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Mussels in Beer

Aya Brackett

Servings: 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter

Mussels steamed in white wine is a classic dish, but beer is a good alternative. The natural sweetness of mussels is balanced by a lager or an ale, and the chile adds a touch of heat. You can just add the coriander seeds to the beer, but as it is not strained they’ll end up in your teeth; that’s why I wrap them in cheesecloth or put them in a tea ball.

This recipe is excerpted from Bitter. Read our review.


  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, finely chopped, fronds set aside
  • 1/2 serrano chile with seeds
  • 1 cup lager or pale ale
  • 1 Tbs. coriander seeds, crushed and placed in a tea ball or wrapped in cheesecloth
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2-1/4 lb. cleaned mussels (see tip)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crusty bread, to serve


  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the onion, fennel, and chile. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables soften and begin to caramelize.
  • Add the beer, coriander, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, then add the cleaned mussels. Stir, then cover and cook for about 5 minutes, giving the pan a couple of shakes, until the mussels open; discard any that don’t open. While the mussels are cooking, chop the fennel fronds.
  • Remove the coriander seeds and bay leaf from the pan. Season the mussels with salt and pepper. Ladle the mussels and liquid into warm bowls, sprinkle with the chopped fronds, and serve with crusty bread.


Mussels are usually sold already cleaned and only require a rinse under cold water before cooking. If they still have their “beard” attached, pull the beard and cut it off with a small knife. Scrape off any barnacles attached to the shell, then rinse. Check the mussels after rinsing to make sure they are all firmly closed. Discard any that do not close after a tap on the counter, or that have broken shells.


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Reviews (2 reviews)

  • JodyRB | 12/21/2015

    Easy recipe. Didn't like the finish like I do when you use wine.

  • Albre | 09/29/2014

    Delicious! Quick and easy to prepare. I used hard apple cider in place of ale as it's in season. Also, used red pepper flakes instead of serrano chile. We have mussels several times a year and this is my new favorite!

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