What Are Chanterelles?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Chanterelles are delicious, delicately flavored mushrooms which are highly prized in the regions of the world where they grow. Found in many areas with damp winters, the mushrooms are harvested for commercial sale and shipment in Germany and Italy, as well as being collected in the Pacific Northwest and northern states along the Canadian border. In Europe, the mushrooms are used in many traditional cuisines and are also known as Girolle in Italy and Pfifferling in Germany.

Many farmer's markets in the Pacific Northwest sell chanterelles.
Many farmer's markets in the Pacific Northwest sell chanterelles.

Chanterelles are part of the genus Cantharellus, which contains several other edible mushroom species. The full scientific name of the chanterelle is Cantharellus cibarius. The mushrooms are a distinctive orange color with well defined gills, a solid stem, and a sweet apricot scent. In texture, these mushrooms are slightly chewy, and have a nutty, earthy flavor which complements a wide range of dishes. Because these mushrooms will turn rubbery with excessive cooking, most cooks add them to the cooking pan last.

Chanterelles are harvested for commercial sale and shipment in Germany.
Chanterelles are harvested for commercial sale and shipment in Germany.

Mushroom identification can be dangerous. If you are interested in pursuing wild mushrooms, it is advisable to take an experienced mushroom forager with you. Several other fungi masquerade as chanterelles and while they may not kill you, they will cause intestinal discomfort. Both the Jack O'Lantern and False Chanterelle resemble chanterelles, and can be mistaken for them by inexperienced mushroom hunters. The Jack O'Lantern does not have white flesh, and the False Chanterelle has thin gills and a darker top.

Chanterelle mushrooms are a type of wild fungi.
Chanterelle mushrooms are a type of wild fungi.

A true chanterelle has a yellow to orange smooth, hairless cap which turns slightly waxy as the fungus matures. The flesh of the mushroom is firm and white, and the gills of the mushroom will run partway down the stem. The gills are shallow and resemble folds more than traditional mushroom gills, forking towards the cap of the mushroom. Chanterelles do not have a veil or caul, and are often found hiding under leaf mold. They have a long fruiting season if rainfall is sustained, and good patches will yield mushrooms year after year.

Chanterelles are available in many supermarkets and specialty stores. Dried and canned mushrooms from Europe are available year round, as well as seasonally harvested varieties in some areas. Many farmers' markets in Europe have chanterelles, along with a variety of other fungus, when in season. In addition to regular chanterelles, you may also find the black variety, its earthier and even more delicious cousin. Black chanterelles are much more difficult to find, and higher prices will reflect this.

Several fungi masquerade as chanterelles and may cause intestinal discomfort.
Several fungi masquerade as chanterelles and may cause intestinal discomfort.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


In West Tennessee, chanterelles grow best in the low grounds around swamps. Some seasons---late June to mid-August---they will get as wide as your hand and are so abundant, you can't walk where they are growing without stepping on some of them. Oh, and they are bright yellow, not orange.


@alisha-- The gills are the best way to tell real and false chanterelles apart. The gills of false chanterelles look like wrinkles and are totally embedded in the body. If you remember this, you will be able to tell them apart.


This is the first time I'm hearing about false chanterelles. I pick chanterelles every year when they're in season. I hope I didn't eat any false chanterelles with the real ones. I don't think that I have because I've never had stomach upset and there have been times when I ate chanterelle omelets every day of the week.

I'm definitely going to pay more attention to what I'm picking next time. I might have my older brother take a look at them before I eat them too, he's pretty good at telling mushrooms apart.


I had chanterelles for the first time in Europe and I immediately loved them. I think the best part about them is their fruity flavor that makes all of the other types of mushrooms I've had seem bland.

I've also been lucky enough to try both black and red chanterelles. I agree with the article that the black ones taste even better, the fruity aroma is much stronger. I don't think that the red ones are as flavorful as regular chanterelles but they have a gorgeous red color and look amazing with other ingredients.


@strawCake - That is funny. At least that girl had the good grace to name herself after a brightly colored, delicious mushroom though.

I have to say, I find canned mushrooms to be pretty gross. If you can't find fresh or dried chanterelles near you, I wouldn't bother. Canned mushrooms are tasteless compared to the fresh kind. Better to just not eat them at all!


I have never seen one of these mushrooms before. But I'm fascinated by the fact that they are orange! How cool. I always thought most mushrooms were darker colored. However, I'm not much an outdoors person, so I've never seen any mushrooms in the wild that I can recall.

However, I do giggle a little every time I hear anyone mention a chanterelle mushroom. I remember once watching an episode of a television show where some punk rock girl had named herself "Chanterelle." She was very upset when someone told her she had named herself after a mushroom!


I went out mushroom hunting with a friend of mine who lives in Oregon.

It was a fun time. It was a beautiful day and we were hiking in a gorgeous section of the woods. We saw lots of animals and ate lunch next to a small waterfall.

But here is the thing, we did not find a single mushroom. My friend is actually pretty good at this. He has mushroom finding stories that sound like finding buried gold. But we did not walk out of the forest that day with a single edible mushroom. It was still fun, but kind of disappointing too.


I absolutely love the flavor of chantrelles. I like to cook them straight up, just saute them in a little butter with salt, pepper and maybe a clove of garlic. I could probably eat a whole bowl of them by themselves like that.

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