The Gourmet Mushroom That Tastes Like Chicken
If you do not eat flesh foods, or even if you do - you need to get acquainted with the "Chicken of the Woods" mushroom. It is one delicious, delectable, decidedly "downright" good mushroom - that tastes like chicken!
I first tasted the "Chicken of the Woods", when I placed an order for some gourmet mushrooms, as a gift for my husband. The company had a special on the Chicken of the Woods, so I thought we might like to try some. They were unbelievably good!
Needless, to say, they rapidly became one of our all-time favorite mushrooms. I only eat fish, as the flesh food in my diet, so I was particularly thrilled that I "stumbled" upon them. Imagine, living for well over half a century - missing one of the best taste sensations around!
Where Do Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms Grow?
The one in the photo above, is growing on the trunk of an oak tree. I am not certain what type of tree the one to the right, is - but it gives you an excellent illustration of how they grow. They also can be found on yew, cherry, sweet chestnut, red fir and willow trees - dead, or alive. Beautiful, are they not? Some people don't think they are beautiful, because they have the reputation of destroying any living trees that are their host. Nevertheless, their yellow-orange "shelves" are a bounty of good eating!
Chicken of the Woods can be found growing on live, decaying, or dead trees - in many areas of the world. They grow in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and we even found sources citing their existence in Africa.
Forestry Images: Credits to Paul Hennon, for his photo of Chicken of the Woods mushroom shelves.
Before you continue, tell us...
100 Edible Mushrooms
If you want to be scientifically accurate, the name for these mushrooms, is Laetiporus Sulfureous, not "Chicken of the Woods". The name is indicative of their "sulfurous" color. This is just one species of the mushrooms commonly called the "Chicken of the Woods". There are other types, such as: Laetiporus gilbertsonii, which is pink, Laetiporus coniferica, and Laetiporus persicinus, and several more. As with any mushroom, do your homework! Investigate thoroughly, before ingesting - some are not suitable for eating, due to various toxic reactions on record.
There is a very informative article on the "Chicken of the Woods", on Wikipedia. "Chicken of the Woods, or Laetiporus".
Chicken of the Woods Photos - Credits to Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Services
Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest
How to Eat the "Chicken of the Woods"
These mushrooms are best eaten - fresh. They can also be purchased dried, and reconstituted, but they require slow cooking, on low heat, for a long time - due to their tough nature. If you have the time, it is well worth the wait, as they really DO taste like chicken!
This photo is from the Mushroom Master website, which was simply a feast for the eyes. They had pink mushrooms, blue mushrooms, yellow mushrooms, and a lot of information about exotic edible mushrooms. You would have enjoyed their site, immensely, however it appears they are no longer around!
We found recipes for Sautéed Chicken of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods and Beans, Shrimp with Chicken of the Woods, Trout with Chicken of the Woods, and Mustard Chicken of the Woods Supreme, online - just to mention a few.
Basically, they can be substituted for chicken, in any recipe you can concoct! Remember - go easy on them, if they are new to you. Some people do have reactions to them, but then, some people have reactions to dairy, wheat, and peanuts, too!
Small Book, Loaded With Big Ideas...
Fresh from Alaska
Two of my sons have lived in Alaska. One of them has property there, and has to trek quite a long distance to get to it. His location is so remote, that in order to get cell phone reception, he had to climb about 30 feet up a tree! We felt badly that he had to take that much effort to contact us, but it was always good to hear from him.
The photo to the right was sent to us, from his cell phone, when he came across a large growth of Chicken of the Woods mushrooms while hiking. I was so thrilled to get it. I believe HE was shocked to see them in such profusion.
He didn't eat any of them, but was glad to see there was another source of food available - free for the taking!
Where Can I Buy Them? - That's a good question!
When I first wrote this article, I did not know. We have had a hard time finding any, ourselves. At the moment, we content ourselves with eating the "Hen of the Woods", or Maitake Mushrooms. They are also delicious, and reconstitute with water, beautifully!
Since then, we have found two places where they can be purchased.
They are seasonal, though. We told you that we would let you know when we found some sources, and if more become available, we will share them, too. They are usually a seasonal purchase, so you may have to be satisfied while you are waiting, with the "Hen of the Woods" mushroom, which is an excellent substitute.
You could also grow them yourself - as we mention, below...
A Word of Caution
Despite many references to the "Chicken of the Woods" being a mushroom that is unmistakeable, and therefore easy to identify in the wild, I found a few places that conflicted with that opinion. Even though the mushroom is quite distinctive, there are a very few species that resemble it, which have been implicated in poisonings. As with ALL mushrooms - it is better to be safe, than sorry. I prefer to purchase ours, from reputable growers, to allay all concerns.
