Simple Steamed Mussels with Garlic

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a white bowl filled with steamed mussels with parsley on top and two slices of grilled baguette on the table next to it

Making steamed mussels at home is an easy cooking skill to learn. Our basic recipe today has a blend of garlic, shallot, white wine and parsley to give these 20-minute mussels classic bistro flavor! The preparation is as simple as can be and the resulting plump and tender mussels in delicate garlic sauce are restaurant-quality! All you need is a little baguette to soak up all that savory garlicky juice and you’ll be in heaven!

a white bowl filled with steamed mussels with parsley on top and two slices of grilled baguette on the table next to it

Why We Love This Steamed Mussels Recipe

Since we shared our post for how to cook mussels a while back it has been on our list to share our most favorite basic steamed mussels recipe. Today I am sharing it and I cannot wait for you to fall in love with this delicious restaurant-quality meal.

Steaming mussels on the stovetop is an essential cooking technique I learned in culinary school and used while “cooking the line” in restaurant kitchens when I was in my twenties. Now all these years later I return to this basic cooking skill over and over when my husband and I want to have a stay-at-home date night or I want to serve a wow-worthy meal to guests.

Recipe Highlights

  • Perfect for entertaining because all the prep work can be done ahead of time.
  • They are totally impressive
  • Budget-friendly (averaging $4 to $6 per pound in the wintertime)
  • They only take five minutes to cook so they are perfect for busy weeknights
  • Endlessly adaptable to a variety of flavor combinations
  • Can be served as a first course or entree
  • It’s a one-pot recipe

Key Ingredients

the mussels and other ingredients on a white table with text overlay
  • Live Fresh Mussels: Mussels are sold in one to two-pound mesh bags or by the pound. Like other shellfish it is important to cook them when they are live. So if you are not cooking them immediately make sure the are not sealed in a bag because they have to breathe. I keep them in a colander set in a large bowl with a little ice on top and a clean dish towel over them. Mussels are highly perishable so keep them dry and as cold as possible and cook them within 24 to 48 hours of purchasing. See more in our FAQs.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: for cooking. Butter is also delicious!
  • Shallot and Garlic: I use both shallot and garlic. Though not required I think using a combo of both is a simple way to add depth of flavor. If you’re in a rush feel free to choose one or the other. The mussels will still be tasty!
  • Dry white wine: Choose a tart unoaked white such as Sauvignon blanc or pinot blanc. The wine adds a little acidity to balance the saltiness. If you do not drink or cook with wine you can use a little squeeze of lemon juice added to the clam juice.
  • Clam juice: This is our cooking liquid. I recommend Bar Harbor brand because it is lower in sodium. You can also use fish stock, seafood stock, chicken stock or vegetable stock.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper: Just add this to taste. You may not need any salt at all depending on the clam juice you used and how salty your mussels are. I wait and add it at the end after they are cooked.
  • Flat-leaf Italian parsley: The fresh grassy taste and bright green color is the perfect way to finish off your steamed mussels.

How To Steam Mussels with Garlic and White Wine

cleaning and de-bearding your mussels

Step 1: Clean and Debeard The Mussels

Before cooking them, they must be cleaned and debearded.

  • Take your mussels out of the refrigerator and set the bowl in the clean sink. (Don’t allow water to collect in the bowl though as this can kill them.)
  • First, scrub the mussels with cool running water and a clean stiff brush.
  • Then debeard by pulling off the thready tuft from the side of the mussel. You may need to debeard it with a pairing knife if they are firmly attached. Not all of the mussels will have “beards” to remove.
  • If any mussel is open and doesn’t close up when you tap it or start scrubbing it, it is dead and should be discarded. Also, discard any broken shells or mussels with cracked shells.
  • Once the mussel is cleaned and debearded set it in a colander to drain and continue cleaning the remaining mussels.
cook the garlic and shallot, then deglaze with wine

Step 2: Cook Garlic and Shallot

Next you are ready to cook! Set a large Dutch Oven or large pot or heavy-bottom soup pot over medium-high heat. Note, it’s important to choose a deep pot because the mussels expand when they cook so you will need extra space in your pot to account for their shells opening.

Add in the olive oil and let it heat. Add the chopped shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic and shallot are fragrant and just starting to brown.

Step 3: Deglaze with Wine

Add in the wine and let it cook off and reduce for 30 seconds to one minute.

the mussels before and after cooking

Step 4: Add Liquid and Mussels

Once most of the wine has evaporated add in the clam juice and all of the mussels. Place the lid on top of the pot and let them steam for 4 minutes. Give them a stir to see if they are all open. If some are still closed, continue steaming them for 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Step 5: Season and Serve

When all of the mussels are open they are done. Discard any mussels that didn’t open or have broken shells. Season the mussels with a little salt and black pepper to taste. Add on chopped fresh parsley and serve in large bowls with the cooking liquid spooned over them.

two bowls of mussels and a pot of mussels next to them

FAQ and Expert Tips For Cooking Mussels At Home

How do I store fresh mussels before cooking them?

Keep the live mussels in the refrigerator until ready to cook them. They need to be able to breathe so they should not be sealed in a plastic bag nor stored in standing water. Ideally set them in a colander set in a bowl. Top them with ice and then lay a clean dishcloth or damp paper towel over them. Discard any water collecting in the bowl. Use within 24 to 48 hours of bringing home.

How do I prepare mussels for steaming?

