April 20, 2009

Perfect Grilled Portobellos

by IsaChandra

I’ve had my share of assed out portobello sandwiches. Over-seasoned, soaked through with too much vinegar and soy sauce, a few jaundiced pieces of lettuce, black gunk mucking up the bread, and oh! let us charge you 12 bucks for the privilege. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Portobellos should be juicy and succulent. What we want to do is coax that luscious flavor out, not hide it with condiments.

BBQ season is here so it’s a great time to learn to grill a portobello just perfectly. You  bite through the focaccia and have that juice spill out all over your face; a little char, slightly salty, complex and earthy.

And this burger works for the “plants have feelings” set, too. Even if you hate animals and hate vegans, it’s time to give up the burgers if you want to leave a little bit of earth to your children (OK, maybe you hate children, too.) There’s just too much evidence mounting against your free-will arguments. The truth is, your burger is ruining everyone else’s day. And with something as yummy as a portobello, well, there really is no excuse! Plus, look at the nutritional differences (nutritional info from my olive oil bottle and the internet.)
Hamburger plus a teaspoon of olive oil
Calories: 250
Fat: 18.5 grams (most of it the bad kind!)
Fiber: 0
Protein: 20

Portobello plus a teaspoon olive oil (the other ingredients are negligible, but adjust as you like)
Calories: 66
Fat: 4.5 (most of it the good kind!)
Fiber: 1.5
Protein: 2.5

So the only place where the burger is winning here is the protein content which you can easily compensate for with a side of quinoa salad. Not to mention that you don’t need 20 grams of protein at every meal. Do your own research, work it out. Don’t be part of the problem, be a part of the delicious, delicious solution.

Grilled Portobello Sandwiches
Makes 4

Grilling really brings out the juicy best in these portobellos, so I use the bare minimum of ingredients to let them really flaunt their flavor. A little (cheap!) chardonnay for depth of flavor, tamari for a bit of saltiness, baslamic for a touch of zest, and garlic for, well, it’s garlic! Choose firm, light colored mushrooms with fresh, healthy looking gills that spring back when you gently rub your finger across them. Don’t remove the gills, they are loaded with flavor and texture, not to mention they soak up garlic and marinade beautifully. Gently wash your caps before marinading and you are A-ok. Skip that anemic hamburger bun and go for a bready focaccia that can stand up to the portobello juices that are bound to make you lick your fingers.

Tip: Save your portobello stems for gravy or broth.

4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed

For the marinade:
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced

For the sandwich:
4 nice sized pieces foccacia bread
A few handfuls baby arugula
Slices of sweet onion (like walla walla or vidalia)
Slices of tomato
A little vegan mayo

Place the portobellos gills up in a rimmed baking sheet.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and spoon over the portobellos. Let marinate for at least half an hour, spooning marinade back onto the mushrooms every ten minutes or so.

Grease up your grill with olive oil and preheat over medium/high. It’s important to keep some oil nearby for brushing the grill through out the cooking process. You can use a grill brush for it, or a paper towel wadded up and grasped in your tongs. You can also use a spray bottle of oil.

Place the mushrooms gill side up on the grill. Close lid and let mushrooms cook for about 5 minutes, lifting the lid to baste shrooms with marinade every few minutes. Use tongs to turn the mushrooms 90 degrees to make cross hatched grill marks; cook for about 3 more minutes. Flip mushrooms over and cook for about 3 more minutes. Your cooking time may vary depending on the size of your portobellos and the temperature of your grill. You know the mushrooms are done when you press on the center with tongs (where the stem used to be) and it’s very soft and juicy.

Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes. This lets the flavors develop a bit and the juices taste even yummier when they are just a little bit cooled down. You can use this time to slice your bread and prep the veggies.

Assemble sandwiches and sink your teeth in.

  • April 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm: Rae

    kudos for this post. i’m glad to see people getting the word out about the devastating effects of raising cattle for consumption. this makes me think of a great book, The Mad Cowboy by Howard Lyman.
    those burgers look delish too!

  • April 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm: Amanda

    Here, here! I’m vegetarian and try to avoid most animal products for the environment–whether or not you care about killing an animal or two, try the whole planet!

  • April 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm: sarah

    Those look amazing!!

