A white bowl filled with steamed mussels, scallions, garlic, sausage, and herbs. It's sitting on a light wood surface.

Belgian-Style Moules Frites

I have always loved a big bowl of mussels since my first exposure to them as a teenager. I loved steamed clams as well, always dipped in a healthy (or less than healthy, depending on your perspective!) amount of clarified butter. When I lived in Hoboken, one of my favorite nights out was getting mussels at Margherita’s. I would switch up between the red sauce and the white wine with garlic. Sometimes I would follow my mussels appetizer with Seafood Margherita, their version of Frutti di Mare, a mix of shellfish and calamari over linguine. But my favorite of all the mussels dishes is Belgian-style moules frites.

Moules frites are mussels steamed in white wine, shallots, and garlic, with a side a French fries. Usually the fries come with their own side of mayonnaise––if you’ve never had fries with mayonnaise, it’s delicious! The mussels are often served in the pot they’re cooked in, which is filled with the white wine broth and whatever other yummy items were used to flavor that broth, such as celery, shallots or leeks, sometimes carrots, and occasionally sausage. Some restaurants will also serve it with crusty baguette that you can soak in the broth, but the fries work great for that too.

Moules frites at Barbette in Minneapolis, MN.

I’d had moules frites at a couple of different places around the city when I lived in NYC, and at Barbette in Minneapolis, but my most vivid memories of moules frites are from my first trip to Prague. We had a ton of amazing Czech food––I adore just about anything served with bread dumplings; roast duck is a favorite––but for lunch one day after touring Josefov, we came across Les Moules, a Belgian-style bistro. It can be challenging as a tourist to find good lunch spots in Prague’s Old Town, with so many restaurants of the “tourist trap” variety. Les Moules is the real deal, with a solid beer selection and a dozen different styles of mussels, along with oysters and a small selection of options for folks who aren’t into shellfish (vegetarians should skip this one for sure).

Prague, home of Les Moules bistro

I ordered their house preparation, Mussels Les Moules, but they didn’t serve them with the little seafood fork I’d gotten used to in the States. As I started in with my larger fork, I noticed that no one else in the restaurant was using a fork, they were all using mussel shells like small tongs to pull the meat from the shell. I tried it out, and while it can be a little messy, it’s also much easier and you’re a lot less likely to send a mussel or shell flying onto the floor or your neighbor’s table! I was converted.

The mussels were fabulous, so much so that we went back for lunch the next day as well. Then we were off to Austria, but my love for Belgian-style mussels stayed with me, so I was thrilled when Brouwer’s Cafe opened in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, with two fantastic moules frites preparations (and Stoofvlees, which is a completely different adventure in yum). Brouwer’s also has an astounding selection of bottled Belgian beer and serves their frites with your choice of a half-dozen different sauces, all so delicious it’s worth it to pay a bit extra to try them all.

In the years since we moved from Seattle, mussels became more of a rare treat for me. That’s been especially true these last few years of pandemic. I’m no stranger to making fancy meals at home, but we’re back in Minneapolis, a bit further from Penn Cove than we used to be, and I didn’t feel good about buying mussels from the supermarket. In the last year, we’ve started driving over to Coastal Seafoods, a fantastic seafood market here in Minneapolis. We’ve had their shrimp and fish and everything has been fabulous, so when we were looking or something special for New Year’s Eve, I decided to try my hand at moules frites.

The prep is super easy, and it smells delicious on the stove.

It turns out this is probably the easiest fancy dish I’ve made. It takes minutes rather than hours, and I spent more time slicing shallots and herbs than cooking. It smells absolutely delightful while on the stove as well. We did this for lunch two days in a row and it felt so fancy!

We ended up skipping the homemade frites for this go-round. Jim had his with crusty baguette and I did a side of chips. Next time I might try out making fries in my air fryer. With how easy this is, I’m sure we’ll be making it much more often.

Notes on the recipe:

I found this traditional recipe for the mussels portion of moules frites on the Food Network site, and as we’d picked up a few links of andouille sausage, I decided to add that in too. I’ve updated the recipe below with the sausage and also changed what I think was a mistype in the original––five tablespoons is a LOT of garlic; five cloves is much more reasonable.

Make sure your mussels are clean before cooking. Often by the time you get them from the market, they’ve been throughly rinsed and had the beards removed. I always rinse them again before cooking. If you’re not sure if your mussels have been cleaned, you can follow these instructions from AllRecipes.

The recipe calls for a straight-sided pan, and this will allow more of the mussels to sit within the liquid, keeping them moist and plump. I chose to use my Staub Perfect Pan, which is wok-shaped, because I wanted a clear lid so that I could see when the mussels were open. Either way you go, the steam is what cooks the mussels, so make sure you have a tight-fitting lid.

For the wine, we went with a nice Pinot Grigio. Any bottle you enjoy drinking would be a good fit here, as long as it’s not too oaky. I’d go with something balanced, not too dry or overly sweet, and avoid anything labeled as “cooking wine.” If you prefer not to cook with wine, you can substitute clam juice or vegetable broth.

I’ve included the crème fraîche from the original recipe as optional here. It’s part of the traditional preparation, so if you’re looking for that and can have dairy, you should include it. The only dairy I can have is butter, so I left the crème fraîche out, and didn’t miss it at all. If you can’t have any dairy, the broth will still be delicious without the butter.

A white bowl filled with steamed mussels, scallions, garlic, sausage, and herbs. It's sitting on a light wood surface.

Belgian-Style Moules Frites

Print Recipe
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Large cast iron dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid


  • 3 oz andouille sausage, sliced (optional)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup shallots, finely sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup crème fraîche (optional)
  • cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp chives, minced
  • 2 tbsp whole-grain mustard


  • Set the pan on the stove to medium-high heat. Add the andouille sausage and cook on both sides until it darkens slightly in color, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the white wine and bring it to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mussels. Cover and steam until the mussels open, about 3 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon or sieve, transfer the mussels to a large serving bowl or several small serving bowls.
  • Add the crème fraîche (if using), butter, parsley, chives, and mustard to the remaining cooking liquid in the pan, stirring to combine. Bring just to a boil, then pour over the mussels.
  • Serve with French fries. Mayo for the fries and a hunk of crusty bread are also delicious.

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