Truffles are a big deal. In fact, they have even been described as the “Mozart of mushrooms.” That was by Italian Gioachino Rossini, who was a composer and lived in the 19th century. But today, people still can’t get enough of the fungi. In Italy, you can order truffle shaved over pasta or risotto, and in France, it’s traditionally blended into butter. But why are truffles such a big deal? Are they easy to cook with? And is truffle oil as good as a mushroom? We’ve got all the answers.

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What is a truffle mushroom?

Truffles are a unique type of fungi that grow underground. They have a distinctive, intense, unique flavor and aroma, but they are incredibly rare—which is one of the reasons why they are so highly sought-after and expensive. And when we say expensive, we mean expensive. In 2014, a two-kilogram white truffle was sold at auction for more than $61,000.

Truffles are unpredictable, and the conditions required for their growth are hard to replicate. This is why they are typically harvested from the wild by hand with the help of specially trained animals, such as dogs or pigs.

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Are truffle mushrooms vegan?

Truffle mushrooms themselves are vegan—they are, after all, fungi that grow from the Earth. But, because they are often harvested with the use of animals, some who follow a vegan lifestyle may choose not to eat truffle mushrooms. However, where you stand on eating truffles depends on your personal ethics.

Some would eat truffles that were found by a companion animal who was being walked, for example, but not by a dog kept specifically for hunting truffles. “Where do we draw the line? How do we distinguish whether a truffle is vegan or not?,” notes India-based vegan platform Vegan First. “It comes down to what you believe personally and how strict or blurred your view on this is.”

That said, not all truffles are harvested from the wild. According to Food Unfolded, many farmers in France have worked out how to cultivate truffles using agriculture. In fact, 95 percent of truffles in the European country come from farms. “Farmers have to grow saplings in a clean environment before inoculating the roots with truffle spores and planting them out in the field,” explains Food Unfolded.

What do truffles taste like?

All truffles are known for their earthy, musky, and pungent taste, but the exact flavor profile and aroma (which is a big part of their appeal) varies depending on the type of truffle you’re eating.

White truffles, for example, have an intense and distinctive aroma, which is often likened to garlic, shallots, and Parmesan cheese. Black truffles are a little more subtle, but they still possess a distinct earthiness with notes of chocolate, nuts, and sometimes a hint of wine. Another type of truffle, called summer truffle, is significantly milder, with a more garlicky, mushroom-like taste.

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What is truffle oil?

Truffle oil isn’t quite the same as a real truffle mushroom. In fact, truffle oil rarely contains any real truffle at all. Instead, these oils are made by infusing olive oil or grapeseed oil with synthetic truffle flavoring, or with natural compounds that effectively mimic the aroma of a truffle. Truffle salt and seasoning, however, is often made with very small amounts of truffle extract. 

10 vegan truffle mushroom products to try

If you want to cook with truffle, check out some of our go-to products below (all of which are labeled vegan), from spreads to salt to oils, and how to cook with each.

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1 TruffleHunter Black Truffle Pâté

According to TruffleHunter, this pâté, which is made with European black truffles and porcini mushrooms, can transform “average recipes into delicacies.” The flavor is unique and intense, so if you’re experimenting or haven’t tried a truffle before, start by adding just a tiny amount to your meals.
Best way to eat: Spread on toast or crackers, stir into a creamy mushroom pasta sauce, or add to grilled cheese.
find it here

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2 TruffleHunter Black Truffle Slices

TruffleHunter confirms that these black truffle slices, which are preserved in extra virgin olive oil, are also suitable for a vegan diet. “Only a few slices are sufficient to add heavenly aroma and intense earthy flavor to your dish,” the brand notes.
Best way to eat: Shave over a bowl of pasta, add finely chopped slices to tofu scramble, or add to vegan pizza.
find it here

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3 Black Cyprus Salt and Black Truffle Grinder

One way to add extra depth and complex truffle flavor to recipes is to use a truffle and salt grinder. This one from Truffletopia is made with real black truffles and Black Cyprus Salt, notes the brand, which is “sourced from the finest salt deposits from Cyprus.
Best way to eat: Add a finishing touch to meals like pasta, avocado toast, and grilled vegetables, mix with vegan butter or mayonnaise, or sprinkle on salads.
find it here

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4 Firelli Truffle Hot Sauce

For a distinctive, spicy, truffle blend, check out Firelli’s Italian Hot Sauce. Handcrafted in Parma, it’s an earthy, zesty, pungent mix of ingredients like truffles, Calabrian chili peppers, and porcini mushrooms, designed to bring a unique kick to your favorite meals.
Best way to eat: Glaze over cauliflower wings, add to macaroni and cheese, or mix into dips and guacamole.
find it here

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5 Sabatino White Truffle Cream

If white truffle is more to your taste, this vegan cream from Sabatino is well worth a try. It’s a deliciously rich, savory purée, which is made with a mix of not just white truffles, but also porcini mushrooms and extra virgin olive oil.
Best way to eat: Toss with cooked pasta, drizzle over pizza, spread over bruschetta.
find it here

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6 Sabatino White Truffle Infused Olive Oil

Another way to experience the unique and pungent flavor of white truffle is to try Sabatino’s white truffle-infused olive oil. According to the brand, you can expect a delicious garlic aroma from this tasty oil, but bear in mind that, when cooking, a little goes a long way.
Best way to eat: Stir into risotto, add a few drops to salad, or mix into mashed potatoes.
find it here

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7 Taste of Truffle Seasoning Dust

If you’re new to truffle, one way to find out more about the flavoring without overpowering your tastebuds is to sprinkle a small amount of truffle dust—which, like this one from Taste of Truffle, is essentially a truffle powder—onto your favorite snacks or meals. 
Best way to eat: Sprinkle over popcorn, fries, or nuts, mix with olive oil, or sprinkle over vegan cheese slices.
find it here

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8 Truff Black Truffle Spicy Marinara

One of the most popular truffle product brands on the market, Truff, is bringing the mushroom magic to pasta sauces such as marinara and spicy marinara, as well as it’s expansive line of hot sauces and infused cooking oils. 
Best way to eat: Tossed with your favorite pasta shape and topped with a generous dusting of vegan parmesan cheese. 
Find it here 

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9 The Uncreamery Truffle Brie

Made from a base of cashews, this unbelievably creamy Truffle Brie is made with real Black Summer Truffles, which gives this wheel an earthy, creamy texture and taste in every bite. 
Best way to eat: Atop artisan crackers with vegan caviar 
find it here

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10 Popadelics Trippin’ Truffle Parm Snacks

These vegan snacks are a savory triple threat with hints of shiitake, parmesan, and truffle tossed over delicate, crunchy, vacuum-fried mushrooms.
Best way to eat: Enjoy straight from the bag as a new, updated version of a movie snack. 
Find it here

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Here at VegNews, we live and breathe the vegan lifestyle, and only recommend products we feel make our lives amazing. Occasionally, articles may include shopping links where we might earn a small commission. In no way does this effect the editorial integrity of VegNews.

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