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two hands serving the mussels pasta with the mussels marinara over a plate of mussels marinara

Mussels Marinara

This Mussels Marinara is super tasty, quick and easy to make! Served over pasta for a Mussel Pasta meal you’ll love! I also share my favroite tips about mussels and a fun video for the recipe!
Course Main Course, Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Mussels Marinara, mussels marinara recipe, Mussels Pasta, Mussels pasta recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 2442 kcal
Author Mahy


  • 5 pounds mussels fresh water mussels, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 onion large diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto divided
  • 2 cups canned cherry tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes more or less to taste
  • 1 pound cooked spaghetti pasta
  • Fresh basil minced


  1. Wash your mussels under cold water in a colander. Make sure you rinse them well and check if any mussel has a beard or string. Pull that out.
    A colander of fresh mussels on a green marble surrounded by basil and fresh and tomatoes
  2. If you notice any mussel has an open shell, discard it right away before cooking as it’s not safe to eat.
  3. Make the marinara sauce. You’ll need a large pot here as this will be your sauce and mussels pot. Use a 5 quart at least.
    Ingredients for mussels marinara including chopped onions, celery, garlic, basil pesto and canned tomatoes on a cutting board
  4. Sauté the onions and celery in olive oil. Add in the seasoning and make sure you cook the onions well before proceeding.
  5. You want the sweet flavor of onions that compliments the sauce, not the strong overpowering onion taste.
    A large pot with sauteed onions, celery and garlic
  6. Add in the garlic, sauté for a minute before adding in the tomatoes and half the amount of basil pesto. Season the sauce.
    The canned tomatoes added to the huge pot and being cooked for the marinara sauce so we add the mussels
  7. Cook that down for 5-7 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken and the flavors blend well together.
    Mussels added into the pot with marinara sauce
  8. Now add in your mussels and toss them well in the sauce. Make sure to toss the mussels really well.
  9. Then cover the pot and drop the heat to medium so the mussels can cook. They need a maximum of 10 minutes to cook. You’ll know they’re ready as you’ll see the shells have opened up.
    A spoon showing off the sauce at the pan after mussels have cooked
  10. I like to keep the mussels simmering in the sauce for an extra 5 minutes so they soak up more and more marinara flavor.
  11. In the meantime you’ll be cooking your pasta al dente.
    two hands serving the mussels pasta with the mussels marinara over a plate of mussels marinara
  12. Once mussels are ready, add in the remaining amount of basil pesto and give it a final toss.
  13. Serve the mussels over the cooked pasta and drizzle some olive oil for flavor. Sprinkle extra fresh basil and chilli flakes.
  14. Serve and Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes


Cleaning mussels is the first step to making sure the mussels are fresh and ready to use. Rinse them under cold water, remove any beards or threads hanging from the shell.
If you find any mussel shell open at that point, discard the mussel right away before cooking.
Make the marinara sauce using your favorite marinara flavors. I add celery here although it’t not typical, but because it pairs so well with the mussels.
Make sure you sauté the onions until they’re slightly golden before proceeding with your recipe. This is the best way to make sure your sauce won’t taste like strong onion.
Cook down the marinara before adding in the mussels. Remember the mussels will let out a good amount of liquid into the sauce as well.
If you prefer using fresh basil only to flavor the marinara and mussels, do so, however basil pesto is far more concentrated and tasty!
I urge you to make my Basil Pesto recipe, plus you’ll find all the tips you need for making a whole bunch and freezing it.
When you add in the mussels to the pot, make sure to give them a good toss in the sauce and close the lid.
5-8 minutes later, the mussel shells should open up. Cook them for an extra 5 minutes to allow them to soak up more sauce and flavors.
If any mussel shell after cooking remains closed and tight, discard the mussel right away. It’s not safe to eat.
Now serve the mussels marinara over pasta or with crusty bread and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Mussels Marinara
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2442 Calories from Fat 747
% Daily Value*
Fat 83g128%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Cholesterol 329mg110%
Sodium 6945mg302%
Potassium 5808mg166%
Carbohydrates 243g81%
Fiber 23g96%
Sugar 32g36%
Protein 178g356%
Vitamin A 4845IU97%
Vitamin C 151mg183%
Calcium 722mg72%
Iron 60mg333%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.