Steamed Mussels in Beer

Mussels in Beer Recipe

This is the story of our steamed mussels in beer recipe. There was nothin’ we liked more than barbecuing on a sunny summer day, especially when we got older and moved outta our parents’ houses. On Sundays we’d head down to Joe’s Lobster House—where we bought our fish if we didn’t take it from the restaurant—and go to Fran’s mom’s house out on the Tottenville Marina. We’d get there early, invite all our friends, and cook up a storm. We’d make so many courses it’d be like an all-day luau or clambake or somethin’. We’re just like our grandfather in that way, always wantin’ to feed everybody. He loved his family and wanted to make ’em food, but he also loved to do it because he loved cookin’. And he especially loved hearin’ “The food’s delicious” or “Wow, this was the best I ever ate.” So we’d invite all our friends out to Fran’s mom’s house. Usually when we made mussels at the restaurant, we’d use wine. But when there was a bunch of twenty-somethings hangin’ out, we weren’t drinkin’ wine, we were drinkin’ Heineken, so we used that instead. With all that butter and parsley and garlic, you didn’t miss the wine.–Francis Garcia and Sal Basille

LC Not Just Heineken Note

As you just read, Heineken works dandy in this steamed mussels in beer recipe. And yet so do many other beers. Much depends on personal preference, but guaranteed that any relatively light, hoppy, suck-one-down-quickly-on-a-hot-summer-day sorta beer is going to work swell here. Think an IPA such as Sierra Nevada or a cerveza such as Corona or, well, you get the idea. Whatever you’ve got on ice in the cooler will do the trick.

Mussels in Beer Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) salted butter
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 bottles warm Heineken
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving


  • 1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic just begins to brown at the edges, maybe 2 minutes. Add the butter, parsley, salt, and mussels and heat until the butter has completely melted. Add the Heineken, cover, and let everything simmer until the mussels open, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
  • 2. Pile the mussels back into the pot or on a large rimmed platter, strew with some basil and oregano, if desired, and serve with the lemon wedges for squeezing.

Tuxedo Variation

  • Crab Legs In Beer
  • You could also easily substitute crab legs for an equally delicious dish.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Lila Ferrari

Jul 26, 2015

The perfect lazy dish for a hot day! I've never steamed mussels in beer before; it's always been wine. But what a nice change. My tasters loved this dish with its subtle spicy flavor, the hint of heat contrasting with the sweet mussels and garlic, and sauce married with the butter. We love garlic here, so 6 cloves wasn't a problem and it wasn't overpowering. Overall, the dish took about 20 minutes from start to finish. I think you could mix up the overall flavor by switching beers, but we were satisfied with our dish.

Testers Choice
Linda Pacchiano

Jul 26, 2015

Like the authors, we usually use wine when we make mussels. The use of Heineken was a nice change, providing a stronger, tangier flavor than that produced with wine. I strongly suggest having some crusty bread as an accompaniment to sop up the delicious liquid. I made 2 pounds steamed mussels in beer, which served 2 of us as a main course. It takes about 10 minutes to chop the garlic and parsley and scrub and debeard the mussels, and the cooking time is about 3 to 4 minutes, so this dish can be on the table in less than 15 minutes.

Testers Choice
Tammori Petty

Jul 26, 2015

Oh my, these steamed mussels in beer were delicious! It's amazing how just a few simple ingredients can come together and make such a bold statement. The broth definitely calls for some crusty bread for dipping. It has this spicy savory flavor with freshness from the basil. It took about 35 minutes to prepare this dish, including about 17 minutes to debeard the mussels. Once all the ingredients were in the pot, it only took 4 minutes for the mussels to open. This is a quick, flavorful dish that is good any time of year!

  1. Stu B. says:

    Is it necessary to first purge the mussels? I have been doing it for decades. I don’t recall where I first got the instructions to do it. I mix spring water with sea salt in a ratio to replicate sea water. I aireate it then dump in the mussels for 30 minutes. They all open and dump all this grey mucus and junk into the water. I quickly stir them and dump out the dirty water and do one quick rinse, then proceed with your recipe, which is a classic.

    • David Leite says:

      Stu, not really. I had asked my fishmonger about this a long time ago, and he said most mussels we get nowadays are farmed, so they contain little grit. The mussel fishermen whom we spent a day with on their boat in Nova Scotia said the same thing. Now, my dad used to do the exact thing you describe with steamer clams that he and I used to dig ourselves.

  2. Katie says:

    Can you substitute mussels for littlenecks?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Sure could, Katie! The timing may be a touch off, but as you know, just remove them when they open and discard any that remain shut. Let us know how it goes!

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