Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe

5 from 2 votes
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Mussels served in a red tomato sauce is probably one of the least common ways to prepare steamed mussels. Ironically, it’s the first way I started cooking mussels years ago. Today, most restaurants are serving mussels in a seasoned broth or creamy beer or white wine sauce—which is a little lighter, and sometimes paired with pasta.

Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe

For this recipe, I opted for a spicy arrabbiata sauce to simmer the mussels in. 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.

I take my arrabbiata sauce one step further fresh minced garlic, chopped parsley, and a little cream. It gives the sauce a creamier texture and makes the dish a little more decadent. This recipe is great served by itself or over pasta.

If you loved this recipe, try my beer-steamed mussels with bacon, and my mussels and squid ink pasta recipe. If you like clams, it’s hard to beat my creamy steamed clams and grilled bread combination.

If you’re a shellfish lover, you must try my pan-seared scallops, bacon-wrapped scallops, and my delicious baked lobster tails!

How to Clean and Prep Mussels For Cooking

Before cooking mussels, It’s important to rinse the shells with cool water to remove any dirt or sand. This is a good time to discard any mussels that remain open or don’t fully shut on their own when rinsing. These mussels are dead and should not be consumed. Sometimes it takes a minute for mussels to fully close so be patient.

How to Cook Mussels in Red Sauce

This recipe is easiest to prepare in a large lidded saucepan. The lid will retain all of the heat and the simmering sauce will quickly cook/steam the mussels. The process is no different than steaming mussels in beer, wine, or water. Once the shells have fully opened, the mussels are fully cooked and ready to eat. The whole cooking process only takes about 5 minutes.

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 the mussels into the sauce so it mixes into the sauce.

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Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe
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5 from 2 votes

Mussels in Red Sauce Recipe

Servings: 4
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
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
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
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  • Rinse and remove the beards from the mussels. If any of the shells remain open or do not fully close when rinsing, discard them as these are dead.
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large lidded saucepan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add marinara and mussels and cover.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook until mussels open on their own, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and parsley and serve immediately as an appetizer or over pasta.


Can also be served over pasta of your choice


Calories: 206kcalCarbohydrates: 9.2gProtein: 27.2gFat: 5.9gSaturated Fat: 1.5gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 655mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenswagger or tag #kitchenswagger!

About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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