Easy Steamed Mussels Recipe With Marinara Sauce

how to cook mussels marinara

When it comes to making seafood recipes, sometimes I feel as though fresh mussels are overlooked.

A lot of people get intimidated when they see them at the grocery store, have no idea how to cook them, and walk away, opting to eat them only among restaurant food when going out to eat.

The fact of the matter is, that mussels are incredibly easy to make.

Especially when cooked in a hearty marinara sauce or fra diavolo sauce with a pinch of red pepper flakes, this Italian seafood dish is incredibly easy to make and unlike no other.

What’s The Difference Between Mussels and Clams?

I find that many people tend to confuse the two types of shellfish, but there are a few major distinctions between them.

Both types of mollusks are hard shelled sea animals, cleaning and filtering the water around them. They can both grow in freshwater or saltwater, and thrive in both wild and farmed environments.

However, many clams are found within the sand and shallow waters of the ocean. They typically boast light gray shells, and can grow to extremely large sizes.

Mussels are typically found in the rocks of the ocean, and are oftentimes found attached to other shellfish. The mussel shell is known for being long and dark in color.

Clams also typically have stronger flavors than mussels do, and are far more chewier. Mussels are buttery and tend to be creamier.

Because of these distinct differences, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend swapping one out for the other, but in cases like an Italian pasta dish, both types of mollusks work nicely.

Even though this recipe calls for mussels, you can still swap them out with your favorite type of clam for an equally delicious dish.

Here’s how you make it!


What You’ll Need:

Mussels: You can typically find these very cheap from your local grocery store. Make sure you buy them fresh!

Crushed Tomatoes: For a simple marinara sauce, you’ll need a can of crushed tomatoes. If you don’t have crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes work well too.

Garlic & Shallots: These aromatic ingredients will bring out all of the delicious flavors in your dish, and instantly elevate the flavor profile of the tomato sauce.

Dry White Wine: Something like a Pinot Grigio would be perfect with this.

Parsley: Some flat leaf parsley is the perfect addition to this delicious recipe.

Butter: I like using butter instead of olive oil with this recipe, but if you prefer olive oil, you can easily make the swap.

Red Pepper Flakes: Aside from the usual salt and pepper, red pepper flakes will give your dish the extra kick it needs.

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Here’s How You Make This:

In a heavy skillet, melt your butter. Once the butter is melted, add in the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute until fragrant.

Once fragrant, add in the white wine, and let the alcohol cook off, stirring for about 2-3 minutes. Once the wine is finished, add in the crushed tomatoes, and season everything with salt and pepper. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

After five minutes, add in your mussels except the ones with open shells, and cover the skillet, essentially steaming them. Leave the skillet covered for about 5 or so minutes, or until the mussels naturally open.

Stir everything together, and if you’d like, remove the mussels from the shells and discard. Make sure you also discard the shells that did not open, as they’re not safe to eat.

Garnish everything with a healthy sprinkle of fresh parsley, and serve this mussels marinara recipe with crusty bread or your favorite pasta.

Mussels with marinara


Mussels With Marinara FAQs:

Q: How long are mussels good for in the refrigerator?

A: As with any seafood recipe, I really only recommend keeping your seafood in the refrigerator for up to two days. But don’t worry, these mussels are so delicious, that they’ll be finished in no time.

Q: What’s the difference between fra diavolo and marinara sauce?

A: Marinara sauce is a typical tomato based fresh sauce, while fra diavolo is a spicy sauce that usually contains seafood. If you opted to make this recipe with more crushed red pepper than normal, you just made a fra diavolo sauce, which in my opinion, is the best way to enjoy seafood!

Q: What type of pasta should I serve this with?

A: If you’re going the pasta route with this easy recipe, you should definitely serve it with linguine or angel hair pasta. They’re really easy to get on the fork along with the mussels, making everything simple to consume.

mussels marinara servings


What Should I Serve With This?

  • Craving some garlic bread with your dish? This easy garlic bread recipe will have you hooked!
  • Wanted some homemade pasta with this delicious mussels recipe? You’re in luck, this recipe will have you hooked!
  • Still not sure what white wine to choose with this recipe? This helpful guide has you covered!

Delicious Mussels marinara

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how to cook mussels marinara

Easy Steamed Mussels Recipe With Marinara Sauce

  • Author: Gianna Ferrini


  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  1. Rinse mussels under cold water and scrub them thoroughly to remove any debris or sand.
  2. Pull off the beards (the stringy bits) protruding from between the shells.
  3. Discard any mussels that are open and do not close when tapped firmly.
  4. In a large pot or deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  5. Add the chopped shallots and minced garlic to the pot.
  6. Cook until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Pour in the white wine, letting the alcohol cook off for about 2-3 minutes.
  8. After 2-3 minutes, add the crushed tomatoes and season the sauce with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  9. Let the sauce simmer for about 5-7 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  10. Once the sauce has simmered, add the cleaned mussels to the pot, stir to coat the mussels with the sauce, and cover the pot with a lid and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mussels have opened.
  11. Discard any mussels that remain closed after cooking.
  12. Transfer the cooked mussels and marinara sauce to a serving dish.
  13. Garnish with freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley.

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