Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce Recipe

Steamed mussels in tomato sauce are a classic dish from the coastal regions. This dish is a delightful mix of fresh, briny mussels, rich tomato sauce, and smoky bacon. It's a perfect main course for a family dinner or a fancy dinner party.

Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce Recipe

Photos of Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce Recipe

Most ingredients in this recipe are commonly found in many households. However, mussels might not be readily available in all supermarkets. When buying mussels, choose ones that are closed tightly or close when tapped. This shows they are alive and fresh. If they remain open, they are dead and should be discarded. Additionally, you may not have marinara sauce at home but it is readily available in the condiments aisle at the supermarket.

Ingredients for Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce

Bacon strips: They add a smoky flavor to the dish.

White onion: Gives a sweetness and depth to the sauce.

Garlic cloves: Adds a punchy, aromatic flavor.

Red pepper flakes: They provide a spicy note.

Salt and black pepper: Seasoning to enhance all the flavors.

White wine: Used to deglaze the pan and add acidity.

Marinara sauce: Tomatoes based sauce that adds richness and tanginess.

Mussels: The star of the dish, they provide a wonderful sea flavor.

Spaghetti: Optional, serve the mussels over spaghetti for a hearty meal.

Crusty bread: Optional, for dipping in the delicious sauce.

Fresh parsley: Optional, for garnish and a fresh finish.

One reader, Debee Cowart says:

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This steamed mussels in tomato sauce recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are incredible, and the mussels are perfectly cooked. The combination of the marinara sauce and white wine creates a rich and savory broth that's simply divine. It's a must-try for any seafood lover!

Debee Cowart

Techniques Required for Steaming Mussels in Tomato Sauce

How to prepare the bacon: Cut the bacon strips into small pieces before adding them to the skillet.

How to deglaze the pan: Pour the wine into the skillet and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

How to cook the mussels: Add the mussels to the skillet and cover with a lid, shaking the skillet gently to ensure even cooking. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the mussels open, and discard any that do not open.

How To Make Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce

These steamed mussels are cooked in marinara sauce with crisped bacon for added savor. Serve it over pasta or pair it with an appetizer!

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes



  • 4bacon strips,chopped
  • ½small white onion,chopped
  • 3garlic cloves,sliced
  • ½tspred pepper flakes
  • ¼tspsalt
  • ¼tspblack pepper
  • ½cupwhite wine,optional
  • 4cupsmarinara sauce
  • lbsmussels,scrubbed, debearded, rinsed and drained

For Serving (Optional):

  • 1lbspaghetti,drained, if serving as a main course
  • crusty bread,if serving as an appetizer
  • fresh parsley


  1. Add the chopped bacon to a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the bacon for 5 to 6 minutes until it renders out fat and starts to get crispy.

  2. Then, add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until onions soften and become translucent.

  3. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes to soften the garlic and combine flavors. Then, pour in the wine to deglaze the pan.

  4. Cook for 1 minute and then pour in marinara sauce and stir. Bring the mixture to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes, partially covered.

  5. Remove the lid and add all of the mussels. Cover and shake the skillet gently. Cook the mussels for 4 to 5 minutes until they open. Discard any that do not open.

  6. Serve with crusty bread as an appetizer or over-cooked pasta as a main course, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • Mussels, like most seafood, don’t keep well for long as leftovers. The sauce and mussels are fine in the fridge for a day or two.
  • Reheat them gently on the stove with a splash of water. Freezing is not recommended.


  • Calories: 567.49kcal
  • Fat: 14.01g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.57g
  • Trans Fat: 0.03g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 4.75g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.27g
  • Carbohydrates: 76.07g
  • Fiber: 5.90g
  • Sugar: 12.40g
  • Protein: 28.59g
  • Cholesterol: 48.03mg
  • Sodium: 1198.14mg
  • Calcium: 105.91mg
  • Potassium: 1185.24mg
  • Iron: 7.28mg
  • Vitamin A: 132.85µg
  • Vitamin C: 18.99mg

Essential Technique Tip for Perfectly Steamed Mussels

When preparing mussels, it's crucial to clean them properly before cooking. Scrub the outside of the mussels under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Also, discard any mussels that are already open before cooking, as this could indicate that they are not fresh. Lastly, after cooking, any mussels that have not opened should also be discarded, as they may not be safe to eat. This will ensure you have the most delicious and safe-to-eat mussels for your dish.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Steamed Mussels

Prep ahead: Chop and measure all ingredients in advance to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot wonder: Opt for recipes that allow you to cook everything in a single pot or pan to minimize cleanup.