  • April 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm: pickledtreats

    Thanks for this post – it’s so useful!

    I’m ashamed to say I avoid portobellos sometimes because I suck at cooking them. No more!

  • April 20, 2009 at 4:29 pm: Andrea

    Great post! I’d love to see more environmentalists, slow fooders, eat local folks, etc. include veganism among their responsible food choices. And your description of cooking and eating the mushrooms is making want to run out and buy a grill.

  • April 20, 2009 at 5:34 pm: Tofulish

    Oooh. These look so tasty.

  • April 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm: Jay (The Vegan Foodie)

    I love how mushrooms get so juicy when they are grilled! Your sandwich looks so good! I am definatly make these this summer! What can I use instead of the white wine, would vegetable broth work?

  • April 20, 2009 at 6:53 pm: Mary

    Thanks for the instruction! I like portobellas as burger stand ins but have definitely been guilty of overdoing the vinegar. I can’t wait to fire up the old Weber pretty soon. It’ll be nice to induce neighborhood flavor wafts with those good old fashioned mushrooms and give the steak grillers a run for their money.

  • April 20, 2009 at 7:58 pm: Jules

    …Now I wish I had a grill. Stupid school. :( Going to try this when I get back home because I love grilled portobella.

  • April 20, 2009 at 10:12 pm: Mattea

    Those portobellas are making my mouth water! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • April 20, 2009 at 10:37 pm: BPS

    Get in my belly!

  • April 21, 2009 at 12:00 pm: Sarah W.

    yay mushrooms!!!!

  • April 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm: Sarah W.

    also, in a comment completely unrelated to this post, I BEG you to put out a Jewish cookbook including kosher for passover recipes like your flax matzah balls! (and other sections specially for particular holidays like purim – hmmmmmmm hamantachen! and Chanukkah) i try to avoid soy where possible in general day to day life and would LOVE to know your recipe for tofu-free matzah balls as you hinted about in an earlier PPK post.

    But seriously I haven’t come across one vegan jewish cookbook :(

    ..off to pre-order your cookie book, and lose 20lbs so that i can gain it all back this winter :)

  • April 21, 2009 at 2:21 pm: IsaChandra

    Hey Sarah, I would love to write a Jewish vegan cookbook, but considering that most of Americans are squeamish over Jewish food and so many Jews are squeamish over vegan food and so many vegans are squeamish over anything that isn’t a french fry…I think the demographic would be me, you and like 10 other people. I will keep making recipes and putting them online, though! And in my cookbooks, of course.

  • April 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm: Jocelyn

    I would absolutely love a Jewish vegan cookbook. So that’s at least thirteen people total. :) Maybe in a few years. In the meantime, this recipe look marvellous!

  • April 21, 2009 at 5:58 pm: Laura

    those look perfect!! i love the bread, too, with the little crystals of salt shining in the sun!! i want to have a bbq with you guys!

  • April 21, 2009 at 10:50 pm: The Vegan Snorkeler

    This recipe looks so easy and sooo delicious. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for posting it!

  • April 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm: DJ Karma (VegSpinz)

    Excellent points… even if you do hate children…! I have found a new love for mushrooms since I became vegan. That burger beats out any dry, unseasoned, unappetizing mushroom & bread I’ve ever ordered in a conventional restaurant. Shame on them for not knowing (or not caring) what tastes good, even if there isn’t any meat & cheese. Not an excuse for a good chef/cook!! Anyway, enough of my venting- I just made a morel mushroom burger, if you’d like to check it out sometime. Love your posts!

  • April 22, 2009 at 12:50 am: veggievixen

    bring on the portobellos. i haven’t fired up my grill yet this year but i love baking them!!

  • April 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm: Rachel

    These look fantastic. With the amazing weather we’ve been having in portland recently, I’m sure I’ll make them soon. My portobello burgers always come out dripping and soggy– I can’t wait to try yours! That almost sounds dirty

  • April 22, 2009 at 1:30 pm: mushrooms!

    yesterday i made baked portobellos (with just salt and olive oil…mmm…). they were sliced up, so there were a couple little pieces that got burnt in the oven. the burnt pieces tasted exactly how i remember hamburger tasting. it was really weird. anyone have a similar experience?

