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Mussels marinara is a classic Italian dish that looks way fancier than the effort involved! It’s easy, affordable, and tastes incredible.

Mussels marinara
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If you’re a mussels fan, here’s one of the best ways to prepare them: mussels marinara! This Italian-inspired dish is often on restaurant menus. But unlike most restaurant food, it’s seriously easy to recreate at home! Alex and I love traveling in Italy, and the bold flavors in this mussels marinara transported us right to the Amalfi Coast. Mussels are simmered in a tangy marinara sauce, scented with basil and garlic. After they’ve soaked up the marinara flavor, they’re served over al dente bucatini pasta. And, it takes under 30 minutes to prepare! It works both for a romantic date night in or a fancy Italian dinner party. Ready to get started?

Mussels marinara

The secrets to mussels marinara

This mussels marinara has just a few simple components. Like any good Italian food, with simplicity you must use the highest quality ingredients. Here are the secrets behind a great mussels marinara:

  • A fantastic marinara sauce. This recipe uses our easy marinara sauce, which has just a few quality ingredients. Using fire roasted tomatoes is a must: they’re easily available at most grocery stores or online. Their sweet flavor makes it easy to whip up this marinara in a flash, along with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Fresh mussels. You’ll also want the best quality mussels for this recipe. Make sure to use a vendor that you trust, and follow our sustainable seafood guidelines.
  • Bucatini or spaghetti. The difference between bad and good pasta is easy to taste! Use a brand of pasta you trust. We like using bucatini in this recipe, which is basically spaghetti with a hole in the center.

You’ll make the marinara, then simmer the mussels in the marinara for about 6 to 8 minutes until they open. Then serve over pasta! See? Truly easy.

Mussels in a pot

How to clean mussels

The only part of this recipe that requires technique is cleaning mussels. This How to Clean Mussels article on Epicurious is very helpful and worth a read, especially on buying mussels. Here are the basic steps for how to clean mussels:

  1. Rinse them. Place the mussels in a colander and rinse them with cool water. Use your hands to rub off any debris.
  2. Test any open shells. Find any mussels with an open shell and tap them against the sink. If the shell closes, it’s alive and good for cooking; if the shell stays open, discard it.
  3. Remove the beards. The beard is a clump of fibers attached to the mussel shell (it looks like a little rope hanging off). Often mussels come already debearded. But if you see beards, remove them by pulling them off with your fingers.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re good to go! Proceed with the recipe below.

Easy mussels marinara

What to serve with mussels marinara

Mussels marinara is perfect for a cozy Italian dinner party or romantic dinner for two! But what to serve with it? Here are a few options:

  • The BEST Kale Salad: This Tuscan kale salad is doused in a bright lemon Parmesan dressing.
  • Favorite Chopped Salad: An Italian style chopped salad, this one features our Italian dressing, olives, and pepperoncini.
  • Crusty bread: Crusty bread is the perfect pairing with mussels marinara.

Looking for more easy Italian recipes?

Easy Italian recipes is our forte here at A Couple Cooks! Here are a few more we’d recommend, if you like this mussels marinara:

This mussels marinara recipe is…


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Mussels marinara

Easy Mussels Marinara

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
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Mussels marinara is a classic Italian dish that looks way fancier than the effort involved! It’s easy, affordable, and tastes incredible.


  • 1 recipe Easy Marinara Sauce (28 ounces)
  • 8 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta
  • 1 1/2 pounds mussels
  • To serve: Chopped fresh basil (left over from the marinara), olive oil


  1. Start the Easy Marinara Sauce.
  2. Clean the mussels (see the section above).
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside). Then drain.
  4. After the marinara sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, add the mussels and cook covered over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes until they open. Stirring several times.
  5. To serve, place pasta in a dish and spoon mussels and marinara over the pasta. Garnish with chopped basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Olivia O says:

    Hi- what kind of mussels did you use for this black or green shell?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


  2. Howard Finn says:

    I am planning on making this recipe. It looks great. I just could not find where it says how many people this recipe serves. Can you help?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! This makes 4 servings.