Sautéed Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms don't need much to be at their best—just a simple sauté with minced shallot, garlic, butter, and a couple flavor-enhancing secret ingredients.

Sautéed morel mushrooms in a cast iron skillet being stirred with a large slotted spoon.
Buttery morels are one of the real treats of spring. .

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Why This Recipe Works

  • Sautéing in oil over high heat, instead of butter, allows mushrooms to brown without the risk of burning.
  • A generous pat of butter added toward the end of cooking helps emulsify the stock or water into a rich, creamy sauce.
  • Soy sauce adds umami depth, while lemon juice brightens the dish up.

Mushrooms, for the most part, make me think of autumn. Except the morel. Like asparaguspeasramps, and fiddleheads, morels are a harbinger of spring, and a welcome earthy counterpoint to the fresh, grassy flavors of those other vernal ingredients. Morels are also easy to prepare and cook, as long as you know a few key pieces of information.

Choosing and Cleaning Morels

Three morel mushrooms, from large to small.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

As you'll find with a lot of mushrooms, the biggest risk with morels is that they soften and rot. Seek out morels that are fresh, firm, and dry—avoid ones that are either desiccated and shriveled or soft, wet, and spongy.

Large morels are more prone to sponginess, since they're often older and already starting to break down. Smaller morels, as you can see in the photo above, are generally a safer bet, though if you do find beautiful big ones, by all means, grab 'em.

A morel mushroom on a wooden surface, with an arrow to indicate a worm hole.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Be sure to check your morels for critters like worms, which often set up residence in the little frilly nooks in the mushrooms' caps—the silky threads they excrete may look like white mold, but it's actually a sign you have some unwanted dinner guests. Morels are wild mushrooms, so it's common to find bugs on or in them. There's no reason to avoid morels with worms (though heavily infested mushrooms might be more trouble than they're worth), as long as you take the time to pick those little visitors out.

You should also inspect the morels for dirt and debris, cleaning them off with a dry pastry brush.

Trimming Morels for Cooking

Hands using a knife to slice the tough end off a morel mushroom.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Start by slicing off the tough/dirty end portion of each stem.

Slicing a morel mushroom in half lengthwise.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Then slice the morels in half lengthwise. You'll notice that they're hollow inside. I usually leave them halved, though you're free to quarter them lengthwise, or divide them even more if they're particularly large.

Cooking Morels

Morel mushrooms in a cast iron pan on the stove.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

To cook morels, start by searing them in oil over high heat to brown them, just as you would other mushrooms.

The morels will soften and brown. Some recipes have you cook morels from start to finish in butter, but we find that the butter will burn before the morels are sufficiently browned. It's better to brown the mushrooms first, saving the butter for the end.

Minced shallot in a skillet with sautéed morel mushrooms.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Then add minced onion, shallots, and/or garlic, lowering the heat to prevent scorching. (If you add these before browning the mushrooms, you risk burning them as the mushrooms sear.)

A pat of butter over sautéed morel mushrooms in a skillet.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Add a very generous pat of butter, which will melt and soak into all the little crevices in the morel caps.

I like to add a splash of soy sauce, which pumps up the umami depth, along with some lemon juice, to brighten the whole thing up. A little stock or water helps emulsify the butter into a creamy, mushroom-y sauce that's just thick enough to both coat and soak into the morels.

Some green herbs right at the end, like parsley, chervil, or minced chives, add a hit of freshness, and, of course, seasoning with salt and pepper is important. Just make sure to go easy on the salt and taste as you go if you've used soy sauce—it's already brought some saltiness to the mix.

Let's end it there, before I give in to the temptation to make a "morel of the story" joke.

May 2015

Recipe Details

Sautéed Morel Mushrooms

Cook 10 mins
Active 10 mins
Total 10 mins
Serves 4 to 6 servings

Morel mushrooms don't need much to be at their best—just a simple sauté with minced shallot, garlic, butter, and a couple flavor-enhancing secret ingredients.


  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable or canola oil

  • 8 ounces (225g) morel mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and split in half lengthwise

  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon; optional)

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock, or water

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as chives, chervil, or parsley

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until well browned, about 4 minutes total.

    Close-up of morel mushrooms sautéing in a skillet.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-high and add shallot and garlic (if using). Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add butter, soy sauce, lemon juice, and chicken stock or water and cook, swirling pan, until liquid reduces and morels are coated in a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. Stir in herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

    Squirting soy sauce into a pan of sautéed morels with a pat of butter on top.

    Serious Eats

Special Equipment

Large cast iron or stainless steel skillet

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
79 Calories
6g Fat
5g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 79
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 187mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 223mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)