  • April 25, 2009 at 7:11 pm: jennifer

    i tried this recipe tonight and they turned out amazingly good!!! i posted a blog about it, including pictures, which you can see here: http://thejoyfulvegan.blogspot.com/2009/04/summer-in-april.html

    thanks for sharing the recipe! i’ll definitely be making it again.

  • April 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm: Mo

    I feel like I was just taken to chu’ch! Those portobellos look divine.

  • May 1, 2009 at 4:48 pm: Shawn

    I’d definitely recommend adding some dried thyme to the marinade ~ it works great with the portobellos.

  • May 8, 2009 at 2:52 pm: Erin

    >Grease up your grill with olive oil and preheat over medium/high. It’s important to keep some oil nearby for brushing the grill through out the cooking process. You can use a grill brush for it, or a paper towel wadded up and grasped in your tongs. You can also use a spray bottle of oil.

    Just a quick note for the literalists out there (of which I am one)… I don’t think I’d use an aerosol can of oil on a grill over a flame. You will get quite a burst of flame! (I know because I’m a big dummy and tried this once. Duh.) You might be able to use an air-pump sprayer with safer results, though.

    Thanks Isa for the recipe, though – this will definitely be on the grill this summer!

  • May 23, 2009 at 10:59 pm: Megan

    I made these tonight with my family, we (2 vegans and 2 omnis) DEVOURED them, they were excellent!!

  • July 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm: hopita

    I’d like to cast my vote for a Jewish Vegan Cookbook too!

    A friend of mine sort of found one. It was called something like “The Low Cholesterol Passover Cookbook” and she found that “low cholesterol” was mostly code for “vegan.” Maybe that could be your way in the door?)

  • November 11, 2009 at 8:59 pm: Rachel

    Count me IN for the JEWISH VEGAN COOKBOOK, too!

  • February 16, 2010 at 8:09 am: Tamaris Stiefel Shop

    Outstanding point you’re making.. You seem to love what you write about. A different thing that is frequently bothered me regarding these olpinions and also studies is that they mostly invoke very extreme circumstances remote from regular experience. Anyway… I dedicated a blog entry on this article on my homepage =) I essentially summed up this entry, and point my visitors back here. Thanks for your points – keep ‘em coming!

  • February 28, 2010 at 5:02 am: Arslanian

    Thanks for this post – it’s so useful!

  • March 17, 2010 at 3:47 am: Aurelia Phung

    nice. Thanks

  • May 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm: Eva Campbell

    Beef steak has always been my all time favorite dish and i am always looking for some new recipes that has steak as the main ingredient.’,;

  • August 8, 2010 at 12:30 am: Cristobal Filippo

    hi buddy, I found your site from wikipedia and read a few of your other blog posts.They are cool. Pls continue this great work. Alternatively, the federal office that governs the healthcare issues of federal employees, could deal with out-of-state insurers.

  • March 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm: Kira

    If you don’t have a grill (or the weather is uncooperative), these work nearly as well in a toaster oven set to ‘broil’ at 400 degrees. SO good.

  • March 21, 2011 at 5:31 am: Jessica

    I’m a meat eater and I just made my first grilled portobello mushrooms as directed in your cook book but I took the remaining marinade and simmered it on the stove in a shallow pan added a couple pinches of whole wheat flour and added about a cup of frozen spinach and made it into a sauce which I poured over some whole wheat spaghetti and topped it with my sliced up portobello. It was divine. I’m loving your recipes!

  • March 30, 2011 at 5:29 am: Case

    This looks so delicious! For those of us who don’t have grills or live in places where we can’t use them, is there an alternative for the stove or oven? I really would like to try this!

  • April 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm: Izzy

    Made the roasted version of this last night, definitely wanting to try the grilled version. Loved this so much, and I was so delighted to see that you’d posted the recipe online so I could share my experience with it!

    http://crashtestvegetarian.com/?p=1564 <== picture of my portobello success, thanks to you!

  • May 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm: Monique

    I just tried these tonight – lovely, but I think I’ll use less garlic next time, maybe only one clove. I found the garlic flavour a bit overpowering with four cloves.
    That said, the mushrooms were wonderful – juicy and the perfect texture – and they got a thumbs up from the omnivore boyfriend :) . Will definitely be making these again.

