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How do I avoid soggy mushroom pizza syndrome?

I make a mean pizza, but cringe every time go to add mushrooms as the results are less than perfect. The mushrooms give off so much water that I end up having to sop up all of it with a paper towel before serving, and this also screws with the browning on the cheese. Any ideas? I would rather not saute before as i like the flavor of fresh mushrooms.

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  1. How long do you cook the pizza for? Can you wait to the last few minutes of cooking before throwing the mushrooms on?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Non Cognomina

      about 15 minutes at 500 degrees. that's actually a good idea!

      1. re: Non Cognomina

        I second this. Throw your mushrooms on for the last five minutes of cooking.

        1. re: Kitchen Queen

          I have one and use it sometimes. How would that change anything?

          1. re: shiromaguro

            Cooks the bottom and keeps it crispy. If that doesn't work, slice shrooms and salt a little, put onto a paper towel and let them sweat a bit. The salt will pull out the water.

        2. I always sautee my mushrooms in olive oil and garlic first... It's an added step but I like the results of the mushrooms being really garlicky. Don't know if that helps...

          1. Two solutions. One is to cut the mushrooms *much* thinner. This allows for less moisture release and also allows the mushroom edges to crisp up a bit too. The other solution is to boil the fresh, sliced (1/8" to 1/4") mushrooms. You then allow them to cool in a colander, and squeeze the water out of them before putting them on your pizza. You'd be amazed how much water comes out of them by squeezing them in your hands or wringing them in a cloth towel.
            The trade-off is taste when using boiled versus fresh. IMO, both methods are good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cheese Boy

              Ditto on Cheese Boy's Very Thin.raw. The first time I tried it, I worried about sacrificing a toothsome fullness, but the unique feel of the crisped edges, and a (dare we call it) carmelization of the sliced shroom was great

              1. re: FoodFuser

                Third this. Thin raw is the way to go...

            2. I'd go with fewer mushrooms, personally.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ccbweb

                Thanks to all for your tips. I went ahead and tried a combo of two different suggestions: very thin slicing and adding at the very end. It helped a bit, but there was still a bit of the unwanted moisture. I think very thin slices plus ccbweb's rec of fewer mushrooms might be the way to go. I think the mistake with this last experiment was my greediness: I want a lot of mushrooms on my pizza. For that reason i'll probably also try the boiling method.

                I'm guessing restaurant pizza doesn't have this problem due to the extremely hot ovens?

                1. re: shiromaguro

                  Actually, I bet the hotter the oven, the more watery the mushrooms because it takes less time to cook the pizza. Come to think of it, you might try lower heat and longer cooking time. Counter-intuitive where pizza is concerned, but maybe worth a try.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Interesting. And worth a try, as I make pizza once a week, so plenty of opportunities to experiment. Thanks for the tip!

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      I was going to say just the opposite. The OP said they cooked the pizza about 15 min. Mine is done in about 5 (pizza stone at 500) in a convection oven and I never have trouble w/ the mushrooms releasing water. I don't think they have TIME to start releasing water. I wonder if convection is the key to cooking fast and hot at home?

                    2. re: shiromaguro

                      I worked in a family run pizza joint all through college and we had problems with liquid from mushroom and also, sometimes, peppers. The guy who made the pizzas did this amazing thing where he'd pull the pie out on the pizza peel and tip it to pour off the liquid, then pop it back into the oven for a minute....came out perfectly, but I think that took a whole lot of practice!

                      1. re: shiromaguro

                        How about slicing very thin and throwing on the mushrooms on when you take the pizza out of the oven? I'll bet the residual heat would be enough to barely "cook" the fresh mushrooms.

                    3. Several TV chefs say not to wash mushrooms becasue they soak up water like a sponge. They suggest brushing them.

                      I've had 'wet' pizza problems, so I started using thicker sauce and dryer dough (harder to spread though) because almost everything on the pizza has moisture. Mushrooms are just the wettest.

                      If you're a mushroom fan, it'd be a shame if your solution was putting on less mushrooms.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: El Puerco

                        ATK did an experiment to prove/disprove the mushroom absorption theory. Result after washing muchrooms and weighing was that they did NOT absorb water.

