How To Savor The Taste Of Trader Joe's Popular Canned Mussels

There are many upscale canned seafood brands out there, but good ol' Trader Joe's sells a popular variety of tinned mussels that seem to be just as delicious and versatile as the pricier options at your local specialty shop. The tinned mussels are lightly smoked for an extra layer of flavor, and come packed in extra virgin olive oil. So, if you're a fan of smoked mussels, do yourself a favor and try these the next time you have a craving for seafood.

Depending on your algorithm, you might have already seen a plethora of popular TikTok videos highlighting various recipes for indulging in TJ's canned mussels. And it's true that there are many ways to savor the taste of the smoky, tinned seafood. For example, you can take them straight out of the can and spread them on toast, or incorporate the mussels into a flavorful pasta dish. To make sure no good idea goes to waste, Tasting Table has you covered with a few delicious ways to serve and enjoy your next can of mollusks.

Spread tinned mussels on toast

Perhaps the easiest way to highlight the flavors of TJ's smoky mussels is in the form of elevated toast. Sure, you can just spread them on your favorite toasted bread and call it a meal, but it only requires a few other ingredients to add extra flavor. Pantry staples like chili crisp oil and hot sauce are easy ways to elevate mussel toast with heat. The briny and smoky flavors pair well with umami-rich garlic, so spread roasted garlic or rub raw cloves onto your toast before adding the mussels on top. A little garlic powder will do the trick, too. For more tang and creaminess, spread a thin layer of cream cheese on toasted sourdough, add the mussels, then top with fresh herbs and lemon juice for a touch of acidity. Or use the canned mussels to upgrade avocado toast.

For anyone who appreciates the flavors of tinned mussels, but doesn't like their appearance, you can also mash them into a spread to go on toast or crackers. Combine a can of mussels with cream cheese or mayo, lemon juice, herbs, horseradish if you please, and seasonings. You can also simply chop them up, combine with your favorite cream cheese, and spread on a toasted bagel for breakfast.

Create an effortless seafood and pasta dish

You've probably had many bowls of pasta with seafood like mussels, and the canned variety works just as well as fresh fare does. Canned mussels are ready to eat, and it's up to you whether or not to drain off the olive oil from the can. For an effortless meal, boil linguine or spaghetti until al dente, then toss with the smoked mussels, garlic, tomatoes, and chopped parsley. Mussels also benefit from salty capers, acidic lemon juice, and spicy red pepper flakes combined with your favorite type of pasta.

Here at Tasting Table, we've got a couple of original recipes that are perfect for a smoky mussel upgrade. Follow our simple spaghetti carbonara recipe and swap the pancetta with the canned mussels for a seafood spin. For a more elevated take, try this award-winning seafood spaghetti recipe and fry up the mussels to replace the oysters. You could also follow the recipe as is, and include the mussels with the rest of the ingredients as a bonus.

Make a tasty seafood salad

If you're a fan of the creamy seafood salad from the fish counter at the grocery store, note that the flavor of TJ's canned mussels lends itself to a homemade version. For this route, make a base with mayonnaise or Greek yogurt and lemon juice, then add raw red onion or celery for crunch, and perhaps avocado. Add the smoked mussels along with imitation crab (or lump crab meat), and shrimp for a nice seafood mix. Season with salt and pepper and serve with crackers or lettuce wraps. Add a dash of Old Bay for more briny flavor or a bit of smoked paprika to lean into the smokiness.

Smoked mussels work in more traditional salads, too, if you don't want to douse your mollusks in mayonnaise. Toss the mussels with arugula (or whatever greens are in the fridge), tomatoes, avocados, and pickled red onions, celery, cucumbers, or fennel bulb for crunch. Another option is to follow our grilled summer shrimp salad recipe and either replace the shrimp with the canned mussels or use both shellfish varieties for a double dose of seafood in the bowl. Either way, consider using the olive oil in the can for the dressing for even more layers of smoky flavor.

Turn a tin of smoked mussels into a bowl of rich and creamy chowder

Another classic way to indulge in the flavor of tinned mussels is in a pot of chowder. Be warned, mussels tend to turn out chewy and rubbery if overcooked. And since canned mussels are pre-cooked, it's best to add them towards the end of the cooking process. Drain the mussels if you don't want the excess oil in the pot, or use the entirety of the can's contents to add more rich, smoky notes. If you already have a go-to clam chowder recipe, follow it and simply stir in the mussels a few minutes before it's time to serve. For a quicker meal, pick up a container of Trader Joe's New England clam chowder and go from there.

For a different take, drain and mash the mussels into a paste, then make that into a chowder with condensed chicken or mushroom soup and a few other add-ins like herbs, cream, and your go-to seasonings. You can also use them to spruce up this clam and corn chowder recipe from Matthew Jennings; swap out the littlenecks with a can (or two) or TJ's smoky canned mussels and you're good to go.