Trout with Morels

5 from 8 votes
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trout with morels on a platter, ready to eat
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

It’s hard to find a combination better than freshly caught trout, freshly picked morel mushrooms and crisply fried bacon.

Trout with morels is a classic for a reason, with or without bacon: They can both be picked on the same trip outside, and trout fried in bacon grease is, with or without the morels, one of the great culinary delights of spring.

This recipe is a pared-down, more sensible and less fussy version of a similar trout with morels recipe I published back in 2013. You will no longer find that recipe here. I 86’d it because, well, I’d rather you actually make my recipes than just look at them. The old version had bracken fern and ramps and sorrel and was garnished with violets. Cheffy.

I’m just not that guy anymore. More and more I am inclined toward less fussy food, to finding recipes that give you a great eating experience without having to somehow procure ingredients even a Michelin-starred restaurant might have trouble finding.

Nope, everything in this recipe is easily obtained — except for the morels. Those you have to find, or buy at exorbitant rates in a fancy market. Or, do as I did, supplement a meager days’ haul of morels with small shiitake mushrooms, which are meatier than morels and work well as backup player.

This recipe is still an ode to spring, however: peas, trout, morels, fresh spring herbs. Plus bacon, glorious bacon. They’re all cooked in the same pan you cooked the bacon in, so you don’t even blow up the kitchen.

What’s the result? Damn good.

Crispy trout skin and bacon. Deep, chewy savoriness from the mushrooms, balanced with sweet peas and fragrant, slightly bitter herbs. A splash of lemon brightens everything up. You find yourself choosing different bites with each forkful: Trout and a mushroom, bacon and peas, trout and onions, etc.

I served this with simply cooked wild rice, but any rice, or wheat berries, or hell, bread, or new fingerling potatoes, would be fine. Enjoy!

trout with morels on a platter, ready to eat
5 from 8 votes

Trout with Morels

You can use any mushroom you prefer here, and while I like trout on the bone, you can certainly use fillets -- or pretty much any other fish you feel like. In a perfect world it would be any fish you caught in springtime, but hey, try it with whatever fish you like. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 4 slices bacon, ideally thick cut
  • 1 medium onion, sliced root to tip
  • 4 small trout, whole or beheaded (guts and gills removed)
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fine cornmeal or flour
  • 1/2 pound morel mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound shiitake or other mushrooms
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
  • Juice of a lemon


  • In a large frying pan, ideally cast iron, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Remove and cut into batons and set aside. Turn the oven to "warm" and set a wire rack over a baking sheet inside; this is to keep the trout warm. 
  • While the bacon is cooking, salt the trout inside and out. When the bacon is done, coat the fish in fine cornmeal. Turn the heat in the pan to medium-high. When it's good and hot, fry the trout in batches until they are crispy and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. You will likely need to lower the heat on the fish at some point -- the key is to listen: The frying trout should sound just like the bacon. A happy sizzle. When they're done, carefully move the trout to the rack in the oven. I do this with two spatulas. 
  • Put the onions in the frying pan and saute for a few minutes, until they soften and begin to brown a little. Add the mushrooms and toss to combine. Saute until they begin to give up their water, about 3 minutes, and then jack the heat up to high. Let everything sit for a minute to get a bit of a crust, then toss to combine. 
  • Add the peas, the bacon batons, parsley and thyme and toss to combine. Cook just until the peas are warm, about a minute. Serve all this as a bed for the trout and squeeze some lemon over everything right as you serve. 


NOTE: Fine cornmeal is often sold as "fish fry," and is often in the Cajun section of the supermarket. 


Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 262mg | Potassium: 797mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 375IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 10mg

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

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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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.

5 from 8 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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  1. Used salmon for the fish and shiitake mushrooms in place of the morels and left out the bacon since we didn’t have any on hand and this was absolutely fabulous! The salmon cooked perfectly and the recipe paired wonderfully with rice. Will make again, hopefully with trout and morels some time. 🙂

  2. I made this recipe last night for my family with Walleye my husband had caught. I received some morels from my sister and wanted to make a MEAL out of them. This recipe FAR exceeded my expectations. I didn’t have bacon, but I used my left over bacon grease to cook the fish. The flavor was delicious! I didn’t even use any herbs but let the mushroom flavor dominate this recipe!

  3. I live near Denver where we have the trout. But are there morels to be found in the wild here?

  4. Perfect! I was gifted a full bag of morels and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. I improvised with some onions and garlic and lemon, but this is a great recipe that I’ll try next. Thanks! Vikki

  5. Ahhh for the good ole days when we’d walk out our back door into the woods and find morel mushrooms. Now it’s no longer possible. We used to get so many we’d give them away. I guess we’ll just have to substitute. Would sea trout work as well as freshwater trout?

  6. Hi Hank, since I have bracken fern, ramps, sorrel, and, yes, even violets (white and blue) at my doorstep, would it be possible to share the old recipe? Cheffy, maybe, but if you have the ingredients anyway, delectable! Thanks.

  7. Band of gypsies showed at a county park then the state forest I gather at. Warden said they dropped them off one at a time along the road and had a refrigerated truck off the property. All I found were the ones that were past prime. They knew what they were doing. Can’t do anything about it as they broke no laws in Pennsylvania.