                        Instead of regular shrooms have you thought of using shitaki's. They seem to release less water.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I haven't tried shitakis on pizza, but I have substituted the standard white mushroom for crimini, and they seem to give off about half of the water as the former.

                          As for washing them, I always do, and then dry them with a towel thoroughly. I was wondering if that might be a problem as well.

                          1. re: jfood

                            Jacques Pepin is another who says that washing is okay... and NOBODY can flute a mushroom like Jacques.

                            The kitchen myth of "use dry brush only" may have had more merit in previous days when mushrooms did not get to market as quickly, and a higher percentage entered the home kitchen as more mature, with open gills.

                            1. re: FoodFuser

                              I also think Alton Brown talked about the whole washing mushroom thing on Good Eats. He would soak the mushrooms in water for a certain number of minutes and check to see how much water was absorbed by the mushrooms. He found out that the water was negligible.

                              I've tried using mushrooms washed and unwashed. I find that it doesn't really make too much of a difference. In that case, I would totally opt for washing.

                              In term of the pizza, I would also saute the mushrooms before putting it on the pie to decrease the amount of water.

                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                And let's not forget the most important reason to wash mushroom, those two famous words - MUSHROOM SOIL

                                1. re: jfood

                                  How troo, jfoo. In few other arenas of life is it so easy to deal with the bulls**t.

                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                    Regardless of its composition, the mushroom soil has been fully sterilized before the mushrooms were planted in it. And if you say, "Doesn't matter, it's the IDEA of the thing," then I'll wonder why you'd allow yourself to be sickened by your own imagination, instead of limiting your vulnerability to actual toxins.

                          2. Well, too bad you want fresh, because proper NY mushroom pizza is made with canned mushrooms, which counterintuitively throw off less moisture than fresh....

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Karl S

                              Proper NY pizza uses canned mushrooms? Not in my experience...

                              1. re: a_and_w

                                I don't mean gourmet pizza, but a lot of old-style pizza joints used something (that is the food-service version) like canned mushrooms.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  The old guy who started the Casa Bianca pizzeria in Eagle Rock back in the '50s and who died this last year was unabashedly old-fashioned about his pizza, and insisted to his dying day that canned mushrooms were the ONLY proper mushrooms for a pizza. His descendants are preserving this legacy, while the battle frequently flares up on the LA Board: "It's DRECK!" "No, it's PERFECT!" That last quote was from me...

                            2. I cook pizza on an oven stone, both thick and thin crust, frequently with mushrooms, but have never had soggy pizza. Maybe the ovenstone does the trick?

                              1. I always use canned mushrooms when I make pizza. Never have a problem.

                                If I were to use fresh, I'd cook them first. Get as much moisture out of them as I could.
                                I don't think I'd got to the trouble of squeezing the excess water out with my hands though.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Davwud

                                  sorry but I really dislike canned mushrooms….I can't even eat them

                                2. When making pizza with juicy veggies I bake it half way or more without the cheese, yank it out, toss the cheese on, and put it back in. Thin slicing helps. Things under cheese cannot evaporate. Even so, I saute mushrooms first.

                                  1. Its so easy - slice the mushrooms thinly, spread them or pile them out on a big tray or pizza pan, put them in the oven while it heats up - about 15 minutes - drain, squeeze, season and use . Perfect.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: gordon50

                                      I do something similar to this - I toss the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and spices and roast them in the oven - then add them to pizza. Also I never put cheese on top of the mushrooms, only underneath so the moisture isn't trappen by anything.

                                    2. Slice the mushrooms and nuke them till the juice runs. Drain and use.
                                      Or drain, saute till golden and then add to the pizza right at the end of baking.

