Russula brunneola has a sometimes variably colored, depressed cap at maturity, although it is usually predominantly brown. The margin is tuberculate-striate. The cuticle peels half way to the center. The gills reformed at the stipe apex are yellowish-cream and extremely brittle. The stipe is white to cream and occasionally tinged with purple-brown and stain brown at the base. The taste is mild. There is no strong discernable odor. Spore print is white.