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Is There a Good Substitute for Truffles

Slofoodgroup Team September 11, 2021

What can truffles be substituted with? 

“Is there a good substitute for truffles” is a question we are presented with often—and not just any question, it is such a loaded question and one there is no simple answer to. While there are definitely substitutes for truffles out there, whether or not they are GOOD substitutes depends on your intended purpose and the quality of the truffles you are hoping to replace in the first place. 

What to use in place of fresh truffles when cooking: 

Porcini Mushrooms

Though other fungus varieties lack the distinctive truffle flavor, in a pinch, they offer a similar earthy sensation that lingers on the taste buds. It should be noted, that because truffles pack such a powerful punch, only small amounts of this underground fungus are needed to become the star of (or overtake) a dish. The same is not true for other mushrooms. If you are using porcinis as a substitute, source a quality dehydrated product because the flavor will be concentrated. Try grinding it and generously adding it to the dish. We have a great selection of dried porcini mushrooms in our online store. 

Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Referred to as, "the poor man's truffle", it only makes sense that a black trumpet mushroom would be a common replacement for black truffles. " Although the flavor of black trumpet mushrooms is far from identical to truffles, they do possess truffle-like subtleties. Black trumpets are extremely potent, with a flavor that is often described as earthy, smokey, nutty, and even a little sweet. 

Don't be too liberal with the quantities of black trumpet mushrooms you incorporate into to your recipe though. Like truffles, they can easily overpower a dish. Unlike truffles, though, this dramatic replacement is known to make a dish taste bitter when the chef decides to be too heavy-handed in their inclusion of trumpets. To create a better-balanced flavor profile, you can cut the bitterness by adding more fat.

Like porcinis an morels, trumpet mushrooms are still phenomenal when dried and rehydrated, or dried and ground into a powder to be used as a flavoring agent. While you can certainly source your Black Trumpets by foraging, they are seasonal and blend in with their surroundings very well, making them hard to spot. If you want to include them in a dish and don't want to take your chances in the forest, we have a year-round supply of wild-foraged, dehydrated black trumpet mushrooms in our shop. 

Other truffle varieties

This might seem counterintuitive to the original question, but hear me out. Most people who are looking for truffle substitutes are doing so due to the seemingly astronomical prices associated with the fungus or seasonality. There are many types of truffles, however, all with varying prices and optimal times for harvest. This being the case, subbing out one truffle for another is the best way to obtain that distinctive truffle flavor and aroma. For example, the Italian White Truffle might host an average price greater than $200 per ounce and is primarily available between September through January, but other truffles are available throughout the summer or winter months and typically come in under $60 per ounce. 

Preserved truffles and truffle infusions

If fresh truffles are hard to find or too pricey for you to swallow, but you don’t want to forego that earthy/nutty flavor characteristic of these decadent tubers, you have plenty of options for infusions and preserved versions of the real thing. Truffle salts often have dried flecks of the real thing and oils infused with real truffle have become increasingly popular. If you choose to use one of these options, however, just make sure you are getting quality products with real truffle because there are several synthetic products out there. You can also find perfectly preserved whole truffles and truffle carpaccios in oil in our online shop. Truffles began losing the intensity of flavor the second they are harvested. So ensuring they are preserved right away is your best bet to making sure you have real truffle flavor year-round. Still, preserved versions will require a slight bit more to incorporate the same intensity of flavor as their fresh counterpart, so keep that in mind. 

Is there really a good substitute for fresh truffles? 

When it comes down to it, truffles are so expensive in part because their flavor cannot be imitated, and not for lack of trying. Most “truffle” oils actually don’t contain any truffle at all, but are created using synthetically produced molecules to recreate a stand-in version for truffle aroma. Trust me when I say, it is absolutely NOT even close to a good substitute for the real thing and no self-respecting chef would claim otherwise.

CTA: Looking for some seriously amazing fresh truffles and perfectly preserved truffle products, look no further than our virtual mushroom and truffle aisle in our online shop.