What is a Button Mushroom?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The button mushroom, better known as a white mushroom or sometimes Agaricus bisporus is the most widely cultivated, harvested, and distributed mushroom in the world. The mildly flavored, hardy fungus can be found fresh, dried, and canned in grocery stores all over the world.

Button mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator.
Button mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator.

The button mushroom has a classic mushroom like appearance, with a short thick stalk and a white cap. The mushroom is gilled beneath the smooth cap, and a small ring of flesh surrounds the stem where it meets the cap. When young, this ring of flesh forms a veil over the gills of the mushroom. This mushroom can be found growing almost anywhere, including lawns, compost piles, leaf mold, wood chips, dead trees, and well fertilized soil. They are easy to identify and to pick, making them a popular choice for mushroom hunters.

Button mushrooms.
Button mushrooms.

The brown variety of the button mushroom is often found marketed as a crimini mushroom. Crimini mushrooms have a darker and more earthy flavor which some consumers like because it adds complexity to food. Allowed to grow to a large size, this mushroom is also packed and sold under the portobello mushroom label. Portobello mushrooms are usually quite large, and also have a rich flavor which pairs with a meaty texture. All varieties of button mushroom pack and ship well, and tend to be very stable if kept in dry, cool conditions.

White button mushrooms are one of the most common edible mushrooms.
White button mushrooms are one of the most common edible mushrooms.

When selecting button mushrooms for eating, look for specimens which still have tightly closed veils covering the gills. Also try to pick out firm dry specimens without a slimy texture or cracks. Store the mushrooms in a paper bag in a cool part of the fridge, and try to use them within one week. When you are ready to use mushrooms, brush them lightly to remove dirt and leaf mold or wash them if the mushrooms are being used immediately.

Button mushrooms are used to make chicken Marsala and other Italian entrees.
Button mushrooms are used to make chicken Marsala and other Italian entrees.

The button mushroom is a delicious edible mushroom, and can be used in a wide array of dishes. Fresh, button mushrooms are excellent on pizzas, salads, stir fries, and stews. Dried, they can be used to lend a deep, earthy flavor to stews and stuffings. The myriad uses for this flexible fungus are limited only by the imagination of the cook.

Button mushrooms are commonly added to chicken cacciatore.
Button mushrooms are commonly added to chicken cacciatore.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Raynbow-- I've never eaten button mushrooms raw. I suppose if they're very, very fresh, they might be okay with some veggie dip. But I would never eat the larger ones if they've been waiting around for a while. I can't imagine that they would taste very good.

I always have my button mushrooms cooked but not over-cooked. Just a few minutes of sauteing in olive oil does the trick. Over-cooked mushrooms are not tasty either.


@bluedolphin-- I don't think you've got anything to worry about when it comes to commercial button mushrooms sold at stores. They do not come in contact with other mushrooms whatsoever, so the risk of mixing with a toxic mushroom is basically impossible.

I eat button mushrooms almost daily in my breakfast omelet. I also love adding them to soups, stews and pasta sauces. They're a great source of protein and fiber. It's a great choice for vegetarians.


I used to eat button mushrooms all the time but I've been avoiding them lately because a friend claimed to have gotten poisoned from them. I didn't think this was possible since the ones sold at the supermarket are specially harvested.

When hunting mushrooms in the wild, there's always a risk of coming across a toxic mushroom because toxic ones can cross pollinate with non-toxic varieties easily. Even if a few get into a good batch, it can cause illness. Normally, the commercially harvested ones do not carry this risk whatsoever. It's possible that my friend got food poisoning from something else she had at that meal but she sounded very sure of herself so I've avoided button mushrooms for this reason.


@spotiche5- I love to eat button mushrooms raw because they are mild yet very flavorful. I think that they compliment a vegetable tray nicely.

Button mushrooms also taste great with vegetable dip.

Ranch, blue cheese, and dill dips are some of my favorites for mushroom dipping. If you weren't already planning to include dip with your vegetable tray, you should consider adding a bowl of it to go along with the mushrooms and other vegetables.


I'm planning to take a vegetable tray to a party, and was thinking about putting some mushrooms on it. Are button mushrooms a good variety to eat raw?


does it work to freeze fresh button mushrooms, or must they be cooked first?


Some preliminary studies in animals are pointing to the health benefits of mushrooms. They fight viral infections and defend against tumors. This is great news if it also work on humans.

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