Efficient tools: Use kitchen tools like a food processor or mandoline to speed up prep work.

Fresh and frozen: Utilize a combination of fresh and frozen ingredients to save time without compromising flavor.

Batch cooking: Prepare large quantities and freeze individual portions for quick and easy meals later on.

Time-saving gadgets: Invest in time-saving gadgets such as a pressure cooker or slow cooker for hands-off cooking.

Prep shortcuts: Take advantage of pre-cut vegetables, canned beans, and pre-made sauces to cut down on prep time.

Multi-task: Plan your cooking process to multitask, such as chopping vegetables while something is simmering on the stove.

Substitute Ingredients For Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • bacon strips - Substitute with pancetta: Pancetta is a cured Italian meat that is similar to bacon but has a slightly different flavor and texture, which can add a unique twist to the dish.

  • white onion - Substitute with shallots: Shallots have a milder and sweeter flavor compared to white onions, adding a subtle and delicate taste to the dish.

  • garlic cloves - Substitute with garlic powder: Garlic powder can be used as a substitute for fresh garlic cloves, providing a convenient alternative while still imparting a rich garlic flavor to the dish.

  • red pepper flakes - Substitute with paprika: Paprika can add a mild, smoky flavor and vibrant color to the dish, complementing the other ingredients in the recipe.

  • white wine - Substitute with chicken or vegetable broth: Chicken or vegetable broth can be used as a non-alcoholic substitute, providing depth of flavor and moisture to the dish.

  • marinara sauce - Substitute with canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning: Using canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning can create a similar tomato base for the dish, with the added benefit of controlling the seasoning to taste.

  • mussels - Substitute with clams: Clams can be used as an alternative to mussels, offering a similar briny and seafood flavor to the dish.

  • spaghetti - Substitute with linguine or fettuccine: Linguine or fettuccine can be used as alternatives to spaghetti, providing a different texture and shape while still pairing well with the tomato sauce and seafood.

  • crusty bread - Substitute with baguette: Baguette can be used as a substitute for crusty bread, offering a crispy exterior and soft interior to soak up the delicious tomato sauce.

  • fresh parsley - Substitute with fresh basil: Fresh basil can be used to garnish the dish, adding a fragrant and herbaceous flavor that complements the tomato sauce and seafood.

Best Way to Present Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the steamed mussels in tomato sauce, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing presentation. Use a large, shallow serving dish to showcase the vibrant colors of the mussels and tomato sauce. Arrange the mussels in a circular pattern, and spoon the rich tomato sauce over the top, ensuring each mussel is generously coated.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Add a pop of color and freshness to the dish by garnishing with freshly chopped parsley. Sprinkle the parsley over the mussels and tomato sauce just before serving to enhance the visual appeal and add a hint of herbal aroma to the dish.

  3. Serve with artisanal bread: Accompany the steamed mussels with freshly baked artisanal bread. Slice the bread and arrange it in a rustic manner on the serving platter, allowing guests to use it to soak up the flavorful tomato sauce and savor every last bit of the dish.

  4. Consider individual servings: For a more refined presentation, consider serving the steamed mussels in individual, shallow bowls. This allows each guest to have their own beautifully presented portion, creating an intimate and upscale dining experience.

