Spanish Mussels

Elevate steamed mussels from simple to amazing making Spanish Mussels. Steam them in a seafood broth infused with saffron, sherry, shallot, smoked paprika, garlic, crushed red pepper, and tiny bits of Spanish chorizo… Unbelievably quick and easy, you just need fresh (or even frozen) fresh mussels and your well-stocked pantry. Delicioso!

Spanish Mussels in a stoneware bowl garnished with lemon wedges and sliced toast.

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.

~~ Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Spanish Food and Mussels

This quote makes me smile… A steaming bowl of these Spanish Mussels might, indeed, be that good.😀 Spanish flavors – chorizo, saffron, smoked paprika, garlic, olive oil, parsley, sherry, crushed red pepper – infuse seafood broth or stock.

Once the broth is ready, the fresh mussels need only 2 to 3 minutes to open. I can get this dish done in under 20 minutes, even if sipping a glass of wine! Serve them as an appetizer/tapa or add a few more and serve them as a main dish.

What makes this dish “Spanish?”

The foundation of Spanish cooking is olive oil. Spain produces more olive oil than any other country. I don’t know that I ever start a Spanish-inspired dish without it. This Spanish mussels recipe is no exception!

The ingredients that shout “Spanish,” though, are the saffron, dry sherry, Spanish chorizo, and pimentón (aka Spanish paprika). It is a decidedly different flavor profile than my New Mexican-inspired mussels. See Global Flavor Profiles for the Home Cook if you’re interested in learning more about cooking with flavor profiles.

With the exception of the fresh mussels, I had all of the ingredients in my Well-Stocked Pantry. A quick trip to the market for mussels was all that was required. Here in south Texas, I can always get live, fresh mussels, but if you can’t get them, frozen-while-live in the shell mussels are a great option. FYI, mussels are a sustainable choice, and a very healthy choice as well.  😀

📋 Ingredients Notes

  • olive oil – I like Spanish olive oil, but any decent extra virgin olive oil is fine.
  • garlic
  • shallot – Red onion is a great substitute, and white or yellow onion will work as well.
  • Spanish chorizo – You can usually find Spanish chorizo at the deli counter, and buy it by the ounce. You may also find it in the packaged deli sausages in a whole sausage or diced.
  • crushed red pepper – This is an optional ingredient. If you use hot smoked paprika (pimentón picante), you may want to omit it.
  • dry sherry – I keep Taylor Dry Sherry on hand for cooking, but it’s not bad to drink!
  • saffron – Saffron can be quite expensive. I often buy it at our Indian market, and it’s less expensive than at the grocery. You can buy saffron on Amazon.
  • seafood broth/stock –
  • smoked paprika – Also known as pimentón comes in “mild” and “hot.” The choice is yours. If you use “hot” smoked paprika, you may wish to omit the crushed red pepper!
  • bay leaf
  • mussels – As I’ve mentioned, fresh, live mussels are preferable, but there are some excellent quality live when frozen mussels widely available in landlocked locations.
  • parsley

🔪 Instructions

The onion, chorizo, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a cast iron pot.
  • Sauté the aromatics and chorizo – Add a drizzle of olive oil to a deep pot over medium-high heat. I like my cast iron Dutch oven for this.
The chorizo browned with the onions and garlic.
  • Brown the chorizo – Sauté until the chorizo is browning and its fat is rendered (about 5 minutes).
A glass bowl with dry sherry and saffron threads.
  • Soften the saffron – While the saffron threads to the dry sherry. Microwave until hot but not boiling (60 seconds in my microwave). Set aside.
The saffron and seafood broth is added into the pot with the chorizo.
  • Make the steaming liquid – Add the saffron and sherry to the browned chorizo and reduce slightly. Add the seafood broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a low boil.
The Spanish mussels are lightly boiling in the pot with the saffron and chorizo broth.
  • Cook the mussels – Gently add in the mussels. Return the pot to a low boil. Cover and cook until the shells open (2-3 minutes). Remove from the heat and cover until ready to ladle into bowls.
  • To serve – Ladle broth over the top so that the mussel shells catch it. Squeeze a lemon wedge over top, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Ladle into shallow bowls with additional parsley and lemon wedges if desired.
A red cast iron pot with the finished mussels garnished with parsley and a lemon wedge.

💭 Tips

When you cook the mussels, the shells should open regardless of whether you’re using live or frozen mussels. Throw out any mussels that remain closed!

Spanish chorizo is a cured sausage, and a very different product from Mexican chorizo. Spanish chorizo is a cured, hard sausage flavored with pimentón, while Mexican chorizo is a raw sausage flavored with red chile and other spices.

The chorizo is salty, so proceed cautiously with add additional salt!