  • August 7, 2011 at 11:16 am: Danielle

    So delicious! Thank you! I’m a student and made this burger the night before an exam. It was such an awesome treat I’m definitely gonna make it again.

  • September 1, 2011 at 4:54 am: Ada

    This is fantastic – the absolutely best portobello mushroom “burger” ever. The marinade is fabulous — so much so that I’ve decide to mix up a batch and keep it in the fridge for immediate availability. Truth be told, it’s even good on chicken (my husband is an “omni”), so I can always make a dual dinner easily for us. Also – thanks for the suggestion about leaving the gills of the mushrooms – the flavor was amazing. Lastly, I don’t have a grill, so I pan fried the mushrooms on med/med-hi heat, adding marinade and a little water when the pan dried out. …as i said… just fabulous!

  • November 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm: Amelia

    I came home for the weekend and made these with my very non-vegan father and we both LOVED them. The marinade was totally delicious and like some of the other readers, I will probably be using it for other things. We had this with a spinach-walnut salad and it was the best lunch I’ve had in a long time. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • November 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm: Juniper Rain

    is there something i can substitute in for the wine?

    • November 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm: IsaChandra

      Sure, you can use extra veg broth and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

  • February 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm: Beka M

    I got Veganomicon for Christmas and have made this recipe a lot since then! I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what to do with the left over marinade? It tastes so good, it is a shame to throw it out!

    • February 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm: IsaChandra

      Yeah, totally. I use it on tofu or tempeh, or toss it into a stew.

  • March 20, 2012 at 3:58 am: Samantha217

    These were SO GOOD! Made these tonight for my omni family, and even my carnivorous dad, who said the other day, “I don’t want mushroom burgers” gave me rave reviews. My mom and I even split a second burger! We topped them with tomatoes and avocados. Can’t wait to make it again.

  • March 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm: deb c.

    Did you know these will freeze BEAUTIFULLY for those “emergency” dinners when you have about 3 minutes to get something in your mouth? When I see Portobella’s on sale, I buy a dozen or more and make them all at once. Freeze them on a lined baking sheet (after they cool) and then they can be placed in ziplocs. . . so you can just pull out what you need.
    They can be gently reheated in the oven or microwave in just a few minutes. All you need is the lettuce, tomato and bread and you’re slurping in no time!

  • May 29, 2012 at 9:50 am: Jennie Amias

    Wow!! Made these this weekend for a bbq with 2 omni families. They were absolutely delicious and a huge success. I was holding back but I could have easily eaten 4 of them myself!

  • June 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm: Melissa

    I have been a vegan for two weeks now. I have decided after 4 years of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer and the cancer coming back each time to try and reverse cancer by eating right. I have never like mushrooms accept the ones floating on top of Japanese broth with the funny onions on bottom of bowl at Japanese steak houses. A friend from church mentioned that portobello mushrooms are good grilled and so your recipe will be the first I ever tried. By the way, vegan eating is most excellent. I am thrilled about relearning how to cook. It truly is exciting.

  • July 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm: connie

    We made these the other night on new grill. My vegan daughter in law, my vegetarian son and my carnivore husband raved over them! You are so right on the bread choice too!!!!

  • September 5, 2012 at 12:57 am: Louis

    My daughter had me over for my 78th birthday and fixed these for me. all I can say is there Great, my first but won’t, thanks for the post

  • June 9, 2013 at 5:06 am: MaryBeth Smith

    Thanks for the terrific recipe and clear instructions. I prepared these for dinner tonight on the stovetop with my grill pan, and they were delicious. Posted a picture and the rest of my menu on my blog, http://movesleepeat.com/2013/06/08/creativity-cooking-and-health/. You are my most trusted source of vegan recipes, keep ‘me coming, please!

    • June 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm: IsaChandra

      Looks delish!

  • June 17, 2013 at 10:52 pm: Raster

    This will work very well as a steak subsistute on a Grilled Romaine salad with sliced steak. Instead of steak, portobellas. Hot Damn I can hardly wait to get home and fire up the grill. Some good bread with roasted garlic on the side. ya baby.
    much thanks!!!!

  • June 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm: Rebe Sue

    deeeeee-freakin-lish! just made this. amazing! thank you!!

  • June 27, 2013 at 3:55 am: lezlee miller

    This was fantastic!