  5. Incorporate a pasta element: If serving the mussels as a main course, consider pairing them with al dente spaghetti. Twirl a portion of spaghetti onto each plate and top it with a generous serving of the steamed mussels and tomato sauce for a visually stunning and satisfying dish.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making This Mussel Recipe

  • Skillet: A flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and sautéing ingredients.
  • Knife: A sharp tool used for slicing, chopping, and mincing ingredients.
  • Cutting board: A flat surface used for cutting and preparing ingredients.
  • Spatula: A flat, flexible tool used for flipping and lifting ingredients.
  • Tongs: A utensil with two arms and a pivot used for gripping and lifting hot items.
  • Large pot: A deep cooking vessel used for boiling, simmering, and stewing ingredients.
  • Lid: A cover used for covering pots and pans during cooking.
  • Measuring cup: A tool used for measuring liquid and dry ingredients accurately.
  • Measuring spoons: Utensils used for measuring small amounts of ingredients.
  • Whisk: A utensil used for blending, whipping, and stirring ingredients.
  • Colander: A bowl-shaped container with small holes used for draining liquids from food items.
  • Garlic press: A tool used for mincing garlic cloves.
  • Grater: A tool used for grating cheese, vegetables, and other ingredients.
  • Can opener: A tool used for opening cans.
  • Mixing bowl: A bowl used for mixing and combining ingredients.
  • Ladle: A long-handled spoon with a deep bowl used for serving soups and stews.
  • Oven: A kitchen appliance used for baking and roasting food items.
  • Stove: A cooking appliance used for heating and cooking food in pots and pans.
  • Food processor: A kitchen appliance used for chopping, blending, and pureeing ingredients.
  • Baking dish: A dish used for baking and roasting food items in the oven.
  • Pastry brush: A brush used for applying sauces, glazes, and oils to food items.
  • Aluminum foil: A thin, pliable sheet of aluminum used for covering and wrapping food items.
  • Wooden spoon: A utensil used for stirring and mixing ingredients while cooking.
  • Basting brush: A brush used for applying liquids, such as marinades and sauces, to food items.
  • Steamer: A cooking tool used for steaming vegetables, seafood, and other ingredients.
  • Strainer: A tool used for separating liquids from solids.
  • Grill: A cooking appliance used for grilling and barbecuing food items.

How To Store and Freeze Leftover Steamed Mussels

  • Let the steamed mussels cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to 2 days.
  • If you have any leftover tomato sauce, store it separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat it and serve it over pasta or use it as a dipping sauce for bread.
  • To freeze the mussels, remove them from their shells and place them in a freezer-safe container with the tomato sauce. Make sure to leave some space at the top of the container for expansion.
  • Label the container with the date and contents, then place it in the freezer. The mussels will keep for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat frozen mussels, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. Then, place them in a saucepan with the tomato sauce and heat them over medium heat until they are warmed through.
  • Note: The texture of the mussels may change slightly after being frozen and thawed, but they will still be safe to eat and delicious.

How To Reheat Leftover Steamed Mussels

  • The best way to reheat leftover steamed mussels in tomato sauce is to place them in a covered skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Gently stir the mussels and sauce occasionally until they are heated through, which should take about 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the mussels, as they can become tough and rubbery.

  • Another option is to reheat the mussels and sauce in the microwave. Transfer the leftovers to a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a damp paper towel, and heat on high power in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the mussels are heated through. This method is quicker but requires more attention to prevent overheating.

  • If you have leftover pasta or bread to serve with the reheated mussels, you can warm them up separately. For pasta, place it in a colander and dip it in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until heated through. For bread, wrap it in foil and place it in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 5-10 minutes, or until warmed and slightly crispy.

  • To add extra flavor and moisture to the reheated mussels, you can sprinkle a little white wine or chicken broth over them before reheating. This will help to revive the sauce and keep the mussels tender.

  • If you find that the sauce has thickened too much during storage, you can thin it out with a splash of water, wine, or broth while reheating. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Random Fact About Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce

Mussels are a great source of lean protein and are high in vitamin B12, iron, and selenium, making them a nutritious addition to your diet.

Is Making Steamed Mussels at Home Economical?

This steamed mussels in tomato sauce recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The main ingredients, such as mussels, onion, garlic, and marinara sauce, are reasonably priced and widely available. The addition of bacon and white wine may slightly increase the cost, but they add depth of flavor to the dish. Overall, this recipe offers a great balance of cost and flavor. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate it an 8 for cost-effectiveness. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people would be around $20-$25, making it an affordable and delicious option for a family meal.

