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Everything You Should Know About Puffball Mushrooms (and How to Eat Them)

The giant puffball mushroom—a large, round, and easily foraged fungus—is trending on social. And it's easy to see why.

puffball mushroom
Written by
Calin Van Paris
Puffball mushrooms are taking over social media—or at least #ShroomTok. The bulbous, alien-like fungi are fascinating to look at, smooth on the outside with a solid white texture within.
Though there are
32 species
of puffball mushrooms, from here on out, we're going to be talking about the giant puffball (calvatia gigantea).

What Are Puffball Mushrooms?

puffball mushrooms
Puffball mushrooms are globular, smelly fungi that take form in the late summer or fall. While the mushrooms trending on TikTok are of the smooth, white, and giant variety (up to
two feet in diameter and 24 pounds
), puffball mushrooms can be spiny, grey or brown, and as small as one inch wide.
The fungus gets its nutrients from decaying organic material in the soil and is filled with millions of spores, with giant puffballs containing up to
seven trillion

What Are the Benefits of Puffball Mushrooms?

Giant puffball mushrooms are edible, and when prepared properly can serve as a flavor-absorbant
meat substitute
. The giant contains
, manganese, selenium, and clavacin, the last of which was the first substances isolated from a mushroom said to inhibit
tumor development
The mushroom was commonly used in folk medicine, with the Lakota tribe of Native Americans
reportedly using
the dry powdery spores of the mature puffball to pack wounds and prevent infection.

Where Can I Find Puffball Mushrooms?

puffball mushrooms
Puffball mushrooms appear from late summer through fall, cropping up in meadows and pastures (and golf courses) all over the central and eastern U.S. and Canada.
Since some other mushrooms can mimic the puffball, make sure that you've found the real deal before consuming. Giant puffballs have no stem or cap and are a
pure opaque white
when cut through. Any discoloration at all means that the puffball has gone to spore and is too old to eat.
@chaoticforager Giant puffball mushroom (Calvatia gigantea)! One of my favorites to find, and an essential component of puffball mushroom pizza! Stick around, we’ll find more this season! #giantpuffballmushroom #giantpuffball #puffballmushroom #mushroomauntie ♬ original sound - 🍄Mushroom Auntie🍄
If you're positive you've found a giant puffball (don't consume it if you're not 100% sure!), determining how to cook it up is the natural next step. Here, three recipes that feature the unique mushroom in all of its

3 Giant Puffball Mushroom Recipes to Try

Puffball Mushroom Chickn'

Photo: Plant You
Create the illusion of classic fried chicken with this spicy vegan recipe, which uses
(or chickpea water) as the binder for your breadcrumbs.

Puffball Mushroom Burger

puffball mushrooms
Photo: Delicious From Scratch
The veggie burger gets a shroomy upgrade with the help of a sliced puffball crusted with fried parmesan cheese. Serve with your preferred fixings for that perfect "burger" bite.

Puffball Mushroom Lasagna

Photo: Forager Chef
Ditch the noodles and craft your next lasagne using giant puffball mushrooms. The mushroom slices get cooked first, then take the place of fresh pasta sheets in this layered plant-based dish.