How to Cook Mussels

  • 01 of 08

    How to Cook Mussels

    Mussels In a Bowl
    Steamed Mussels. Photo © Stuart Minzey/Getty Images

    Whether you want to steam, roast, or grill mussels, I have you covered. See how easy it is to cook mussels below. Looking to learn more about mussels? See this guide to All About Mussels.

    No matter how you choose to cook them, start with impeccably fresh and well cleaned mussels. Most mussels for sale in the U.S. are farmed and come to the market fairly clean, but a good rinse in cool water and a light scrubbing if they seem gritty – as well as pulling out any "beards" they have – just before cooking is a good practice.

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  • 02 of 08

    How to Steam Mussels

    Mussels Steamed in a Serving Bowl
    Steamed Mussels With Chile & Garlic. Photo © Molly Watson

    Mussels are most commonly steamed. Some people simply pour a bottle of white wine and a few pounds of mussels into a pot and call it a day. You will end up with cooked mussels that way, to be sure, but they won't be nearly as delicious as they would be if you bothered to cook down a few aromatics before adding a bit less wine (or beer) and letting the alcohol cook off before adding the mussels. Now that is delicious. Try Mussels Steamed In White Wine or Mussels Steamed With Garlic and Chiles for more specifics.

    In Belgium, where they are enormously popular, steamed mussels are traditionally served with french fries. A loaf of fresh, crusty bread is an equally fine accompaniment since pieces of it can be used to sop up the remarkably savory and delicious steaming liquid.

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  • 03 of 08

    How to Pan-Roast Mussels

    Pan-Roasted Mussels. Photo © Molly Watson

    Pan-roasting mussels is quick, easy, and terribly delicious. Pop them in a hot pan, let them open, and eat them in minutes. The high, dry heat concentrates the mussels' flavor in a most pleasing way. Garnishing with some black pepper and/or minced parsley is a fine idea if you can't bear to serve them plain. 

    See this recipe for Pan-Roasted Mussels for full details.

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  • 04 of 08

    How to Grill Mussels

    Grilled Mussels. Photo © Molly Watson

    Did you know you can just throw mussels on a hot grill and call it a day? It's true. Pull them off once their shells are opened and they are cooked. You can bring them to the table, but I've found people prefer to stand around the grill and eat them there. I find a generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper is a most welcome addition to these meaty treats.

    Get step-by-step instructions: Grilled Mussels Recipe

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  • 05 of 08

    How to Make Moules Frites

    Steamed Mussels and French Fries
    Moules Frites. Photo © P. Eoche/Getty Images

    Moules frites—steamed mussels with French fries—are a Belgian favorite, and beloved throughout France as well. They are, simply, steamed mussels served with a side of French fries.

    Since the best French fries are fried twice (once to cook them, once to crisp them) and cooled in between, prep and do the first fry on the French fries, prep everything for the mussels, heat the oil for the second fry, heat the pot for the mussels, fry the fries, steam the mussels, drain the fries, and serve everything piping hot. 

    See How to Steam Mussels and How to Make Homemade French Fries for more details.

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  • 06 of 08

    How to Make a Chowder

    Shellfish Chowder
    Shellfish Chowder. Photo © Molly Watson

     This Creamy Shellfish Chowder can be made with a combination of shellfish, or turned into Mussel Chowder by simply only using mussels. It's a very simple, if wonderfully rich, chowder recipe that works very well as a small first course to a larger dinner. To turn it more into a meal on its own, add some peeled and chopped potato to the mix.

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  • 07 of 08

    How to Serve Mussels Cold

    Cold Mussels
    Mussels With Corn Tomato Salsa. Photo © Molly Watson

    Cold mussels aren't that common in the U.S., but they are a very tasty way to enjoy these bivalves—and a method of serving mussels that allows the cook to prepare them ahead of time.

    Simply steam the mussels, allow them to cool, and top them with a dressing of some sort and serve them cold.

    A simple relish of shallots, vinegar, and fresh herbs like parsley and thyme is a classic option. A salsa of tomatoes and corn adds a spicy kick to the ones pictured here. They are remarkably tasty as long as the mussels are cooked, cooled, and served within the same day. 

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  • 08 of 08

    How to Serve Mussels Raw

    Mussels on the Half-Shell
    Raw Mussels. Photo © Domenico Valente / EyeEm/Getty Images

    While not for everyone, mussels can be served raw on the half-shell just like oysters. Like oysters, the delicate act of shucking the shell open is a tad tricky. And, like oysters, raw mussels benefit from a dab of strongly flavored sauce (see these sauces for ideas).