Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Garlic

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Steamed mussels with white wine and garlic is an easy one-pot meal ready in 20 minutes! Aromatic vegetables are cooked with fresh mussels for a light appetizer or meal. Check out the essential tips for perfect cooking every time.

Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Garlic

Steamed mussels prepared Provencal-style for a taste of southeastern France. This seafood delicacy comes together with the help of white wine and garlic. It’s a simple dish to make as long as you follow some key preparation steps to ensure that the mussels are delicious every time.

With just a few simple ingredients, this steamed mussels recipe makes for the perfect light appetizer, or it can be combined with pasta for a hearty entree. All you need is a big pot, and we are ready to go!

How to make steamed mussels

It seems like enjoying a big bowl of mussels only happens when you are out at a fancy restaurant. Let’s save some money and make this at home. There are endless flavor combinations, here are some basics to make the most epic steamed mussels.

A black bowl of steamed mussels served with toasted baguette

Purchasing

The most important thing to do is to make sure you are purchasing live mussels. To check, lightly tap the open mussels with your fingers to see if they close. Some will already be closed and are alive, do not discard. The mussels should have a light ocean fragrance and not a strong fish-like smell. Make sure to discard any with broken shells.

Once purchased immediately take them out of the plastic bag, store the mussels loose in a bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel or cloth. Drain any expelled liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Do not soak mussels in water or clean them until ready to cook.

Cleaning

You do not need to soak the mussels before cooking, the freshwater can kill them. Instead, right before cooking clean them by running under cold water. Scrub the shells with a brush if you have one, or use your fingertips to remove any excess dirt. You may notice a fibrous brown string coming out from the side, this is the beard (byssal thread) of the mussel and it’s inedible.

Remove the beard by pulling it towards the hinge and outwards of the shell. Some mussels will already come debearded. Note that once the beard is removed, the shellfish will only be alive for a short period so cook immediately.

Cooking

Steaming mussels is a delicious and fast way to cook shellfish using a moist heat cooking method. Using a large high sided pan or pot fitted with a lid, you can first build the aromatic flavors to infuse into the steam and broth. Add mussels, cover and cook over medium-high heat. The liquid will turn into steam when the heat is above 100 °C (212 °F) in the covered pot.

The mussels take about 6 minutes to cook, or until they open. You can check about 3 minutes into cooking, stirring to distribute the ingredients and then recover for a few more minutes. Once the mussels open they are ready to eat, do not overcook as they can become very tough. You can discard any unopened shells. The cooked mussels add a savory seafood flavor to the broth from the juices during steaming.

I’ve also used this steaming technique to make wonderful seafood dishes like my San Francisco Cioppino. You’re going to be amazed at how versatile steaming can be to help create delicious seafood and shellfish meals!

Several opened seasoned mussels stacked in a bowl

To enhance the flavor of the steamed mussels, I added fresh flavors with a French twist. Butter, shallots, garlic, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, and white wine, create a light and savory broth. I like to toast baguette slices to dip and for a crunchy texture to the dish.

You may combine any ingredients to the broth, like red wine, leeks, onions, chorizo, saffron, or even coconut milk and curry for Thai flavored mussels. What kind of steamed mussels with you cook? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!

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Types of mussels to purchase

The most common variety of mussels found at your local market are Pacific green-lipped (New Zealand), and the Atlantic blue mussel. You can find the green-lipped in specialty seafood markets or Asian grocery stores. They are tan and green, and about 3 to 4 inches in length with a more robust and heartier texture. Most commonly you will find the blue mussel, it has a dark almost black shell, with a blue-tinged lip and 2 to 3 inches in length with tender meat and sweet flavor. They both can be prepared using the same cleaning and cooking method, just visually check for the shells to open for doneness.

