Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe

Mussels steamed in a delicious spicy red arrabbiata sauce with fresh parsley, garlic, and cream.

Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe

I can’t think of any cuisine better suited for summer than fresh seafood. Sure, seafood is great in the dead of winter, but there is something so refreshing about sitting outside with a crisp beer and the catch of the day.

Maybe it’s a personal association—but I just think seafood tastes better in the Summer. I guess living in New England near the coast doesn’t hurt either…

If I had to guess, mussels served in a red sauce is probably one of the least popular ways to prepare mussels. Ironically, it’s the first way I started making mussels 3 or 4 years ago. Today, I think most restaurants are serving mussels in a creamy ale or wine sauce—which is a little lighter, and usually paired with pasta.

What is Arrabbiata Sauce?

When it comes to mussels and red sauce, I usually opt for an arrabbiata sauce. For those of you who don’t know, arrabbiata is a spicy Italian tomato/marinara sauce made with dried red chilies. It’s got a nice balanced spiciness that makes the mussels a little more interesting.

How to Prep and Clean Mussels

Rinse mussels under cool water, removing any beards and discarding any that do not fully shut on their own (these are dead). If the mussels do not tightly shut 30 seconds after rinsing, discard.

How to Cook Mussels in Red Sauce

Simmer mussels in a lidded saucepan with a jar of arrabbiata (or your favorite red sauce) for about 5 minutes on medium heat. The sauce will quickly cook/steam the mussels until they are fully open. I like to stir them into the sauce at this point to let the sauce soak in.

Now to “spice up” (no pun intended), maybe the world’s simplest mussel recipe, I like to add minced garlic, chopped parsley, and a little cream. It gives the sauce a creamier texture and makes the dish a little more dynamic and elegant.

You can eat these mussels a main entrée or appetizer or serve it over linguine for a spicy seafood pasta dish. Both delicious, both super easy. I can’t think of a better way to prepare mussels in red sauce.

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Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe
Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe
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Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Shawn Williams
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Yield: 2-4 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Italian


Mussels steamed in a delicious spicy red arrabbiata sauce with fresh parsley, garlic, and cream.


  • 2 pounds mussels
  • 1 16 ounce jar spicy arrabbiata sauce (or marinara sauce)
  • ¼ cup cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced


  1. Rinse mussels under cool water. Discard any that do not fully close when rinsing or resting for 30 seconds (these are dead). Remove any beards if protruding from the shell.
  2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a covered saucepan, bring to a simmer (medium-high heat) and add the mussels. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened ¼ to ½ an inch.
  3. Stir and serve as an entree or over pasta if desired.


Can also be served over pasta of your choice


  • Serving Size: About 1/2 lb
  • Calories: 206
  • Sugar: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 655mg
  • Fat: 5.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.2g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Protein: 27.2g
  • Cholesterol: 66mg

Keywords: mussels in red sauce, mussels in spicy arrabbiata sauce