If you’re looking for the best way to cook morels, these Pan Fried Morel Mushrooms are everything. Freshly picked morels cleansed and dredged in seasoned flour and pan fried in butter until crispy and golden brown. There is nothing better. Disclaimer: please make sure to read up morel mushrooms before foraging and cooking. NEVER eat any mushroom you aren’t 100% certain it’s safe to consume.
Morels are the elite of all mushrooms.
They are nearly impossible to be farmed and typically grow in nature by certain types of dying trees – depending on where you live will determine the kind of dying tree to look by. Spring is prime morel season, so you only have a small window of time to find them. But when you do, you’ve hit the jackpot!
Pat and his longtime friend Craig have done their research and have been morel hunting for a couple of years now. So when Pat brought me home a pound or so of morel mushrooms they foraged from a top secret spot, I immediately dropped all my plans and read up on the best way to clean and cook morel mushrooms.
I’ll talk about cleaning morels in a few, but as for cooking my overall Google search turned up that pan fried in a skillet of butter is one of the best and most delicious methods. A simple dredge of flour and seasoning and a pan of hot bubbling butter yields crispy and golden brown morels. Sign. Me. Up.
So if you’re planning to make morels, whether deep fried or sautéed and haven’t done research, you really must. I am in no way a mushroom expert, my husband did a ton of research and watched a bunch of YouTube videos and I’ve used his knowledge and my own research to write up this post. Please read this post in its entirety as there are extremely helpful information and tips when scouting, cleaning and cooking morels.
And when you land a bag of morels, make these pan fried morel mushrooms. You’ll be glad you did.
Important Information About Morel Mushrooms:
First things first, if you’re unfamiliar with morels you must know there are such things as “false morels”, that are extremely poisonous and should NOT be eaten cooked, raw or whatever. You want to find mushroom where the cap is intact with the stem (cap and stem are one single piece) and are hollow inside.
You should steer clear from any morel looking mushrooms with fibrous material inside. Do your research and know what a real morel is from a phony or purchase them from your local market. With this said, you should never eat raw morels either, there are toxins in these mushrooms that need to be cooked out before consuming.
How to clean morels:
Cleaning is also extremely important. The spongy, honeycomb mushroom cap has all these teeny tiny nooks and crannies that are known to house tiny insects. Please believe me when I say that a rinse or wipe of damp paper towel, like you would for white button or cremini mushrooms, absolutely will not cut it.
Start by adding 1 tablespoon or so of salt (I used fine sea salt) to a large bowl and, depending on how much mushrooms you have, fill it up 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with warm (not hot) water. Add in the morels and lay several layers of paper towel over top and press to submerge. The paper towel will absorb water and keep the morels under the water which will aiding extracting any dirt and bugs that are on and in the mushrooms.
Soak the mushrooms in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight, depending on their size and the amount of time you have. I like to gently agitate the mushrooms every once and a while. Don’t be surprised (or grossed out) if you find little bugs floating or on the bottom of your bowl. This is totally normal.
Morels grow wild in woods with nature so there are bound to be a few bugs.
Once the mushrooms have soaked I remove them to a paper towel lined bowl to absorb any water.
Grab a new, clean bowl and prepare the same salt water solution. Carefully cut the morels in half lengthwise and add them to the water. Place layers of paper towel over top again, and press to submerge. Soak the morel mushroom halves for 1 to 2 more hours. This second soak is important because it will clean the inside of the mushroom and remove any extra dirt/bugs that didn’t come out in the first soak.
Most say soaking once is fine, but peace of mind is everything, so soaking twice is good practice.
To Make Panfried Morels You Will Need:
- unbleached all-purpose flour
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- kosher salt
- black pepper
The dredge mixture is simple. For 1 to 2 pounds of morels you will need: 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 rounded teaspoon of fine sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder each and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. I like to add the ingredients into a re-sealable gallon size bag, it’s not only easier to dredge this way but clean up is a cinch.
You can also give one of the seasoning blends from this list if you want to try something different.
Place 5 or 6 morels into the flour mixture. Re-seal the bag and gently shake it until the mushrooms are coated. Shake the excess off, kind of like rolling dice, or gently tapping them on the inside of the bag.
Then place the floured morels onto a rimmed sheet pan and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
Next, melt 1 stick of good quality butter over medium heat in a deep-sided stainless steel frying pan.
Once the butter is hot, work in batches by adding a few morels into the skillet cut side down. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes (depending on their size) or until golden brown. Use a fork or small spatula to carefully turn the pan fried morel mushroom, cooking for an additional 5 to 6 more minutes.
Note that the remaining batches may take less time to fry up, so watch carefully.
Transfer the fried morels to a paper towel lined plate and repeat this process with the remaining mushrooms.
I sprinkled them with a little bit of paprika and served them with ice cold beer. These mushrooms are so addictive and delicious!
What Do Pan-Fried Morels Taste Like?
Pan fried morel mushrooms, in my honest opinion, taste and have the texture that is reminiscent of crispy, battered, fried chicken skin.
When my oldest daughter walked in after she got home from school, before knowing I cooked morels, said it smelled like chicken nuggets. So there’s that. I honestly didn’t find them to taste too mushroom-y at all. And I firmly believe that even the folks who dislike mushrooms would enjoy pan fried morel mushrooms.
I really hope you are lucky enough to find morels and give these pan fried morel mushrooms a go. They are undeniably delicious, I have no doubt you’ll love them as much as we do.
Pan Fried Morel Mushrooms
- 1 pounds fresh morel mushrooms
- salt, I used sea salt
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 (rounded) teaspoon sea salt
- 1 (rounded) teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 (rounded) teaspoon onion powder
- freshly ground black pepper
- paprika, for serving
- Fill a large bowl filled 3/4 of the way with warm (not hot) water and stir in 1 tablespoon fine salt (I used sea salt) until dissolved.
- Place the morels into the salt water mixture and press to submerge. Place 3 to 4 layers of paper towel over top and gently press until absorbed. This will keep the mushrooms submerged. Refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours or overnight. I like to agitate the mushrooms every once in a while.
- Pick mushrooms out of the water and place onto a cutting board. Trim the rough edges of the stems and cut in half.
- Fill another bowl with the same salt water solution and add the mushroom halves. Cover with paper towel and soak for another hour or so.
- Take the mushrooms out of the water and place onto a clean kitchen towel to drain a bit.
- In a large (gallon size) re-sealable bag, combine the flour, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Add 5 to 6 mushrooms at a time, seal and gently toss to coat. Carefully shake off any excess flour and place onto a rimmed baking sheet, keep them from touching.
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a deep-sided, 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Once hot, place a portion of the morels, cut side facing down, into the hot butter. Cook 6 to 7 minutes (depending on their size) or until golden brown. Use a fork or small spatula to carefully turn the mushrooms, cooking for an additional 5 to 6 more minute. Transfer the fried morel to a paper towel lined plate and repeat this process with the remaining mushrooms, adding more butter as needed. Note that the remaining batches may take less time to fry up, so watch carefully.
- Dust with paprika before serving warm.
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