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Portobello Mushroom Burgers

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Grilled-to-perfection homemade portobello mushroom burgers.

Portobello Mushroom Burger Recipe

I’m not going to tell you that my boyfriend took a bite out of one of these grilled portobello mushroom burgers and declared it to be the “best burger ever!”

And I’m not going to tell you that my younger sister, who worked at a fast-food restaurant for three years and really loves burgers, decided it tasted exactly like a real hamburger.  No, portobello mushroom burgers are not hamburgers.

Chocolate Covered Katie

But that’s completely okay!

I think one of the main problems with fake meat products is they claim to be just that: fake. Trying to pretend a mushroom burger is a hamburger or a slab of tofu is a chicken wing will just set you up for disappointment. Why not celebrate these plant-based foods for their own unique textures and flavors? Some of the so-called fake meat products are pretty darn good when they’re not being passed off as something else.

Like these portobello mushroom burgers… Thick, juicy, tender, and hearty, these burgers get the stamp of approval from both vegans and carnivores; from not only me, but also from my burger-loving sister and my vegetable-hating boyfriend (we’re working on that whole vegetable-hating thing…).

In the photos: a portobello mushroom burger with a side of Crispy Sweet Potato Fries.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers Recipe

What are your thoughts on “fake meat” substitutes?

On the one hand, I worry that labeling a vegetarian dish a “substitute” makes it sound inferior; like we are missing out or trying to trick ourselves into believing whatever we’re eating tastes exactly like the food it is supposed to be mimicking. It also makes it seem like people who still eat meat don’t need to bother trying the “substitute” because they can have the real thing.

Yet on the other hand, calling a food by a familiar name (such as chicken nuggets or barbecue ribs) attaches the food to something people already know and love, thus enabling them to make a positive connection. So I guess there are pros to both sides; it’s just not a black-and-white issue.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers


Portobello Mushroom Burgers

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  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp olive or vegetable oil
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 4 portabella mushroom caps, gills removed
  • burger buns and fixins
Total Time: 20m
Yield: Makes 4 Portobello Mushroom Burgers


Portobello mushroom burgers recipe: Whisk first 6 ingredients together in a medium bowl. (Technically, you can leave out the oil if you absolutely must, but it really helps the marinade adhere to the mushrooms and keeps the mushroom burgers from sticking to the grill.) Poke a few holes in each mushroom. Set mushrooms, top-side down, in a large rectangular container. (I use a lidded container so I can just flip the entire thing instead of flipping each mushroom individually when the time comes to turn them.) Pour the marinade evenly over the mushrooms, then turn the mushrooms over. Allow to marinate no less than 2 hours.

Preheat your grill to medium heat (if you don’t have a grill, you can always fry the mushroom burgers in a pan). Use a grill pan with small grids, or cook on foil. Grill the mushrooms 5 minutes, flip, 5 minutes. Then 5 more minutes on each side. So grill a total of 20 minutes. Dress with your burger fixins of choice.

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. Michelle says:

    This looks so yummy!

  2. A. Cook says:

    I like your intro to this post a lot. Vegan food doesn’t have to be a “substitute” for some non-vegan counterpart; it can stand on its own merits. It wouldn’t make sense to claim that a mushroom tastes like ground beef!
    I tend to resist calling foods “fake” for that very reason–I think it takes away from that food’s own unique goodness. But at the same time, it’s useful to use analogous words (like “chicken nuggets” or “mayonnaise”) to describe a type or style of food/flavors/textures that you are trying to achieve. Sometimes if I’m making something for a non-vegan (for example, pasta with “alfredo” sauce), I’ll tell them I’m serving “pasta with cashew sauce; the texture is similar to an alfredo sauce.” That way, they have a point of reference but can also appreciate the sauce’s own unique flavor and ingredients.

  3. Crystal says:

    I want to try this. I’ve made my own veggie burgers, but never done the portabella mushroom thing. We use the substitute name like “Veggie Burger” but put out the caveat that it’s not a hamburger replacement. It’s a veggie burger. We’re omnivores but we enjoy eating some vegetarian or vegan meals occasionally.

