If you’ve ever ended up with leftover mussels, you’ll know they’re not easy to reheat. All too often, they lose their flavor and become chewy and rubbery (or dry). Yuk!
Not wanting to risk disappointing next-day mussels, I decided to experiment with five different reheating techniques.
Want the quick answer?
The best way to reheat mussels is in broth or a sauce. Heat your broth or sauce slowly in a saucepan and once its piping hot, remove it from the heat and add the mussels. Let the mussels warm for a 1-2 minutes before eating. You can also steam the mussels or pan fry them if you don’t have any leftover sauce.
I’ve also included some tips for storing and freezing your mussels.
A note on my experiment
Last night I made my favorite mussels-in-broth dish for dinner. I had some leftovers, which I decided to store overnight in the fridge.
The following day, I tried out five different techniques for reheating my mussels.
I tested reheating the mussels in:
|In broth||Heat broth on the stove, then stir mussels in||Best method|
|By steaming||Steam the mussels for 30-60 seconds||Good|
|Microwave with broth||Cover the mussels with broth and microwave in 10 second intervals||Okay|
|Sautéing / fryring||Fry the mussels on medium heat with butter and garlic||Delicious with bread|
The trick to reheating mussels is not to overcook them and to reintroduce moisture.
You don’t want to dry them out and turn them tough.
Warming them in broth produced the best results. My mussels were moist and tasted almost as good as new. I found the steaming method also worked well for keeping them soft and tasty.
See Also: How To Reheat Clams
How to reheat mussels in broth
- Separate the mussels from any sauce and de-shell them (optional)
- Reheat the other component of your dish gently on the stove or in the microwave i.e. your broth, soup, sauce (or even pasta).
- Once your dish is boiling hot, remove it from the heat source and gently stir the mussels back in.
- Let your mussels sit in the hot dish for 1-2 minutes, stirring gently every 30 seconds.
- Serve immediately.
The residual heat from the broth will warm your mussels without overcooking them or ruining their delicate texture.
I always wait 10 seconds before adding the mussels back into the hot liquid. just to make sure the mussels don’t start cooking.
I highly recommend de-shelling your mussels before reheating them this way. The mussels’ shells will slow down the heat transfer (unless you have a lot of broth and can completely cover the mussels).
Psst… if you don’t have any leftover broth you can always use stock or water flavored with herbs and spices.
Pros: I though this was the best and most effective way to reheat mussels. My mussels were soft, tender, and packed with with flavor.
Cons: there weren’t really any cons for me!
How to reheat mussels by steaming
- Set up a steamer and boil some water or stock. You can also use water flavored with lemon juice or herbs and spices.
- De-shell your mussels (optional).
- Spread your mussels out in the steamer basket and steam for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Serve immediately.
This method doesn’t use direct heat, so it’s a gentle way to warm mussels without recooking them.
However, you need to be mindful of not steaming them for too long or they’ll turn rubbery.
I reheated my mussels out of their shells, because this meant I could easily tell how hot they were. You can keep the mussels in their shells though if you prefer.
Pro tip: if you don’t have a steamer on hand, you can make one with a saucepan and a sieve.
Pros: this method is excellent if you don’t plan on using a leftover base like broth or soup. The mussels had a nice texture and were still juicy.
Cons: the mussels didn’t have as much flavor as the ones submerged in broth.
How to reheat mussels on the stovetop
- De-shell your mussels.
- Heat some butter or oil in a pan on medium heat. Fry some garlic and finely chopped onions or shallots until glossy.
- Add the mussels along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and a spoonful of lemon juice (or stock).
- Heat the mussels in the pan for 30-60 seconds, stirring frequently. Add fresh parsley if you have any right at the end.
- Serve the mussels on a slice of toasted bread.
If you have the extra ingredients to hand, this reheating method produces absolutely delicious mussels.
The butter and the flavor from the garlic soak into the mussels and make them irresistible.
Make sure you keep the heat relatively low so you don’t overcook the mussels, and I always make sure the pan has some moisture in it (either butter or water).
If the pan goes dry the mussels can burn quickly.
Pro tip: coat your mussels in cornstarch before frying them to get a crispy outside. And to get them EXTRA crispy, consider using more oil and deep frying the mussels.
Pros: the mussels will taste amazing.