                                      1. I have found that the best way to add the flavor of mushrooms to pizza is to first make "Duxelles".

                                        1. This can be solved 2 ways. The first is a bit more expensive , but the taste it worth it. I am assuming that you are using white button mushrooms that are full of water. You don't want to submerge them in water when you wash them because that will add to their already considerable water content. I slice them very small and put them on the very top of the pizza where the moisture can evaporate. Leaving them uncovered in the fridge for a few days will allow them to lose some of their moisture and concentrate their flavor, but they don't look as nice, if that is a problem for you. A very hot oven (500°) with a stone speed the evaporation. I also like to blot them with a piece of paper towel before I add a topping of provolone cheese to the pizza.

                                          The second more expensive way is to use their genetic twin, the crimmini mushroom. They are stringer in flavor and have much less water, but they are about twice as expensive.

                                          1. Pre-cooking is the way to go. Mushrooms don't soak up as much water during washing as some ppl think... only a trace. They have a naturally high water content and the only real way to deal with it is to remove it first. Saute in a bit of olive oil then add to pizza. No moisture and better flavor. I do this with other ingredients - onion & bell peppers come to mind.. but I do it with anything that has an appreciable water content. This has the added benefit of these ingredients being cooked through because I find that onions & bell peppers don't cook through if added raw. Except tomatoes.. they get mushy when pre-cooked so I just drain the slices on a paper towel. Then I bake the pizza in a really hot oven (I think 475 or 500 is the highest for my oven). I have a pizza stone but find that I get better results baking directly on the rack. Carmelizing the onions makes it more like a tarte Alsace, which I love.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: soniabegonia

                                              I agree with the pre-cooking: slice mushrooms and brown on both sides in a very hot cast iron skillet; no oil; turning each slice by hand - one by one- as it browns. They'll have a lovely concentration of flavor - no excess moisture... then, add to your pizza.
                                              I guess I love the flavor of raw chopped green peppers added to top the pizza just before serving!

                                            2. The key for me is getting my oven to 500 degress (convection or not) and then letting my stone preheaat with the oven, but let it sit in the hot oven at 500 for nearly 2 1/2 hours. HOT HOT HOT!!!!
                                              Also don't wash mushrooms, not a fan!
                                              And I do occasionally sautee (meaning jump in italian) the mushroom lightly for a minute or so , no oil needed:)

                                              1. I realize this thread has been going for awhile and curious why I'd not seen it before.. But I always make my own pizza and one of my faves is the veggie one. I include artichoke, olives, green pepper, red pepper, onions (red and scallions) a garlic and olive oil drizzle, and mushrooms. On the bottom I brush olive oil and then salt it and dried basil. The the tomato sauce which I use an inexepensive canned marinara, then a layer of cheeses, usually mozzerella, jack and fontina. Then more seasonings and then layer the veggies. I use quite a few and then more cheese and seasonings. I can recall the particular order, but sometimes mushrooms top it along with scallions. But if you think about it, all those veggies are loaded with moisture not just the mushrooms. I can't imagine having to use a paper towel to blot up the water! I bake it at 450 on the middle rack, and I use a pizza pan that's perforated. I always get a perfect crust, and never water or liquid. Perhaps your ovens not hot enough, or your getting liquid from your cheese(s). And I use fresh not sauteed mushrooms, in fact all the veggies are fresh. Are you using fresh tomatoes? They could be the problem too.

                                                1. I've been having the same problem too and tonight I got it resolved, thanks to some of the suggestions in this thread. First, I made the duxelles recipe mentioned earlier and found here: http://www.thecitycook.com/cooking/re...
                                                  Next, I cooked the pizza with sauce and cheese only, for about 5 minutes. While that was cooking I thinly cut and pat-dried tomato slices with several paper towels as well as rinsing and pat-drying some marinated artichoke hearts. After the first five minutes was up, I put on the duxellles, dried tomato and artichoke, then baked another 3 minutes. The best pizza I've ever made. Just perfect. Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

                                                  1. I just throw the sliced shrooms on a couple layers of paper towels and microwave until they're softened. Don't have to add any butter or dirty a pan and the excess water wicks off onto the paper towels.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: gmm

                                                      I also microwave them -- I put the slices on a plate and microwave for 45-50 seconds. that's just enough time to release the water. Drain, and then pat dry on paper towels.