This fun mushroom “carnitas” recipe is easy make with marinated shredded mushrooms that are roasted to crispy, juicy, delicious perfection! Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and perfect for tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more.
I’ve got a fun new vegetarian dinner recipe today for you guys to try…
…mushroom “carnitas!” ♡
Yep, this classic Mexican dish has gone vegetarian (also naturally vegan and gluten-free!) thanks to a simple swap of shredded mushrooms in place of the meat. And while these plant-based “carnitas” can really be made with just about any type of mushrooms, we love making them in our house with king oyster mushrooms because they can be shredded to take on a shockingly similar texture and meaty flavor of traditional pork carnitas. My vegetarian husband totally did a double take the first time I served him a plate and couldn’t believe they weren’t made of meat!
Simply shred the mushrooms, toss them with your favorite marinade, and roast them up in the oven to crispy, juicy, delicious perfection. Then these mushroom “carnitas” will be ready to serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, chilaquiles, enchiladas, salads, or whatever sounds good!
They’re seriously so fun to make, and I promise that even the meat-eaters in your life won’t miss the pork with this dish. Let’s make some!
Shredded Mushroom “Carnitas” Ingredients:
Before we get to the full recipe below, here are a few important notes about the ingredients you will need to make these plant-based “carnitas”…
Mushrooms: I went with king oyster mushrooms for this recipe because, once shredded (with the caps thinly sliced), they magically take on the texture of traditional shredded pork carnitas. And they’re just really fun to work with! I usually purchase king oyster mushrooms at my local southeast-Asian grocery, but they are often available in traditional grocery stores as well. Alternately, though, you are totally welcome to just slice up a bunch of chantarelle, baby bella (crimini) or shiitake mushrooms, or whatever wild mushrooms you may prefer.
Beer: It’s a bit untraditional, but I always love adding some beer to my carnitas marinades for extra flavor. Feel free to use any type of beer that you prefer. (Gluten-free or alcohol-free beer would work too.) Or that said, if you prefer not to cook with beer, you can just sub in 1/4 cup veggie stock + 1/4 cup extra orange juice instead.
Lime juice: We will add the juice of one lime to the mushroom marinade and then toss the cooked “carnitas” with the juice of a second lime just before serving.
Orange juice: I juiced a fresh orange for my marinade, but you’re welcome to use any type of orange juice that you might have hanging out in the fridge.
Oil: I used avocado oil, but regular olive oil or any other type of high-heat cooking oil you prefer will work.
Seasonings: A simple mix of garlic powder (since fresh garlic can burn in the oven), ground cumin, dried oregano, fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper.
(Optional) Cilantro: Finally, I recommend sprinkling the mushroom carnitas with some finely-chopped fresh cilantro just before serving. But of course, feel free to omit the cilantro if it’s not your thing.
How To Make Carnitas with Mushrooms:
As always, the full recipe is included below at the bottom of this post. But here is a brief overview of the process for how to make carnitas with mushrooms, plus a few important tips!
Slice and shred the mushrooms. If using king oyster mushrooms, you’ll first want to use a knife to trim off and thinly-slice the dark mushroom caps. Then use a fork as well as your fingers to shred the mushroom stems into thin bite-sized pieces. (The bottoms of the stems shred less easily than the tops, so if you find that they don’t shred well with a fork, you can just shred them with your fingers or thinly slice them with a knife.) If using any other types of mushrooms, it will probably be easiest to just thinly slice them with a knife.
Mix the marinade. Just whisk together all of the ingredients until combined and toss the marinade with the mushrooms until they are evenly coated. We’ll let them marinate for 15-20 minutes or so, while the oven pre-heats.