Cons: you need some extra ingredients on hand to really make the most of this reheating method.
How to reheat mussels in the microwave
- Place some broth or stock in a microwave-safe bowl and stir in your mussels. Make sure the mussels are fully submerged.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel.
- Warm your mussels in ten-second increments, stirring during the breaks.
- Once hot, serve immediately.
This is a direct heating method that can be quite harsh on your mussels.
But if you go slowly and check the mussels often, you can get good results.
You can leave your mussels in their shells for this method, but make sure you have enough liquid to cover all the meat. Any uncovered mussels will get very dry!
If you don’t have leftover broth, you can use water but make sure to add some flavor. You can go for stock, lemon juice, herbs, or even a splash of soy sauce.
Pros: it’s quick and convenient.
Cons: it’s very easy to overcook your mussels with this method and they can end up very rubbery.
Note: I also tested reheating the mussels without broth and just covering them them with a damp paper towel. I found the results to be sub par. The mussels were dry and rubbery.
How to use leftover mussels
Incorporating leftover mussels into a new dish is often tastier than eating them on their own.
Here are some ideas for what to do with leftover mussels.
- Linguine with leftover mussels is a fantastic way to reuse your extras. Some cooked linguine with olive oil, chicken stock, parsley, and butter makes for a delightful dinner.
- Mussel chowder is an absolute must if you’re looking for a big bowl of comfort food.
- Creamy mussel soup is a definite option if you want to retain mussels’ depth of flavor. Complementary flavors of onion and celery make this dish pop.
- Deep-fried mussels are a guilty pleasure of mine. These battered beauties are a delicious way of using your leftovers.
- Garlic mussels on toast? Absolutely divine. Warm them in a bit of garlic butter, and you’re good to go.
How to store cooked mussels
Cool your mussels to room temperature and de-shell them. Place the mussel meat in an airtight container, covered with a layer of broth. Seal the container and place it in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. For a longer shelf-life, freeze the mussels following these same steps.
Always let mussels (or any seafood) cool to room temperature before storing.
However, never let the mussels stand out for more than two hours, because they’re at high risk of developing bacteria.
Can you freeze cooked mussels?
Mussels freeze well. To freeze cooked mussels, place them in an airtight container covered with their cooking broth. Make sure the container is properly sealed and put them in the freezer for up to three months.
Storing mussels in their broth retains moisture and, therefore, a lot of their signature texture. At the same time, the broth also keeps them safe from freezer burn.
If you don’t have any broth to freeze the mussels in, you can use stock or freeze them dry.
To freeze mussels without stock, wrap your cooked mussels (in their shells) in aluminum foil. Then place them in a heavy-duty freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Store them deep in your freezer for up to 3 months.
Wrapping the mussels in foil helps to prevent freezer burn. Due to the high salt content in mussels, they preserve well in the freezer.
To thaw frozen mussels, remove them from the freezer and place them in the fridge to defrost. Once thawed, try not to leave them in liquid for too long or they’ll get soggy.
Pro tip: to get the most out of your frozen mussels, consider adding them to a new dish when you reheat them like pasta. This will mask any degradation in the flavor or texture.
Can you reheat baked or breaded mussels?
The best way to reheat baked and breaded mussels is to remove the mussels from the shells and remove as of the crumb topping as possible. From there you can add them another dish like pasta and use residual heat to warm them.
If you try to re-bake or grill them, the mussels will dry out and turn unpleasantly chewy.
How long do mussels last?
To retain as much freshness as possible, use the following guidelines to determine how best to store your leftover mussels.
- Room temperature: Mussels should be stored as soon as they are cool and should not be left standing at room temperature for longer than two hours.
- Refrigerated: Mussels in an airtight container with broth can last for 2 to 3 days.
- Frozen: You should be use frozen mussels within three months.
The Best Way To Reheat Mussels
- 1 portion mussels shelled
- 1 portion broth
- The best way to gently reheat mussels is to first warm up the other component of your dish. I used broth, but you can also use rice, soup, or pasta sauce.
- Reheat the other component of your dish, i.e. your broth, soup, pasta sauce, or rice.
- Once boiling (broth/soup), simmering (pasta sauce), or thoroughly warm (rice), remove from heat.
- Stir in your shelled mussels to reheat them evenly.
- Serve immediately for best results.