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Mussels in Wine Sauce

October 21, 2022

A big pot of steamed mussels in white wine sauce is our favorite reason to pick up a crusty loaf of bread. Follow along for this classic bistro recipe.


a pot of mussels in wine sauce served with crusty bread
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Let’s Dive Into This Recipe For Mussels In White Wine Sauce

Mussels in wine sauce is a classic and timeless dish of French cuisine. The term moules marinières means “in the fisherman’s style,” and refers to a preparation using the seawater that the mussels swim in. This traditional recipe calls for butter, shallots, white wine, and parsley (we use garlic for good measure and extra flavor). In Belgium and Northern France, this dish is commonly served with fries. And now we’re to the important part–THE WINE! What is the best white wine to cook mussels in? A dry white wine is the ideal wine for making the best recipe for mussels in white wine sauce, such as a Sauvignon Blanc, which also happens to be one of our favorites for drinking after we’ve measured out a cup and a half for cooking!

mussels, butter, shallots, garlic, white wine, lemon juice and parsley in bowls to make mussels in wine sauce

Do You Need To Prep Mussels Before Cooking?

You brought a bag of mussels home from the grocery store and now you’re wondering how do you prepare mussels before cooking? You’ll be surprised how easy it is to clean mussels, because most of the mussels we buy at the grocery store are already nearly ready to eat. It’s still a good idea to tip the mussels into a colander in the kitchen sink, and rinse under cold water. You’ll use your eyes and fingers at this point to rinse off any debris that might remain. That’s it! A quick note on beards and open mussels: it’s unlikely that you’ll come across many mussels that still have the beard, the membrane that mussels use to attach to surfaces. If you do, grab it between thumb and forefinger and pull to detach it from the shell. Open mussels, or “gapers”, might indicate that the mussel is dead and you don’t want to eat it! When you come across the slightly open shells, you can check by gently squeezing it or tapping it to see if it moves (this will be ever so subtle–when in doubt, just toss it!).

garlic cloves and sliced shallots being cooked in melted butter in a soup pot
mussels being cooked in melted butter and white wine with shallots and garlic
cooked mussels being removed from a soup pot with a slotted spoon
wine sauce for mussels being stirred in a pot made with butter, shallot, garlic, white wine, parsley and lemon juice

How To Cook Mussels In White Wine Sauce

After you’ve picked over and cleaned the mussels, you’re ready to make the best mussels in white wine sauce. Let’s go!

  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a big pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant–your kitchen will smell divine.

  2. Add mussels and wine, and simmer until the mussels open, about five minutes.

  3. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon–now’s the time to toss any that didn’t open–and transfer to a large bowl.

  4. To enrich the broth, you’ll cook the wine to reduce it (about five more minutes). Then, stir in the lemon juice and tip in the fresh chopped parsley.

  5. To serve, ladle wine sauce over the prepared mussels. Do you know what goes well with mussels? Bread. We recommend serving as much as possible so you can get every last drop of marinière sauce.

mussels in wine sauce in a soup pot made with butter, shallots, garlic, parsley and lemon juice
a pot of mussels in wine sauce served with crusty bread

Tools You’ll Need

Love A Good One Pot + Loaf Of Bread Meal?

Oui!! We love when dinner comes together in one big pot, and even better when the best side is a loaf of crusty bread! Here’s some more classic French-style soups:

a pot of mussels in wine sauce served with crusty bread

Grab Your Stripe Shirt and A Stock Pot!

Did you make a big pot of mussels in white wine sauce? We’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Bon Appétit!”

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Mussels in Wine Sauce

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 340


  • 3 pounds mussels, cleaned
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley leaves


  1. In a large pot with a lid, melt butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 more minute.

  2. Add the mussels and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover and cook until the mussels have opened, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large bowl, discard any mussels that didn’t open.

  3. Bring the wine in the pot to a simmer over medium heat, cooking until the liquid is reduced by ⅓, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and the parsley. Ladle the wine sauce over the mussels, taking care not to scoop up any of the sandy bits from the bottom of the pot.

  4. Serve immediately along with crusty bread.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories340
  • Protein28 g
  • Carbohydrates14 g
  • Total Fat14 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol89 mg
  • sodium714 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Mussels in Wine Sauce

Questions & Reviews

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  • Yvonne

    I used your recipe to make my husband mussels last week. I hadn't steamed any in a few years and couldn't find my recipe so I found yours. He absolutely LOVED the mussels and raved about how the sauce just added so much to the taste. Thank you for this recipe. It will become a staple in our home.

    This is so wonderful to hear! Thanks Yvonne, we are so happy you both loved them.

  • Carter

    Thank you it was very tasty 😋 💞

    Thanks Carter! We are so happy you loved it!

  • Jenn

    I love mussels and this sauce was perfect with them.

    Thanks Jenn!