Cook the mushrooms. Then it’s time to roast the mushrooms! I recommend cooking them on the largest baking sheet you own, which will allow them to spread out in a shallow even layer and cook more quickly. We will roast them on high heat for about 25 to 35 minutes, removing the mushrooms at the 15-minute mark to give them a brief stir, and then again every 5 minutes afterwards. The mushrooms will likely be fairly juicy at the 15-minute mark, but don’t worry, the liquid will evaporate and they will become browned and crispy as time goes on. Once the mushrooms reach your desired level of crispiness, transfer the baking sheet to a wire baking rack. (Please note that the cooking time here will completely depend on the thickness of your mushrooms and the size of your baking sheet. For the fastest cooking time, thinly shred/slice the mushrooms as use a large baking sheet so that the mushrooms can cook in a shallow, even layer.)
Season. Once the mushrooms are cooked, go ahead and drizzle and toss them with one more round of lime juice, plus some chopped cilantro if you’d like. Then give them a taste and season with extra salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve. Serve warm however you’d like and enjoy, enjoy!
Possible Mushroom Carnitas Variations:
This vegetarian “carnitas” recipe is quite flexible, so feel free to tinker around with the seasonings in the marinade however you prefer. You could also…
Add onions: Feel free to also mix some thinly-sliced red, yellow or white onions in with the mushrooms as they roast. The onions will also get a bit crispy (especially if they are thinly sliced) along with the mushrooms!
Make it spicy: Add some cayenne pepper to your marinade if you would like to give these carnitas some extra heat!
Make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free beer in the marinade, or sub in some extra orange juice or veggie stock instead.
Use different mushrooms: If you can’t find king oyster mushrooms at the store, feel free to thinly slice some chantarelle, baby bella (crimini), shiitake, or other wild mushrooms instead.
Ways To Serve Carnitas:
Similarly to traditional pork carnitas, there are endless ways that you can serve these vegetarian mushroom “carnitas”! Here are some of my best recommendations:
Dishes: Use these carnitas to make vegetarian/vegan tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, breakfast dishes (chilaquiles, migas, huevos rancheros, etc), salads and more.
Toppings: I love serving these carnitas with the traditional street taco topping of chopped onion and cilantro, plus a squeeze of lime. They are also absolutely delicious topped with creamy avocado (or guacamole), cheese, sliced radishes, sliced jalapeños, pico de gallo, and/or any kind of salsa that you prefer.
2 pounds king oyster mushrooms (or baby bella or shiitake mushrooms)
2 fresh limes, divided
1/2 cup beer*
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
Slice and shred the mushrooms. Cut off the mushroom caps (if using king oyster mushrooms) and thinly slice them with a knife. Use a fork to shred the mushroom stems into thin bite-sized pieces. Add the shredded and sliced mushrooms to a large mixing bowl.
Marinate the mushrooms. In a separate measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk together the juice of one lime (about 2 tablespoons), beer, orange juice, oil, garlic powder, ground cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper until combined. Drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms, then toss gently until the mushrooms are evenly coated.
Heat the oven. Heat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Cook the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms marinate for about 15-20 minutes while the oven heats. Then transfer the mushrooms to a large baking sheet and spread them out in an even layer. Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, removing the mushrooms at the 15-minute mark to give them a brief stir, and then again every 5 minutes afterwards. The mushrooms will likely be fairly juicy at the 15-minute mark, but don’t worry, the liquid will evaporate and they will become browned and crispy as time goes on. Once the mushrooms are browned reach your desired level of crispiness around the edges, transfer the baking sheet to a wire baking rack. (Please note that the cooking time here will completely depend on the thickness of your mushrooms and the size of your baking sheet. For the fastest cooking time, thinly shred/slice the mushrooms as use a large baking sheet so that the mushrooms can cook in a shallow, even layer.)
Season. Drizzle the mushrooms evenly with the juice of the remaining lime (about 2 tablespoons) and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. Give the mushrooms a quick taste, and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
Serve. Serve warm in tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, salads, or whatever sounds good. Enjoy!
Beer options: Feel free to use a gluten-free or alcohol-free beer if you would like. Or if you prefer not to cook with beer, you can add in 1/4 cup veggie stock and 1/4 cup extra orange juice instead.
Source: I originally tried and fell in love with mushroom “carnitas” at Cafe Gratitude in California many years ago. But this recipe has been adapted from Vegan Richa and my (traditional) Instant Pot Carnitas.