Grilled & Chilled Shellfish with Basil, Mint and Lime Vinaigrette

Steamed clams, mussels and scallops in a bowl of warm broth is a simple seafood supper we enjoy most months of the year, but when summer rolls around we like to chill our shellfish down. But before we chill, we grill.

The reason is simple – why stand at a stove in a stuffy kitchen when you can grill under the sun (or stars)? We’re hard pressed to think of a type of protein or vegetable that can’t be grilled and shellfish is one of the easiest. Mussels, clams and scallops take only a few minutes to cook on the grill. They can be eaten hot, of course, but why eat hot food on a hot day when you can eat something cool and refreshing?

Here’s how you do it: Grill up a batch of shellfish then shuck ‘em or leave them in the shell. Drown the tender morsels in a zesty vinaigrette flavored with lime, mint and basil and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve as an appetizer or main course, alone or over salad greens, sliced tomatoes or cucumbers. It doesn’t get any easier or refreshing than that.

Grilling shellfish gives it a meaty texture that’s still tender enough to melt in your mouth. Chilling seafood brings out a fresh, briny flavor without any fishiness. The combination of chilling and grilling really is the best of both worlds.


  • 3 pounds of mixed clams, mussels and scallops
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint


Drizzle some olive oil on the scallops to keep them from sticking to the grill. Lightly salt.

Pull the beards from the mussels (the little string-like thing hanging out the side) and scrub the shells of the mussels and clams clean.

Heat grill to medium-high.

Place scallops, clams and mussels directly on the grill grate (or you can use a grilling basket instead). Cover grill and let the seafood cook 2 minutes. Open the grill and flip scallops over.

Use tongs to remove any clams and mussels that have opened (try not to spill out any juice inside the shell) and combine them in a large bowl.

Close the grill and continue to cook the shellfish, peaking in every minute or so to remove shells that have opened. Mussels usually take 2-4 minutes, clams anywhere from 4-8 minutes depending on the size.

Whisk together lime juice and zest, olive oil, salt and herbs. Remove mussels and clams from their shells if desired and pour vinaigrette on top. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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14 thoughts on “Grilled & Chilled Shellfish with Basil, Mint and Lime Vinaigrette”

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  1. Looks like heaven to me! Never thought of grilling them… will try this. Love shellfish cold.

  2. Sweet mother of pearl that looks amazing! I am eating this first chance I get, don’t care what time it is. I think i’ll combine this recipe with a fresh salad and a quality IPA for best results ;-).

  3. Looks really awesome to me! Just remember to toss any clams or mussels that do not fully open when cooked–they were dead to begin with and can make you really sick.

  4. Looks so good. I don’t have access to a grill right now, so I think I’ll make the vinaigrette and pour it over rock shrimp, which are tiny shrimp that are very easy to cook. I usually just boil some chicken broth in a pot and put the shrimp in there to cook for a few minutes,

    I’ll pour the vinaigrette over the cooked shrimp and chill it for a while – this is going to be yummy for sure. Thanks!

  5. mouth….watering . . .must find clams …

    My favorite cold shellfish is icy oysters in their own brine.

  6. Never thought of combining all of those, Sounds great. We just had scallops with a broccoli side this afternoon. Have to try it with mussels and clams next time.

  7. but what about toxins? shellfish have high levels of toxins I last read. thoughts?

  8. Oh my… that’s about all I can say. Mouth watering right about now.

  9. I just tried this tonight and must say that it is, in fact, awsome!