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When Autumn finally comes around in Texas it’s usually still in the 90’s. We still embrace the “change” in season by seeking out ingredients and recipes that make us think of crisp Fall days and leaves starting to change color. One of our favorites is pasta with a creamy mushroom gravy that brings all the punch of a ragu without any meat. This recipe for delectable creamy mushroom pasta boasts a luxurious blend of earthy mushrooms sautéed to perfection, enveloped in a velvety cream sauce that’s both comforting and richly flavorful.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Since this is a relatively simple recipe the quality of the ingredients, especially the mushrooms, is key.
In the printable recipe below, you can find a complete list of ingredients and measurements.
- Wild or Cultivated Mushrooms: We are using a combination of trumpet mushrooms for their incredible texture and delicate flavor, shiitake for their earthy punch and cremini to round out the mix. I’d avoid using the common white button mushroom as it doesn’t really have much flavor on it’s own and just takes on the flavor of the other ingredients. If you want to use wild mushrooms, make sure you’re sourcing them from a reputable purveyor and unless you are an experienced mycophile (mushroom forager) there are serious risks in foraging for them yourself.
- Shallots: Shallots compliment the flavor of the mushrooms rather than compete with them, but you can use onions with just a bit of garlic in their place.
- Pasta: The shape of the pasta is important for this dish as you want something with texture that will encourage the sauce to stick to it. Any shape of a bronze-cut pasta should do the trick, we just like the shape and size cascatelli. Avoid spaghetti or linguine as you’ll be focused on twirling your fork to get a bite of the pasta, leaving all of the luscious mushrooms on the plate to grow cold.
- Thyme: Dried thyme pairs very nicely with the mushrooms and shallots and if you can find it fresh it will be even more vibrant.
- Additional Ingredients: heavy cream, all-purpose flour, butter, dry sherry, olive oil, vegetable broth
What are the Best Mushrooms for Pasta
We are lucky to live near a fantastic produce market that actually grows its own mushrooms. Often up to a dozen varieties are available on any given day from the humble cremini to more unique morels. Some of the more flavorful varieties include oyster, porcini, wood ear, and portobello, most of which are becoming more readily available in most upscale grocery stores. You should check your local farmer’s markets or other produce specialty stores to see what is growing wild or locally cultivated in your part of the country. With many caves in and around the Texas Hill Country, mushroom farming has become a thriving industry around us.
The best mushrooms for creamy mushroom pasta are those with a rich, earthy flavor and a nice texture that complements the creamy sauce. Here are some popular choices that hopefully you can find:
- Cremini Mushrooms: These are often considered the ideal choice for creamy pasta dishes. They have a slightly nutty flavor and a firm texture.
- Portobello Mushrooms: These larger mushrooms have a robust, meaty flavor and can add a hearty element to your pasta dish.
- Shiitake Mushrooms: Known for their intense, savory flavor, shiitake mushrooms can provide a unique and bold taste to your creamy pasta.
- Chanterelle Mushrooms: If you’re looking for something more gourmet, chanterelles have a delicate, fruity aroma and a mild peppery taste.
- Trumpet Mushrooms: Also known as king oyster mushrooms, they have a meaty texture and a rich, umami flavor that pairs wonderfully with the creamy sauce.
Feel free to use a combination of these mushrooms to create a more complex flavor profile in your creamy mushroom pasta.
How to Make Creamy Mushroom Pasta
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
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Pro-tip: It’s a good idea to get your mise en place before you start cooking. Pre-chop and measure all of the ingredients and have them readily available. The recipe then comes together quite quickly with less stress or chance of burning anything.
1. Prepare the Ingredients: Fill up a medium pot with 4-6 inches of water and add a healthy pinch of salt and then place over medium-high heat to boil. While the water is being heated, chop up all of the mushrooms and herbs and measure out all of the liquid ingredients. Then heat up a large sauté pan on medium heat and add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter before putting your pasta in the boiling water.
2. Sauté the Shallots Mushrooms: Once the butter has melted add shallots along with a pinch of salt and sauté until they are soft and golden, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning. To the cooked shallots add the trumpet and cremini mushrooms along with a pinch of salt and cook until they have released their water and have cooked down but are still firm; this should take about 5-7 minutes. Add the shiitake and thyme last as they don’t need to cook very long, no more than an additional 2-3 minutes.
