Moules Marinière

Famous classic recipe for steamed mussels

Photo of mussel being cleaned with a brush /
Serve Moules Mariniere with bread for dipping into the fabulous sauce

If you're looking for the easiest of all steamed mussels recipes, look no farther than Moules Marinière.  This recipe is fun and easy to make - and delicious to eat!

Julia Child introduced Americans to Moules Marinière in her famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.   In French, moules means mussels and marinière means sailor-style.

In this recipe, mussels steam for a few minutes in a savory mixture of wine, herbs, shallots, butter, and olive oil.  As soon as the mussels finish steaming, you put them into individual serving bowls, ladel the hot broth over them, and serve with some crusty French or Italian bread to sop up the delicious sauce. 

Julia Child's original recipe calls for all butter, but we substitute olive oil for part of it - healthier, and in our opinion, even more delicious.

Moules Marinière recipe

Serves 4 as main course.  To serve as a first course, halve the recipe (except for the salt)

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots, scallions, or leeks (white part only)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 8 slices of crusty French or Italian bread (optional)

Heat the olive oil and butter in a wide-bottomed pot or kettle over medium heat.  As soon as the butter melts, add the shallots (or scallions or leeks) and cook for one minute. 

Add the wine, bay leaves, thyme, pepper, and salt.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. 

Add the mussels, and cover the pot.  After 1 minute, shake the pot from side to side to redistribute the mussels so that they'll cook evenly.

After 2 more minutes (total of 3 minutes after adding the mussels), remove the pot's top.   If no mussels have opened yet, put the top back on, and continue checking at 1-minute intervals until they open.  If some of them have opened, remove them with a slotted spoon.  As more open, continue removing them so they don't overcook.  Discard any that don't open.  (You can find more details about how to cook mussels perfectly here.)

Divide the cooked mussels among 4 bowls.  Ladle the hot broth over the mussels.  Leave the last few drops of broth in the pot in case it contains any sand, and of course discard the bay leaves.  Sprinkle parsley over the mussels in each bowl.

Serve the moules marinière immediately with the bread, and a green salad.  Be sure to provide a large bowl where everyone can put their empty shells!

Graphic of fish on

to our free monthly
Super Seafood Newsletter
and get new recipes in your mailbox each month.

Next issue will feature Easy Shrimp Recipes




I keep your e-mail private