What Are Portobello Mushrooms & Are Creminis Different?

updated Aug 6, 2022
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(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

When I was growing up, the mushroom selection at the grocery store didn’t go far beyond the basic white button variety. That certainly isn’t the case these days. If you’re lucky, your grocery store might carry everything from enoki to shiitake, but it’s portobello and cremini mushrooms that you’ll find making a regular appearance in the produce section.

These brown varieties boast more flavor than their common white counterpart, but aside from their difference in size, you might be surprised at what sets these two mushrooms apart. The difference between portobello mushrooms and creminis is simply age. Portobellos are the older version of creminis.

Age Makes All the Difference

Both cremini and portobello mushrooms sport a dark brown color and a smooth cap, and boast a deep savory flavor. Despite their difference in diameter, these mushrooms look and taste pretty similar — and for good reason. Portobello mushrooms are simply the mature version of cremini mushrooms harvested when they’re fully grown.

More About Portobello Mushrooms

Large, dark brown portobello mushrooms have an open cap, with visible, deep brown gills on the underside. Unlike its younger counterpart, the portobello has had more time to grow, causing it to lose more of its moisture. Portabello mushrooms are not as watery as cremini and have a slightly more pronounced mushroom flavor.

Recipes with Portobello Mushrooms

More About Cremini Mushrooms

Cremini mushrooms (also referred to as cremino, common brown, and Roman), are commonly marketed as “baby bella” or “baby portobello” mushrooms because they are just that — a juvenile portobello mushroom.

These mushrooms are dark brown and firmer than the common

white button mushroom

Recipes with Cremini Mushrooms

Choosing Which One to Use

While these mushrooms can certainly be used interchangeably without overtly changing the taste of a recipe, their individual sizes often lend them to excel at different types of dishes.

Let larger portobello mushrooms be you go-to for things like burgers, sandwiches, and meal-sized stuffed mushrooms or when you want a firmer texture. Cremini mushrooms are useful when you want mushroom flavor in a smaller package. You can sauté cremini mushrooms whole, serve them sliced and tossed in a dressing, or in omelets and pasta sauces.