Mussels Grilled on a Bed of Flaming Pine Needles

  • Yield: 4 as a appetizer, 2 as a main course servings
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 6 mins


2pounds (40 to 50) mussels in the shells
1tablespoon raspberry vinegar
Melted butter, for serving
2quarts dried pine needles
2 13 x 9-inch aluminum foil pans


  1. Scrub mussels well with a brush under cold running water, discarding any with cracked shells or shells that fail to close when tapped. Using needle-nose pliers, pull out and discard any clumps of black strings at the hinges of the mussels. Using a metal skewer or an old pointy knife, poke 1/2-inch holes, spaced 2 inches apart, in the bottom of one of the aluminum foil pans.
  2. Fill perforated foil pan with pine needles; they should be loosely mounded rather than tightly packed. Arrange mussels on top.
  3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high. There is no need to oil the grill grate.
  4. When ready to cook, place pan on hot grate. The pine needles will start to smoke and catch fire after a few minutes. If you’re working on a gas grill, you may need to use a butane match or lighter to help ignite pine needles. Once pine needles have caught fire, place second foil pan over the mussels and pine needles. Grill mussels until shells open and bivalves are cooked, 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Once mussel shells begin to open, sprinkle mussels with raspberry vinegar. Cover mussels again and grill 1 minute longer. The vinegar is optional, but it adds an extra dimension of flavor.
  6. Transfer smoking, steaming pan to a heatproof platter and serve mussels at once, discarding any that have not opened. Eat the mussels with your fingers right out of the pan. Serve with melted butter, if using.

Recipe by Steven Raichlen.

Nutritional Info *per serving

  • Calories 200
  • Fat 5g
  • Saturated Fat 1g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 1g
  • Cholesterol 65mg
  • Sodium 650mg
  • Potassium 730mg
  • Carbohydrate 8g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 27g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Vitamin A 8%
  • Vitamin C 30%
  • Calcium 6%
  • Iron 50%