Mushroom Tacos With Creamy Chile de Árbol Salsa

March 28, 2022
5 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 4 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Mushroom tacos are great with just one type, like cremini, but they really shine with a mix of fungi, lending different flavors and textures. My ideal combo is cremini with some shiitakes and oyster mushrooms thrown in, but this filling is beautiful with lion’s mane, maitakes, portobellos, or really any fun farmers market finds. Just stay away from high-ticket varieties like chanterelles and morels because you’ll be adding a lot of spice. While mushrooms are inherently meaty on their own, adding a few choice ingredients—soy sauce, smoked paprika, cumin, and a little dose of lime zest—boosts their umami earthiness and transforms them into the best version of themselves. You could stand at the stove and cook these in batches in a skillet, or you could let the oven do the work. The trick is roasting them at a high temperature and making sure they have space to brown, not steam. The end result is smoky, highly seasoned shroomies that are crisp and caramelized around the edges with a nice tender bite.

Since the mushrooms lack the fattiness of their meaty taco counterparts, like carnitas or carne asada, I love pairing them with a rich, luscious condiment like this creamy chile de árbol salsa. Thickened with soaked cashews and blended with roasted tomatoes, onion, and garlic, this salsa packs a hearty dose of heat, with just enough acidity to cut through the deep earthy flavor of the mushrooms. If you want to make the salsa even spicier, you can increase the amount of chiles de árbol to 30 for hot and 40 for extra fiery. Since developing this recipe, I’ve kept some form of this salsa in my fridge at all times. It livens up eggs in the morning, turns odds and ends of leftovers into an exciting lunch, and, of course, is great on any taco. —Asha Loupy

What You'll Need
  • Salsa
  • 20 dried chiles de árbol (about 15 grams), stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons canola (or another neutral) oil, divided
  • 3 large plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium white onion, peeled and cut into 4 wedges
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) raw cashews, soaked in cold water for 3 to 4 hours
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
  • Mushroom Tacos
  • 2 pounds mixed mushrooms, like cremini, oyster, and shiitake
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 medium lime
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 soft taco–size or 18 slider-size corn tortillas
  • 1/4 small head green or red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
  • Crumbled cotija, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Place the chiles de árbol on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss to coat, then spread into an even layer. Roast the chiles until they turn a shade darker in color and smell toasty, 60 to 90 seconds (do not walk away during this step—the chiles will burn easily). Transfer the chiles to the pot of boiling water, cover, turn off the heat, and let sit for 20 minutes.
  4. While the chiles are rehydrating, roast the vegetables: Place the tomatoes, onion, and garlic on the sheet pan you used for toasting the chiles. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle the tomatoes and onions with ½ teaspoon salt. Roast until one side of the onions is deeply caramelized and the tomatoes start to burst and blister, about 25 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  5. Allow the vegetables to cool for 5 minutes, peel the garlic, discarding the skins, and transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cashews to the blender. Now use the slotted spoon to transfer the rehydrated chiles to the blender, along with ⅓ cup of the chile soaking liquid, reserving the rest of the soaking liquid. Add the lime juice, sugar, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt to the blender and blend until smooth. If the salsa is a little too thick, add 1 tablespoon of the chile soaking liquid at a time until you reach the desired consistency (I like it to be thick and spoonable). Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Transfer the finished salsa to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until serving.
  6. Prepare the mushrooms based on the variety you have: Slice cremini mushrooms in thick slices, quarter the shiitakes, and pull apart the oyster mushrooms into large bite-size pieces. Divide the mushrooms between two rimmed sheet pans.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, finely grated zest of 1 lime (reserve the lime to cut into wedges for serving), smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until combined. Pour over the mushrooms, tossing to coat each mushroom in the sauce, and spread them into an even layer. Roast for 20 minutes, give them a stir, and spread back into an even layer. Continue to roast until the mushrooms are starting to crisp and caramelize on the outside, another 12 to 15 minutes.
  8. A few minutes before the mushrooms are done, warm your tortillas using your desired method. (I like to heat mine over an open gas burner, but you can also toast them in a lightly oiled, very hot skillet.)
  9. To serve, transfer the mushrooms to a serving dish and set on the table along with the tortillas, salsa, cabbage, onion, cilantro, cheese, and lime wedges.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alek Meyer
    Alek Meyer
  • Dillon McCardell
    Dillon McCardell

2 Reviews

Alek M. March 16, 2023
I loved the idea of this, but the salsa was way too hot (hotter than the hottest hot sauce in my fridge). The salsa was inedible when I followed the recipe, but after doubling the cashews and adding an extra tomato, it fell more into typical hot sauce territory. I have a high spice tolerance, so I really don't think it's me -- I wonder if the chiles de arbol I have are much hotter than the ones the recipe was tested with?

The mushrooms were pretty bland, but maybe that's on me for using all cremini. I'll probably stick to Rick Martinez mushroom carnitas or Danny Trejo's mushroom carne asada tacos in the future.
Dillon M. April 5, 2022
This tastes amazing, but I would beware the spice level of the Árbol chiles. I would consider myself an above average spice tolerant person, but we used only 3 chiles (not 20) AND we de-seeded them. The salsa was still relatively spicy. Maybe our chiles were extremely strong, but I just caution you to check before you cook.

Other than that, best tacos I’ve ever had in my life. 10/5