Recipe: Grilled Mussels Dabbed with Barbecue Sauce

Someone help me, but up until a few days ago, I was not a lover of mussels. I blame those times when, as a little girl, we dug them out of the sand in Cape Cod and drove them in the summer heat all the way back to Boston.  The drive took over an hour and half.  I don’t think I need to tell you the rest. It’s a shame, really, because good mussels are sweet, mild, and tender… a bit of romance for your mouth.

But we’re here to change perceptions, and I knew I had to give them another try. (we can’t move forward if we don’t keep trying and learning). So I grabbed a bag a the store, zipped home as fast as possible, and got to work.

Funny thing? There really wasn’t a lot of work to do thanks to this Palauan trick of tossing them on the grill and brushing them with a dab of barbecue sauce.

BBQ in Palau. Photo by Yuri Krasov, Art and Entertain me

You need two simple things.

1. Barbecue Sauce

I went with our Homemade Ginger Peach  Barbecue Sauce, in a nod both to the richly flavored sauces of Asia and the fine fruit we have right here in Oklahoma.

2. Mussels

Buy the mussels as fresh as possible and keep them in the refrigerator until needed.

Wash them off right before dinner and pull off that pesky beard.

Then things get tricky. Cuz you’ll also need to grill ‘em.

Get rid of any mussels that don’t close up tightly when tapped on the counter.

For more details, check out this video I found really helpful:

Then, in a manner much like Mark Bittman’s, bravely toss the mussels on a medium-hot grill…cook 1-2 minutes, or until they open up. Some will cook fast, some will cook slower than slow.

You’ll know they are ready when the mussel pull away from the shell (discard any that don’t open) . As they open, brush with barbecue sauce… and scoop them when completely cooked (being careful to not spill the juices out)

Then comes the real trick – finding someone willing to eat them.

It shouldn’t be hard.

They’re smoky, sweet, and tender.

Just like a good love story.

Not that kids care much about love stories…

There’s hope?

Not a chance.

So, what about you?

Come on … !

If I can eat them, anyone can.

P.S. They were delicious. Much to my surprise.

P.P.S. Thanks to Tina for getting the “action shots” this week, it’s fun to see what we look like from a third point of view.

P.P.P.S. How on earth do you get your kids to eat mussels?

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  1. Angelique says:

    Surprisingly, mussels are one of the strange (to me) things that my recovering (extremely) picky eater does like. This midwestern momma still doesn’t like them (I blame growing up in steak country), but I suck it up and make them regularly for my family in an effort to broaden their palates. It seems to be working. I think my kiddos enjoy mussels just because I showed them how to use one empty shell to pick the meat out from another mussel and eat it. It’s the chopstick principle. Give a kid a pair of chopsticks and any meal becomes fun. I typically serve them in a garlic, butter, white wine, herb and sometimes spicy sausage sauce with crusty bread to sop up juices. We tried the same preparation on clams this week, which wasn’t nearly as successful. My 3yo was the only one of the four of us that could manage them. I’m thinking clams casino might be more approachable next time. Just keep trying variations until you stumble upon one that they like. Eventually, after lots of exposure, you’ll teach them to like it, or at least find a version they tolerate.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Great advice Angelique and I really like the idea of the shells as “chopsticks” – what a fun idea…

  2. My mom used to feed me and my sister mussels by throwing them in paella or some kind of pasta sauce. Worked fine, until I was of an age to eat them myself! Then again, I was never really much of a picky eater, so maybe Ava will be more suspicious!

    P.S. What about mr. Picky? Did he try?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Yes, he did… I told him he had to eat three… you’ll probably see the results in the video on Monday haha

  3. Stephanie says:

    I love mussels, but as a half-French girl, I’m kind of required to. I absolutely adore moules frites, using the frites to sop up the garlicky, buttery broth. Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about them! And I’ve eaten them since I was a kid. I haven’t had the chance to give them to my 3 year old, but she is SO picky, I’m sure she would run away or make very similar faces to Ava’s. :) I’d love to try BBQ-ing them, but I tried BBQ-ing oysters, and I must have done something wrong because they were disgusting (and I love oysters!).

  4. elisa waller says:

    you are so strong and have lots of mussels…haha…:-)…I love these little bottom feeders especially with lots of spicey /flavor added…and these look great… fact by the last picture I can tell there is an accepting relationship developing …hmmm…<3 <3 LOL …

  5. Ah I see why it got tricky, on Pulau they would use the nice big green lipped mussels, while you used the ‘normal’ black ones which are a lot smaller. The shell is smaller too…

  6. Mussels just look…strange: shells and contents both. My granddaughter has watched me eat them many times, but I think she concludes that it’s just a ‘grandma thing’ (she DOES like calamari).
    My late Greek-born boss served in their Navy; he would rhadsodize about fresh-harvested mussels, and order them whenever our office went out to the nearby French restaurant. Just steamed with some lemon to squeeze for him; the whole French production for me; the other members of our crew looking aside while sticking with their salads and chicken breasts. Can’t win them all!


  1. […] Mussels Dabbed with Barbecue Sauce [Recipe] One of the most elegant dishes to serve but so, so simple.  I had no idea. Fire up the grill, […]

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