Scrub each mussel shell with cold water. The stringy bits coming out of the sides of the shell are known as a beard. Give them a good tug or scrape them away with a pairing knife. Do not let them sit in fresh standing water. Rope-cultured mussels and most commercially available farmed mussels available from a local fishmonger, such as PEI mussels and blue mussels, are not gritty or sandy and do not need to be purged. Wild mussels are full of sand and debris. Cook the mussels within 30 minutes of debearding.

How long should you steam mussels?

Steam for 4 minutes. Remove the lid and check to see if they are all open. If some are not open, place the lid back on and continue steaming for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Once the majority of the mussels are open they are done. Discard any unopened mussels.

Is it better to steam or boil mussels?

Mussels are deliciously briney and best steamed in a small amount of liquid. The steaming liquid and the juices they let off as they cook make the perfect delicious broth or serving sauce to go with them. Boiling washes away the flavor and makes it very easy to overcook them.

Can you reheat leftover mussels?

Mussels are best eaten right after they are cooked. However, if you do have leftovers you can enjoy them within one day. Eat them chilled or gently rewarm them in their sauce. To rewarm them, place them in a saucepan with the sauce, cover and place over medium heat. Heat until the liquid is bubbling and steaming. Then turn off the heat and let them warm through for 2 to 3 minutes. It is important not to boil them or cook them too long or they will get rubbery.

Can mussels be prepped ahead?

Since they are not great cooked ahead it is best to only prep your ingredients ahead of time. Cut the garlic and shallot and store in a well-sealed air-tight container up to 1 day ahead. The mussels can be scrubbed as soon as you bring them home. Debeard them up to 30 minutes before cooking.

When is the best time of year to eat mussels and when are they in season?

Mussels are in season from September to April, though they are available year-round. The peak of the season is in wintertime. An easy rule of thumb to remember is: enjoy mussels in any month with the letter “r” in it.

How to store leftovers

Transfer the leftovers to a resealable container with the cooking liquid. Refrigerate up to 24 hours.

How much is a serving?

When serving for dinner, count on using one pound of mussels per person. For an appetizer portion, buy 1/2 pound per person. This recipe makes 4 main course servings or 8 first-course portions.

side angle of the mussels in a white bowl with grilled baguette

Serving Suggestions: What goes with mussels?

  • French Fries: Moules Frites is a classic French bistro dish that translates to mussels and french fries. We had them with my Skinny Baked Oven Fries and homemade garlic Greek yogurt aioli.
  • Potatoes: They are also great with air-fried red potatoes wedges. I cut the potatoes into wedges, seasoned them with paprika, garlic powder and thyme and then air-fried them at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  • Bread: Grilled baguette is a classic side dish for mussels in many restaurants. To make grilled baguette at home, brush olive oil over the baguette and then grill on a hot grill pan. Once they have toasted and have grill marks, turn them over and grill the second side. Rub a cut clove of garlic over the grilled bread for even more flavor. Of course, crusty bread and garlic bread are also great accompaniments to sop up all those delicious juices!
  • Pasta: You can also serve them with linguini, spaghetti or other pasta for an elegant dinner. I would recommend cutting this recipe in half if serving with pasta for 4 entree servings. Divide the pasta among shallow bowls, top with the mussels and then spoon the garlicky white wine broth over the pasta as the sauce. Top with parsley and a little lemon zest. Serve with lemon wedges.

Variations To Try

Steamed mussels are endlessly adaptable! Take this classic recipe as a starting point. Here are some suggestions for ways you can improvise.

  • Add red pepper flakes to the garlic and shallot mixture for a kick of spice.
  • With the parsley add on fresh herbs such as tarragon, chervil or chives.
  • Add veggies such as finely chopped celery or peppers to the olive oil with the garlic and shallot.
  • Start by cooking bacon, chorizo or another salty meat in the pot.
  • Use another cooking liquid such as cider or beer.
  • Add in diced canned tomatoes or peeled and seeded fresh tomatoes.
  • Use a liquor such as Pernod instead of wine for a slight anise flavor.

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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close-up of the steamed mussels in a white bowl with parsley on top

Simple Steamed Mussels with Garlic


Description

Plump steamed mussels in savory garlic sauce are ready in 20 minutes! Our blend of garlic, shallot, white wine and parsley give restaurant-quality flavor!


Ingredients

  • 4 pounds live mussels
  • 2s tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

Instructions

  1. Scrub mussels with cool water and a brush and debeard. Place in a colander to drain.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottom soup pot over medium-high heat. Add in shallot and garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant and just starting to brown, about 1 minute.
  3. Add wine and let cook, 30 seconds to 1 minute or until mostly evaporated.
  4. Add in clam juice and mussels. Cover and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and cook until the mussels shells open, 4 to 6 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mussels to four wide pasta bowls. Spoon liquid over the mussels and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Notes

Storing

Keep the live mussels in the refrigerator until ready to cook them. They need to be able to breathe so they should not be sealed in a plastic bag nor stored in standing water. Ideally set them in a colander set in a bowl. Top them with ice and then lay a clean dishcloth over them. Discard any water collecting in the bowl. Use within 24 to 48 hours of bringing home.

Leftovers

Mussels are best eaten right after they are cooked. However, if you do have leftovers you can enjoy them within one day. Eat them chilled or gently rewarm them in their sauce. To rewarm them, place them in a saucepan with the sauce, cover and place over medium heat. Heat until the liquid is bubbling and steaming. Then turn off the heat and let them warm through for 2 to 3 minutes. It is important not to boil them or cook them too long or they will get rubbery.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: French

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 pound
  • Calories: 335
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 27 g

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