Spicy Summer Mussels

June 26, 2017

Turn up the heat at the dinner or picnic table with this Spicy Summer Mussels recipe! It’s a family favorite that’s quick and easy to make for all of your summer gatherings.

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Originally published on sofabfood.com on June 26, 2017.

If you ask my family what our favorite food is, two dishes immediately come to mind – pizza and mussels. While most backyard barbecues are serving up hot dogs and hamburgers, we like to grill pizza and serve it with a big pot of spicy mussels! If you love shellfish and spicy food, you’ll love this family favorite!

When I first started dating my husband, I still lived at home so we had a lot of family dinners together at my parents’ house during the week. Of course, a lot of those meals included my dad’s famous pizza and mussels. My husband refused to try mussels at first.  He used to be quite the picky eater until he started trying different foods. Spicy mussels quickly became a favorite of his too.

These days, my husband and I could finish off a pot of Spicy Summer Mussels by ourselves! They’re a quick and easy meal to prepare on the stove top (especially when it’s too hot to turn on the oven). If you’ve never had mussels before, they’re a meaty little mollusk with a sweet, sea-like flavor.

Spicy Summer Mussels Recipe

This Spicy Summer Mussels dish starts with a little olive oil, crushed red pepper, and garlic heated in a large pot. The amount of heat you add to the dish is up to you. I usually start with about 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed red pepper and build it up from there. Crushed tomatoes are then added to create the sauce.

We find that the best way to prepare mussels is separately in another saucepan. After the mussels have been cleaned, they get cooked in the pan with a squeeze of lemon and some white wine. Steaming them in the lemon and wine mixture infuses them with flavor as they open and plump up. Once they’re all cooked, spoon them into the spicy sauce and serve!

Spicy Summer Mussels

Spicy Summer Mussels


  • 1-2 lb fresh mussels
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to start
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Thoroughly clean the mussels and remove beards. Discard any dead mussels.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add garlic and red pepper. Cook just until garlic gets fragrant and slightly golden. Then, lower heat.
  4. Stir in crushed tomatoes, oregano, and basil. Cover pot and continue to cook on low. Adjust the spice level as needed.
  5. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat lemon juice and white wine on medium-low.
  6. Add mussels and cover. Allow to cook for 5 minutes covered, or until mussels have opened.
  7. With a slotted spoon, spoon mussels into the sauce.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and stir.
  9. Serve spicy mussels with pasta, pizza, or garlic bread.


Home Chef Tip: Check for dead mussels by giving opened ones a squeeze or a tap. If they close, they're still alive. If they don't close, they're dead and need to be discarded as they're unsafe to eat.

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If you’re a seafood lover, this dish is bound to become one of your favorites! It’s a nice, light dish for summer and will warm you up during the cooler months. It’s perfect with pizza, pasta, or just a loaf of crusty Italian bread for dipping.


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