In this recipe you will learn everything that you need to know about how to prepare mussels for cooking: from how to select, store, clean and even how to cook mussels. As a bonus, I will show you how to make a delicious French-style mussels dish aka Moules Marinières.
Mussels are one of my favorite seafood dishes. They are inexpensive, quick and easy to cook.
Best of all, they are delicious and can be easily turned into a fancy dish like this Moules Marinières recipe at a fraction of the cost of the other shellfish in the family.
The average mussels price in my area is around $3.99 per pound.
You can make a restaurant-quality pasta with mussels dish for around $10, large enough to feed a family of 4! Meanwhile the average price for this dish is around $19+ at restaurants. You'll be surprised at how amazingly tasty your version is, too.
What Is Moules Marinières
Moules Marinières is a classic French mussels dish. The mussels are cooked in white wine sauce and traditionally served with moules-frites.
The traditional Moules Marinières recipe from Normandy uses cider as one of the main ingredients but a good dry white wine will work well too.
Why You'll Love this Quick Mussels Recipe
- It's low carb
- A fancy dish on a budget
This seafood dish is inexpensive to make. It's the perfect appetizer and a must-make for your next party that won't break your bank.
- So flavorful
The broth is so rich in flavor and the mussels are so tender, melt in your mouth.
- Quick and easy
It's made of fresh ingredients and it comes together so quickly. It requires about 15 minutes of cooking time.
The Ingredients for Moules Marinières
To make this French-style mussels, you will need: fresh mussels, thyme, dry white wine, heavy cream, parsley, garlic, shallots, oil, and butter.
You can use any double cream such as heavy cream or whipping heavy cream. Do not replace it with half n half because it tends to separate and curdle when is cooked at high heat, due to the lower fat content.
How to Cook Mussels in White Wine Sauce (Moules Marinières):
Step 1. Prepare the Mussels
You need to soak, scrub, de-beard, and rinse the mussels before cooking. I wrote the complete instructions on how to clean mussels before cooking down below.
Step 2. Prepare the Broth
Cook the garlic and shallots until softened and fragrant. Add dry white wine, heavy cream, butter, thyme, parsley, salt and stir to combine.
Step 3. Cook the Mussels
Add mussels, cover the pot, and cook at high heat for about 6 minutes or until they open.
How to Prepare Mussels for Cooking
Making a great mussels dish takes more than just cooking skills.
Mussels differ from other food as far as the selection process, preparation and storage.
Below is your ultimate guide to preparing mussels, with info on just about anything and everything to do with mussels!
How to Select Mussels
- Look for the label. Identify the source and find out where the mussels come from.
- Always buy mussels that are refrigerated.
- They should smell fresh and should not smell fishy, rancid, sour, or ammonia odors.
- If you see a mussel that is open, tap the shells gently. If the mussel doesn't close, do not select it.
- Do not select mussels with broken shells.
Wild vs Farm Raised Mussels
Farm Raised Mussels: The majority of mussels consumed worldwide are farm-raised and carefully monitored.
Wild Mussels: They are meatier and grittier than farm-raised mussels.
Wild mussels also have high levels of chemical substances and damaging bacteria (such as E.coli) that can cause health issues.
To minimize these risks, make sure that the mussels come from clean water and are clear from areas that may have high pollution. The markets around town can vary greatly in the quality of their mussels so it pays to do a little research.
If you harvest your own, please check with your local health officials on how to harvest and consume wild mussels safely.
Now, let's talk about how to store and clean mussels before cooking.
How to Store Fresh Mussels
- Do not clean or rinse the mussels until you're ready to cook them.
- Remove the mussels from the packaging. Transfer to a bowl and cover loosely with a wet towel.
- Store fresh mussels in the coolest part of your refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below.
- Fresh mussels must be cooked or stored in the freezer within 2 days of purchase.
How to Clean Mussels before Cooking
Cleaning mussels isn't as complicated as you think. It can be done in 4- easy steps.
Step 1. Soak
- Place mussels in a large bowl. Add about 3 cups of water and ¼ cup of salt per 1½ pounds of mussels.
- Soak for 15 minutes just right before cooking. During this process, the mussels filter the water to force out any sand or grit from inside the shells.
- After 15 minutes, If any mussels float, you need to throw them away because they are dead.
Step 2. Scrub
- Transfer the mussels to a colander.
- Use a stiff brush to brush off any debris that is stuck on the surface of the shells.
Step 3. Debeard
Grab the beard with your thumb and forefinger. Gently slide and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel shell.
Step 4. Rinse
Run cold water over the mussels until it runs clear. Now, they are ready to cook.
Easy Mussels Recipes and Menu Ideas
So, if you are planning to host a dinner party or summer bbq, mussels would make a fantastic item on the menu. Here are some ideas of dishes you can make with mussels:
- Steamed mussels as an appetizer, serve them with crusty bread and a squeeze of lemon. Here's how to steam mussels in an Instant Pot.
- You can add mussels to make this Seafood stew or fish soup. Serve it as a main course.
- Pasta with mussels (a perfect for Valentine's day meal or Christmas Day delight
- Grilled mussels.. a small change that gives a completely different spin on the taste.
Mussels FAQ and Cooking Tips:
When you are serving mussels as a main course, you should purchase about 1 - 1½ pounds of mussels per person. Or about 2 pounds of mussels per 4 servings if you are going to serve them as an appetizer.
Mussels cook quickly and can be done between 4-7 minutes depending on the cooking temperature and method, the amount of mussels and liquid used in the recipe.
Overcooked mussels are tough and chewy. Stop cooking immediately as they open.
Any mussels that do not open should be thrown away.
Please keep in mind that most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F.
Mussels release their own liquid during steaming. For that reason, you only need a small amount of liquid (stock, white white, or water). About 1 cup of liquid per 2-3 pounds of mussels.
Mussels go well with crusty bread, Pomme frites (French fries), and light salad.
You can store the leftover cooked mussels in an airtight container. Properly stored, it can last up to 2 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! I'd appreciate it.
How to Cook Mussels
- 2 pounds mussels
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tbsp minced garlic
- ¼ cup minced shallots
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 thyme sprigs
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ½ tsp salt, (add more according to your liking)
- Soak mussels in cold salt water (3 cups + ¼ cup salt) for about 15 minutes. Discard open mussels, scrub the shells, de-beard, and rinse until the water runs clear.
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook shallots for 30 seconds, add garlic and continue cooking until fragrant and softened.
- Add white wine, heavy cream, thyme, parsley, butter, and salt. Stir to combine. Add mussels, stir, cover the pot, cook on high heat for 5-6 minutes or until mussels open and are cooked through.