This mussel dish is easy enough to make any time, but worthy of taking center place when serving appetizers. I have to admit that, although we almost always eat seafood on Christmas Eve, I’m not fixated on the traditional Italian seven-seafood idea and serve this instead.—Toni Lydecker

Baked Mussels with Crisped Bread Crumbs FAQs

How do I know that my mussels are good?

Never eat mussels whose shells are cracked, open, or any that refuse to close their shells when you handle or tap them, those are likely dying or dead. And be sure that they smell like the ocean, briny and like sea air, not fishy. Try to cook the mussels immediately (unwrap them as soon as you get home). If you have to wait, place them in a bowl and cover them with a damp towel so they can breathe. 

How do I make breadcrumbs?

If you lack bread crumbs, toss 1 or 2 slices of bread, torn into several pieces, in a food processor and pulse until reduced to medium crumbs. If you’re going to make the bread crumbs from fresh bread, toast the slices lightly in a dry skillet or a toaster oven set on low heat just until dry, before whizzing them up.

Baked mussels with breadcrumbs in a cast-iron pan with a serving spoon, on a blue tablecloth.

Baked Mussels with Crisped Bread Crumbs

5 / 6 votes
Giovanni Ardizzoni, the owner of Letojanni's Da Nino restaurant, told me the secret to their baked mussels is moisture-absorbing pan carré, or crisped crumbs, not so different from white bread. You can use these same seasoned bread crumbs for baked stuffed clams or baked oysters. Mussels are space hogs, filling your sauté pan while leaving behind a delectable essence—be sure to spoon it all back into the crumbs.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories244 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time40 minutes


  • 1 cup bread crumbs, from fresh or day-old white bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds small mussels, (about 4 dozen), scrubbed


  • Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Adjust the oven rack to the top position.
  • In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, parsley, and garlic. Season with salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix until the bread crumbs are thoroughly moistened.
  • Dump the mussels in a large skillet. Cover the skillet and place it over high heat, shaking often, until the mussels start to open. As the mussels open, move them to a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. (Because the mussels will be baked, they need to be heated just long enough to force the shells open.) Snap off the top shells and arrange the mussels so they support each other evenly rather than tilt to one side.
  • Drizzle any cooking liquid from the pan over the mussels and into the shells. Spoon the seasoned bread crumbs over the mussels, packing them gently into the shells with the back of the spoon. Drizzle the mussels with a little more olive oil.
  • Bake the mussels just until the bread crumbs brown, about 10 minutes. Serve the mussels warm or at room temperature.

Adapted From

Seafood alla Siciliana

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 244 kcalCarbohydrates: 19 gProtein: 20 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gCholesterol: 42 mgSodium: 662 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 Toni Lydecker. Photo © 2009 Tina Rupp. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This was really delicious! This felt indulgent but was really light and extremely flavorful with the garlic and herbs. The recipe itself is not hard to make but is slightly finicky with opening up and laying flat all the mussels. I recommend getting a helper for this part. This would make a great appetizer, but I served this as a side with grilled filets and roasted asparagus. It made a lovely surf and turf dinner.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Will try tonight and let you know how it turns out! Can’t see anything wrong with the recipe though. Thanks!