Also - reportedly, in some people, they can cause gastric upset - so eat a small amount, until you are certain they will not do that - to you! Easy does it, especially on your first sampling. Try a minute amount, and eat only young, fresh growths. The older ones are usually implicated in allergic reactions people have experienced - most commonly: swollen lips, and once in a while nausea, and vomiting.
See the Wikipedia article about them, mentioned under our heading above - Botanically Speaking.
Wait A Minute! Here are some options, so you can grow your own!
Other Names for the Chicken of the Woods
- Sulfur Mushroom
- Chicken Mushroom
- Sulfur Shelf
- Chicken Fungus
More on the Chicken of the Woods
- Chicken of the Woods info from the UK
Nice, short description from the Norfolk Trust website -
- Cornell University Blog on the Chicken of the Woods
The author, Elan Margulies, wrote an excellent exposé, on the Chicken of the Woods, on this page. Worth a visit -
- Abstract from Mycologia Organization
For a "textbook view", visit this site -
Have You Eaten Chicken of the Woods?
If you have, let us know. Did you pick them yourself, or purchase them? Which variety did you eat? What is your favorite mushroom? If you love mushrooms, as we do - you are "bound" to have a favorite! What is it?
Tell us, in the comments section, below...
© 2011 Emily Tack
What Do You Think?
Char Milbrett from Minnesota on May 20, 2017:
Hmmm. Are these the same mushrooms that grow to be huge and people do art on them? I have a huge mushroom hanging on my wall, that my grandfather drew on in 1900. A deer picture.
Emily Tack (author) from USA on February 26, 2015:
Glad you liked it, poetryman. Yes, the mushroom really does taste like fried chicken.
I can understand your caution about your liver, too!
poetryman6969 on February 26, 2015:
Love to have more wild foods to eat when we run out of zombies after the Apocalypse. At present I will still be getting all my mushrooms from the store since I only have the one liver.
But a fascinating hub! I was wondering if it was April first when I saw there was supposedly a mushroom that tastes like fried chicken.
Emily Tack (author) from USA on January 08, 2015:
Hello, aesta1! Do you remember if you liked eating it? So far, everyone has said it is delicious, and actually tastes just like chicken.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 08, 2015:
We used to gather them as kids for our aunt who would cook it with eggs but I never knew anything about it even its name. Thanks for all these info.
Emily Tack (author) from USA on December 30, 2014:
Actually, there are at least two types of mushrooms that taste like cooked chicken. The "Chicken of the Woods" variety is the closest to the taste, according to the general consensus.
There are so many things we have yet to discover in our incredible world!
peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 30, 2014:
I never heard of mushrooms that taste like chickens, really
Emily Tack (author) from USA on October 03, 2014:
Oh, morels are my favorite mushrooms. My husband used to be able to pick them out in the timbers where he lived up north. Now, I have to order them for him when they are in season. Morels are marvelous!
Emily Lantry from Tennessee on October 02, 2014:
I've seen them bur never tried. I love morrels. I will have to try these sometime.
wnc.jim on September 14, 2014:
Absolutely amazing . they grow all over western north Carolina you have got to try
Emily Tack (author) from USA on October 16, 2013:
@anonymous: Angie, I do not have a deli! :) Hope that was directed to one of the comments...
anonymous on August 21, 2013:
@anonymous: I live in Phoenix and want to know about your deli!
Echo Phoenix on May 22, 2013:
Fab 'shroom! it certainly made the transition to Vegetarianism possible for me:)
Eric Mayo on March 12, 2013:
I love learning something new. I have never heard of chicken mushrooms. Great lens, great info. thanx!
anonymous on January 26, 2012:
I am fascinated by these mushrooms, and have not been able to find them. I am working on opening a Vegan Deli in Phoenix, Arizona and would love to be able to offer Chicken of the Woods specialties. Anyone living in an area where they are abundant willing to contact me? Please respond to this post if so!
clouda9 lm on December 22, 2011:
I had not heard of this mushroom before, although I think I have seen it growing in the woods. Interesting read, thanks for sharing.
anonymous on September 26, 2011:
I found few eysterday and I am very happy, looking for dirrent receipies now
anonymous on September 06, 2011:
Beautiful and Delicious! Only way to describe the Chicken of the Woods Mushroom! I harvest them near my home and around out family cabin, both locations in central and north central Minnesota. Have never seen them for sale in the local markets.
anonymous on May 24, 2011:
I think it's my favorite of all the shrooms...better than any piece of meat.....absolute delicacy! I would like to know if they are grown commercially?
Lynne Modranski from Ohio on April 11, 2011:
Nope, never heard of it before. . . . thanks for the education.