Quick summary: Mushroom roux, different creamy soups, heavy cream, or sour cream are suitable alternatives for the cream of mushroom soup. But you can also add cream cheese, non-dairy milk, or even coconut milk to your recipes.
Although cream of mushroom soup is sometimes eaten on its own, it is most often used as an ingredient in other dishes. It is a common addition in green bean casserole, creamy sauce for pasta, and other soup recipes.
Canned cream of mushroom soup is the most popularly used type since the condensed cream soup doesn’t require any preparation. You can simply add it straight from the can into your recipe.
If you are gluten or dairy intolerant, you’ll have to give the canned stuff a miss. Maybe you’ve already started making your favorite recipes and realize your pantry is missing cream of mushroom soup. Don’t panic — you might have a quick fix right under your nose.
No matter what your reason is for needing a cream of mushroom soup substitute, we’ve got an easy solution for you. Check out the list of alternatives below and some tips on how to incorporate them into your recipe.
What Is Cream of Mushroom Soup?
Cream of mushroom soup is a creamy yet simple dish made by thinning out a roux with milk or cream and then adding mushrooms or mushroom broth.
The roux base is usually wheat flour heated with butter or other fat. Dairy milk is then added to the thickened flour mixture.
Canned cream soup also contains corn starch, preservatives, and may or may not include garlic powder and onion powder.
Well known in North America, the canned soup has a thick consistency and will thin out slightly when heated over medium heat.
It is mostly used to add a rich and savory flavor to dishes. Think pasta, cheat’s beef stroganoff, cream soups, creamed spinach, and tater tot casseroles.
To eat it as a hot soup, you’ll need to heat it in a medium saucepan and add some milk or water to thin it out to the desired consistency. You can also add chicken broth or vegetable broth. Simply stir it occasionally and let it warm through thoroughly.
Best Substitutes for Cream of Mushroom Soup
1. Mushroom Roux
For the closest match, a mushroom roux is your best bet. This method is similar to the one used to make the store bought version, but on a smaller scale. It is also void of the additional preservatives.
A great reason to replace canned cream of mushroom soup is also that you can tailor it to your needs — whether you need to reduce salt or fat in your diet or need it to be gluten or dairy free.
The only downside (which is hardly a con) is that you’ll need to put in a bit more effort than simply opening a can.
To make your replacement you will need ¼ cup of all-purpose wheat flour (or all-purpose gluten-free flour).
You will also need two tablespoons of butter (or a vegetable fat alternative), one cup of broth, and a ¼ cup of cream. You can use vegetable or mushroom broth.
TIP: If you have dried mushrooms, simmer them for 15 to 30 minutes to release the flavor and make your own broth.
You can also replace the cream according to your dietary needs. Use half-and-half milk for a lower fat recipe or plant-based milk to make it dairy free.
Make your roux by softening the butter in a small to medium saucepan. Add the flour, and stir continuously over low to medium heat with a whisk until it becomes smooth, thick, and lump-free.
The amount of liquid you add will depend on how thick you want the mixture. Add just a little bit of liquid to start loosening the cooked flour and keep stirring with a whisk.
Adding small amounts of liquid at a time will help to prevent lumps from forming. Consistently add more liquid and continue stirring.
As it loosens to a smooth gloopy consistency, add the final bit of liquid until you get the consistency you want. When removed from the heat and cooled completely, it will thicken up a little.
If you want some sliced mushroom bits in your dish, saute them separately and add them towards the end.
2. Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup
Making your own homemade cream of mushroom soup is incredibly easy and not quite as complicated as the roux method.
Like the above method, you can tailor it to your dietary preferences by switching out dairy products for non-dairy alternatives, and high-fat or high-sodium ingredients for healthier versions. It’s also free of gluten.
Keep in mind that when switching out heavy cream for low-fat milk, the creaminess and consistency will change. The soup will be more watery.
You can thicken it with a cornstarch slurry or let it reduce longer over medium-low heat. This will allow you to get a creamier consistency without the added fat or dairy content.
TIP: If you want a thicker soup, use less liquid than the recommended quantities in the below mushroom soup recipe.
To start, sauté one cup of sliced mushrooms in two tablespoons of butter.
Add one cup of mushroom (or vegetable) broth and a ½ to one cup of heavy cream, depending on the thickness and creaminess you desire.
Add seasonings to taste. This can include onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, salt, or dried parsley. Let the soup reduce and thicken over low heat.
If you want a smoother consistency, let the mixture cool a little before giving it a whirl in a blender.
3. Other Creamy Soups
If you’re all about convenience and your local grocery store is out of creamy mushroom soup, you can use another creamy soup instead.
The main thing here is to consider the factors that are most important in your recipe. Is it the mushroom taste, the creaminess, or the umami flavor?
The below options can be used in equal quantities as a direct swap.
Cream Of Chicken
Cream of chicken soup has a similar consistency, creamy texture, and salty flavor which makes it a good cream of mushroom soup substitute in selected sauces and casseroles.
It does, however, have a chicken flavor instead of the umami notes and is not vegetarian. When grabbing chicken soup as your alternative, make sure it pairs well with the other flavors in your dish.
Cream Of Potato
Canned potato soup offers a similar texture and consistency, is vegetarian, and its color is not too different. Although it also has a salty taste, the flavor is milder and lacks the umami notes that mushroom brings.
The potato cream is a great substitute to replicate the luxurious texture and consistency without changing up the flavor of your dish.
If you’re missing the mushroom flavor, add some finely chopped and sautéed fresh mushrooms.
