you will want to clean the caps thoroughly, trim away any tough edges, and then slice, stuff, marinate, or cook them whole depending on the recipe.

The Gills

On the underside of the portobello mushroom cap, you will find the gills. The gills are the thin, closely spaced vertical lines that contain the spores. While the gills are edible, they tend to have a more fibrous, slightly tougher texture. Many people prefer to scrape or cut the gills away before eating portobellos. The gills can sometimes give a slightly unpleasant texture or become stuck in your teeth. It is perfectly fine to consume the gills, but you may want to consider removing them if you are serving the mushrooms on their own without cooking.

The Stem

The stem of the portobello mushroom helps support the cap but is often discarded before eating. The stem is fibrous and not quite as tender as the cap. However, the stems are still edible if you want to consume the entire mushroom. You can chop and cook the stems along with the caps, although the stems may take slightly longer cooking to soften. Leaving the stems on can also allow you to stuff the whole portobello caps more easily.

What Parts to Avoid

For the most part, the entire portobello mushroom is edible. However, there are a few parts you may want to trim away before eating:

  • The very end of the stem where the mushroom was attached to the growing surface. This section is woody and inedible.
  • Any spots or edges on the cap that look dried out or spoiled.
  • Any visible dirt or debris.

Thoroughly rinse the mushrooms under cool running water while gently scrubbing with your hands or a soft vegetable brush to remove any dirt or residue before cooking. Use a sharp knife to trim away any unappetizing spots.

How Are Portobello Mushrooms Used?

Due to their hearty, meaty texture and flavor, portobello mushrooms are very versatile in cooking. Here are some of the most popular ways to use them:

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Grilling brings out the rich, savory flavors of portobello mushrooms. Simply brush the caps with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, garlic, or Italian seasoning, then grill 2-3 minutes per side until softened and grill marks appear.

Portobello Burgers

Portobello caps can be used as a vegetarian and vegan burger substitute. Grill the caps and place on a bun with your favorite toppings like cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and condiments.

Stuffed Portobellos

With their large caps removed from the stems, portobellos are perfect for stuffing. Fill them with a mixture of bread crumbs, cheese, herbs, and vegetables. Bake until heated through.

Portobello Fajitas

Sliced grilled portobellos can be used in place of meat in fajitas. Serve with sautéed peppers and onions in a tortilla.

Portobello Strips

Thinly slice and sauté portobello caps for a quick weeknight dinner. Season with garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan.

Marinated Portobellos

Marinating thinly sliced portobello mushrooms boosts their flavor. Marinate in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Italian seasonings before cooking.

Key Nutrients and Benefits

Portobello mushrooms are very nutritious, especially when compared to other vegetables. Here are some of the top nutrients and health benefits they offer:

Nutrient Benefits
Fiber Improves digestion and heart health
Potassium Lowers blood pressure
Copper Formation of red blood cells
B Vitamins Converts food into energy
Selenium Boosts immune system
Riboflavin Cell growth and function

Portobellos also contain antioxidants that can help fight cancer and inflammation in the body.

Selection and Storage

When buying fresh portobello mushrooms, look for caps that are evenly shaped and plump with no shriveled or damp spots. The gills should look fresh without any sliminess. The mushrooms should feel firm and heavy for their size with no evidence of bruising.

Store mushrooms in a paper bag or basket in the refrigerator. Do not place them in a plastic bag or they will become soggy. Portobellos will keep fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge before use. Do not wash the mushrooms until ready to cook.

Preparation Tips

Before cooking portobello mushrooms, gently clean the caps under cool water, using a soft brush if needed. Trim the very end of the stem and any unpleasant spots on the caps. Pat dry thoroughly.

If removing the gills, use a spoon to gently scrape them away from the underside of the cap in a downward motion.

For better texture, consider soaking whole portobello caps in water for 10 minutes before cooking to help reduce any sliminess.

Use portobellos in any recipe that calls for mushrooms. Their hearty texture allows them to stand up to grilling, roasting, sautéing, and more.

When exposed to high heat while cooking, portobellos can sometimes exude a black liquid. This is normal and safe to consume.

Marinating portobello slices for 30-60 minutes before cooking can really boost the flavor and moisture content of the mushrooms.

If the mushrooms seem dry during cooking, tent them with foil or add a small amount of water or stock to the pan to create steam and prevent drying out.

Do Portobellos Contain Gluten?

Portobello mushrooms themselves do not naturally contain any gluten. However, they are common in recipes where they may come into contact with gluten-containing ingredients through cross-contamination. Always check the label for any pre-marinated or pre-seasoned portobellos.

When cooking portobellos at home, avoid cross-contamination by preparing them before handling any wheat-based ingredients. Use separate cutting boards and utensils. Portobellos are safe in a gluten-free diet as long as care is taken to prevent contact with gluten.


Portobello mushroom caps, trimmed of woody stems and discolored edges, are the ideal part to use when cooking. While the gills are edible, they can often be removed for better texture. When handled and prepared properly, portobellos make for a delicious, meaty plant-based addition to many dishes. Their versatility and nutrition make them a favorite for those following vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free diets.