What Are Cremini Mushrooms?
Cremini mushrooms, like white button and portobello, can be found in just about any produce section. They're more flavorful than white mushrooms, without being as large and meaty as the supersized portobellos. But what are creminis? And are they the same as baby bella mushrooms? Consider this your primer to all things cremini.
What Are Creminis?
Cremini mushrooms (also spelled "crimini") are Agaricus bisporus mushrooms, which are actually the same type of mushroom as white mushrooms and portobellos, the only difference being their stage of maturity. Cremini mushrooms have a mild, earthy flavor and a meaty texture.
Creminis vs. White Mushrooms vs. Portobellos
Cremini mushrooms are at the middle stage of maturity, browner than the familiar white mushroom, but not quite as mature as the large portobello. For this reason, you may also hear creminis referred to as "baby bellas," or "baby portobellos."
White mushrooms are the youngest, least mature variety. They are the most tender type and can be found whole or sliced. Cremini mushrooms have a darker color and a meatier texture and flavor, and can also be found whole or sliced. Portobello is the most mature, "full-grown," mushroom, if you will. It tends to be much larger, and is often sold as just the cap alone.
Are Creminis the Same as Baby Bellas
Yep! "Baby bellas" is another name for cremini mushrooms because it's the last stage of maturity before these mushrooms become full-blown portobellos.
How to Buy Cremini Mushrooms
Cremini mushrooms, like white mushrooms, are widely available. Keep in mind they may be labeled as "baby bella," or "baby portobellos." Avoid creminis that appear to have dark, soft, or mushy spots. If you're purchasing them at a farmers' market, you can check under the cap to make sure the gills are covered, this means they're fresh!
How to Store and Clean Cremini Mushrooms
Store fresh, unrinsed mushrooms either in their original packaging or in a brown paper bag with the top folded over. Place in the center of your fridge, not the crisper drawer (the crisper drawer is too humid for mushrooms, which soak up moisture like a sponge).
For long-term storage, read our guide to freezing mushrooms.
To wash or not to wash? For store-bought, whole creminis, go ahead and wash them, but only immediately before use. To do so, swish them around in a bowl of water for about 10 seconds, and then immediately pat dry with a paper towel. If you buy your mushrooms pre-sliced, you can skip this step since your mushrooms are already clean.
Cremini Mushroom Recipes
There's really no shortage of ways to use cremini mushrooms. They pack more mushroom flavor than white mushrooms, but in a smaller package than portobellos.
Add them to risotto for added texture and earthy flavor, or saute them up with some cream of mushroom soup to make an incredible topping for pork chops or chicken (like in this Creamy Chicken Marsala). They make an excellent addition to breakfast dishes like this Overnight Asparagus Mushroom Strata.
For more recipe inspiration, check out our entire collection of Cremini Mushroom Recipes.
Cremini Mushroom Substitutes
White mushrooms and cremini mushrooms can be used pretty much interchangeably, although you will lose some flavor when substituting white for cremini. Shiitake mushrooms, while significantly more expensive, make a good substitute for creminis.