This hearty New England Clam Chowder recipe is absolutely delicious and loaded with clams, creamy potatoes and smoky bacon. This Clam Chowder recipe is much easier to make than you may think and guaranteed to be a new favorite!
If you love chowder recipes, you need to try my crockpot Potato Corn Chowder recipe.
This homemade clam chowder is a satisfying and simple seafood stew sure to fulfill your comfort food cravings. Silky rich and luxurious, this is the best clam chowder recipe hands down!
What Is New England Clam Chowder?
New England Clam Chowder is a creamy seafood stew made with clams, silky tender potatoes, vegetables and salty bacon. This restaurant favorite is incredibly easy to make at home and the ultimate comfort food!
Ingredients For Clam Chowder Recipe
This creamy clam chowder recipe list may seem long, but this chowder is made with simple and easy to find ingredients. For exact amounts and detailed clam chowder ingredients, check the printable recipe card below.
- Clams: If you live in a coastal area, you may be able to get fresh clams . This easy clam chowder is made with canned clams. You’d be surprised to learn that most restaurants make their clam chowder soup with canned clams as well. Canned clams are much easier to use and there’s no shucking involved!
- Bacon: You can use regular or thick-cut bacon.
- Butter: I prefer to use unsalted butter but you can use salted butter also.
- Vegetables: Garlic, onions, celery and potatoes. I prefer using a starchy potato like Russet or Idaho potatoes to make this seafood chowder.
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour to make the soup’s roux.
- White Wine: Use a wine that it’s not too sweet. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are excellent options. If you prefer, skip the wine and use additional broth.
- Clam Juice: This is a must when making any type of clam soup. It’s readily available and can be found in the canned seafood aisle. If you can’t find clam juice, use seafood or chicken broth.
- Broth: Chicken or vegetable broth can be used.
- Herbs: Fresh thyme, dried bay leaves and chopped parsley for garnishing.
- Seasonings: Salt and ground black pepper.
How To Make Clam Chowder From Scratch
For detailed instructions, check the recipe card below.
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1 tablespoon of the fat rendered in the pot.
- Melt the butter in the stockpot with the bacon fat. Add the garlic, onion and celery, and cook until the onions become soft but not brown.
- Whisk in the flour and stir for about a minute trying to get rid of any lumps.
- Gradually, stir in the white wine and reduce for about 1 minute.
- Add the potatoes, the clam juice, the liquid from the canned clams and the broth. Add the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes become tender.
- When the potatoes are tender, stir in the half and half and the clams and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a gentle simmer (do not let the chowder come to a full boil) and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. If the chowder is too thick, add additional half and half until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately garnished with chopped parsley and the reserved bacon.
This luxurious, rich and decadent seafood chowder is a meal in itself! I like to serve this easy clam chowder recipe with oyster crackers or saltine crackers. You can always add a light salad to your menu when you are serving this creamy soup.
I don’t recommend freezing chowders that contain dairy like cream, half and half or milk. When reheating it, their texture changes and becomes grainy. The chowder (or bisque) also tend to separate when reheated becoming an unappealing mess. So the answer is you can, but you shouldn’t.
What Are The Different Type Of Clam Chowder?
Clam chowder, like many iconic recipes have many subtle variations depending to the region however, there are 4 distinct type of clam chowder.
- New England Clam Chowder: Perhaps the most famous chowda is New England Clam Chowder also known as Boston Clam Chowder. This is a rich and thick white clam chowder made with potatoes, celery, bacon and cream or milk.
- Manhattan Clam Chowder: This brothy red clam chowder is made with tomatoes as its base. It’s much thinner than other chowders with bright, light flavors. This red chowder features clams, potatoes, carrots and celery.
- Rhode Island Clam Chowder: This chowder is made with a light and clear broth that allows the taste of the fresh clams shine through boldly!
- Long Island Clam Chowder: This is a perfect blend of both New England Clam Chowder and Manhattan Clam Chowder. This chowder is pink because it’s made with tomatoes and cream.
Which Clam Chowder Is Best?
The best clam chowder is the one you like the most! Every area claims to have the absolute best chowder. If you ask me, they are all delicious in their own right. If you love rich and thick chowders, perhaps the famous Boston clam chowder is best for you. If you prefer light and bright with a little kick, then red Manhattan Clam chowder is for you.
Is Clam Chowder Healthy For You?
Although clam chowder is not a low calorie soup, clams are a great source of lean protein rich in minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Clams are high in iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin C.
Pro Tips For Authentic New England Clam Chowder
- After adding the Half and Half, don’t allow the soup to boil. Boiling could cause the soup to curdle.
- This tasty recipe for clam chowder can be served in a bread bowl.
- Although using canned clams for this recipe is easier and best, you can certainly use frozen or fresh clams if available.
- New England or Boston Clam Chowder recipes contain butter and cream or half and half. I suggest you embrace this and indulge. However, to cut some calories, you can add milk instead. The soup won’t be as luscious and creamy though. Another option is to remove some of the potatoes, mash them and add them back into the hot chowder. This will make the chowder somewhat creamy without having to use Half and Half.
- This soup will thicken as it sits. Add additional broth and/or Half and Half as needed.
- Bacon adds a lot of flavor to this tasty soup. If you are pescatarian, I suggest you add about 1/2 – 1 cup of finely chopped mushrooms into the mix (at the same time you add the onions). White button mushrooms are very mild in taste. For extra flavor use portobello, cremini or shitake mushrooms.
These are some of our favorite seafood recipes:
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Clam Chowder Recipe
- 4 slices bacon cut into medium dice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup white wine
- 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 8-oz bottles clam juice
- 1 10-oz can baby clams, drained and liquid reserved
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- Oyster crackers for serving (optional)
- Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1 tablespoon of the fat rendered in the pot.
- Melt the butter in the stockpot with the bacon fat. Add the garlic, onion and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become soft but not brown, about 5-6 minutes.
- Whisk in the flour and stir for about a minute trying to get rid of any lumps. Gradually, stir in the white wine and reduce for about 1 minute.
- Add the potatoes, the clam juice, the liquid from the canned clams and the broth. Add the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes become tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- When the potatoes are tender, stir in the half and half and the clams and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer (do not let the chowder come to a full boil) and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. If the chowder is too thick, add additional half and half until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately garnished with chopped parsley and the reserved bacon.
- Cooking time may need adjustment depending on the size of the potatoes.
- If using fresh clams, put the clams in a large Dutch oven, add 3 cups of water and cook, covered over medium-high heat until the clams have opened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Reserve the clam meat and strain the clam broth through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth. Reserve 2 cups of the clam cooking water. Substitute the clam juice with the clam cooking water in the recipe above.