Recipe: Donal Skehan’s Mussels in Irish Cider

updated May 1, 2019
Mussels in Irish Cider
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(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

Mussels have a reputation for being difficult to cook, but this is just not true. In reality, the hardest part is the washing. Place them in cold water (they should close; if they don’t you should throw them away). Scrub any dirt off the surface of the mussels and remove the beard with a small knife.

If you can get this down, you will have no trouble — and they take minutes to cook, so they’re the perfect little starter.

I love serving the pot straight to the table from the stove and clunking large spoonfuls of the cooked steaming mussels onto guest’s plates. Make sure to serve with some chunky bread to mop up the juices!

More from Donal Skeehan:

Testing Notes

If you can’t find pancetta or need a cheaper alternative, thick-cut bacon is a great substitute that will also add some smoky flavor. When picking cider, look for one that is dry and not too sweet.

And if you want plump, juicy mussels, try out this tip Ariel learned in cooking school:

  • A Quick Trick for Making Plumper Mussels

Christine, April 2015

Mussels in Irish Cider

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 3 1/2 pounds

    mussels, washed and beards removed

  • 1

    medium onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 8 ounces

    pancetta, cut into small dice

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 1 3/4 cup

    good hard cider, preferably Irish

  • 1/4 cup

    heavy cream

  • A good handful of freshly chopped parsley

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Discard any mussels that are open before cooking and any that stay closed after cooking.

  2. Place a large pot over a high heat and brown the pancetta pieces until just golden and sizzling. Add in a knob of butter, allow it to melt, and then add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 3 minutes until the onion is soft.

  3. Add in the cider and allow to bubble away for a few minutes so all the flavors mingle in together. Tumble in the mussels, cover with a lid, and allow them to steam for about 4 minutes until they open, making sure to give the pot a good shake once or twice during the cooking time.

  4. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and parsley, and season with sea salt and ground black pepper.

  5. Serve with some crusty bread to mop up the liquid!

Recipe Notes

Recipe reprinted with permission.