Dive into a bowl of perfect comfort with this rich & creamy New England Clam Chowder recipe! The wonderful creamy broth is filled with tender clams, soft potatoes, and savory bacon. This recipe is a keeper that is sure to become a family favorite!
If you're anything like us, we eat soup year-round and chowder is always a win! Some of our other favorite chowder dishes are this super simple Corn Chowder, this satisfying Fish Chowder, and the indulgent Smoked Salmon Chowder.
It's Massachusetts Week here on House of Nash Eats! I have an ongoing series that I call American Eats where I am making some of the most famous foods from each state, and naturally I had to include this Boston-style clam chowder! Or "chowdah", as the locals would say. When Paul and I visited Harvard for a law conference back during law school, we made sure to enjoy more than one bowl of the deliciously creamy stuff!
Boston has a long history with this delicious chowder and Union Oyster House has been serving it since 1826! Legal Sea Foods and James Hook & Co. are a couple other popular places to get clam chowder, if you happen to be visiting Beantown and want to try it there.
Of course soups are delicious in the winter months, but a good clam chowder can be a win any time of the year. This iconic soup is the perfect hearty, comfort food that will you will want to add to your book of favorite recipes.
Although Massachusetts is known for its fresh clams, there is no need to live near the coast and dig out your own clams for this chowder. You'll be amazed at what you can still throw together with ingredients straight from the grocery store. A little clam juice and canned clams can be turned into a fantastic soup that is even better than the kind you get at a restaurant.
- Bacon: Any kind of bacon you have will work great, although we tend to be partial to thick cut bacon. It adds wonderful flavor and texture to a bowl of chowder.
- Butter: I like to use salted butter for this recipe.
- Onion and Celery: Some diced onions and chopped celery create a flavorful base and depth for the chowder.
- Garlic: I like to use fresh whole garlic cloves and mince them by hand or with a garlic press, but you can also use pre-minced garlic.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is used judiciously to help thicken your chowder just enough without making it overly thick.
- Chicken Stock and Clam Juice: Many clam chowder recipes only use chicken stock with the clam juice from the small cans of clams. But we like our clam chowder with even more of the flavor of the ocean which you can get with the additional clam juice that comes bottled and can be found on the same aisle as the canned clams, usually just above them.
- Clams: Look for wild caught canned clams. Be sure to keep the juices they are packed in to help create the broth.
- Potatoes: Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes will work for clam chowder, just keep in mind that russets will break down a bit more than the waxier yukon gold variety. You will want to peel the russets before dicing, although the thin skins of the yukon golds don't need to be peeled first.
- Seasoning: I use a variety of simple, pantry staple seasonings in my recipe. All you need is a bay leaf, dried thyme, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley to season this chowder.
- Milk and Heavy Cream: To help give you that nice creaminess in your chowder.
How to Make New England Clam Chowder
- Cook the bacon. In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain most of the grease so only about 2 tablespoons remain. I like to chop the bacon first so all I can just stir it around to cook it rather than flipping individual pieces one-by-one.
- Cook celery and onion. Add a little butter to the pot with the reserved bacon grease. When the butter has melted, add the onion and celery and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until the onions have softened, then add the garlic for the last 30 seconds so they don't burn.
- Add the flour. Sprinkle the flour over the cooked onions and celery and cook, stirring frequently until absorbed and the raw taste of the flour is cooked out.
- Add the liquid and season. Stir in the chicken stock, clam juice from both the bottle of clam juice and the clams with their additional juice, along with the bay leaf and dried thyme.
- Add the chopped potatoes. Then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender enough to be pierced with a fork.
- Add the cream and half of the reserved bacon. Stir to combine. Cook another 2-3 minutes until heated all the way through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Serve and enjoy! Serve with the cooked bacon and freshly chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.
Clam Chowder FAQ
If you'd like your chowder even thicker, try adding a couple additional tablespoons of flour before adding the cooking liquid. Or if you have already made the recipe and feel like isn't thick enough for your tastes, you can stir equal parts cornstarch with cold water (I would start with 1-2 tablespoons of each) and mix well. Stir the slurry into your chowder at a simmer and it will thicken up a bit more.
This recipe can be made 2 days in advance and kept in the fridge, then reheated when ready to serve. It will thicken more as it cools, so you might want to add a little extra milk, broth, or even just water to thin it back out to the consistency you like best.
If you happen to have fish stock, it can be used in place of the chicken stock and clam juice, which I have found is an easy alternative to fish stock that I have much better access to all the time.
More delicious soup recipes
- Cioppino Seafood Stew
- Shrimp Étouffée
- Chicken Noodle and Dumpling Soup
- Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage
- Cheeseburger Soup with Bacon
- Chicken, White Bean, & Kale Soup
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
- 6 slices bacon diced
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion diced
- 2 celery ribs diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 8 ounces clam juice
- 13 ounces chopped clams, juices reserved 2 cans
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 pounds russet potatoes peeled and diced (about 6 medium)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- In a large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy, the remove with a slotted spoon and drain most of the grease so only about 2 tablespoons remain.
- Add butter to the pot. When the butter has melted, add the onion and celery and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until onions have softened, then add the garlic for the last 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle the flour over the cooked onions and celery and cook, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes until absorbed and the raw taste of the flour is cooked out.
- Stir in the chicken stock, clam juice from both the bottle of clam juice and the clams with their additional juice, along with the bay leaf and dried thyme.
- Add the chopped potatoes, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender enough to be pierced with a fork.
- Add the milk, cream and half of the reserved bacon and stir to combine. Cook another 2-3 minutes until heated all the way through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Serve with the remaining cooked bacon and freshly chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.
- Make ahead: This recipe can be made 2 days in advance and kept in the fridge, then reheated when ready to serve.
- Fish stock: If you happen to have fish stock, it can be used in place of the chicken stock and clam juice, which I have found is an easy alternative that I have much better access to all the time.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • New Jersey • New York • Oregon • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • South Dakota • Texas • Utah • Wisconsin
Reader questions and reviews
Add the milk at the same time as the cream?
Yum. Wonderful soup. We devoured it!
Awesome soup, my son even ate it!!! Def I’m my recipe book.
Glad it was a hit!
I made this twice only I did different is use fresh clam and juice from them . It was amazing