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.
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.
Fried Morel Mushrooms
- 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
- 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.
Bev Lane says
Here in South Australia there used to be lots of morels in the Mount Crawford Forest thirty-odd years ago. We used to get them then in May or June (late Autumn/early Winter here), now it is usually a bit later, up to the middle of Spring (there were a couple of lengthy droughts in that time, don’t know if that affected the morels). We used to get the Australian varieties M. rufobrunnea, which is more commonly found in Western Australia as well as M. australis and the European M. elata among the imported pine plantations. I had thought morels around here had been killed out by the drought years, but a couple of years ago one of the locals turned up to ask me about this weird thing he had found after a rainstorm, growing on a patch of bark mulch in his garden which had been burned in the 2017 bushfires. He thought they might be a fungus of some kind…… and yes, they were morels! And they were delicious!
Your fried morel recipe is yummy, and very like one my aunt used to make. She also would put both morels and saffron milk caps into a duck liver pâté recipe, with tarragon and nutmeg….superb.
Elise Flynn says
We left Orangevale, CA a few years ago to retire to France. I was fascinated by the idea of fried morels (very easy to get here in the Vercors, although almost as expensive as in California) and was surprised to read that eating morels that are not properly cooked can make one ill. Thank you for posting that information – very helpful.
Tried repeatedly to grow morels in Orangevale, but had no luck (too hot, too dry). People here know where the morel patches are in the mountains and do not reveal their secrets! But morels are absolutely delicious and this recipe is a perfect appetizer/munchie wherever you are.
Steven Ketola says
I will definitely try this if I see any in the farmers’ markets. Bowl of morels, a beer, and a hockey game. Heaven.
Hank, you might want to consider an edit.
“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” reads not as cooking time, but how long one is at the porcelain bowl. As well, this is a little out of joint with the recipe itself, which says “at least 6 to 8 minutes”.
Jack messick says
I am 72 and learned to pick Morels with my mom as a child. She always flowered and fried, I prefer the egg dip. Our favorite way is just to sauté in olive oil and butter . I always cut in half, toss in salt water ( when you see what is left behind you understand why) than clean cold water. I use a salad spinner or lay out on a towel with a fan blowing over for 30 minutes. When I have a good pick , we always make a soup( possibly the best soup ever) .
Suzanne Bredy says
I would love your Morel soup recipe! I bought a fair amount now, not sure I want to try to fry them! Not healthy for sure, but you have me worried about the porcelain bow….
Keith King says
This was a tasty recipe. I’ve never fried morels either and wow very delicious I had four of my family members try them which they have never eaten mushrooms or did not like mushrooms and they love these, great recipe. I had to cut it in half because I didn’t have enough morels for the full recipe and it’s still worth perfect.
Jody Irwin says
Found Morels at Farmer’s Mkt this past weekend. Should be available here in Eugene for a bit. First time w/them; combined w/pasta & lemon – quite good even cold!
Question: Could I use your breading recipe and air fry? If you’ve not done, what do you think? Thanks for feedback, Jody
Hank Shaw says
Jody: I think it would work. How long would you normally air fry something for? You do need to fully cook morels for them to be safe.
Live up in British Columbia where we had so many fires last year and went out yesterday for a few hours and picked to our hearts content for these beauties?? Deep fried some today in lard and wow were those every tasty. The fresh lemon drizzled on top was perfect!
Robert Skinner says
Hank I harvested a lot of morels in NE WA state this year. I had to dehydrate them to keep them. Can you reconstitute morels and then fry? BTW my grandmother taught me how to gather morels under cottonwoods in western WA some fifty five years ago. She breaded them and fried them just like your recipe. Wild shrooms made my grandpa sick so we didn’t have to share them.
Hank Shaw says
Teresa: I think you can, but I have not tried it.
Stan Watson says
First time with morels (gift) need simple frying recipe.. no flour just butter and fresh morels
What is your ideal beer pairing this recipe?
Love fried morels. All my big ones get set aside for this dish! This year has been a late season, I went out and only found a handful of true morels but picked a couple pails of Verpa Bohemica. They are in a paper bag in my fridge as I figure out what to do with them. Mixed information on these early false morels…I did find some information that they have market value in Italy and are loved but here in North America it seems we leave them alone? What is your experience with Verpa Bohemica?
Steve Hasler says
Nice. Before I batter and bread them, I fill them with a simple salmon mousse before frying.
Valerie Youngen says
My mom would soak them in salt water to get out the bugs. I haven’t seen anyone doing this. Is this necessary?
Hank Shaw says
Valerie: No need to soak, but yes, floating them in salty water, or any water, will help float out any bugs. This is mostly an Eastern thing. I find that most morels in the West are bug free.
Paul Hicks says
I will be attempting this tonight. Been in the woods every day for the last 4 next to the house and been lucky – quarantine and all – *sheesh. Anyways, I have always drenched once in flour with S&P in a pan with butter. But tonight I have two dry-aged NY strip steaks with mine and my wife’s names on them. She works in an Emergency Room and needless to say, she deserves this.
Great recipe, I even have some fish fry flour. Perfect.
I cooked mine tonight 2 different ways and my favorite is with flour! Yummy!!!! I wanted to add my photo but didn’t see where to do it. I did egg wash on both fries, one I battered in a flour, Salt/pepper mix and the other in a saltine crushed/pepper mix.
I’ve always fried them in a skillet but I’ve been wondering about deep frying them. Have you ever tried that before? I didn’t want to go and try it and ruin the taste of the only few I found this year
Hank Shaw says
Jarrod: I have not deep fried them, but it should work. Make sure your fat or oil is about 325F to 350F.
They do very well in a deep fryer. I use Duck Fat to fry them in. Its expensive but well worth it for such a rare mushroom. heat your fryer to 350. They are done when they float but I like to cook them to more of a golden color. They are hard to overcook. Be sure you stand them on their end like a little Christmas tree in the fryer basket and let them drain the duck fat out of the center.