Fried Morel Mushrooms

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Fried morels, where have you been all my life? Seriously. I have eaten morels for decades, but only recently have I experienced the glory of the fried morel. I am not looking back.

Frying morels in flour, breading or batter is the go-to method of eating these most coveted of springtime mushrooms for most of North America. But not where I live, in the Pacific West.

A platter of fried morels
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Here we tend to sauté them with other spring vegetables and toss them into pasta, make risotto or somesuch. I looked down on fried morels for a long time… until I finally had some. I was wrong. Simple? You bet. But so, so good.

The secret is the coating on the mushroom. A good breading or batter will not only give you a nice crunch, but it will protect the morel inside, which will cook not by contact with the hot oil, but by steaming from within. Few other methods really highlight the actual flavor and texture of morel mushrooms.

But know that there’s a trick to this: You need a substantial breading or batter. Just a quick dip in flour isn’t good enough to get this effect. The reason is because you need to fry your morels for longer than you’d think because morels must be fully cooked to be safe to eat. Raw morels will send most people to the hospital.

Undercooked morels will send many of you to the porcelain bowl. How long? Hard to say, but 6 minutes per morel seems to work fine. To get there, you actually don’t want to fry your morels at ragingly hot temperatures; 325°F to 350°F is the sweet spot.

My breading of choice is flour, then egg wash, then flour one more time. I like this because it’s thick enough to get you that awesome steaming effect, but it’s not so thick that it’s all batter, like a beer batter would be. Tempura is another good choice. You could also use finely milled cornmeal, normally sold as “fish fry.” After all, some people call morels “dry land fish.”

Serve your fried morels very simply. After all, this is the culmination of long hours hunting for your quarry and you want to let them shine. You want something for tartness, though. I like lemon wedges, but malt vinegar is another good choice. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.

Closeup of fried morels
4.58 from 45 votes

Fried Morel Mushrooms

Fried morels can be done in several ways, but I prefer this method. Be sure to cook them for at least 6 to 8 minutes, however, because undercooked morel mushrooms can give some people an upset stomach. You can also do this recipe with regular button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, or "pinks," which are wild meadow mushrooms.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 12 ounces to 1 pound fresh morels
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Lard, butter or vegetable oil for frying

Instructions 

  • Slice large morels in half lengthwise and keep small ones whole. Drop the mushrooms into a bowl of cool water and shake them around a bit to let any debris fall out of the little nooks and crannies in them. Remove from the water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Put the flour and all the seasonings in a bowl. Whisk together the milk and eggs in another bowl.
  • Pour enough oil, or lard or butter, into a large sauté pan to come up about 1/2 inch. You are shallow-frying your morels, like when you fry chicken. Heat this to at least 325°F and I prefer 350°F.
  • As the oil is heating, dust the morels in the seasoned flour. When the oil is hot, dip enough morels to fit into your sauté pan -- in one layer without touching each other -- into the egg wash, then into the flour once more. Shake off the excess flour and fry. You want the morels to be fully cooked so fry them for at least 3 to 4 minutes per side, adjusting the heat so they don't burn. If your heat's at the right spot, it all should sound like frying bacon.
  • When they're done, move the morels to a paper towel to drain. If you have a lot of morels to fry, put the paper towel in a baking sheet and set that in the oven set to "warm." Serve your morels with lemon wedges and lots of beer.

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 1809mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 168IU | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 14mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

4.58 from 45 votes (20 ratings without comment)

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77 Comments

  1. Not a Quick dip in flour but a good shaking in a paper bag…Wash morels as set out to dry til just damp…place in paper or plastic bag with seasoned flour(your choice) shake well coating.
    Here is the kicker…fry in butter…i know, not good for you but its not like you get morels every day…fry til browned, remove, salt, add more butter and next batch.
    Then while they fry stand around the stove and eat the freshly fried ones.
    When you are tired of eating them you are either very good at gathering or didn’t share with you friends and you don’ have extra dishes to do…

  2. When I was around five or six years old my grandmother would take me on walks up the hollow where she grew up and we’d pick morels. We’d also pick peppermint and wild lettuce, which she used to make rock salad. I’m wondering if she picked arugula. She always pan fried the morels. I didn’t realize how expensive they were in the rest of the world till I moved out of WV.