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Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Garlic

Steamed mussels with white wine and garlic is an easy one-pot meal ready in 20 minutes! Aromatic vegetables are steamed with fresh mussels for a light meal.
Pin Print Review
3.87 from 153 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time18 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh mussels, cleaned with beard removed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup shallots, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup roma tomatoes, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, add more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • ½ cup white wine, chardonnay or dry white wine
  • 4 wedges lemon
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Wash mussels under cool running water. Scrub the outside and debeard the mussels if present, pull fibrous beard towards the hinge of the shell to remove and discard.
  • In a large shallow stockpot heat butter over medium-high heat.
  • When butter starts to foam, add shallots and garlic. Stir and cook until shallots are transparent and garlic is soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, stir and cook, about 2 minutes.
  • Add wine, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, stir to combine.
  • Quickly add the cleaned mussels to the pot, cover and steam for 3 minutes. Carefully open the lid and stir mussels.
  • Cover and steam until mussels are opened up and cooked, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Taste the sauce. If desired, season with remaining lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper to taste. Top mussels with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Equipment

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Nutrition Facts
Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Garlic
Amount Per Serving
Calories 196 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 39mg13%
Sodium 498mg21%
Potassium 180mg5%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 0.5g2%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 800IU16%
Vitamin C 23.1mg28%
Calcium 50mg5%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

66 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Billy says

    Bought ingredients for your dish today. Will cook tomorrow. Never had or made mussels before. *Fingers crossed! Will let you know

  2. B Cass Clarke says

    I’m getting ready to make this right now and very excited. I haven’t made mussels at home in years

  3. Wesley says

    I love this article. I’m about to throw down my mussels fix this afternoon. I’ve setup a menu for my girlfriend with Mussels as our appetizer. I cook mine with a white wine base with fresh jalapeno, tomato, garlic, cilantro, and lemon. We’re on a diet, so going to forego the bread sadly, but going to crush the mussels before our bacon, spinach egg salad with salmon for dinner.

  4. Tiffany Stanley says

    Hi Jessica! Firstly, I’d like to say that it’s too bad that all of the reviews on this page are from people who haven’t even tried to make this recipe yet!! Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…I DID make this dish tonight, pretty close to exactly to your instructions, and it was FANTASTIC! My man and I enjoyed a big bowl of mussels, with a side of sliced ciabatta (with olive oil, salt and pepper, broiled for 4 min and then rubbed with a fresh cloves of garlic), and a glass of the remaining Chardonnay that I used in the recipe in front of the football game and we both said it was as good as any we have had in any restaurant. We live on the New England Seacoast, so we’re fortunate enough to have super fresh seafood. However, the recipe is perfect and so easy to get right. Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for your feedback Tiffany! The ciabatta and chardonnay sounds like the perfect pairing 🙂

  5. Tony says

    GREAT RECIPE for LOW SODIUM/LOW FAT MEAL. I’ve made it twice, substituting olive oil for 1 of the 2 tablespoons of butter. Omitted the salt and the result was still flavorful. Love that the sauce is light, not heavy. I used Canadian farm raised freshwater blue mussels. I’ve been asked to make it again. 🙂

  6. steve kwan says

    Hi Jessica.,

    This is an amazing recipe. Made it tonight but I double the ingredients because I love broth.

    It is well balanced and drank the wine while eating the mussels with a baguette. Will definitely use their recipe again.

    Thanks.

  7. Ian says

    I came up short on a couple of staples- but used garlic ramps and fresh oregano from the garden. Didn’t disappoint!

  8. Beth says

    Delicious! My first time making mussels and they were a huge hit! I think I under-salted my broth a tad, but an easy fix next time!!

  9. Victor says

    Thanks for the recipe. I have a question. Would the steaming process be the same if I use frozen mussels? Thanks!

  10. Lydia Alvarez says

    I made this yesterday with frozen mussels I had on hand from Aldi’s..it was just amazing!!! I followed the recipe to the T… All I did different was add an additional tbs of butter. ..It was delicious..bursting with flavor.. I’ve searched for a good mussels recipe..my search is over!!!this is my new go to mussels recipe..yummmmy… thank you soo much for this super flavorful recipellll

  11. Marlene says

    My first time cooking fresh mussels….fast, easy and delicious! Only think I didn’t care for was debearding the mussels……

  12. Dr. Mom says

    I made this tonight for my husband since we can’t go out for dinner. Our favorite restaurant makes excellent seafood, but since I could get fresh mussels from our grocery store, I decided to try making these for him. We only had red wine, so we used that and a can of tomatoes. I added capers and extra butter and he and my daughter absolutely loved them. We served it over gluten free pasta and they were both very satisfied.