Cream Of Celery
With the same texture, thickness, and a color that is not too contrasting, canned celery soup is another ideal vegetarian replacement.
The flavor is salty with vegetable nuances and lacks the umami earthiness of mushrooms.
It has a versatile taste that pairs well with a variety of other ingredients, especially vegetable casseroles and creamed spinach.
Cream Of Broccoli Soup
The broccoli variety has similar properties to celery in terms of a rich vegetable taste.
Although you will get a good match of texture and consistency, make sure the flavor pairs with your other ingredients. This is best used in vegetable or cheesy casseroles.
4. Heavy Cream
Since heavy cream is one of the key components in mushroom soup, it will make a suitable substitute if the consistency and smooth, velvety texture are what you’re after.
If you don’t like (or can’t have) mushrooms, this will give you all the textural characteristics, without the mushroom component.
It also serves as a blank canvas, allowing you to flavor your dish as desired, and pairs well with pretty much any other flavor profile.
When heated, the dairy will thicken. If you use this as a replacement but are worried about it being too thin you can:
- Start by using less than your recipe calls for
- Let it reduce on low to medium heat until you get the desired consistency, or
- Thicken it over medium heat with a cornstarch slurry
Since you’ll be missing the savory flavor, add some herbs and spices to spruce it up. Salt, pepper, onion or garlic powder, and herbs are all ideal.
If you do want the umami mushroom taste, add some chopped and sauteed mushrooms for a close flavor match.
If heavy cream is your go-to savior for emergencies, you can always store it for longer keeping. Here’s how to freeze heavy cream for practical usage.
5. Full Fat Sour Cream
Similar to the previous alternative, sour cream serves as a blank canvas for you to flavor as you wish. It provides a luxurious texture and consistency.
You will find that some brands have a thicker consistency than canned soup. In this case, start with only half the amount your recipe calls for and add more if required.
Alternatively, you can also thin out the sour cream with a few drops of milk.
This dairy product has a sour flavor which won’t pair well with everything, but is fantastic in casseroles and even sauces for pasta or beef stroganoff.
To create a deeper flavor add herbs, spices, or sauteed mushrooms.
TIP: When thinning out thicker dairy alternatives, use broth instead of milk or water to add more depth of flavor.
If you notice mild discoloration, it might be a sign of spoilage. Here are all the signs to tell for sure and how long sour cream can last.
6. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a much thicker alternative, but this can easily be fixed by blending it with a bit of milk until you get the desired consistency.
It won’t add much flavor but you will definitely get the right texture and consistency your dish requires.
Since the taste is neutral, this is a suitable substitute in almost any recipe, but you will need to add seasonings.
As with other replacements, mix in some pepper, onion or garlic powder, herbs, or chopped and sauteed mushrooms as desired.
Read more on cream cheese shelf life and how to tell if it’s spoiled.
7. Non-Dairy Milk
For a dairy free option, you can switch out the soup for any dairy-free milk alternative. There are however a few things to keep in mind when doing this.
The milk is much thinner in consistency. Ideally, you’ll want to thicken it over low to medium heat with a cornstarch paste or arrowroot powder.
You can also let it reduce down but this will take significantly longer than simply mixing in a gluten-free thickener.
Non-dairy milk also has a different taste. Consider how this will affect the overall flavor of your dish. Oat milk is fairly neutral while soy and coconut milk will be detectable.
Add mushrooms and seasoning as desired.
8. Coconut Milk and Mushroom Soup
Since full-fat coconut milk is much thicker than other non-dairy types, it is a great alternative to get a similar consistency.
Keep in mind there is a difference between coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut cream. You want the middle option, which is often available in a can.
To make a tasty vegan cream soup alternative, mix equal parts of unsweetened coconut milk with mushroom broth.
You can also use another flavor broth as a mushroom substitute. If the mixture is still too thick, add more broth until you get the desired consistency.
Mix in spices, herbs, and chopped, sauteed mushrooms as needed. Heating the mixture over low to medium heat for a short while will help the spices and herbs infuse their flavor.
Coconut milk has a pronounced coconut flavor, so you will need to ensure that this pairs with the other ingredients in your recipe.
It goes well with vegetable and chicken dishes. If you are using it for a meatball sauce, meat gravy, or beef stroganoff, note that it will taste somewhat different from the original recipe and might not pair as well with these types of dishes.
Coconut milk is usually a very durable product, but its shelf life drops significantly after opening, so learn all about how to recognize it’s spoiled.
When making a roux-based homemade cream of mushroom soup recipe, the temperature of your ingredients is very important. Adding liquid that is too cold can make the butter harden while too much heat can cause it to split.
You also want to ensure you add the liquid in small amounts and stir continuously instead of adding everything at once.
If the soup smells sour or different than usual, it is most likely spoiled. Don’t taste your soup if it smells sour or rancid, rather throw it out.
Once you’ve opened the can, decant the soup into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. It will last for up to one week.
You can alternatively freeze it in an airtight freezer bag or freezer-friendly container for up to two months.
Cream of mushroom soup makes any dish a whole lot more luxurious.
Whether you’re out of canned soup, don’t like the thought of adding canned ingredients to your recipe, or need a healthier alternative, there are a variety of options you can use instead.
Making your own soup or roux-based mushroom sauce is the closest flavor and consistency match. If you don’t have the time, mix some sautéed mushrooms with a thick creamy alternative like cream cheese, double cream, or sour cream.
If you really just need a quick fix, grab an alternative creamy soup, and you’re good to go. Happy Cooking!
*image by bit245/depositphotos