Wondering how to cook lion’s mane? Here are the best lion’s mane mushroom recipes! This furry fungus is not only delicious, but it’s also prized for its health benefits. Don’t miss the beautiful vegan crab cake recipe at the end. 

Photograph of the inside of a vegan crab cake made with lion's mane mushroom.

A vegan crab cake made with lion’s mane.

After enjoying the health benefits of lion’s mane via Four Sigmatic mushroom lattes, I’ve finally started buying it fresh. I recently stopped by the Santa Barbara Farmers Market to chat with our local grower about all things lion’s mane, including how to store and cook it, and the best lion’s mane recipes. 

 

I enjoyed cooking lion’s mane several different ways, from simply cooked on the stovetop, to pulled and formed into vegan “crab cakes,” which was the clear recipe winner. Feel free to jump right down to the Lion’s Mane Crab Cakes Recipe at the bottom, though I suggest reading through all the interesting facts, tips, and tricks first. 

What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom? 

Hericium Erinaceus (Erinaceus meaning hedgehog) is a type of fungi also known as lion’s mane, pompom mushroom, bearded hedgehog mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, and monkey head mushroom. In nature, it grows on dead trees, most commonly American Beech trees, and is harvested during the late summer and early fall. However, it is also cultivated by specialty mushroom growers, and can even be grown at home. 

Used for both culinary and medicinal purposes, lion’s mane can be found fresh, or in capsule or powdered form. 

Wondering what lion’s mane mushroom tastes like? Well, most people describe it as being similar in taste and texture to crab or lobster. For this reason, it’s often used to make plant-based “crab” cakes or “lobster” rolls – some of our favorite lion’s mane mushroom recipes. 

Three pieces of lion's head mushroom on a white marble counter.

Lion’s mane mushroom often resembles a brain AND has brain health benefits. Mind is blown.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits

Many people use lion’s mane supplements in the form of capsules, powders, or coffee mixes for their powerful health benefits. As the whole mushroom can be hard to find, supplements are a good option for a brain boost. 

  • Brain Health. Hericium Erinaceus often looks a lot like a brain, and interestingly, its most well-known benefit is brain health. 
  • Mood & Focus. Studies have found that this mushroom may reduce depression and anxiety in as little as 4 weeks. 
  • Anti-inflammatory. Lion’s mane contains natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.  
  • Anti-Cancer. Some animal test-tube studies have found that compounds found in Hericium Erinaceus inhibited the growth of cancer cells. Human studies are still needed. 

Lion’s Mane Side Effects 

Whether taken in supplement or whole food form, lion’s mane appears to be very safe. If you have a mushroom allergy, it should be avoided, however. 

A wooden display filled with oyster mushrooms and lion's mane mushrooms at the Santa Barbara farmers market.

Specialty mushrooms at the Santa Barbara farmers market.

Where to Buy Fresh Lion’s Mane and What’s the Price? 

This mushroom can be tricky to find in grocery stores. I get it at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market, where I usually pay around $15 per pound. There are many online sources as well, with varying prices, usually around $15-$20 per pound. 

How to Grow Your Own Lion’s Mane

In nature, lion’s mane grows off of decaying tree trunks. Some people do forage for them, and they can be found in the Northern United States and Canada. 

If you aren’t able to find lion’s mane nearby, or just want to have some fun, growing your own is an option. There are kits available that come with everything you need to grow your own lion’s mane mushrooms. Here’s a link to a growing kit. This is an Amazon Affiliate link, which means I may earn a small commission when you shop through it. 

A fresh lion's mane mushroom gets cleaned with a damp paper towel on a cutting board.

Cleaning and Storing Mushrooms 

Mushrooms are very absorbent, so it’s best to avoid washing them unless needed. Brush off any dirt, then use a damp paper towel to clean the rest of the way before using it in recipes. 

According to the specialty mushroom grower I spoke with, it’s best to store lion’s mane at room temperature in a brown bag and avoid moist, wet environments like the refrigerator or airtight containers.

Lion’s mane lasts longer than many other types of mushrooms. We were told it would last up to two weeks, though we’ve always cooked ours within a few days. 

Slices of lion's mane mushroom begin to cook in a dry skillet.

How to Cook Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

There are many ways to cook lion’s mane, from crab cakes to pulled “pork” sandwiches. Our grower at the market suggested cooking lion’s mane simply by cooking in a dry pan for a few minutes on each side to dehydrate, then adding some olive oil or butter to saute for another couple of minutes,  and seasoning with salt and pepper. 

  • Step 1: Cook 1/2″ slices of the mushroom in a hot, dry, pan for about 4 minutes on each side until nicely seared. 
  • Step 2: Once the mushrooms have browned and sweated a bit, then you can add some flavor. Butter, salt, and pepper were recommended by the grower at the market. 
Two photos of cooked lion's mane mushrooms with liquid aminos. The bottom photo shows sauteed lion's mane mushrooms on a salad.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Recipes

  • Roast in Oven: Toss cauliflower-floret sized pieces of lion’s mane with olive oil, salt, and pepper (or seasoning of choice.” Place on a baking sheet and roast at 450°F, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Pan Sauté: Cut lion’s mane pieces into slices and cook in a dry skillet over medium heat until seared, about 4 minutes per side. Add butter, salt, and pepper, or a splash of liquid aminos, teriyaki sauce, or other sauce. 
  • Make Lobster Rolls 
  • Try a “Pulled Pork” Sandwich made with lion’s mane
  • This Mushroom Swiss Lions Mane Burger looks delicious 

Best Lion’s Mane Mushroom Recipe: Vegan Crab Cakes 

An overhead photo of vegan lion's mane mushroom crab cakes on a a salad with aioli sauce and fresh lemons.

