Grilled Mussels with Garlic, Butter and Lemon

Grilled mussels 1

Guys! I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board a plane to Italy. ITALY! While I have been traveling a lot lately, I haven’t been to Europe since I was 15 and went one summer with my parents and sisters, at which time my only goals were to 1) get a tan, 2) seek out United Colours of Benetton stores in order to source an authentic green and white rugby shirt, and 3) flirt with cute Italian boys on scooters. (Mission accomplished.) I’m ecstatic and nervous, loaded down with work and reading material and snacks for the 9 1/2 hour flight to Frankfurt, and I can’t wait to find out if the pizzas and pastas taste as ethereal as they did to my 15 year old self.

Most of my packing time was spent packing up the kitchen, because while I spend my time sitting in Italian trattorias and visiting producers of pasta, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan and ham, Mike’s to-do list includes tearing out the kitchen. The timing was fortuitous – I’m sure I’d be almost as weepy pulling out my old counters as I was kissing W goodbye outside the airport. (Almost.)

grilled mussels Collage

While my parents had long since designed and built their own house by the time they were my age, we’ve never been big on home renos. Maybe you can tell? The process has been far longer than I anticipated – even the figuring out of what we want, what needs doing, and who needs to do it. I keep running into people who excitedly ask is my kitchen done yet?? And it’s not, but it’s on its way – I figure being without a kitchen is as good motivation as any to get moving on a new one, no? And as soon as I get back from Italy (squee!) it is ON.

(I’m also doing renos here, still. For real. I know.)

grilled mussels 2

My guess is we’re going to rely heavily on the barbecue – the timing is better than that year my parents did kitchen renos in the middle of winter – and really, it’s kind of like having an oven and stovetop outside anyway. I haven’t yet attempted a pot of oatmeal on it, but I did recently discover the joy of a batch of mussels cooked in their shells directly on the grill. Toss them on, close the lid, and in five minutes you have perfectly cooked mussels, ready to toss in garlicky butter. If you toss some lemon wedges or halves on the grill too, they’ll release more of their juice more easily over your warm mussels. If you’re a fan, there are few things better to eat on the patio in flip-flops, with cold beer or Prosecco, crusty bread and a few of your favourite people. Who needs a kitchen?

Grilled Mussels with Garlic, Butter & Lemon


June 7, 2014

  • Makes: Serves 4.


1 lb fresh mussels

lemon wedges or halves

olive oil, for cooking

1/4 cup butter

1 garlic clove, peeled

fresh parsley, for garnish


1While you preheat your grill to medium-high, rinse your mussels, discarding any that are already open. Cut the lemons in thick wedges or in half crosswise and brush the cut sides with oil.

2Scatter the mussels directly on the grill along with the lemons, cut-side down. Close the lid of the grill and cook for 5 minutes.

3Meanwhile, heat the butter and garlic clove in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave until the butter melts.

4Remove the mussels from the grill – they should all be open; discard any that don’t. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with the garlicky butter; toss to coat. (Alternatively, drizzle with olive oil.) Transfer to shallow bowls, scatter with parsley and serve with crusty bread and grilled lemon.


(Note: I recently ran this recipe in a grilling story in the Calgary Herald – but it’s really more of a method, and people were so happy to hear they could grill fresh mussels that I thought I’d share it here, too!)


About Julie

16 comments on “Grilled Mussels with Garlic, Butter and Lemon

  1. CathyH
    June 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I am making these! Have a wonderful trip to Italy.
    Twinkle, twinkle!

  2. Jules @ WolfItDown
    June 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I have never prepared mussels before, but these looks so great! I hope you have an amazing time abroad! My uncle’s from Italy, so I have been there a few times, it’s absolutely amazing there! Arrividerci πŸ™‚ x

  3. Laurie M
    June 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    YUM!! And so jealous!! Italy is…amazing!!! I vow to spend more than a week there in my lifetime…

  4. Dana
    June 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You crack me up. Seriously.

  5. Janel @ Creating Tasty Stories
    June 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Have fun in Italy! My husband will eat anything that’s grilled. Maybe I can finally convince him that mussels are really good with your recipe. πŸ™‚

  6. Christina
    June 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Julie! It was a pleasure to hear your story at Pecha Kucha a week or so back. I have been following your blog for awhile and enjoyed actually put a face to the name – you spoke so beautifully and from the heart. I live just round the corner in Inglewood (and actually spotted you at the yard sales last weekend from afar). So nice to hear of other Calgary foodies. Have a great time in Europe – I’m doing the same myself in a couple of weeks.

  7. Cathy N.
    June 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Lucky you, Julie! I. Love. Italy. Really. And can’t wait to hear about your adventures…culinary and otherwise.

    Hey, it seems that Inglewood and Ramsey people are cooking aficionados. I too live in Inglewood. We should start a club… or maybe just read and comment on your blog (sounds easier).

    Oh, and you doing mussels on the grill remind me of when I use to live in NZ and we would throw some Pippies (small clams) on the barbie (metal grilled over a wood fire). Mmmmm! Sooo Good!

    Have fun in Italy! πŸ™‚

  8. Laurie from Richmond
    June 7, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Oh, Cathy N, we used to do pipis on the barbie, too πŸ™‚
    These mussels seem good, Julie. Have a good time in Italy – will you be stopping in Frankfurt, or is it just to change planes? I’d love to hear stories of German sausages πŸ™‚

  9. Julie
    June 8, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Laurie – I’m in Frankfurt now, changing planes! It’s hot and clammy and I’m all sweaty and it’s 5am my time.. I’m a mess!

  10. Denise
    June 8, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Italy. My two favourite things to read about- food and travel! Enjoy and soak it all in.

  11. Brenda from Carstairs
    June 8, 2014 at 6:46 am

    Hi Julie – I,m so excited..our very own Julie in Italy! Having you there telling us all about the food is almost (but not quite) as good as being there myself(my dream is to go on a culinary vacation in Italy. Can’t wait to read about your adventures…have an amazing time and be sure to send us some pics of cute Italian boys on scooters!

  12. Jenn
    June 11, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Wow, an Italian food vacation and a new kitchen! Every girls dream come true. Hope Italy is everything that you remember and more. Can’t wait to hear about the food, the people and the kitchen.

  13. www.greg-j.com
    June 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    nice adventures you had.. Lucky You, lovely Julie.. keep sharing your nice culinary tips πŸ™‚

  14. Ren
    July 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Even though I know lots of Julies, my bf knows that when I say, “OMG, do you know what Julie has made now?” that I mean you. πŸ™‚
    We made these mussels and they were great. We would do it again, but we also grilled sausages that night and I don’t know if it would have been worth lighting the bbq for only the mussels.

  15. Anonymous
    July 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Making tonight!!! Can’t wait to try!!!! Thank you so much!!!

  16. Anonymous
    July 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Love mussels but have never done them on the BBQ – will try very soon.
    Have a FABULOUS time in Italy – my very favorite place…..will wait for new recipes – from your new kitchen!! Ciao Ciao.

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