A bowl of steamed mussels aside bread.

Dipping crusty bread into a pot of steaming mussels has to be one of my favorite eating experiences. And when a restaurant offers mussels, I’m inclined to order them because, one, I rarely make them at home, and two, they’re so darn good — when they’re good, that is.

Why I never make mussels at home confounds me, especially after trying this Balthazar recipe for Moules Marinière. I followed this recipe to a tee (with the exception of the freshly ground white pepper … so French), and was so pleased. I’ve now made them twice in one week.

This meal — mussels + salad + bread — has become a Christmas Eve tradition. It’s so simple, but so good, and for very little effort, it feels festive and fancy.

How to Store Mussels

  • After purchasing mussels, keep the bag open during transit so that the mussels can breathe.
  • Once home, store the mussels in a shallow bowl, covered with a damp paper towel in the coldest part of your fridge.

*Thank you Pelly’s Fish Market (Carlsbad, CA) for these tips!

How to Cook Mussels

Mussels could not be simpler or faster to make: they steam open in 3 minutes — yes, 3 minutes! Here’s how you make them:

  1. Sweat aromatics and herbs (shallots, garlic, celery and thyme) in butter; season with salt.
  2. Add crème fraîche and white wine; bring to a boil.
  3. Add the mussels, cover the pot, and steam for 3 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pot and sprinkle with parsley.
  5. Stir and serve with crusty bread. Voila: Moules à la Marinière.

To complete this meal, all you need is some good crusty bread (like this one or this one) and a simple salad.

Ingredients on a board for mussels. A bowl of un-steamed mussels in a bowl. A pot filled with melted butter, shallots, celery, thyme, wine and crème fraîche.

Crusty bread, such as this easy, whole wheat-ish sourdough or this is a must.
Sourdough bread, freshly baked and sliced.A pot of mussels, just steamed, sprinkled with parsley.  A bowl of steamed mussels.

The Balthazar Cookbook:
The Balthazar Cookbook.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
A bowl of steamed mussels aside bread.

Balthazar’s Simple Moules Marinière (Mussels)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

Save Recipe



  • 8 T. unsalted butter
  • 5 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (or diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • freshly cracked white (or black) pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 lbs. mussels, preferably Prince Edward Island
  • a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • bread, any kind you like, grilled or heated just before serving


  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over a LOW flame. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and thyme. Gently sauté for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Season with a pinch of kosher salt.
  2. Add the wine, pepper, and crème fraîche, and raise the heat to high.
  3. Once the liquid comes to a boil, add the mussels, stir gently, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the mussels open.
  4. Add the parsley and stir gently. Serve in large bowls (remembering to discard any unopened mussels), with either crusty bread or French fries … yum.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Mussels
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French