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    Portuguese Mussels (Moules à la Portugaise)

    Now tell me, won’t you fall in love all over again with that love of your life when he brings this to table? I am head over heels, giddy eyed romantic again when Jas brings this one to our Valentine’s table. (Yes guys, it’s the same way to a woman’s heart, through her stomach).

    This is as fancy as it gets. A big bowl of mussels drenched in one amazing, out of this world sauce. It doesn’t have to happen in a fancy restaurant. All you need is a desire to cook something nice for that special someone in your life. The best part? You’re not even slaving the whole day in the kitchen…

    A bowl of fancily arranged mussels with a delicious sauce.

    Mussels, incredible little morsels of delectable glory. They are amazing because they take on the flavor of whatever sauce they’re prepared in. It’s all in the sauce. An impressive sauce is the essence of any good mussel dish.

    Let’s do these mussels Portuguese style. Like any Mediterranean recipe, it will have some wine. Wine and food is a delicious combination and it’s even better when the wine is actually IN your food.

    But we’re not just stopping there. Let’s use some more magic to turn these humble mollusks into one intoxicating, delicious dish.

    These tasty Portuguese mollusks garnished with parsley and scallions.

    This is all you need to make this gorgeous dish

    • Mussels – You can use fresh mussels or frozen.
    • Onion – Spanish or red, chopped.
    • Garlic – Plenty… yum in seafood or in general, chopped or sliced.
    • Tomato paste
    • Cumin
    • Bay leaf
    • Fresh red hot peppers – They love red chili peppers in Portuguese food, finely chopped.
    • Honey
    • Red or white vinegar
    • White wine
    • Chicken broth or clam juice
    • Butter
    • Olive oil
    • Salt & pepper
    • Parsley and scallions – For garnishing.
    Three red chili peppers on a white background.

    Tips for preparing and cleaning fresh mussels

    When you are buying fresh mussels, the most important thing is to make sure you are purchasing live mussels. The mussels should have a light ocean fragrance, not a strong fishy smell. The closed mussels are alive. If they are open, lightly tap the mussels with your finger to see if they close.

    Once purchased, take them out of the plastic bag and store them in a bowl. Discard any open mussels that do not close when tapped, as well as ones with broken shells. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

    Do not soak the mussels before cooking, as fresh water can kill them. Just clean them right before cooking by running them under cold water. Scrub the shells with a brush or hands to remove any dirt.

    Some mussels might have fibrous brown strings coming out. This is what they call the beard of the mussel. It’s not edible and should be removed. Once they are cleaned, they are ready to cook. You need to cook them immediately after cleaning them.

    Can I use frozen mussels?

    Absolutely! I love frozen mussels, they’re so convenient. I always like to keep a pack in my freezer.

    Frozen mussels are already pre cooked, and come in vacuum sealed bags. Just warm them up according to the directions on the package. In this case, you can also replace the chicken broth with the juice the mussels come in.

    How to cook this great Portuguese dinner

    Collage of six images depicting the steps to make this dish.

    From here it’s a pretty simple affair

    Heat olive oil in a skillet or pan on medium heat and sauté onion, along with bay leaf, till it turns translucent. Add in garlic and cook for a minute.

    Time for the tomato paste to go in the pot. Give it a stir for a couple of minutes.

    Add in honey, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, chopped red chili pepper, cumin, white vinegar and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes.

    Stir in white wine and simmer for a few minutes, until slightly reduced.

    Add mussels along with chicken broth and cook till mussels are cooked. The sign that they are cooked is that they start to open up. That would take about 5-6 minutes.

    While they’re cooking, check out my collection of the 20 Best Mussel Recipes!

    There is one more step to this one. We will make that sauce more rich and yum by adding butter. Yet we don’t want to overcook the mussels. To avoid that, remove all the cooked mussels to a separate pot or bowl. Thicken up the sauce by adding butter and cook it for three to four minutes. This is going to result in amazing flavors.

    By now the butter, garlic, wine and spices are all marrying beautifully together to create one delicious symphony of flavors. Stir in parsley and scallions and add those mussels back in. Give them a good stir and they’re ready to go in your bowl.

    Skillet full of the finished product.

    What to pair with these mussels

    • My first choice is a nice hearty wedge of bread to ‘suck up all that sauce’. Hmm… heaven. Try my no knead bread. Perfect.
    • Like other seafood, it’s great over some pasta. How about some linguine or fettuccine?
    • Have a side salad. My Spanish salad or Israeli couscous salad both go great with this dish.
    • It has to pair up with your favorite wine. Chilled chardonnay or rose sound great.
    • Going keto? Have your mussels atop a bed of zoodles.
    This delicious mussel recipe all served up in a bowl.

