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How to Use Lion’s Mane Mushrooms in Your Dishes

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How to Use Lion’s Mane Mushrooms in Your Dishes

How to Use Mushrooms in Your Dishes

Mushrooms are a staple at An Oasis of Healing kitchen. We use them nearly daily in their whole or powder form, or even as tinctures as needed. We add them to chia seed pudding, smoothies, soups, salads, and many entrees! They provide living food with unique taste and texture, allowing us to achieve desired consistencies. Furthermore, we love them for their health-promoting qualities and anti-cancer properties, which we have explored in our blogs, where you can find more about The Fantastic Fungi World, namely about:

When you know how nutritious and beneficial mushrooms are, the next step is to start using them in your living food preparations. In this series of blog posts, we will cover different mushrooms and some of their most distinctive characteristics.

Lion’s mane (Hericium Erinaceus)

Lion’s mane is a culinary and medicinal mushroom widely consumed in Asian countries for its nutritional and health benefits1. Lion’s mane has been extensively used in Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine to fortify the spleen, nourish the gut, and as an anticancer compound. Furthermore, this mushroom is considered nourishing to the five internal organs (liver, lung, spleen, heart, and kidney), promoting good digestion, vigor, and strength2.

Lion’s mane owes its name to its characteristic beard-like appearance with long hair-like structures or spines called teeth, which resemble the mane of a lion. Here are some relevant facts about Lion’s mane:

Scientific name – Hericium erinaceus

Common names – bearded tooth fungus, bearded hedgehog, old man’s beard. The fruiting body is called hóu tóu gū (“monkey head mushroom”) in Chinese and yamabushitake (“mountain monk mushroom”) in Japanese2.

Physical Appearance – big, long, white, with long, shaggy spines. Also considered to have a pom-pom or beard-like shape3.

Geographical Region – Northern Hemisphere – Native to North America, Europe and Asia.

Climate – Temperate climate. Warm and humid weather (usually Summer to Fall).

Favorite Growth Medium – Lion’s mane grows on trees, and is considered a saprotroph, meaning an organism that feeds on nonliving organic matter. Therefore, Lion’s mane lives mostly in dead and decaying trees, or tree wounds that have not healed. Lion’s mane grows mainly in hardwood trees, such as oak, elm, maple, birch, walnut, sycamore, and beech. It can be found during late summer, particularly on American beech hardwood trees1,4.

Main Health Benefits

According to the literature, Lion’s mane possesses many health benefits derived from the properties of the mushroom fruit bodies, mycelia, and bioactive compounds.  The benefits include antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, antibiotic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, antifatigue, antihypertensive (normalize blood pressure), antihyperlipidemic (help people bring their cholesterol levels into a normal range), antisenescence (reduce biological aging and slow down gradual deterioration related with aging), and properties that can be protective for the heart, kidneys, liver, and brain. It also improves anxiety, cognitive function, and depression1,4,5.

  • Rich in phenol, flavonoids, and ascorbic acids, and contains carotenoids in smaller amounts. Important bioactive organic compounds include erinacines and hericenones, steroids, alkaloids, and lactones1,6,7.
  • One of the most physiologically important components is the β-glucan polysaccharides, which are responsible for anti-cancer, immune system modulating-modulating, cholesterol-lowering, antioxidant and neuroprotective activities1,6,7.
  • Anti-carcinogenic effects have been documented both in animal (rodent models) and human (human cancer cell lines) studies. These activities include the promotion of apoptosis (programmed cell death) and decreased proliferation (reduced spread of cancer cells), namely the inhibition of angiogenic factors (inhibit the growth of new blood vessels)1,4,8,9.
  • The bioactive compounds erinacines and hericenones can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier and have demonstrated neurotropic and neuroprotective effects. Shown to induce nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis5,10.
  • Lion’s mane promotes brain health and function, including memory, concentration, cognition, and focus. Can help improve mood and sleep2,11.
  • Has been used for the treatment of cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia prevention11,12.
  • Supports digestion, and may help with gastric and duodenal ulcers, and chronic gastritis2.
  • Studies highlight the importance Lion’s mane has in the traditional Chinese medicine texts1,4,7, where it is stated that this mushroom is capable of “fortifying the spleen, nourishing the stomach, and tranquilizing the mind.”

Lion’s Mane Nutritional Profile

Nutritional Value13 (per 100 grams – about half a cup)

  • Calories 43 calories
  • Protein 2.5g
  • Carbohydrates 7.6g carbohydrate
  • Fat 0.3g

Vitamins – small amounts of thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), vitamin B-6, biotin, and folate13.

Minerals – small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium13.

How to Use Lion’s Mane

You can use Lion’s mane fresh (cooked), dried, in powder, liquid extract or capsule form.

Culinary Adjectives – delicate, juicy, tender, and meaty.

Taste – described as similar to seafood. The creamy seafood-like taste makes these cooked mushrooms ideal for adding a meaty taste to vegan dishes. 

