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Exactly How To Reheat Mussels – I Test 4 Methods [Pics]

Is there anything better than perfectly soft, salty mussels?

Unfortunately, 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 four different reheating techniques. 

The aim? To discover what reheating method delivers the freshest, most tender, and delicious mussel. Just like day one.

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 four different techniques for reheating my mussels.

These methods include:

  • Reheating mussels in broth (the best method overall)
  • Reheating mussels by steaming them (a good option for retaining texture)
  • Reheating mussels in the microwave with broth (prevents mussels from drying out)
  • Reheating mussels in the microwave covered by a damp paper towel (mussels turned chewy)

The trick to reheating mussels is not to overcook them. You don’t want to dry them out and turn them tough.

Instead, you want to reintroduce some moisture so that they retain their flavor and tender texture.

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.

The microwave method wasn’t entirely disappointing, but they did become a little rubbery, particularly when I just covered them with the damp paper towel.

Reheating mussels in 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. While the broth heats up, remove the mussels from their shells. Once the broth is hot, add the mussels. Stir them in to reheat them evenly.

The heat from the broth will warm your mussels without overcooking them.

Mussels are pretty small, so they don’t need a lot of reheating to do the trick. You want to retain their texture and delicacy, and the way to do this is to avoid recooking them.

How to reheat mussels in broth:

  1. Reheat the other component of your dish, i.e. your broth, soup, pasta sauce, or rice.
  2. Once boiling (broth/soup), simmering (pasta sauce), or thoroughly warm (rice), remove from heat.
  3. Stir in your mussels to reheat them evenly.
  4. Serve hot.

The heat and steam from your base dish will be sufficient to rewarm the mussels without damaging their delicate texture. 

This method ensures that you don’t accidentally recook your mussels too.

That being said, wait a minute or two until the boil or simmer has subsided. Incorporating them right away might overload them with moisture and make them gooey. 

Or, it could start cooking your mussels which you want to avoid.

Once you’ve stirred your mussels into your base dish, do not return it to the heat. This will cook the mussels and make them tough and unpalatable.

It’s advisable to deshell your mussels before reheating them this way. The mussels’ shells will prevent thorough heat transfer, and then this method won’t be nearly as effective.

My verdict

Of all the techniques I tried, this was my favorite and, in my opinion, the most effective way to reheat mussels.

The result was soft, tender, and juicy mussels packed with flavor.

I experimented with leftover broth, but the principle remains the same for other mussel bases, like pasta or soup.

Reheating mussels by steaming them

To reheat mussels in a steamer, first set it up and heat water until boiling. Place your mussels, spread out, in your steamer basket and cover them with a lid. Heat the mussels for only 30 to 60 seconds. As an optional step for added flavor, add some lemon juice to the water. Serve immediately.

This method does not use direct heat, so it is quite a gentle way to warm mussels without recooking them. 

However, you need to be mindful of not steaming them for too long, as this will make them rubbery.

How to reheat mussels by steaming them:

  1. Set up a steamer and boil some water.
  2. Deshell your mussels (optional).
  3. Spread your mussels out in the steamer basket and steam, covered, for 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Serve immediately.

I reheated my mussels out of their shells, which worked better for reheating them evenly. I was also able to feel them to judge their warmth better. 

You can reheat them in their shells, but it might take a few moments longer and be harder to ascertain how hot they are.

As mussels are so small, this method takes seconds. The longer you steam them, the more likely you are to overheat them and make them tough.

If you don’t have a steamer on hand, you can rig one up with a saucepan and use a metal colander or sieve as a make-shift basket. 

Heat 2 to 3 inches of water until boiling and cover the colander or sieve with a lid.

My verdict

This method is excellent if you don’t plan on using a leftover base like broth or soup.

The mussels retain their flavor and a nice, soft texture. This gentle method prevents overcooking and keeps your mussels moist.

Reheating mussels with broth in the microwave

Place leftover broth (or water) in a microwave-safe bowl. Add your mussels and stir them in. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pierced with a few small holes. Warm the mussels in ten-second increments until evenly heated. Serve immediately.