  4. Awesome pics Katie and that burger looks delicious! I’ve had some really delicious store-bought veggie burgers and some really delicious home-made ones too. Love how yours is so easy and healthy.

  5. Melissa says:

    Yum! Those burgers look so tasty and filling! Just my kind of meal! Also, I love the way your hair looks in this photo, it’s so stylish and ideal for summer!

  6. sassygirl says:

    awesome burger katie…looks like it has good chew-factor!

    have you tried the company, Beyond Meat?? they’re chicken-free, gf, vegan.
    comes in grilled, southwestern style and litely seasoned. love the sw style,
    and there’s a 75 cent coupon in the packaging (thnx, blogging friend!)
    i’m off soy, and this product, although faux, tastes amazing.

    1. I don’t think I have. I will look out for them!

  7. Bailey says:

    That is a BEAUTIFUL picture of you, Katie!

  8. Susan says:

    I’ve been both vegetarian and vegan in the past, and I have not liked fake meats. I’ve also had portobello burgers and enjoyed them – the recipe I used to have was similar to yours, I think. The only problem I have with portobello burgers is that there is just not enough protein in them. Maybe I could sneak in a small ground beef or turkey patty with the mushroom and do it that way… 🙂

    1. LindseyMM says:

      Haha, a meat and portobello burger — never would have thought of that! As I stick with my vegan proteins, I like to mix hummus and lentils (or quinoa) and slather that over the mushroom. I usually turn the shroom upside down so it holds all of my toppings better.

    2. LindseyMM says:

      Other options: serve with a side of Katie’s baked beans and/or a high-protein dessert! 🙂

      1. Susan says:

        Lindsey, I like your ideas! Mine stems from liking both portobello burgers and regular burgers, and my need for higher protein levels than I was ever able to find as a vegan (I don’t think there were any good vegan blogs back when I was trying to eat vegan).

  9. Lyndsey says:

    Hi, Katie! I’m 13 years old and a healthy eater. I mainly eat a clean and organic diet. I love your breakfast recipes! Those are mainly what I eat for breakfast… I can’t wait for your cookbook! Thank you for being a great role model! 🙂

  10. Pyogazel says:

    I totally agree with you, veggan foods are not substitutes, they are foods of their own! There are classic veggan dishes that have been around hundreds of years before the word veggan was coined, and it makes me sad to see that restaurateurs and chefs feel compelled to add “veggan” to the dish name in order to sell it… I think veggan dished have their own flavour and personality, sometimes it is loss when trying to mimick meat (notice I am not saying “protein”, there is “protein” in vegetables too) 😉
    By the way, your burger looks yummy, thanks for the recipe!

  11. Jody says:

    Hi Katie,

    You bring up an interesting question regarding vegetarian meat substitutes or “analogs” as some call them. One very important aspect to all of them which
    bothers me is not that the companies that make them are trying to give vegetarians
    or vegans a substitute food that is similar to things they may remember eating and/or enjoying as a kid- but most important to me is the ingredients used. Many are GMO and aren’t very healthful and are processed too. I have yet to find any including the most popular brands LifeLight (smart dogs or Tofu Dogs…soy crumbles etc) and , Gardein products, that cannot prove they are Non GMO and none of their products use organic soy at all. I have written to both companies and they admit they are not organic and say they use Non GMO, but that is likely not true because from what I have gathered online- if it’s wheat, soy, soy isolates etc it’s likely GMO if it is not labeled organic. So nowadays you have to read labels very well to avoid GMO,. There are many wheat products that are not organic and you have to be careful what you buy. even gluten free- many rice products are not organic so you have to be careful. I love your recipes by the way- and please keep coming up with meals rather than sweets! Your sweets are lovely but I’d rather see more meals myself! Oh by the way you are gorgeous!!

  12. Danielle says:

    This looks great! I eat grilled portobello’s all the time! I also agree with you on that whole fake meat thing; I’m not a fan.