Cleaning – Before using fresh Lion’s Mane, you want to clean them. You can use a soft brush to gently sweep away any debris or use a damp cloth or paper towel. Remove parts that may be damaged or discolored. You want to remove the yellow parts to preserve the flavor. If they turn orange, become soft or slimy, or start to rot, don’t use them. Cut the mushroom into ¼ to 1-inch thickness3.

Cooking Fresh or Dried Lion’s Mane – You can cook fresh or dried Lion’s mane. You can cook Lion’s mane by “sautéing” them in a pan, with a little water. We do not recommend cooking with oils (such as coconut, olive, or avocado oil), because fats are degraded at high temperatures and may create carcinogenic by-products. By simply using some water or vegetable broth in a non-stick pan you will be able to cook your mushrooms without using oils and without them sticking to the pan and burning. You can also boil lion’s mane, but due to their “spongy” texture and increased water absorption, most people do not enjoy them boiled. You can, however, add them to soups after being boiled.

Powder – You can add your Lion’s mane powder to your smoothies, chia pudding, mushroom hot beverages, salads, or literally any dish.

Liquid Extracts – Liquid extracts are one of the easiest methods of delivering the beneficial properties of mushrooms. Follow the instructions on the label. Usually, you can drop the desired amount under your tongue and let it absorb or dilute in water and drink. It will have an “alcoholic” taste due to the alcohol used to make most tinctures.

Capsules – Take as recommended.

Find delicious mushroom recipes on our blog
Why Should You Cook Mushrooms?

BONUS RECIPE – Lions’ Mane Tea

This tea has a mild, earthy flavor, and you can use dried Lion’s mane or the mushroom powder.

  1. Grind or break dried Lion’s Mane into small pieces (only if you have dried Lion’s mane) or use the Lion’s mane mushroom powder.
  2. Bring 8-12 ounces of water to boil.
  3. Add 1-2 teaspoons of freshly ground Lion’s mane or Lion’s mane mushroom powder to the boiling water.
  4. Steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on desired strength of your tea.
  5. Take off the heat and let sit for one to two minutes.
  6. Strain and discard any solid that may be left.
  7. Serve hot, or let it chill in the fridge.

Enjoy your cup of tea knowing the immense health benefits that Lion’s mane is providing you!



  1. Friedman M. Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds. J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Aug 19;63(32):7108-23. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02914. Epub 2015 Aug 5. PMID: 26244378.
  2. Spelman K, Sutherland E, Bagade A. Neurological Activity of Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Journal of Restorative Medicine. 2017 Mar 12; 6 (1):19-26.
  3. Real Mushrooms. Cooking Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Tips, Techniques & Recipes. https://www.realmushrooms.com/cooking-lions-mane-mushroom/, accessed Mar 1, 2024.
  4. He X, Wang X, Fang J, Chang Y, Ning N, Guo H, Huang L, Huang X, Zhao Z. Structures, biological activities, and industrial applications of the polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom: A review. Int J Biol Macromol. 2017 Apr;97:228-237. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2017.01.040. Epub 2017 Jan 10. PMID: 28087447.
  5. Venturella G, Ferraro V, Cirlincione F, Gargano ML. Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Use, and Clinical Trials. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 10;22(2):634. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020634. PMID: 33435246; PMCID: PMC7826851.
  6. Ghosh S, Nandi S, Banerjee A, Sarkar S, Chakraborty N, Acharya K. Prospecting medicinal properties of Lion’s mane mushroom. J Food Biochem. 2021 Jun 24:e13833. doi: 10.1111/jfbc.13833. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34169530.
  7. Khan M, Tania M, Liu R, Rahman M. Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. 2013;10(1): 253-258. https://doi.org/10.1515/jcim-2013-0001
  8. Li G, Yu K, Li F, Xu K, Li J, He S, Cao S, Tan G. Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Apr 28;153(2):521-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Mar 12. PMID: 24631140.
  9. Jiang S, Wang S, Sun Y, Zhang Q. Medicinal properties of Hericium erinaceus and its potential to formulate novel mushroom-based pharmaceuticals. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014 Sep;98(18):7661-70. doi: 10.1007/s00253-014-5955-5. Epub 2014 Jul 29. PMID: 25070597.
  10. Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, Wong KH, David RP, Kuppusamy UR, Abdullah N, Malek SN. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30. PMID: 24266378.
  11. Saitsu Y, Nishide A, Kikushima K, Shimizu K, Ohnuki K. Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus. Biomed Res. 2019;40(4):125-131. doi: 10.2220/biomedres.40.125. PMID: 31413233.
  12. Chong PS, Fung ML, Wong KH, Lim LW. Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Dec 25;21(1):163. doi: 10.3390/ijms21010163. PMID: 31881712; PMCID: PMC6982118.
  13. United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Mushroom, lion’s mane. Published April 28, 2021. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1750344/nutrients, accessed Mar 6, 2024.

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