This is a direct heating method that can be quite hard on your mussels and overcook them in a matter of seconds. The result will be dry, chewy mussels lacking flavor.

However, if you’re mindful of how long you heat them and check them consistently, the results can be pretty tasty. It is also quick and convenient.

How to reheat mussels in the microwave with broth:

  1. Place your broth in a microwave-safe bowl and stir in your mussels.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap, pierced with a few small holes.
  3. On a high setting, warm your mussels in ten-second increments.
  4. Serve immediately.

You can leave your mussels in their shells for this method, but it does impact how evenly they warm up, so I recommend deshelling them.

The results of this technique are not bad, and you’ll retain a lot of flavor if you’re careful not to overcook them. 

It is also an effective way of adding moisture to your leftover mussels.

My verdict

If you have no other option, this microwave method is effective for warming up mussels. 

Upholding their signature soft texture is a bit tricky, though.

I would opt for broth rather than water to better maintain their flavor. It wasn’t my favorite method, but it is convenient, fast, and accessible.

Reheating mussels in the microwave covered by a damp paper towel

Place your deshelled mussels, spread out, on a microwave-safe plate. Sprinkle them with a few drops of water and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave them in ten-second increments on high heat until warmed through. Serve immediately.

This method can quickly dry out your mussels, making them rubbery. They lose a lot of their freshness and moisture, and by default, their taste.

Keeping them in the microwave for too long will overcook them.

How to reheat mussels in the microwave covered by a damp paper towel:

  1. Place deshelled mussels, spread out, on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. Sprinkle water over them.
  3. Cover your mussels with a damp paper towel.
  4. Microwave them in ten-second intervals until warmed through.
  5. Serve immediately.

You need to check your mussels consistently to make sure you’re not cooking them.

Leaving them in the microwave for even a few seconds too long makes them rubbery and unpleasant.

My verdict

I found this method to be the most disappointing. No matter how cautious I was, the mussels came out dry and overcooked.

This technique is convenient if you have no other option, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

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

Once cooled, remove your cooked mussels from their shells. Place them in an airtight container, covered with a layer of broth. Seal up the container and place them in the fridge. If properly sealed, they can last for 2 to 3 days. For a longer shelf-life, freeze them following these same steps.

Always let mussels (or any seafood) cool to room temperature before storing. 

However, do not let them stand out for more than two hours, as they risk developing bacteria.

Can you freeze cooked mussels?

Mussels are known to freeze well. To freeze cooked mussels, place them in an airtight container covered with their cooking broth. Make sure the container is properly sealed up and put them in the freezer. Consume them within 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 do not have broth to freeze them in, you can use this alternative method. 

Once cooled, 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.

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 get the most out of your frozen mussels, consider adding them to a new dish when you reheat them.

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, as this can make them soggy.

Can you reheat baked or breaded mussels?

Baked and breaded mussels are a bit of a different ballgame when it comes to reheating, as they will fare dismally in broth or other liquid bases.

Unfortunately, grilling them will dry them out and make them unpleasantly chewy.

Therefore, I recommend removing them from their shells and scraping off as much breading or crumb as possible. 

From there, add them to another dish, like a soup or pasta, and allow them to warm through using the base dish’s residual heat.

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

If you're wondering how to bring your leftover mussels back to life, this is the recipe for you.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 2 mins
Total Time 4 mins
Course Ingredient
Cuisine French
Servings 1 person
Calories 172 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion mussels shelled
  • 1 portion broth

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

The heat and steam from your base dish will be sufficient to rewarm the mussels without damaging their delicate texture.
This method ensures that you don’t accidentally recook your mussels too.
That being said, wait a minute or two until the boil or simmer has subsided. Incorporating them right away might overload them with moisture and make them gooey.
Or, it could start cooking your mussels which you want to avoid.
Once you’ve stirred your mussels into your base dish, do not return it to the heat. This will cook the mussels and make them tough and unpalatable.
It’s advisable to deshell your mussels before reheating them this way. The mussels’ shells will prevent thorough heat transfer, and then this method won’t be nearly as effective.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 172kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating




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