Juicy grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks, vegan, low carb, meat-free, and plant-based, marinated in a delicious easy vegan marinade. These umami steaks are grilled soft and juicy, and served with cauliflower mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables or merely stacked in a bun as a plant-based burger. The perfect recipe for a hearty grilled comfort meal.
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks
These portobello mushroom steaks, juicy from an easy vegan steak marinade, will have neighbors lining up for your BBQ! They are hearty, savory, juicy, meat-free, low carb, spicy, unami, and only a handful of ingredients!
I served mine with fresh veggies and cauliflower mashed potatoes. Other sides are fine too, and serve with a steak sauce or not. And they don’t have to be served as steaks on a plate. They are equally well suited to being placed and dressed on a bun as an awesome plant-based burger.
What Are Portobello Mushroom Steak Ingredients?
So how do we get to these vegan steak dream land?
The ticket is only a handful of ingredients. Balsamic vinegar provides tang, while olive oil, parsley, garlic, cayenne pepper and various optional herbs are supporting players.
But the two main ingredient stars are:
- Portobello mushrooms. These large, plate-sized mushrooms, are the star ingredient of this vegan steak recipe. These large mushrooms, up to 5-inches in diameter, are native to Italy and have been around since the 1700s. Portobello mushrooms are mature “cremini” mushrooms, and have an open cap, large brown gills inside. Nutrition-wise, all mushrooms provide tons of nutrition, and portobellos are the same, especially high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin D.
- Tamari sauce. This sauce is the reason the vegan marinade is full of a robust and savory flavor. Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce made from fermented soybeans. It is considered healthier than ordinary soy sauce, usually gluten-free, deeper in umami flavor, and less salty. Tamari is also higher in protein and antioxidants, and is less likely to have unhealthy additives. Read more about Tamari sauce here.
Now I keep talking about the flavor of “umami” so a quick explainer might be helpful, no?
What Is Umami?
You might have already heard that a few years ago, a fifth basic taste was announced in the 1990s, to get in line right after (1) Sweet, (2) Sour, (3) Salty and (4) Bitter. Meanwhile, USA-based scientists that study these things decided they found taste bud receptors for it. Who knew?
Actually though history shows the Japanese had discovered nearly 100 years prior, and had named it using Japanese words that vaguely translate to: delicious savory taste.
So what is the flavor of Umami exactly? It’s described as brothy, meaty, or savory. And tamari has a umami flavor in truckloads.
Meanwhile, here is a bit more information about portobello mushrooms, because they are the reason we are able to make vegan steaks at all.
More FAQS about Portobello Mushrooms
- Are Portobello Mushrooms Good for You?
- Yes! They are full of antioxidants and essential minerals such as riboflavin, selenium, copper and potassium. However, it is best to cook portobellos as they have trace amounts of toxins that are destroyed by heat.
- What do Portobello Mushrooms Taste Like?
- Meaty and savory in texture, they easily take on the flavor of sauces so that is why it is wonderful to marinade them.
- Can You Eat The Gills of a Portobello Mushroom?
- You can but no one ever does – the stalks and gills of the inside of a portobellow are fibrous and not very pleasant.
- What is The Difference Between Portobello and Portabella Mushrooms?
- Both spellings are used to describe this gilled mushroom, although “portobello” is more common.
- How do I Clean Portobello Mushrooms
- Although in general mushrooms are so absorbant, soaking in water is discouraged, I usually quickly rinse portobellos because they are so large and it is time consuming to use a towel or brush to get off all the dirt.
- How do I Cook Portobello Mushrooms
- Marinading and then either grilling or baking are the most popular ways to use this awesome mushroom.
How to Get the Best Flavor in Portobello Steaks
The best way to flavor these portobello mushroom steaks is to soak them in a great marinade. Googling portobello steak marinade brings up a range of recipes, some use liquid smoke, some use cumin or rosemary or thyme.
My vegan steak marinade is a quality yet easy recipe, using only a few well-known ingredients and is gluten-free. And the beauty of my marinade recipe, is you can customize it by adding any of your favorite spices.
Tips On How to Cook Portobello Steaks
1. First use a spoon to dig out the stem and gills from the inside of each portobello.
Then run them quickly under a gentle stream of water, rubbing off the dirt gently with fingers. Dry quickly with paper towels.
2.Prepare the marinade in a shallow bowl, and set the mushrooms in the bowl. Spoon marinade all over, and let them sit for 3 minutes on the counter. After 10 minutes, turn them over and let them sit for another 10 minutes.
Pro tip: Don’t let them marinade beyond 20 minutes total or they may become too strong in flavor.
3. Set a cast iron grill pan on the stove, spray with a cooking spray, and turn heat on to medium. Set the marinaded mushrooms one at a time into the pan. Grill them for about 4 minutes, each side. In the last minute, I pressed down on each to be sure grill marks appeared.
4. Other cooking options: Of course you can also just grill them on an outdoor grill, if you have one.
OR simply pan-fry them in a skillet if you don’t have a cast iron grill pan. (Here is mine though, and it is very reasonably priced if you want to get those savory black grill lines without an outdoor grill)
I wouldn’t however attempt to bake these marinated mushrooms, unless perhaps sealed in a foil envelope. I think baking might dry out their juicy meatiness.
How to Serve Portobello Steaks
I served mine as single steaks with cauliflower mashed potatoes and peas.
The steaks themselves are low carb; you can make sure your sides are low carb or not, depending on your preferences.
Or you can use these portobello steaks stacked and in a bun as a plant-based burger. A grilled portobello burger, with lettuce, tomato slices, a great sauce and whatever else goes great in a burger.
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Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks
- 4 large portobello mushrooms (lightly rinsed clean, stems and inside gills removed)
- 2/3 cup quality balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp tamari sauce or soy sauce; tamari is best for gluten-free
- 2 tbsp garlic, chopped
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 cast iron grill pan (to grill on the stove)
- Clean the portobellos by lightly running them under water, then quickly patting them dry with paper towels. Some suggest using a brush but I find I need a bit of water to get the dirt off. Don't let the mushrooms stay under water long however or they will absorb it and not grill up well.I remove the inside gills, just because they taste odd, but they are edible. I also remove the stem. In both cases, using a spoon works well to remove and clean these areas.
Marinate the Mushrooms
- In a bowl, stir together the tamari sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and cayenne. Taste and add more seasonings if you like. Some suggestions best for grilled steak include a steak seasoning, rosemary, dill, black pepper, and salt.Add the mushrooms to the bowl, and spoon the marinade all over them.Let them sit for 10 minutes each side. So they marinade a total of 20 minutes. No longer or they might become too sour or salty.
Grill the Mushrooms
- Heat a hand grill pan or a large skillet over medium heat on the stove.Spray with olive oil, and set the mushrooms in the pan, pressing for a few minutes so the grill marks transfer. I found cooking each side about 4 minutes led to juicey steaks.
- Serve the mushrooms immediately as steaks with sides, such as mashed potatoes and veggies.
- The grilled portobellos tasted fine after 2 days of refrigeration. After that, they can get a bit rubbery.
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients . On this blog you’ll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in sciences and journalism. More about Dee Dine here.