I’ve tried fresh lion’s mane a few different ways and can say that “crab cakes” is the best of the lion’s mane mushroom recipes. If you are lucky enough to find yourself with this special mushroom, try this recipe. 

Lion’s mane crab cakes are perfectly crispy on the outside thanks to panko and flavorful, moist, and tender on the inside. I love them on top of a salad with avocado. The cakes can be pan-fried or cooked in the air fryer (Air Fryer French Fries would be tasty alongside). 

A close-up photograph of shredded or pulled lion's mane mushroom.

Why this Recipe Lion’s Mane Mushroom Recipe Works so Well

I used a highly rated classic crab cake recipe here but used shredded fresh lion’s mane mushroom instead of crab. Lion’s mane naturally pulls apart into pieces with a similar texture to shredded crab meat. 

These vegan crab cakes are even tastier than real crab cakes, in my opinion. They have all the texture and flavor, without any hint of fishiness. 

Substitutions 

  • Bread crumbs. Don’t substitute panko bread crumbs for any other type unless you really need to. Panko creates the perfect texture. 
  • Flax Egg. You can use a chicken egg here if you’re not vegan, and it will bind the cakes together well. You can also use another egg alternative such as a chia egg. Here’s how to make a flax egg. 
  • Mayo. Mayo is not optional and there really is no substitute. There are many brands of vegan mayo available such as Follow Your Heart. It’s the perfect ingredient to bind the cakes together while adding flavor and moisture. 
  • Old Bay Seasoning. Many crab cake recipes use Old Bay Seasoning. This recipe has plenty of flavor without it, but if you’d like you can add 1/2 teaspoon, and slightly reduce the salt. 
  • Veggies. You can add some very finely diced red bell pepper or celery if you’d like, or sub shallot for the onion. However, be careful not to add too much or the cakes won’t stick together as well. 

Tips for Perfect Lion’s Mane Crab Cakes 

  1. Be sure to pack the cakes very firmly. Don’t worry about smashing pieces of lion’s mane. 
  2. Vegan crab cakes can fall apart a bit in the pan. Don’t worry if this happens, simply press the cake back together with a rubber spatula, or remove it from the pan, reshape and try again. 
  3. This is a great recipe for the air fryer. Coat liberally with cooking spray and air-fry until very crispy. If not crispy enough, pop onto a very hot cast-iron skillet for a minute. 
  4. These vegan crab cakes reheat very well and are great the next day. Reheat in a hot skillet until heated through. 
  5. My favorite way to enjoy these is over a bed of greens topped with diced avocado, lots of fresh herbs, and hot sauce. 
Yield: 4 cakes

Lion's Mane Mushroom Crab Cakes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

If you're looking for special lion's mane mushroom recipes, "crab cakes" are as good as it gets. These vegan crab cakes made with mushrooms are even tastier than the original. They are crispy on the outside and tender and meaty on the inside.

Photograph of a crab cake made with lion's mane mushroom.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. fresh Lion's Mane mushroom
  • 1/3 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 flax egg (or other egg/egg substitute)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil for frying (or cooking spray for air frying)

Instructions

  1. Trim away any brown bits at the base of the lion's mane. Use a damp paper towel to brush off any dirt. Do not rinse the lion's mane as it will get waterlogged. A fresh lion's mane mushroom is cleaned with a paper towel.
  2. Pull the mushroom apart into small shreds about ¼" wide, or cut with a knife if you're in a hurry. Shredded or pulled lion's mane mushroom.
  3. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the panko, parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  4. In another small-medium bowl, stir together the prepared "egg", mustard, mayo, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce until combined.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the lion's mane mixture, scraping all of it out with a spatula. Mix together very well. Using your hands works best. It's important the mixture holds together well. If it's too wet, add a little more breadcrumbs, if too dry, add a little more mayo or a tiny bit of water. Wet ingredients are poured over shredded lion's mane mushrooms with breadcrumbs and parley to make vegan crab cakes.
  6. Divide the mixture into 4 sections and press each very firmly into "cakes." Refrigerate for 15 minutes to help them gel together if you'd like. Four uncooked vegan lion's mane crab cakes.
  7. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmery. Carefully cook the cakes until crispy and golden, about 4 minutes per side.
  8. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain some of the oil. Serve immediately.

Notes

Air Fryer Instructions

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 415°F.
  2. Make the crab cakes as described above, and coat very well in cooking spray.
  3. Place in the air fryer basket and air-fry until very browned and crispy on the outside, about 15 minutes.


I like to serve these lion's mane crab cakes on a bed of greens with avocado or a dollop of aioli, fresh herbs, and a slice of lemon.

It's a good idea to make a small "tester" cake. Fry one up before cooking the whole batch to make sure the temperature is correct and the cakes hold together well.

These are a nice size as a main dish on a salad. Feel free to make 8 smaller cakes for appetizers.

This recipe was adapted from Best-Ever Crab Cakes on Delish

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 192Total Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.

Other Mushroom Recipes

Sources: