Portobello Steaks Au Poivre

published Feb 9, 2022
Valentine's Day
Portobello Steaks Au Poivre Recipe

When treated as one would treat a steak, portobellos can be golden-brown on the outside, meaty on the inside, and packed with umami.

Serves2 to 4

Prep12 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 35 minutes

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Portobello Steaks Au Poivre, plated
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Isamar De La Cruz

In this vegetarian twist on traditional steak au poivre, a searing-hot pan and some butter-basting turns portobello mushrooms into a show-stopping dinner. The dish’s signature peppery coating is magical when applied to savory portobellos, and a Cognac-infused cream sauce works just as many wonders on a humble mushroom as it does on a filet mignon. Serve with mashed potatoes, shoestring fries, or a classic watercress salad to complete the date night-worthy meal.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Isamar De La Cruz

Making the Peppercorn Blend

While peppercorns will stick to a steak without much fuss, the same can’t be said for mushrooms. Creating a paste with vegetable oil helps the peppercorns and spices adhere, and seasoning only the gill side prevents the peppercorns from burning.

If you’ve never experimented with pepper before, this is a perfect place to start. Is possible, use a blend that contains black, red/pink, white, and green peppercorns, which will allow you to taste all the floral, citrusy, and herbal notes of peppercorns harvested at various stages.

3 Tips for the Best Portobello Steaks Au Poivre

  1. Use a spoon to scrape out the gills. The mushroom gills can stain the cream sauce an unsightly grey color, so I like to remove them before cooking. The easiest way to do this is to run a spoon perpendicular to the direction that the gills run in.
  2. Don’t salt the mushrooms too soon. Salting the mushrooms too early can cause them to release liquid as they cook, meaning they steam instead of sear. Instead, wait to season with salt until after they’re done cooking.
  3. Sear in two batches, if necessary. If your portobellos are particularly large, you may have to sear them in two batches. If things are looking dry in between, add a tablespoon or two of vegetable or other neutral oil.

Portobello Steaks Au Poivre Recipe

When treated as one would treat a steak, portobellos can be golden-brown on the outside, meaty on the inside, and packed with umami.

Prep time 12 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    large portobello mushrooms (4 to 5 ounces each)

  • 1

    large shallot

  • 4 cloves


  • 6 tablespoons

    (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided

  • 1

    heaping tablespoon whole peppercorn blend, or 1 teaspoon each whole black, red/pink, white, and green peppercorns

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided

  • 5 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1/2 cup

    low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream


  1. Gently scrape the stems and gills from 4 large portobello mushrooms with a spoon and discard. Mince 1 large shallot (about 1/3 cup). Smash 4 peeled garlic cloves with the flat part of a chef’s knife. Cut 6 tablespoons unsalted butter into 6 pieces.

  2. Coarsely crush 1 heaping tablespoon whole peppercorns blend (or 1 teaspoon each whole black, red/pink, white, and green peppercorns) with a mortar and pestle, or by placing the peppercorns in a clean kitchen towel or plastic bag and crush them with a meat tenderizer or heavy skillet. Place in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil. Stir to combine.

  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed frying pan (at least 12 inches in diameter) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, use a spoon or your hands to rub the spice paste on the gill side of the mushrooms.

  4. Add the mushrooms to the skillet gill-side up. Cook, pressing the mushrooms down gently with a flat spatula to ensure maximum contact with the pan but being careful not to crack the mushrooms, until the bottoms are golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes more.

  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Flip the mushrooms again. Add the garlic, 4 pieces of the unsalted butter, and 5 fresh thyme sprigs. After the butter melts, tilt the pan towards you and use a spoon to baste the mushrooms with the butter until fully coated and the mushrooms are tender and golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Season the mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt.

  6. Transfer the mushrooms with tongs to a clean cutting board and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. If there are any burnt peppercorns in the pan, remove them with a spoon and discard.

  7. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and shallot to the pan. Sauté over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the shallot is translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  8. Carefully pour in 1/4 cup Cognac and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to medium-low heat and cook until the alcohol is mostly cooked off, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the broth is reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.

  9. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 8 minutes. Discard the thyme stems. Meanwhile, thickly slice the mushrooms. Arrange on a plate and top with the sauce, or return them to the sauce in the pan and serve from the pan.

Recipe Notes

Tree nut allergy note: Red/pink peppercorns (which are actually not true peppercorns, they’re berries) are members of the cashew family and can cause allergic reactions in people with tree nut allergies.


Non-dairy: To make this recipe non-dairy, use vegan butter and full-fat coconut cream (or unsweetened plant milk reduced to the consistency of heavy cream) instead of the regular butter and heavy cream.

Peppercorns: You can substitute regular whole black peppercorns for the peppercorn blend. If your peppercorns come in a grinder and you can’t take them out whole, use 1 tablespoons coarsely ground instead.

Alcohol: Substitute brandy, whiskey, white wine, or sherry for the Cognac.

Storage: The cooked mushrooms and sauce can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for 5 to 7 days.