    Some great variations

    1. It’s very common in Portugal to add chorizo, their spicy sausage. There is something about the spicy sausage and mussels together. Just brown up the chorizo pieces along with the onion.
    2. Add in a splash of cream, from half to one cup, to make a creamier and saucier version.

    We have tried all of these variations and still can’t figure out which one is our favorite… Try them all… 🙂

    Zoomed out overhead of the bowl of mussels.

    So what do you say? Time for a delicious treat? A little wine… a little butter… some of this and some of that. Transform mussels into one unforgettable romantic meal. You don’t have to wait till next Valentine’s to make this happen. Next time you have some mussels in your basket, remember this Portuguese style dish (you better pin or bookmark this one right NOW). Make this happen. Make a Bold Statement! Moule à la Portugaise…!!

    Portuguese Mussels, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of mussels atop the Gypsy Plate.

    Try these other great seafood recipes!
    Cajun Shrimp Scampi
    Salmon with Mango Salsa
    Cajun Shrimp and Grits
    Shrimp de Jonghe
    Caribbean Coconut Mussels
    Mediterranean Fish with Tapenade
    Shrimp Remoulade
    Bahamian Boiled Fish
    Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
    Psari Plaki (Greek Baked Fish)

    Featured image for Portuguese mussels post.

    Portuguese Mussels

    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Total Time: 30 minutes

    These Portuguese mussels are packed with flavor. They're look so fancy they make a great special occasion meal, but are so easy they're perfect for any weeknight!


    • 2 lbs mussels (see note 1)
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth (see note 2)
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 Bay leaf
    • 5 garlic cloves, chopped or sliced
    • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 Tbsp honey
    • 1-2 fresh red chili peppers (see note 3)
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1 Tbsp red or white vinegar
    • 1 cup white wine
    • Salt to taste
    • Crushed black pepper to taste
    • 4 Tbsp butter
    • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
    • 2 scallion, chopped
    • 4 Tbsp Olive oil


    1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in deep skillet or pan. Sauté onion along with bay leaf till onion becomes translucent.
    2. Add in garlic and cook for a minute.
    3. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in honey, fresh red chili peppers, salt, pepper, cumin and vinegar and combine everything well.
    4. Add in wine and cook for 3-4 minutes.
    5. Add in mussels along with chicken broth. Cook for 6-7 minutes till all mussels are open.
    6. Remove the mussels to a separate pot or bowl. To the sauce, stir in butter and cook for a few minutes till the sauce thickens up. Add back in mussels along with parsley and scallions. Stir well.
    7. Serve in a bowl along with bread, pasta, zoodles or salad.


    1. If using fresh mussels, follow preparation directions in post. If using frozen, precooked mussels, heat up according to directions on package.
    2. You can also substitute the broth with bottled clam juice. If using frozen mussels, you can use the juice they come in.
    3. The number of chilies added into the recipe depend on how much heat you want in your sauce. If the peppers are mild, use two or you can limit it to one. .

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 4 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 711Total Fat 36gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 158mgSodium 1203mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 56g

    Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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      6 thoughts on “Portuguese Mussels (Moules à la Portugaise)”

      • This is my “go to recipe” for mussels; being of Portuguese heritage I must say, it brings me back to when I was a child and my Mother made mussels. Wish I had watched and Learned. But, Alpana, you have mastered the flavors!!! Making it again tonight, my Husband is thrilled. thank you, your recipes are delightful. Where can I purchase your plates that you have on your website LOVE THEM. 🙂

      • this is my go to recipe for mussels. I am Portuguese and I can honestly say, I do not miss the chourico. love the marriage of flavors Alpana has going on!! I must confess though, I do add a little bit of white wine, other than that, I follow the recipe exactly. So this is dinner tonight. I also made Alpana’s “Zuppa Toscana” today. It’s on the stove now, I will have to let you know how it turns out. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your recipes (and your plates)! Thank you, Shirley

      • Portuguese don’t use chorizo . They use Chourico or linguica sausage. My opinion both have better flavor. This place has some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s great grilled with peppers and onions on a sandwich especially a Portuguese roll.

        • You are absolutely right, and a little addition… it is spelled chouriço or linguiça. Everyone tends to make this error, I wish they wouldn’t.

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