Smoky Chile and Tomato Mussels

Smoky chile and tomato mussels are spiced with cinnamon, cumin, cilantro, and chiles (natch). The beauty of this meal is its ease of ingredients—mussels are affordable and pretty easy to find—but also the lushness of the sauce. Our testers raved about it, so make sure you have lots of crusty bread on hand to sop it up.

Three bowls of smoky chile and tomato mussels, on a table flanked by a glass of beer and a few empty mussel shells.

Adapted from Lola Milne | One Dish Fish | Kyle Books, 2021

No offense to the sweet, plump mussels, but the smoky, spicy sauce is the real star here. Make sure to serve with good quality crusty bread so you can sop up the extra sauce. An easy and superlatively tasty dinner for any time you want something just a little extra.–Jenny Latreille

Smoky Chile and Tomato Mussels

Three bowls of smoky chile and tomato mussels, on a table flanked by a glass of beer and a few empty mussel shells.
The smokiness of the chile here helps the sweetness of the mussels sing. This is a super-speedy supper that feels like so much more than the sum of its parts. Surprisingly, mussels are fairly inexpensive, so treat yourself!
Lola Milne

Prep 30 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
2 to 3 servings
450 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium (about 6 oz) onion thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or ancho chile flakes
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 garlic clove thinly sliced, or more to taste
  • One (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
  • One (14-ounce) can white beans (such as cannellini or navy beans) drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound, 10 ounces live mussels* scrubbed and debearded
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lime preferably organic
  • Small handful fresh cilantro leaves torn
  • Crusty bread or toasted baguette slices to serve


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).
  • In a medium roasting pan, toss together the oil, onion, and celery, and pop in the oven until the onion and celery have softened and are beginning to turn golden, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Stir in the chile flakes, cinnamon stick, cumin seed, and garlic. Return the roasting pan to the oven to bloom the spices, about 2 minutes, then remove from the oven again and add the tomatoes and white beans. Season lightly (remember that the mussels may contribute some saltiness) and return to the oven. Continue roasting, breaking down the tomatoes once or twice with the back of a spoon, until the mixture thickens slightly but is still brothy, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove the roasting pan from the oven once more and stir in the mussels. Return to the oven and roast until the mussels have sprung open, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that remain closed.
  • Dump the sauce and mussels into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro, and serve immediately, passing bread or toasted baguette on the side.
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*Do I need to soak mussels before cooking them?

Live mussels are probably still full of sand and grit, unfortunately. So it’s best if you soak them before you move on to the cooking process. Really, it just takes a quick soak in fresh water for 20 minutes or so. During this time, the mussels will filter in the fresh water and expel the sand they’re holding inside. After 20 minutes, they’ll have a lot less grit and salt inside and will be much more comfortable to eat.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 450kcal (23%)Carbohydrates: 16g (5%)Protein: 44g (88%)Fat: 23g (35%)Saturated Fat: 4g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 103mg (34%)Sodium: 1074mg (47%)Potassium: 1224mg (35%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 904IU (18%)Vitamin C: 30mg (36%)Calcium: 116mg (12%)Iron: 15mg (83%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

I must say that I was worried if this recipe would end up the way it actually did. The idea of white beans, with cinnamon and mussels, scared me a bit. Therefore, I was surprised by how amazing the end result was. As we are quite a few in this house, I decided right away to double the recipe and serve it as an appetizer. We were 6 altogether and I must say that if this was as a main meal, it would have been perfect for 4 people (or if following the recipe without doubling it, 2 people with some nice peasant bread!)

In terms of the ingredients, all were super easy to find here in Portugal. The onion I had at home was a purple one and as it was not specified, I decided to use it. I cut it into almost paper-thin slices. As I didn't have ancho pepper, I used our traditional piri-piri flakes. In terms of the limes, ours are small but amazingly juicy, so from one lime, I was able to get 3/4 cup of juice, and I must say am glad for such, as it gave such a nice summer feel of freshness to the plate. The zest was barely a tablespoon so next time I will use more of it.

The final verdict from our home. Exceptional, amazingly tasty, fresh, and filling, and the sauce is outstanding. This is a MUST redo!

This one-pan meal of smoky chile and tomato mussels with beans was easy to toss together, had a fantastic balance of flavor, and just enough heat from the pepper flakes. My two teens and I devoured this, sopping up the juices with plenty of crusty bread.

Originally published July 27, 2021


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