  • July 2, 2013 at 7:06 pm: Linda Lindert

    Looks fabulous! My favorite kind of sandwich. Gotta try it.

  • July 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm: Lee at Veggie Quest

    Made these over the weekend; delicious! Thanks for posting. :-)

  • August 1, 2013 at 10:46 pm: Norman

    Isa, in your marinade picture (2nd), what is the crumbly stuff on the gills? Is that the garlic?

    • August 2, 2013 at 12:41 am: IsaChandra

      Yes, garlic.

  • January 14, 2014 at 7:39 pm: Bibi

    These are fantastic! They are easy to make and just so delicious. Thank you, Isa

  • February 18, 2014 at 11:29 pm: Craig Leone

    You don’t need 20 grams of protein at every meal? LMFAO Keep spreading that ignorance

  • March 20, 2014 at 9:32 pm: SEO

    Hi, the whole thing is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts,
    that’s in fact fine, keep up writing.

  • April 11, 2014 at 2:27 am: Lou-Andreas

    I made them today and they are really perfect. Thank you so much! I did not have white wine so I used a little of Manischewitz. Not bad at all!
    I also advocate for Jewish Vegan Recipes. Isa Chandra rules!

  • April 16, 2014 at 3:39 am: Chelsea

    I took one bite and was shocked by how amazing it tasted! I used red wine, baked the mushrooms, and garnished with avocado, cilantro and fresh dill pickles. Yum! Thank-you!

  • May 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm: EllieMae

    Yum! Trying this today as contribution to Mother’s Day cookout, five carnivores and one mild-mannered plant eater (me) :)

  • May 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm: Adam

    I dont hate animals, and I certainly dont hate my children. If eating a good burger once in a while “ruins” your day, and since you choose to be so offensive, i think its time for me to add a few more to my diet.

  • May 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm: Dawn

    Thanks for the delicious recipe! I love God, other people and children :o) and myself (I want to stay healthy!) I enjoy eating simple healthy food and choose to be a good steward of all of God’s beautiful creation, earth, animals etc. Have a Blessed day…. Portabella …my favorite burger!

  • June 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm: Lizanne

    These are SO GOOD! I thought I hated portobello mushroom burgers because every time I’ve had them at restaurants they’ve been weird and slimy. These are juicy and flavorful and I must eat them every weekend of summer, at a minimum.

  • June 30, 2014 at 11:27 pm: Carole Kulzer Brennan

    I’ve been scraping off the gills having been told they don’t taste good. Pros-cons to scrape or not to scrape please

  • July 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm: Keith

    Thanks for the great recipe, it came out fantastic,

  • July 29, 2014 at 5:40 pm: Jae

    Dear Isa. thank you for keeping the kindle warm on my life-long love affair with mushrooms. <3 Jae

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  • September 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm: Pamela

    Wow, these were so good that I want to make them again tonight!
    I have avoided trying these for so long because I have been so disappointed by them at restaurants. I was sooo pleasantly surprised! I didn’t use foccacia bread but I will next time. Delish! I even added some tempeh bacon for my husband and he loved that!

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  • September 28, 2014 at 4:17 am: Paleo

    Mmmmm after reading this I’m going to grill some up. But with one modification. Meat buns :) Thats right, straight up paleo. Screw environmental vegetarianism.

  • October 10, 2014 at 6:25 am: maigrir du visage forum

    You really make it appear so easy with your presentation but I
    find this matter to be actually something which I believe I might never
    understand. It seems too complex and very large for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will attempt to get
    the hang of it!

  • November 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm: I.B.

    This recipe is also useful if you don’t have a grill. I made portobellos in the oven today, using (a slightly altered version of) the marinade… they turned out perfect! This is the first time I managed to make delicious, juicy, tasteful portobellos, so thanks for the recipe! I added half-dried tomatoes and roasted pine nuts (and some leftover pecorino cheese, but I’m sure the vegan version without pecorino would taste delicious as well!).

  • June 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm: Patrick

    I would have liked this recipe more if not for the meat shaming intro. What a bitch! Get over yourself.

  • June 10, 2016 at 6:24 pm: KJ

    I literally laughed out loud when I read, “jaundiced piece of lettuce.”
    Seriously. You.