Is This Seafood Dish Healthy or Unhealthy?

The steamed mussels in tomato sauce recipe, while delicious, may not be the healthiest option due to a few ingredients:

  • Bacon: High in saturated fat and sodium, which can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure when consumed in excess.
  • White wine: Adds extra calories and sugar to the dish.
  • Marinara sauce: Depending on the brand or recipe, it may contain added sugars and sodium.
  • Serving options: Spaghetti and crusty bread are high in carbohydrates and may not be suitable for those watching their carb intake.

However, the recipe does include some healthy ingredients, such as:

  • Mussels: Low in calories and fat, high in protein, and rich in essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Garlic and onion: Contain antioxidants and have potential health benefits, such as boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following modifications:

  • Omit the bacon or replace it with a leaner protein source, such as turkey bacon or smoked turkey.
  • Use a low-sodium marinara sauce or make your own using fresh tomatoes, herbs, and spices.
  • Opt for whole wheat spaghetti or zucchini noodles instead of regular spaghetti to increase fiber intake and reduce carbohydrates.
  • Serve the mussels with a side salad or roasted vegetables to add more nutrients and balance the meal.
  • Reduce the amount of white wine or replace it with low-sodium vegetable broth to lower the calorie and sugar content.

Editor's Thoughts on This Delicious Mussel Recipe

The recipe for steamed mussels in tomato sauce is a delightful combination of flavors and textures. The addition of bacon adds a smoky richness to the dish, while the white wine and marinara sauce create a robust and savory base. The mussels are steamed to perfection, resulting in tender and succulent bites. This dish can be served as a flavorful appetizer with crusty bread or as a satisfying main course over al dente pasta. The balance of flavors and the simplicity of the preparation make this recipe a standout choice for any occasion.

Enhance Your Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Bread: Create a delicious garlic bread by toasting slices of baguette with a mixture of butter, garlic, and parsley until golden and crispy.
Caesar Salad: Whip up a classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, homemade croutons, and a creamy dressing made with anchovies, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
Grilled Asparagus: Prepare grilled asparagus by tossing the spears in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then grilling until tender and slightly charred for a flavorful and healthy side dish.

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Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce

Savory Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these delectable savory stuffed mushrooms. Filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs, these bite-sized appetizers are sure to be a hit at any gathering.
Crispy Coconut Shrimp: Transport your taste buds to the tropics with these crispy coconut shrimp. The combination of crunchy coconut coating and succulent shrimp will have your guests coming back for more. Serve with a tangy dipping sauce for an extra burst of flavor.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and decadent flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Apple Crisp: Savor the warm and comforting flavors of a homemade apple crisp, with tender cinnamon-spiced apples and a crispy oat topping. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect balance of sweetness and crunch.

Why trust this Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce Recipe:

This recipe offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures, creating a mouthwatering dish that will surely impress. The savory bacon adds a rich, smoky essence, while the aromatic garlic and onion infuse the dish with depth. The mussels are steamed to perfection in a luscious marinara sauce, enhancing their natural brininess. The addition of white wine elevates the overall taste, providing a subtle hint of acidity. This recipe guarantees a delightful dining experience, showcasing the beauty of fresh, high-quality seafood and the art of harmonizing diverse flavors.

Share your thoughts on the Steamed Mussels in Tomato Sauce recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum and let us know how it turned out for you!
How do I know if the mussels are fresh?
Fresh mussels should have a clean, briny smell and closed shells. If any mussels are open, give them a tap - if they don't close, discard them.
Can I use a different type of wine for this recipe?
Absolutely! You can use any dry white wine that you enjoy drinking. It will add a lovely depth of flavor to the dish.
What can I use as a substitute for bacon?
If you prefer not to use bacon, you can substitute it with pancetta, chorizo, or even smoked sausage for a similar smoky flavor.
How can I store leftover cooked mussels?
Store any leftover cooked mussels in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop until warmed through.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
While the mussels are best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the tomato sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, simply reheat the sauce and cook the mussels as directed.

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