How to cook mussels in a simple, yet utterly delicious way – steamed in a garlic white wine lemon sauce! It’s quick, easy and the best part is mopping up the incredible sauce with crusty bread!
Mussels are highly underrated – they’re cheap, quick and easy to cook, and delicious!
And there’s something so impressive about placing a giant bowl of mussels on the table for family and friends to get stuck into with their hands. No cutlery around these parts – just lots of napkins!
How to cook mussels
This recipe I’m sharing today is a very classic way to cook mussels – steamed in a garlic butter white wine broth. It’s very quick and easy, and really makes the most of mussels:
- Saute aromatics to create the flavour base (butter, garlic, onion), cook off white wine then stir through tomato (colour, adds texture, interest and a bit of flavour);
- Add mussels;
- Clamp lid on, cook 8 minutes shaking once or twice;
- When cooked, mussels will open;
- Pour the mussels and all the broth in a big bowl – or serve it straight from the pot!
- Crack the mussel open, scoop up broth and devour!
Can you eat mussels that haven’t opened?
Yes you can! It’s an old wives tale that mussels that don’t open are off. The only reason to not eat mussels that don’t open are if they are too hard to pry open!!
How to tell if mussels are fresh?
Easy – the smell. When raw, mussels smell fresh, like the ocean. Off mussels smell very unpleasant. Just trust me when I say you will KNOW if they are off!
What you need for steamed mussels
Fundamentally, the only ingredients you need to make really tasty mussels is garlic, white wine and butter or olive oil. Everything else you see below are extras that add an extra element of flavour, but they aren’t mandatory.
White wine really is the ingredient that makes all the difference here. Wine adds complexity and flavour to the sauce of an otherwise very simple recipe. Non alcoholic sub – low sodium chicken broth/stock.
The best part is the SAUCE!
It might be totally inappropriate to say this, but for me, the best part of every mussel recipe I’ve every tried or ordered is the SAUCE.
As the mussels cook, they drop an astonishing amount of liquid which is essentially real (and free) seafood stock. The BEST stock one could ever ask for!
So when the mussel juices mingles with everything else in the pot, you end up with the most outrageously tasty sauce to dunk bread into!! – Nagi x
More mussel recipes
- Spanish Paella
- Mussel pasta – cook mussels per this recipe, remove meat from mussels, leaving some in shell for presentation. Cook pasta, then toss pasta into skillet with the sauce from these mussels, then toss in mussels, lemon juice, season to taste!
- Seafood Marinara Pasta – cook mussels per recipe, remove meat from mussels and use in the Marinara Pasta recipe. Add the cooking broth from this recipe into the tomato sauce in the Marinara Pasta recipe and cook down to reduce. AMAZING!??
Watch how to make it
Watch how to cook mussels in garlic white wine butter sauce!
- 50g / 3 tbsp butter , unsalted
- 1⁄2 onion , finely chopped (brown, yellow, white)
- 3 garlic cloves , very finely chopped
- 1 kg / 2 lbs mussels , bearded and scrubbed (Note 1)
- 1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
- 2 tomatoes , deseeded and diced (Note 2)
- 1⁄4 cup flat leaf parsley , roughly chopped
- Lemon wedges (essential!)
- Crusty bread to serve (essential!)
- Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter.
- Add the garlic and onion, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and fragrant - about 3 minutes.
- Turn heat up to high, add wine and bring to boil. Simmer 2 minutes until the harsh alcoholic smell is gone.
- Stir in tomatoes, add mussels stir to coat in sauce a bit.
- Cover, lower heat to medium high and cook, shaking pot once or twice.
- The mussels are cooked when they are open - around 6 to 8 minutes.
- Toss through parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Be careful with the salt as the mussels are already salty, so taste first.
- Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and serve with lemon wedgeds on the side so people can use as much as they wish. Serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the sauce!
Originally published May 2014. Updated July 2019 with brand new photos, new video and new writing! Recipe got a refresh too but the core of the recipe is the sam.
Life of Dozer
He was about 5 kg / 10lb when I got him…. he’s now 40kg/80lb!!!!