Here’s a concept: burgers, tacos, and meatloaf with more taste and half the guilt. It can happen, thanks to a new secret ingredient: mushrooms. A new study in the Journal of Food Science finds that substituting a whopping 50% to 80% of the ground beef in one meal with sautéed, ground button mushrooms boosted flavor intensity beyond that of an all-beef meal, with fewer calories and less cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium.
Pretty unbelievable, right? There are two reasons researchers speculate it works: Umami and moisture. Mushrooms contain flavor-enhancing umami compounds like glutamate, which elicit savory, brothy, rich, or meaty taste sensations—tastes that naturally complement beef. They’re also super moist, and moisture has been found to enhance “salt perception,” or how salty you think something is.
Aside from taste, mushrooms also increase the nutritional profile of your meat-based dishes by adding a healthy dose of B vitamins and potassium.
Want to give it a try? Try this recipe for Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Sliders (adapted from Pretty Delicious) from chef and cookbook author Candice Kumai.
Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Sliders (Servings: 4)
- 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 c (about 3 oz) cremini mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
- 1 sm red onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ c finely chopped fresh parsley
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 lb 96% extra lean ground beef
- 8 sm soft dinner rolls
- 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Honey-mustard or barbeque sauce for serving
1. HEAT 1 Tbsp olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in oregano, parsley, and sea salt. Turn off heat and transfer to medium bowl to cool.
2. PLACE ground beef in large bowl, add cooled mushroom mixture, and gently fold the two together. Divide ground beef mixture into 8 equal balls and gently form each into 2½ to 3” thick patties. Split rolls in half and brush cut sides with remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Set aside.
3. HEAT nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add burgers and grill on each side until browned, about 2 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to plate. Grill the rolls, cut-sides down, until golden, about 1 minute. Serve each patty on a bun topped with a tomato slice and honey mustard, if using.
NUTRITION (per 2 sliders) 355 cal, 29 g pro, 30 g carb, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugars, 13.5 g fat, 3 g sat fat, 501 mg sodium