Mussels steamed with cider & bacon

Mussels steamed with cider & bacon

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(25 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins Cook: 20 mins


Mussels are much easier dish to serve up than people realise. Try this easy dish, read the tips, and impress your friends

Nutrition and extra info

  • Easily halved

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal367
  • fat18.6g
  • saturates6.5g
  • carbs8g
  • sugars2g
  • fibre0g
  • protein39g
  • salt4.45g
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  • small knob butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 6 rashers bacon, chopped, or a 140g piece, cut into small cubes



    Bacon is pork that has been cured one of two ways: dry or wet. It can be bought as both rashers…

  • 2 shallots, finely sliced



    Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

  • small bunch thyme, leaves stripped


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 1½ kg small mussel, scrubbed and bearded



    Once regarded as the poor relation of the shellfish family because of their small size and…

  • glass of cider, about 150 ml



    Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. Apple orchards were…

  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche (optional)


  1. PREPARATION: Raw mussels MUST be alive when you cook them, so careful preparation is key. Wash them under cold running water until it runs clear, and scrub if necessary. Pull the ‘beard’ away from each individual mussel – this is the byssus thread, a protein the mussel ‘spins’ so it can attach itself to rock or rope. Drain and then check; if the shell is tightly shut, this is a good indication that it’s alive. If the mussel is open, tap it sharply for a few seconds – if it is alive, it will close. Discard any that appear to be dead as they can decompose very rapidly, and eating one that you aren’t sure of is not worth the risk. Don’t check them too far in advance; cook within a few minutes to be on the safe side.

  2. Heat the butter in a pan large enough to easily fit the mussels, then fry the bacon for 4 mins, turning occasionally until it starts becoming crisp. Throw in the shallots and thyme leaves, then cook for 1 min until softened. Whack the heat up to maximum and add the mussels to the pan, then pour over the cider. Place the lid on the pan, give it a good shake, then cook the mussels for 5-7 mins, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that haven’t.

  3. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the mussels into bowls and place the pan back on the heat. Bring the juices to the boil and stir in the crème fraîche, if using. Pour the sauce over the mussels. Serve with hunks of crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.

  4. COOKING TIPS: Mussels are most often steamed open over a small amount of flavoured liquid, as in Moules marinière, although they can also be oven roasted and are particularly good cooked ‘en papillote’ (in a bag). Wine, stock, beer and cider are all great for cooking mussels, but take care not to add salt to the liquid as mussel juice can be very salty. Drop the mussels into the liquid, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then cook until they have opened and the meat has settled into one side of the shell; this usually takes 3-4 minutes. Avoid overcooking as the meat shrivels and becomes tough. Check them all again before serving and discard any that haven’t opened. If a mussel is unopened at this stage, this indicates that it was already dead. You will probably notice the colour of the meat varies between beige and orange. This is an indication of sex – beige for male and orange for female; there is no difference in flavour. Once cooked, mussels are usually lifted into a bowl and the cooking liquor is reduced by simmering. Pull the meat from one shell and then use that shell as a pincer to remove meat from the rest. Serve simply with crusty bread – lovely!

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Comments, questions and tips

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21st May, 2020
Delicious. I used a dash of double cream instead of the creme fraiche and I didn't have any thyme so threw in some chopped parsley once the sauce had reduced. The cider and bacon make a lovely sauce. A keeper.
glennsharpe's picture
13th Aug, 2018
Seriously good! Served at a small dinner party, was very impressive. We left the creme fresh, it definitely doesn't need it but will try it with at some point.
23rd Aug, 2017
So delicious. This time I used half a red onion, smoked bacon and cider and we ate 1kg of mussels between two of us having thrown out about a dozen which looked either a bit damaged or failed to open when they'd been cooked.
Dannyworcester's picture
23rd Jan, 2015
I cooked this dish last week but added chorizo at the same stage as the bacon used a pint of Weston's old Rosie cider and added parsley with the creme freche made it more of a broth and loads of crusty bread
21st Oct, 2014
Delicious, although I didn't use cider, I used the last of a bottle of Pinot Grigio. I left out the creme fraiche too because I needed to have the meal dairy free.
13th Jan, 2013
We keep making this again and again - so delish! Usually we do it for a saturday lunch and devour the whole lot between the 2 of us with some lovely crusty bread, but last night did it as a starter for 4 and went down really well.
6th Oct, 2012
Such a refreshing change to moules marinere, beautiful dish. Also love the crunchy baked mussels and would def recommend that dish too!
25th Mar, 2012
Absolutely delicious!!!
23rd Nov, 2011
Made this recipe today as a nice treat on my student budget. Tasted absolutely amazing, I would definitely recommend this hardly took any time to cook and was great with some crusty bread. The only changes I made was halving the recipe as it was just for one, I also substituted the crème fraîche for double cream.
17th Nov, 2011
Made this last night at my sisters in Northern France, it was delicious and a really nice alternative to moues marinere. I'm fairly intolerant to garlic (which is a shame as I love the flavour) so it was nice to eat mussels without having stomach ache for several hours after. Would certainly recommend to any mussel lovers!


chrisnation's picture
14th Feb, 2018
What to use instead of bacon? I live in Valencia, Spain, and although the Spanish have more ways with the flesh of a pig than anyone, they simply have not 'got' bacon. I tried a pack called 'bacon' from my local supermarket and it was dreadful. All those varieties of ham are not bacon. Suggestions please By the way, I have 'moules mariniere' 3, maybe 4 times a week, so an alternative recipe is overdue.
goodfoodteam's picture
22nd Feb, 2018
Thanks for your question. A streaky variety is available in Spanish supermarkets but if this does not appeal, we'd recommend using diced Serrano as an alternative.
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