We love to serve the mussels with toasted sliced baguette. Cut 1/2″ thick slices. Arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Broil until golden. Flip them, then top with manchego, parmesan, or romano. Broil until cheese is melted.

❓ FAQ

How do I select mussels?

Look for u0022liveu0022 mussels that are closed. Pick through them again prior to adding to the pot, and toss any that are open. An open mussel is no longer live. I have successfully used frozen mussels in this recipe as well.

Can I use frozen mussels?

Yes. Choose sustainably sourced frozen in the shell mussels. Freezing live mussels preserves the flavor and texture of the mussels, and they’ll be fine.

How do I cook frozen mussels?

Allow the frozen mussels to thaw overnight in the refrigerator in a container with a sealed lid. Run warm water over a container of frozen mussels if time is of the essence, however gently thawing them out in the refrigerator yields more tender results.

A bowl of mussels on a piece of wood with copper flatware and a grey napkin.

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Spanish Mussels in a black stoneware bowl with toasted bread and garnished with parsley.

Spanish Mussels Recipe

Elevate steamed mussels from simple to amazing by steaming them in a seafood broth infused with saffron, sherry, shallot, smoked paprika, garlic, crushed red pepper, and tiny bits of Spanish chorizo… Serve as an appetizer or main dish!
4.95 from 20 votes

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 4 servings
Calories 461 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • ½ cup sherry
  • a pinch of saffron
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil - I like Spanish olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
  • 1 shallot - finely chopped
  • 2 ounces Spanish chorizo - 1/4″ dice*
  • 2 cups seafood broth/stock*
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika - hot or mild
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ½ to 3 pounds fresh mussels*

Instructions

  • Add a drizzle of olive oil to a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, crush red pepper (if using), and diced chorizo.
  • Sauté until the chorizo is browning and its fat is rendered (about 5 minutes).
  • While the saffron threads to the dry sherry. Microwave until hot but not boiling (60 seconds in my microwave). Set aside.
  • Add the saffron and sherry to the browned chorizo and reduce slightly. Add the seafood broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a low boil.
  • Gently add in the mussels. Return the pot to a low boil. Cover and cook until the shells open (2-3 minutes). Remove from the heat and cover until ready to ladle into bowls.
  • Ladle broth over the top so that the mussel shells catch it. Squeeze a lemon wedge over top, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Ladle into shallow bowls with additional parsley and lemon wedges if desired.

Notes

Spanish chorizo is a cured sausage similar in texture to hard salami, not to be confused with Mexican chorizo which is uncooked and more the texture of ground beef.
My market has a really good seafood stock. I also save shrimp tails to make homemade. If you can’t find seafood stock, substitute chicken broth or stock.
I usually get close to 3 pounds of mussels, and serve this as a very generous main course with a big salad. If serving it as a tapas (appetizer), 3 pounds will serve 8. One pound is typically 20-25 mussels.
The macro nutrients listed are for 20 mussels and one-fourth of the broth and chorizo mixture. There are too many variables on the toast to include (according to specific bread, size of slice, how much cheese, etc.

Nutrition

Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 15g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com
A bronze ceramic bowl of mussels with toasted bread on a wood background from 2016.
Original 2016 photo!

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23 Comments

  1. This is the best mussels recipe. I love serving this as an appetizer or for a meal with a salad topped with manchego cheese. Thanks for a great recipe.

  2. I am not a fan of mussels UNLESS I get to eat it like this!! I love Mussels in a flavorful broth and adding chorizo makes it even better! 😀
    I just have to find a place that sells good fresh Mussels now! Looks amazing Tamara!

    1. I love mussels in any preparation, but I agree, the flavorful broth “seals the deal!” Sopping it up with toasted baguette is pretty awesome… Thanks Dini!

  3. Oh boy this is my idea of food heaven, Mussels are probably the thing I miss most about moving to a landlocked country noce job at making me all nostalgic and very Hungry 😀

    1. I bet! Having recently moved back to an area close to the coast after 22 years in the landlocked state of New Mexico, I do understand… I had my NM kids visiting for a couple of weeks, and they wanted shellfish every night 🙂

  4. I have never tried the mussels before but this recipe really looks so mouth watering that I wanna try it right away.. cant wait for the weekend to head to the market and try this out.

  5. Wow -this looks awesome! I grew up near the sea and as a child used to find and collect fresh mussels. I know, not many have had that experience. I love mussels and this flavor combo is something I can’t wait to try.

    1. I’d love to be close enough to the ocean to collect them! I’m so grateful that we’re close enough to the ocean to get them really fresh now – about 47 miles “as the crow flies.” I hope you do give it a try Christine!