  3. I found my first Morel and followed your recipe, except I did flour,Egg and then Panko was delish…

  4. I love the big, spongy morel mushrooms, but I coat them differently than any I have seen here. I make a mixture of flour and white cornmeal with a bit of salt. Dip them while slightly damp into the mixture and fry in a butter and oil combo. The cornmeal gives a bit of crunch without diminishing the wonderful taste of the mushroom, as many other coatings do.

  5. Well its late April up here in the Sierra Nevada. I don’t usually find morels until mid May. As of today (2.25 lbs in 90 minutes), I have gathered some 6 lbs in the last two weeks. Get out there. Its never been better. No burns. Just logging. They are everywhere. Happy Hunting!

  6. Hank — As expected, these were fabulous! Ours were very large so I halved them lengthwise (and even might have done thirds, just to make sure the entire mushroom was in oil after cooking both side) and cooked them in bacon grease in a cast iron skillet. I did need 2X the egg/milk and found that keeping the temperature constant took a close watch. A half pound served 3 generously — that means there’s more for tonight’s dinner!

  7. When I was little the whole family would go out in the spring and we would find Morels. We would all go back to Grandma’s house where she had been cooking bacon the entire time we were gone. The adults would drink beer and my job would be to crush saltines. Into the eggs, crackers, and fried in bacon grease. I just figured everyone ate them this way. I have tried them with flour and fried in butter and they just aren’t the same. Plus after you fry all that bacon just for the fat you have lots of bacon, because bacon!

  8. I am so lucky that I don’t have to hunt morels. They come up in our yard. Last year, just a few in a couple of places. This year, a much larger bunch in the shadow of a retaining wall.

  9. I haven’t hunted morels since I was a boy but the only way we cooked them was frying in beer batter. It really does hold in the flavor. We used to do frog legs the same way, dipped in beer batter and fried. Yum…

  10. Holy cow! This recipe is so good. Hard to believe, but I do have leftovers. Will try freezing them and rehearing under a broiler. Bet you’ve received marriage proposals over this one.

  11. I’m totally with you on this, I do fried portobellos with a lemon aioli that, until now, was my holy grail of fried foods…these look spectacular!

  12. I’ve never tasted morels. They look unreal with their velvety caps.
    And, anything better fried, right?

  13. Yep, that stupid simple recipe is now classic. I have to make this every Spring. Of course your risotto recipe is in high demand in my family. Congratulations for finding Harlequin!

  14. Absolutely! This is how I fix the first morels of the year. It is a tradition. The rest may be sauteed, creamed, or whatever, but the first batch has got to be breaded and fried. And in my house, good old borderline ghetto Saltine cracker crumbs are the way to go.

  15. Ohh yeah! Fried is amazing.

    Tried stuffing the biggest ones from our last foray with some leftover lamb kofta kebab meat last night. Baked in the oven with some olive oil, dash of sherry vinegar at the end. Excellent! But then to fry those…

  16. Timely article indeed! This past weekend my family and I picked over 10 pounds of black morels here in northern Minnesota. We dehydrated a bunch of them already and sauteed the rest in butter before freezing for future use, but I’m pretty sure I could find another pound or two to try out this recipe!

  17. Wow, I have always assumed that this was the first and best way to eat morels. My family has always prepared them this way, it’s just tradition with us. If you want a real treat make a morel sandwich. A thick layer of morels between two pieces of buttered white bread…Man, that’s the way to do it! Never forget what grandpa told me. He said “There are OLD mushroom hunters and there are BOLD mushroom hunters, but there aren’t any old,bold mushroom hunters.”

  18. This is the only way my family eats them – my mom calls them “fritters” – and it’s absolutely THE BEST when done in a cast-iron pan. This article was timely; the family went hunting twice this weekend and hauled in about 4-5 pounds of blondes and grays, and we’ve got an assembly line of egg-washing and dredging going in the kitchen as I type.

    Our belts will need loosening tonight!