Coconut Curry Mussels

Looking for a mussels recipe with Wow factor? This is it. Fresh mussels cooked in and served with a spicy coconut curry broth.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 lbs of mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 thai chili, finely chopped (can substitute good pinch of chili flakes)
  • 3 teaspoons of ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 fl. oz.)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped into four pieces and smashed
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves* (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

*Kaffir lime leaf: a key ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, and Hmong cuisine; can be found in Asian Markets, though many markets now carry them in the produce aisles with other fresh herbs. The taste is very distinct and can't be substituted. However, you can make this dish without the leaves and the mussels will still taste great.


1 Soak raw mussels in cold water, then de-beard: Place mussels in a bowl of cold water so the mussels will spit out any sand or mud. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat. Toss any mussels that are open as these are dead.

Debeard the mussels, pulling out their byssal threads (aka: their "beards") and place them in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

2 Sauté onions, chiles, ginger, curry powder: Heat the oil in a pot (large enough to hold all of the mussels) on medium high heat and add the onion and stir for a few minutes until they become soft and slightly translucent.

Add the chilies, ginger, and curry powder and stir for a minute until fragrant.


3 Add broth and reduce, then add coconut milk, salt, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves: Add the chicken broth and reduce half. Add the coconut milk, salt, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves if using and bring to a boil.


4 Add mussels: Drain and add the mussels, reduce heat to medium and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the mussels open.

coconut-curry-mussels-method-3 coconut-curry-mussels-method-4

Discard any that are closed as these were dead before cooking. (Some may only be slightly open, if you have to debate on whether it's good to eat or not, toss it.)

Spoon mussels into bowls and pour over with broth. Garnish with chopped cilantro and juice from lime wedges.

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  • steve

    Hi Elise,
    I have made this recipe a couple of times and everyone raves but I don’t understand one section of your directions. After adding the coconut milk and bringing to a boil you say “drain then add mussels” if I drain what am I adding the mussels to. I have always skipped this process but could you explain to me what I am possibly misunderstanding.

    • Elise Bauer

      The mussels should be sitting in cold water from step one. This is what they need to be drained of.

  • Nyna

    For anyone looking over the comments about curry, wet Thai paste curry versus the standard U.S. powder curry (such as Spice Islands brand): the two types of curry would make completely different taste profiles. I suggest you start with the powdered curry, which will give you a sweeter dish (which I would prefer with mussels) and then give the paste a try. I would suggest a red curry paste for this dish. So with Garrett’s recipe, you actually get two for the price of one! (If you try yellow, green, panang curries, you can multiply it further.) All of them will be wonderful.

  • Yin

    Made this for dinner and it tasted great! Never had mussels before, it was a wonderful first try. The curry was a bit too mild for my Malaysian taste buds (extra spicy curries are a staple here!), so I’m upping the thai chili count to 3 instead of 1 next time. Thanks a bunch, Garrett and Elise!


  • R.

    Hi, I was wondering about what curry powder you used? Yellow one?

    And by, “reduce half” you mean one should bring it to a boil, and allow to boil until it has reduced by half?


    Just use the yellow curry powder you see in the spice section of the store. Reduce by half means just that, yes. ~Garrett

  • Brandi H.

    Made them last night, they rocked! No luck finding the lime leaves though and I live in a pretty diverse college town with several international food stores. May need to do mail order next time! But regardless they were wonderful!


  • Corey Fisher

    Tasty looking recipe! Always nice to have new ways to eat curry. I’ve loved every recipe from your blog that I’ve tried.

    I would second the recommendation someone said earlier to use wet curry paste that come in jars, if you can get it where you live. It usually comes in 3 flavors/colors, red, yellow, and green. A friend from India recommended this and I’ve never used the curry powder since!

  • Alesia

    I made this last night. So, so good.

  • Big___Al

    Just made this pretty much to specifications, and it was delicious! Don’t forget the baguette for dipping, and of course the beer. Thanks, Garrett and Elise!


  • Patrick

    Hmm… dry curry powder in a purportedly ‘Thai’ recipe? I have observed Thai cooks/been cooking Thai recipes for years after meeting Jennifer Brennan, and that includes cooking professionally and ‘for fun’ in friends homes in Thailand. I have never seen dry curry powder used and not used it myself. What is sold in the States as curry powder is distinctly Indian, esp. the high concentration of turmeric which Thai people use sparingly if at all. Thais much prefer wet curry pastes for their incomparable fresh flavor. They typically make these from scratch or purchase any one of many good brands. Here in the States, my favorite is Mae Ploy which sells a number of different types (red, green, yellow, etc.). Use a tablespoon or so of paste, depending on taste, and you could eliminate some of your other ingredients (unless you wanted to ‘bump up’ the flavor or a specific ingredient, e.g. some people like a more ginger-scented broth, etc.).

    Hello Patrick – there is a difference between having Thai flavors and being a Thai recipe. We are not claiming that this is a Thai recipe. By the way, if you are looking for authentic Thai recipes, Pim has some excellent ones at Chez Pim. ~Elise

  • Stacy

    Yum…..based on what I had in the house last night….I combined the sauce from this recipe with the chicken from “Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce.”

    Also…I finally had luck this year growing lemongrass. Yeah!

  • Teresa

    What type of curry powder are you using? Madras? The recipe sounds yummy. I can’t wait to try it!

    Just typical, everyday curry powder. ~Garrett

  • Chandelle

    Looks wonderful, but I must admit I’ve never had mussels! How exactly do you eat them?

    Open the shell wide, and use a fork to pluck out the mussel. Or use the half shell that the mussel is sitting in as a spoon and just slurp it in. ~Elise

  • Georgia Pellegrini

    This looks absolutely delicious. I bet it’d be good with some fresh french fries too!

    Indeed! ~Garrett

  • Morgan

    Wow! This looks amazing. I make something similar with green curry paste. I love to serve it with grilled flat bread to soak up the rich broth and cold Singhas or Thai iced tea to put out the fire.

  • Marya

    I’ve made something similar with white fish, scallops and shrimp instead of the mussels and it turned out delicious as well. I’ll try your recipe too as it seems much simpler than the one I tried before.

  • Joanne

    Fantastic recipe! Mussels are definitely one of my top favorite foods – so inexpensive and are so versatile (quick cooking too!). Plus, anything you need to dip bread into is a winner in my book!


  • mantha

    Oh, those flavors! Beautiful idea about growing lemongrass, too. Could you use galangal with, or instead of, the ginger? Little more exotic taste, but very similar — not sure how it would be with shellfish.

    About thai chilis — if they’re like the ones I used to grow, you really do need only one (and maybe using gloves while mincing it isn’t a bad idea). People who like it hotter can add more to their own serving.

    You can use galangal if you so choose. ~Garrett

  • Maggi

    Unfortunately, Kaffir Lime Leaves are not ubiquitous in our part of the US (why, I have no idea) but I suppose one could substitute about 1/2 tablespoon of green curry paste for the lemongrass, lime leaves, Thai chili, ginger and curry powder, right?

    Indeed, Maggie. That would be a great substitute. Just so you know though, lemongrass is easy to grow at home. I started a bush from a single stalk I got at the market and now I always have a fresh supply. (It’s a wild grass so keep it in a big pot like you would mint.) ~Garrett