Portobello or Portobella
Portobello or Portobella

Origin:  The marketing name given to overgrown criminis.

Etymology: Unknown
The name "portobello" began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn't sell them.

Despite what some people have been led to believe, the name has no relation to London’s Portobello Road, nor does it indicate any Italian connection. 

Polyporaceae family, Basidiomycete class.

General Information

Impressive in size and appearance, the portobello mushroom is a larger, hardier relative of the white and crimini mushroom and can range up to 6 inches in diameter. Portobellos have a longer growing cycle than whites and criminis, resulting in a deep, meat-like texture and flavor.

Portobello is a marketing name the mushroom industry came up with for more flavorful brown strains that are allowed to open, exposing the mature gills with brown spores; crimini is actually the same brown strain that is not allowed to open before it is harvested.

Freshly harvested portobello caps are light tan, rounded, with somewhat uneven edges and visible gills on the underside.

Nutritional values per 100 g

Calories: 37; carbohydrates: 6.22 g; fat: 0.51 g; water: 87.76 g; protein: 4.14 g; fiber: 2.4 g.

Rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium and vitamins A and B.


As they mature, the caps become flatter and their surface darkens and becomes slightly wrinkled. These mushrooms are still good to buy and use - in fact, their flavor will be richer and more intense.


Portobellos will keep 7-10 days in the refrigerator in a paper bag. When uncovered they dry out rapidly.

To keep longer, cover with olive oil. Mushrooms cannot be frozen.


Mushrooms must not be washed! Simply scrape them with the point of a knife or brush them. The caps can also be wiped with a damp cloth.

Never soak them in water since they absorb liquid like a sponge.

Their stems are very woody and should be removed (but save them for soups, stocks, etc.).


Because of their size and the thickness of their fleshy caps, these mushrooms can be cooked in a variety of different ways, including grilling and frying.

Of an imposing size, the portobello has a meaty texture and flavor very different from its fellow mushrooms. Marinated and grilled portobello is a treat not to be missed.

Cut into thick slices and sauté in butter and oil or cook on the grill. You can also add a touch of finely chopped garlic.

Serve whole or sliced, grilled, baked, or deep fried. Excellent stuffed as an appetizer, side dish or entree. Add to stir-fries, sautés and sauces. A great substitute for meat in a sandwich or entree. Use as a meat alternative in a vegetarian entree.

Cut the portobello into large slices and brown lightly in a skillet; use as a stuffing for veal chops along with a little spinach sautéed in butter, and some ricotta cheese. Nap everything with a tomato sauce with black olives.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers
Heat a grill. Meanwhile, whisk together 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and 2 minced cloves of garlic. Brush both sides of Spanish onion slices and mushrooms with the olive oil mixture. Grill the onion and mushrooms on a covered grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until tender.
Brush the cut sides of buns with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 2 tbsp. fresh chopped chives and 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard. Spread 6 bottom bun halves with the mayonnaise mixture and top with lettuce, onion and mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with the remaining bun halves.

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