So my kids used to turn their noses up at mushrooms. And then they met this brown butter mushroom pasta! It’s a family favourite and the ONLY vegetable pasta dish my picky eater son will shovel down. It's one of our go-to meatless, whip it up in a hurry weeknight meals (you can get it on the table in 25 minutes). It’s also great if you are on a budget, just £1.60 per head based on a serving for 4 people - just be sure to go for a small pack of grated pecornio instead of a block.
The combination of browning the butter base and adding heaps of garlic and thyme, brings nutty, earthy and buttery vibes to the mushrooms sauce, which then gets tossed through the pasta and adorned with salty pecorino shavings. It’s soo good! And yes, a little bit naughty too. But in the midst of a healthy diet, we can swing it every now and then.
See how to adapt this recipe for your family here >
How to Cook Brown Butter Mushroom Pasta
Watch me make this Brown Butter Mushroom Pasta step-by-step before or as you cook.
Pro Prep Tip
Keep the prep time down and buy pre-sliced mushrooms, which usually don't cost any more than buying them whole. This recipe also calls for lots of finely chopped thyme and on that note, I wanted to share with you my favourite tool for effortless and quick herb chopping - a mezzaluna. It's really worth investing in one if you cook with herbs often.
How to Make Brown Butter
The browning of butter is a french cookery technique, they call it Beurre Noisette. It’s the process of cooking the milk solids in butter until golden and nutty. It’s used as a sauce base as well as in baking.
To brown butter, follow these steps:
- Dice room temperature butter into roughly the same size pieces
- Add to a light coloured saucepan
- Heat over a medium heat
- Keep a close eye on it once it starts to foam as soon after that, the milk proteins (which sink to the bottom of the pan) will start to brown. These will look like tiny brown dots. How long this takes to happen will depend on how much butter you are using, but usually it will be between 2-5 minutes.
- Once they’ve turned brown, remove from the heat or add in other ingredients to stop the butter burning (the milk proteins will turn black).
Kids Cook Too
Get the kids to help chop up the thyme using a mezzaluna, with your help. Since a mezzaluna has two handles that you need to hold to work it, their little fingers will be free and clear of getting chopped.
Feed a Crowd
You can double this recipe if you are entertaining, just fry the mushrooms in a medium-large saucepan and use an extra large saucepan for the pasta - you'll need lots of space to toss it all together.
Storing My Brown Butter Mushroom Pasta
You can store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days (2 + cook day). You can also freeze the leftovers, just be sure to defrost them for 24 hours in the fridge before reheating. When you come to reheat it in the microwave, just add a drizzle of water before doing so and give it a toss roughly halfway through.
For more on safe food storage and reheating read here >
My Brown Butter Mushroom Pasta is nut-free and vegetarian. You can also make it gluten-free if you switch to gluten-free pasta.
Adapting My Brown Butter Mushroom Pasta for Your Family
Here, I give tips for making this recipe to share with the whole family, including children of different ages and stages.
Keeping Picky Eaters Happy
Even if you have a fussy eater who sticks their nose up at mushrooms, this is a good recipe to try and breakthrough that nervousness with. My picky eater son is proof of that. I know all picky eaters are different, but if there was ever a meal to warm a child to mushrooms - THIS IS IT.
See more from me on fussy eaters here >
Make it Baby & Toddler Friendly
This meal is a little on the indulgent side and so we need to reduce the saltiness to make it baby and toddler friendly. Switch up the salted butter for unsalted and don't add any salt into the cook. Then once the mushroom sauce has been tossed through the pasta, dish up little one's portion (not adding any pecorino either - that's salty too), then for everyone else, add in a really generous amount of salt and stir it through the pasta well. Taste and adjust, but remember pecorino is salty too.
How to Serve My Brown Butter Mushroom Pasta to Babies & Toddlers
Serve as finger food. Choose a pasta shape they can palm like penne, fusilli, rotini or casarecce. You can leave the mushroom slices as they are, or for 9 month + you can chop them into pea-size pieces if you like.
1 YEAR +
You can chop the pasta shapes and larger mushroom slices in half. Serve with a fork.
I’ve also added these notes to the bottom of the recipe so you have them to hand when you come to cook.
For more on how I keep my family meals baby & toddler friendly, read here >
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BROWN BUTTER MUSHROOM PASTA
- Mezzaluna / knife (for the thyme) + chopping board
- Large sieve/colander
- Large saucepan + medium saucepan
- Ladle/measuring jug
- 400 g pasta
- 100 g slightly salted/salted butter at room temperature and diced
- 450 g pre-sliced mushrooms see note 1
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped thyme
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Pecorino cheese (about 145 g / 5.11 oz) shaved (with a peeler) or grated to serve - see note 2
- Start cooking your pasta in a large pan of hot salted water, according to the packet instructions.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a light coloured (stainless steel) medium saucepan over a medium heat. Allow it to cook and bubble for around 2-5 minutes, until you can see dark brown dots at the bottom (milk proteins). Watch them carefully, you can swirl the butter around to see the colour better and do not allow to them to go burn and go black.
- Then immediately add in the thyme, garlic and mushrooms, increase heat to high and season with the black pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally. Take the pan off the heat.
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve half a ladle-full of the cooking water (around 50ml / ¼ cup) and then drain the pasta. Tip the mushrooms into the pasta pan and toss until well combined. Depending how dry/wet the pasta looks add some or all of the pasta water and stir it in (there shouldn’t be a pool of sauce at the bottom of the pan, just coating the pasta). Serve in pasta bowls with shavings of pecorino on top.
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