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How to Cook Mussels

How to Cook Mussels

Wondering how to cook mussels? Fulton Fish Market chefs and culinary experts are here to show you step-by-step how to prepare them, which mussels to choose, and some key nutrition details! Mussels have been eaten around the world for more than 20,000 years, and are enjoying a high point with “mussel tourism” happening around the world. Explore nutrition details and how best to cook these delicacies at home from world-renowned seafood professionals.

With their sweet, briny flavor, mussels are an easy way to add flavor and nutrition to a dish. Learn how to cook mussels, and check out our selection of fresh mussels on to get your juices flowing.

What Are Mussels?

Mussels are a type of mollusk -- a shelled seafood delicacy related to clams and oysters. Mussels live in both freshwater and saltwater. The mussel’s shell is made up of three layers, the outermost layer varying widely in color depending on the type of mussel. Here’s a fun fact: mussels' "beard" -- the tissue mussels use to cling to rocks -- is strong enough to cling to Teflon™!

Mussels Nutrition Facts

Mussels lovers are a lucky crew, since mussels pack tons of flavor and nutrition. Every 3-ounce serving contains about 150 calories, 20 grams of protein, 3.8 grams of mostly-heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and plenty of iron (6 mg), zinc (2 mg), and vitamin B12 (20 mcg). Mussels are a versatile food, so add them to pasta, salads, or soups to bump up the flavor and nutrients.

How to Cook Mussels: Step-by-Step Instructions

Steaming mussels is one of the most popular ways to cook mussels, since it enhances the mussels’ natural flavors without overcooking. Just follow these simple instructions on how to cook mussels.

Equipment for Cooking Mussels

You will need the following equipment to steam mussels:

  • A pot large enough to hold the mussels and your other ingredients, leaving enough room for steam to circulate
  • Knife (for cleaning the mussels)
  • Vegetable brush (for cleaning the mussels)
  • Broth ingredients (whatever your recipe calls for, including a liquid)

Steps for Cooking Mussels


  1. Soak the mussels. Soak the mussels in cold water for at least 20 minutes before cooking them. This helps keep the mussels fresh and rinses off any sand.
  2. Prepare the pot. Add enough liquid to completely cover the bottom of the pot without submerging the mussels. (You want to steam them, not boil them.) Depending on your recipe, you can use water, white wine, or even beer.
  3. Clean the mussels. Use a vegetable brush to scrub each mussel under a stream of water. Use the knife to give the mussel a "debearding" by removing any fibrous tissue emerging from the shell (the mussel’s “beard”). If you need a few more minutes before cooking the mussels, put them on ice until you’re ready.
  4. Cook the mussels. Add the mussels (and any other ingredients) to the pot and give it a good toss to mix the ingredients. Cover, and cook on medium-high heat to steam the mussels.
  5. Serve with your favorite side dishes and enjoy!


Pro-Tips for Fresh, Delicious Mussels

Cooking times vary by portion.
 It’s easy to tell when the mussels are cooked: when the mussels are finished cooking, their shells open up. So, keep an eye on the mussels, remove them from heat when their shells open up, and use the following as a guide for cooking times:

  • 1-lb to 2-lbs: Steam 4-5 minutes
  • 2-lbs to 5-lbs: Steam 5-6 minutes
  • 5-lbs to 10-lbs: Steam 6-8 minutes
  • 10-lbs and more: Team 8-10 minutes

Plan your party well. Buy about ½ pound of mussels if you're using them as an appetizer, or about 1 ¼ pound per person if you're preparing mussels as a main dish.

Buy fresh mussels. Mussels begin to deteriorate once they are out of the water. has honed its harvest and delivery processes to ensure your mussels are fresh on arrival.

Storing fresh mussels: Store fresh shellfish in an open container (no liquid) covered with a damp cloth. This will retain moisture without killing the mussels. You can store the mussels for up to four days.

Only use whole, closed-shell oysters.  An open shell that won’t close signals a dead mussel. Do not consume mussels with broken shells or shells that won’t close when you tap them.

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