3. Make the Sauce: When the pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of the pasta water for the sauce and then strain out the rest of the water, setting the pasta aside. Add the dry sherry and broth to the sauté pan with the shallots and mushrooms, allow to simmer until the sauce has reduced by half. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and heavy cream, reduce the temperature to low, and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour along with a ¼ cup of pasta water and combine well to finish the sauce, adding additional pasta water as needed to get a creamy consistency.
4. Combine and Serve: Add the chopped parsley to the mushroom sauce and carefully fold everything together to combine. Serve the mushroom sauce over pasta and top with grated Pecorino Romano and parsley.
What to Serve with Creamy Mushroom Pasta
Serve this creamy mushroom pasta with a fresh side salad to balance out the rich sauce. Our favorite salad with pasta is an Italian salad that is made with toasted sesame seeds. A great loaf of garlic bread also pairs well. Plus it’s a great way to get all of the tasty leftover sauce off the plate.
This creamy mushroom pasta is perfect as is but you can also add proteins. Try it with cooked and sliced chicken breast to make a creamy chicken mushroom pasta, cooked Italian sausage, or cooked pancetta, guanciale, or bacon.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: Pasta with creamy mushroom sauce is such a quick and easy dish that there is no reason to make it ahead of time. Plus it just tastes better fresh. However, the pasta can be cooked ahead of time. Cook the pasta just to al dente, remove it from the pot (don’t forget to save some pasta water), and toss it with a little olive oil. Once the pasta has cooled, place it in a ziplock bag and store it in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make the mushroom pasta bring a pot of water to boil then add the pasta to the water for about 30 seconds to warm it back up. Be careful not to allow it to sit too long in the hot water or the pasta will get mushy.
How to Store: Creamy mushroom pasta is best enjoyed immediately after being cooked. But if there are leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
How to Reheat: Leftovers can be reheated on the stove over low heat or at 30-second intervals in the microwave. Stir in a slash of cream as it reheats to help thicken the sauce back up.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Don’t just slice the mushrooms. Vary the pieces of the mushrooms in the sauce by also finely chopping some of them.
- Don’t wash mushrooms. Mushrooms will absorb water like a sponge which impact their cooking and browning. Use a dry cloth, paper towel, or even a soft pastry brush to wipe them off.
- Use a large sauté pan. The mushroom’s need some space to cook and release their moisture. It will also help them develop color which is where all the flavor is.
- Add salt to the shallots and mushrooms as they sauté. Salt encourages the release of liquid as the shallots and mushrooms cook.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use milk instead of heavy cream but the creamy sauce will not be as thick.
Pasta water along with using heavy cream will help keep your mushroom sauce creamy.
We do not recommend substituting cream of mushroom soup for the heavy cream. Cream of mushroom soup is made with other “spices” and ingredients. We made this recipe once with cream of mushroom soup and it definitely fell short on flavor and texture.
In a lot of recipes this would be a great substitute but we don’t recommend it for this one. Sour cream has a mild tart flavor which will affect the flavor profile of the pasta dish. It can also curdle in warm a sauce.
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Creamy Mushroom Pasta
This recipe may contain paid affiliate sales links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclaimer policy for details.
- 1 cup short pasta
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ½ ounces diced shallots
- 3-4 ounces trumpet mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 ½ ounces shiitake mushrooms, cut in half
- 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- grated Pecorino Romano, for topping
- chopped parsley, for topping
- Bring a large saucepan of salt water to boil (about 1 teaspoon of salt) over medium-high heat. Once the water has come to a boil add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until it is al dente. Drain pasta reserving one cup of pasta water.
- Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to a large skillet over medium-low.
- Once the butter has melted add shallots and a pinch of salt. Sauté until they are soft and golden. Stir occasionally to prevent them from burning.
- To the cooked shallots add the trumpet and cremini mushrooms along with a pinch of salt and cook until they have released their water and have cooked down but are still firm about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent them from burning.
- Add the thyme to the mushrooms and shallots along with the shiitake mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the dry sherry and broth. Allow the sauce to reduce by half.
- Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and heavy cream, reduce to low, and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the flour along with ¼ cup pasta water and combine well to form the sauce. Add additional pasta water as needed to get a creamy consistency.
- Serve mushroom sauce over pasta and top with grated Pecorino Romano and parsley.