  13. Arline Lomazzo says

    I followed your recipe exactly. It was perfect. I have been steaming mussels for decades but this one created a very tasty broth which I saved so that tonite when I make calamari I will use your broth to cook the calamari in and then add the tomato sauce to have it with pasta. Yum!

  14. Barbara Sarno says

    Made these a couple of weeks ago and they were delicious. Making them tomorrow for my friends by the pool.

  15. Gail Smith says

    When I told my husband we were having muscles for dinner, he made a face. But he said these was the best muscles he ever had. It’s the first time I ever made muscles but won’t be my last.

  16. Kelinda Coviello says

    I made this dish tonight and it was FABULOUS! Hubby loved it. I served the muscles and broth over angel hair pasta that I added a dollop or two of butter too. Crusty bread, a glass of vino and everyone is happy!

  17. Sophia says

    My mother used to make mussels just like this. After arriving in France, I was used to seeing moules marinieres, but this version, in my opinion, has better flavor.

    Made exactly as Jessica laid out. At the end, I took out the mussels and felt I wouldn’t have enough broth, so I added a bit more of the broth ingredients.

    All in all, fantastic dish! Thank you for bringing me back home!

  18. Suevee says

    I do mussels fairly often, and my “recipe” is similar, though I use olive oil reather than butter. I often add chopped red bell pepper, or sun-dried tomato bits. I also add oregano (fresh in the summer) and whatever other herbs I may feel like throwing in — sometimes a little pinch of red pepper flakes. If the broth is too thin, you can take the mussels out and keep them warm while you reduce the broth for a minute or two. We like ciabatta bread or rolls with this.

  19. Jamie Carroll says

    I love lemon, but the combination of zest of one lemon + 1TB lemon juice overpowered the garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and fresh thyme/oregano, butter, wine broth. I even left out the second TB of juice + lemon wedges.
    I think the zest made the dish too sweet for my liking!
    I’ll continue to play with the ratios….and I still appreciate your posting of this recipe!

  20. Aleks says

    I just made these mussels and all my self-control went out the window! I ate it all by myself – my other family members are not mussel fans. This is a very simple and quick recipe and the mussels taste fantastic. I see this as a fantastic canvas to experiment with other fresh herbs that I might have on hand, however usually the classic wins.
    Thank You!!!

  21. Gilbert says

    The mussels recipe was delicious. But the mussels at top of the pan turned out great, the ones at the bottom did not open or did not cook! What did a do wrong?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks, Gilbert! Often times if there are some stubborn mussels that won’t open you can remove the cooked ones and steam the others a little bit longer. They may just need more time and they are getting as much steam exposure being on the bottom of the pot. They could be a bit stubborn! Some people pry them open and still eat them. Just make sure they look cooked through.

  22. Ali Samee says

    I never cooked mussels before.
    Cooked them using your recipe.
    Came out brilliant.
    2kgs of mussels were devoured in minutes by 4 peeps.
    Have been getting requests to cook for another group of friends who abstain from alcohol.
    What can I use in place of the white wine?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great job Ali! You could use some white grape juice instead of the wine. The broth will taste slightly sweeter. You could also use 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and add water so that it reaches 1/2 cup for the recipe.

  23. Yvonne says

    Wow! This was a great winner of a recipe! Tonight I bought clams and mussels. I did soak my mussels in water. Most of them died. I’m so grateful of this post of yours. I had no idea soaking them would kill them. Great share!

  24. Fran says

    I basically followed your recipe leaving out the lemons and thought it was outstanding. I have been making mussels for over 50 years but wanted to try something different and the addition of the butter did the trick. Thanks!!!

  25. Hannah says

    I’ve got a party coming up and would like to prep in advance as much as possible. What are your thoughts on prepping the broth a day in advance?

  26. Leah says

    Wow! So delicious. I made this recipe using a 454g box of Whole Cooked, All Natural, PEI mussels that I had in the freezer. I don’t normally buy the all natural ones, so looked for a recipe that I thought would be similar to the ones I normally buy, in a white wine and herb sauce. I followed the recipe to a tee (minus the shallots which I didn’t have), but halved it, for two. I served it over linguine and it was soo good! I think the lemon it was made it. Super easy and healthy too (excellent source of protein and high in Vit A and iron). I will definitely be making it again using the same, all natural mussels. No need to buy the flavored ones again. Thank you for sharing.

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