  13. Sarah the official CCK Drooler says:

    While I’m not a vegan, I do think that foods from any lifestyle should be presented on their own merits. Vegan food is obviously not going to be like carnivorous food- so why present it as such? To me, a portabella mushroom “burger” sounds just as good as a hamburger. But I have found that many of your recipes taste just like the real thing, so I’m never set up for disappointment 🙂 On the other hand, I do think that these kind of products make the transition to a vegan diet easier for some who may want some semblance of their favorite foods as they start out.
    BTW, the pics are gorgeous! I just got a Canon Powershot ELPH 110 HS, and I love it- hopefully I can take photos as nice as these. I don’t have a blog or anything, but i do LOVE photography. And stupid question, but did you just use a curler or something? Your hair is so cute!

    1. Not a stupid question at all! I actually didn’t use a curling iron, but a Babyliss Miracurl (I think that’s what it’s called). I saw it on sale and thought it sounded fun. You just put your hair into the machine and it twirls the hair from inside a chamber. Kind of hard to explain, but it really works well.

      1. Sarah the official CCK Drooler says:

        Thanks! I just googled it and the reviews look really good! Unfortunately, its like 230 bucks in Amazon- i hope there’s a sale soon!

        1. Yeah :(. I had a 40%-off coupon, but it still is expensive.

  14. That looks so juicy and delicious. I haven’t had a good veggie burger in ages.
    You look so pretty, Katie. Your hair is gorgeous.
    When I was vegetarian (long complicated story, which I won’t bore you with, as to why I am not anymore – I will explain if you wanted though :] ), I used to eat quite a few “fake” meat products, like Quorn, which I still enjoy, and did like the taste. But I agree with you on why it should be called a substitute, it is not a substitute it is an alternative. I also agree with why should they be called chicken style pieces or fillets, why not just Quorn pieces or fillets.

  15. Maggie says:

    My non-vegan boyfriend and I went to a vegan restaurant for Valentine’s Day. He order some fake chicken drumstick things and was really disappointed. “They taste like bad chicken!” I had to explain (while stifling a giggle) that vegans don’t actually remember what real chicken tastes like so we don’t really notice how close it is to real chicken. His expectations were for real chicken, so he was disappointed.

    He has since learned and now LOVES vegan food – he makes falafel better than I do! Now we call burgers for what they are – black bean burgers, masala burgers, mushroom burgers – because they aren’t MEAT burgers. And they’re much more delicious for it!

  16. I’m terrified to try a mushroom burger for some reason. I really want to and so I might use your recipe. The comments you included from your BF and sister sold me! 🙂

  17. Tammela says:

    I love portobello mushrooms! And I agree with you about “fake meat”; people should just embrace the plant-based foods as what they are, rather than trying to make them taste like meat. Teach people how to cook vegetables and tofu/soy products to highlight the unique flavors, not to make them meat-like.

  18. When I was a vegetarian, the only fake meats that passed my test were Quorn chick’n strips and Morning Star sausage links. All others had that fake smoke flavor and were just off in texture and flavor. I much prefer subbing in veggies like this. So much better.

  19. Ice Cream Gal says:

    This looks really yummy. I have doubts about my brothers eating it, though. They would look at it and say “that’s not meat.”
    “I know that! It’s a veggie burger!” I would reply cheerfully.
    “HUMPH! Vegtables aren’t food, vegtables is what food eats.” Would say a grumpy brother of mine. Well, maybe they’d eat it. I got them to eat Quinoa for breakfast, once. I made it look – and taste – like Cream of Wheat hot cereal.

    Anyway, this is kind of off- topic, but in your “Haggen Dazs” ice cream recipe, do you think it’s possible to substitute blanched almonds for the cashews? Not that I can’t get a hold of cashews, but around here they are about $5.00 per cup. Almonds are so much cheaper!!

    1. I did try it once… was kind of grainy, but it did still work.

  20. Lisa says:

    I still have yet to try portobello burgers, for some reason I imagine them tasting so weird – although these do look quite delicious.
    And I really agree with your thoughts on fake meat. In my opinion, I don’t even like hamburgers so why would I want my “fake meat” to taste like it. Your right it just ends up leading to a disappointing meal when it doesn’t taste like the real thing.

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