Is ‘chicken of the woods’ even better than real chicken?

A recipe for “chicken of the woods” is going viral on TikTok, but is it really as good as real meat?

The little-known fungus is actually called Laetiporus, or “the chicken fungus.” It’s been part of the foraging world for a long time, but now, thanks largely to a TikToker named Alexis Nikole (@alexisnikole), it’s everywhere.

In August, Nikole posted a clip of her finding, extracting and cooking the mushroom, which apparently tastes a lot like chicken. Her video drew millions and millions of views.


🐔🌳!!! ##LearnOnTikTok ##TikTokPartner ##foraging

♬ original sound – Alexis Nikole

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Elsewhere, home chefs have turned chicken of the woods into wings, buffalo tenders, lemon pepper dinners and basically any other dish imaginable. It almost seems too good to be true.

So, In The Know’s editors decided to test it ourselves. We ordered a big bag of mushrooms and cooked it up to see if fungus can really turn into chicken. To see how it went, check out the video above or keep reading below.

How to cook chicken of the woods

There are countless ways to cook these mushrooms, but we decided to get fancy with ours. We followed a recipe close to this awesome breakdown from The Sophisticated Caveman cooking blog. You can check out the full how-to there, but in short, here’s what you need.

A quick warning first: Do not go out foraging for mushrooms if you’re not an expert. We ordered ours online, which we recommend if you’re a first-timer.

  • One shallot
  • Parsley 
  • Two teaspoons minced garlic
  • One lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Four tablespoons butter
  • Two teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • Chicken of the woods (as much as you want to cook)

First, melt the butter in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chopped shallots and cook until fragrant, about three to four minutes. Next, toss in your mushrooms and cook for five or so minutes, flipping every so often.

From there, turn the temperature down to medium. Add lemon pepper seasoning, plus a few sprinkles of salt and pepper to taste. Then, squeeze about half a lemon over the pan and over the top. Let it cook for 12 or so minutes, checking occasionally.

When they’re almost ready, sprinkle the mushrooms with a few sprigs of parsley. Each batch will be different based on the size of your fungi.

Is chicken of the woods the best vegan chicken alternative?

Once our mushrooms were ready, we decided to test them on two main factors: appearance and taste.

Appearance: Here, we wanted to see if our mushrooms looked like cooked chicken. Honestly, the answer was a pretty resounding yes. Both raw and cooked, chicken of the woods can fake its way onto a meat-lover’s plate. 4/5 stars.

Taste: The mushrooms had a harder time here. While they definitely tasted good — and a little bit like chicken — the texture just wasn’t there. It’s hard to eat these and actually convince yourself you’re eating chicken. 3/5.

Overall, our recipe got a 7/10 rating, which isn’t bad. These mushrooms are definitely worth cooking if you can find them, just don’t expect them to replace chicken for good.

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If you liked this story, check our video on how to make “vegan cheese” out of cashews.

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