Mussels in a Creamy White Wine Garlic Sauce

Mussels in a creamy white wine garlic sauce are so quick, you almost won’t believe that something so devastatingly delish is faster than takeout. Mussels, white wine, cream, lemon, and garlic are just about all it takes.

A white saucepan filled with mussels in a creamy white wine garlic sauce with lemons.

Adapted from Kirsty Scobie & Fenella Renwick | The Seafood Shack | Interlink, 2021

Make sure to eat these mussels with white wine cream sauce with a loaf of crusty bread, since the sauce is packed with flavor. Just a bit of butter and lemon, in addition to some shallots and garlic, infuses the white wine sauce. When combined with the mussel liquor and some cream, the result is decadent and absolutely moreish. This is one of those recipes where the whole is greater than just the sum of its parts.–Kirsty Scobie & Fenella Renwick

Mussels FAQs

What are farmed-raised mussels?

Farm-raised mussels are significantly cleaner and just as flavorful as wild mussels. The most common type is the black-colored “blue mussel,” but green-shelled New Zealand mussels are popular, too. Ask your fishmonger for rope-grown mussels if you can find them since they tend to be even less gritty. Rope-growing mussels is a technique used by many mussel farmers. In late spring, when mussels begin to spawn and the sea temperatures rise, farmers drop old rope into the water, which is kept afloat by buoys. The larvae naturally settle onto the rope surface and grow. It normally takes one to two years for them to reach maturity. 

How many mussels should I buy per person?

Buying 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of mussels per person for a main-course serving is perfect.

How do I clean mussels?

You’ll need an oyster knife or another small but sturdy knife with a bit of bend to it. 
When you’re cleaning mussels, you want to remove any barnacles and the beard that comes out of the shell (which has a rope-like texture). We use an oyster knife because it has a good thick edge. You don’t want a sharp knife–you’ll just ruin it and you need some force behind your knife to get rid of the barnacles. 

Put the mussels in the sink and have the cold water running slowly. Hold a mussel in one hand and scrape the outside with the knife, getting rid of the barnacles and any other growths. The beard grows out of the middle of the hinge side of the mussel. Remove it by holding firmly with your thumb and forefinger and swiftly pulling upwards towards the tip of the mussel—don’t pull outwards since this often means you don’t pull it all out. 

Once you’ve done them all, give them a quick rinse under cold water. Discard mussels that won’t close their shells when you give them a tap and any with cracked shells—they are dead and can make you sick. If you are keeping them to cook another day, place a damp tea towel over them and keep them in the fridge. This keeps the moisture inside the mussels. 

Mussels in a Creamy White Wine Garlic Sauce

A white saucepan filled with mussels in a creamy white wine garlic sauce with lemons.
Some people find the texture of mussels off-putting, but after they’ve been steaming away in a creamy, buttery sauce they soon start to get super delicious. The best part of a mussel dish always seems to be the same: that last bit of creamy sauce in the bottom of the bowl that gets soaked up with some warm crusty bread. The salty sea-ness from the mussels combined with your sauce always creates the perfect combination. 
Kirsty Scobie & Fenella Renwick

Prep 20 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 30 mins
Entree
British
4 servings
347 kcal
No ratings yet
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Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) butter
  • 1 (8 oz) white onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 pounds mussels* scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine
  • 1 generous cup heavy cream
  • Small handful of fresh curly parsley chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  • Crusty bread for serving

Directions
 

  • In a large pot over medium heat, combine butter, onion, and garlic. Sauté until everything is soft, 6 to 10 minutes. Crumble in the vegetable bouillon cube and add the lemon juice.
  • Increase heat, toss in mussels and wine, and put the lid on the pot. The wine will make steam and start to cook the mussels. Cook until most of the mussels are open, about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce temperature to low and add heavy cream, parsley, and black pepper. Slowly bring up the temperature until the sauce starts to bubble—be careful when adding the cream because if it’s too hot it can split.
  • Gently simmer until all of the mussels are open, about 2 minutes more. Discard any that refuse to open.
  • Serve with a wedge of lemon and lots of crusty bread.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 347kcal (17%)Carbohydrates: 11g (4%)Protein: 28g (56%)Fat: 15g (23%)Saturated Fat: 7g (44%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 89mg (30%)Sodium: 837mg (36%)Potassium: 803mg (23%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 651IU (13%)Vitamin C: 19mg (23%)Calcium: 72mg (7%)Iron: 9mg (50%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This recipe for mussels in a creamy white wine garlic sauce took me back to a time in Brussels when I had the most amazing plate of moules frites. The recipe produced pretty much the identical dish (minus the frites) with perfectly balanced flavors and a richness that comes from just a few simple ingredients.

Be sure to purchase the best mussels you can find from a reliable source. We were fortunate to find fresh mussels from Maine which were very clean with almost no beards. Plan on about a pound person with plenty of crusty baguette slices for dipping.

These mussels in a creamy white wine garlic sauce were a treat! They were easy to make and on the table within 30 minutes of starting. I didn’t have a bouillon cube, so I skipped that and seasoned well with salt instead.

Do take care to make sure the dish heat is very low before adding the cream as it can split easily. We served with plenty of crusty bread for sopping up the delicious sauce.

Originally published October 15, 2021

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Comments

  1. How similar is this recipe to Billi- bi? It has been my favourite way to prepare mussels for decades.

    1. William, I was unfamiliar with Billi Bi until you mentioned it. It does appear that they are quite similar, though I think you will find that the broth in this recipe is quite a bit thinner as it doesn’t have any added egg. The mussels are left in their shells as well. Overall, I believe the flavors will be similar, but this will be faster to make, but won’t have that thicker soup base that Billi Bi does. If you try it, do let us know how they compare.

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