The Captain’s Kitchen: Garlicky Steamed/Grilled Mussels

by Mark McNulty.

When it comes to easy, affordable seafood for your family to enjoy, you really can’t beat mussels, and this recipe in particular. Mussels can be a great part of a healthy diet and are readily available here in New England. Best of all, you will usually find them selling for only around $2 per pound… $4 is a max.

I have offered the details on the recipe I used but you can easily alter this to suit your liking. It can be used as an appetizer or an entrée. A standard guideline to follow with mussels is one pound per person being served. Perhaps more if it is your entrée. Also, I really enjoy garlic so I used 5 cloves… but you might prefer a little more or less. Every piece of this recipe is very flexible.

Everything you need for a great appetizer or entrée of garlicky mussels!

Everything you need for a great appetizer or entrée of garlicky mussels!

Prep Time: 15 minutes  —  Cook Time: 15 minutes


  • 3 pounds mussels
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt


  1. Clean the mussels. Give them a little scrub down under cold water and pull off the “beards” you sometimes find on them. Discard any mussel that does not close or stay closed when you wash it or tap the shell a few times. It is dead and should not be consumed.

    A mussel that did not close during washing. It should be discarded.

    A mussel that did not close during washing. It should be discarded.

  2. In a large pot, bring about a half inch to an inch of water to a boil with the sea salt in it. Dump the mussels into the pot, cover, and reduce heat. Steam them and carefully shake the pot frequently until the mussels are all open, about 8 to 10 minutes. You want just enough water to steam, but not so much your mussels boil in it. (Use a steamer basket if you have one.)
  3. Heat the oil and minced garlic over medium heat, stirring, until the garlic just begins to brown. Remove.
  4. Scoop the mussels into a serving bowl. Pour the oil and garlic over them. Serve with some crusty bread and enjoy!
The finished product. Garlicky mussels ready for eating!

The finished product. Garlicky mussels ready for eating!

Grilling Variation:

I actually prefer to grill my mussels and almost always cook them this way. On this particular day, however, it was winter and pouring rain so I steamed them. If you choose to grill them it is very simple. Heat your grill on high so the grates are very hot. Dump the mussels on the grill and spread them out. Close the grill cover. Wait about 2-3 minutes and all your mussels should be open. Remove them, pour the oil and garlic over them, and serve with crusty bread. Discard any mussels that fail to open within 5 minutes.

Captain’s Notes:

  • If any mussel fails to open after 5 minutes on the grill or 10 minutes steaming, discard it. It should not consumed.
  • Our mussels in New England are blue mussels, also called PEI mussels. Even though PEI stands for Prince Edward Island, it does not mean the mussels are from PEI. These PEI mussels were from southern Maine, for example.
  • Don’t worry about a few mussels that are found dead. It happens. If they are fresh, however, you should not find more than 2-3 dead ones per pound.
  • As always, I encourage you to buy your mussels fresh from a local fish market. I always use my favorite fish mongers because I know it is the freshest, highest quality seafood for my money and better customer service. I have had too many bad experiences with chain supermarkets. The one supermarket I recommend is Roche Brothers. They use Foley Fish out of Boston and I have always been pleased. I actually got these mussels there, at $1.87 per pound since two markets I tried had sold out already.

How did this recipe work for you? Any suggestions, questions or comment? I welcome your feedback. Thanks and enjoy your mussels!

Mark McNulty is a local teacher and children’s writer who is currently a stay-at-home Dad. A lifelong resident of the South Shore and avid fisherman, Mark has developed a passion for local seafood. He has often said “If it swims, I’ll eat it.” This includes active support for local fish markets and fishermen. Mark is also an avid Boston sports fan. His other interests include hiking, travel, cycling, and archery. His blog, The New American Dad, is a helpful resource for all mothers and fathers and was recently recognized as Top Blog by Mommy Poppins Boston. His family currently lives in Pembroke.


About Mark McNulty

I am a stay-at-home Dad, children's writer, and elementary school teacher by trade. I maintain my own blog, The New American Dad, as a resource for fathers and families everywhere. I also blog about local seafood for Edible South Shore, tapping into my passion for fishing and all the ocean provides. I love feedback so please don't hesitate to drop me a line!
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One Response to The Captain’s Kitchen: Garlicky Steamed/Grilled Mussels

  1. Nancy Brenton says:

    Sounds great and so easy. I often see them in Australian fish markets but didn’t know what to do with them and didn’t ask either! Must buy and try!

    Sent from iPad


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