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Clam Chowder Recipe

This New England Clam Chowder recipe has a creamy broth that’s loaded with delicious clams, savory bacon, simple seasonings, and perfectly cooked potatoes. You’ll think this came from a restaurant!

A soup pot filled with Clam Chowder with bacon and parsley on top.

Clam Chowder

I am a New England native, so it is my honor and privilege to present this incredible, restaurant-worthy clam chowder to you. If you’re new to this recipe, don’t worry. The process is simple. (I promise!)

I’ve outlined how to use fresh OR canned clams in this recipe, and I swear- the canned clam version is great. Using canned clams is not only super easy, but it allows you to put a plentiful amount of clams in the chowder without spending a ton of money.

It’s really easy to control the consistency of this chowder too, I know some people like their chowder to be super thick, and others, not so much. The longer this soup simmers, the thicker and more concentrated it will be. 

New England Clam Chowder vs. Manhattan Clam Chowder

  • New England Clam Chowder is white and creamy, (as shown in this post). Manhattan Clam Chowder has a tomato base with no cream.

How to Make It

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Cook bacon and set aside, reserve bacon drippings. Chop bacon once cooled.

Bacon in a soup pot before and after baking.

Add bacon drippings, butter, onions, and celery to the pot and soften for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings. Cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and half and half in small splashes, stirring continuously. 

Onions and celery in a soup pot with cream being added.

Add the chicken bouillon, clam juice, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer and reduce for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, 20-25 minutes.

Adding potatoes to a soup pot filled with clam chowder.

Add the clams and heat through for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Garnish with parsley, chopped bacon, and freshly cracked pepper. Serve!

Adding clams and bacon to a soup pot of clam chowder.

Using Fresh Clams

  • 1 heaping cup of chopped fresh clams can be used in this recipe along with 1.5 cups of clam juice.
  • Make sure the clams are cleaned and steamed prior to chopping. 

Pro Tips

  • Clams: I use Bar Harbor Chopped Clams and Clam Juice for this recipe.
  • Potatoes: I use Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe because I love their creamy consistency, but red potatoes are always a great candidate for soups and chowders because they hold up the best. Russet potatoes may also be used, but they’re also the starchiest, which makes them more prone to falling apart.
  • Bacon: Salt Pork can be used instead of bacon if preferred!
  • The longer this soup simmers, the thicker it gets, so you can control the consistency with that in mind. I always let it simmer, reduce, and concentrate for at least 20 minutes before I add the potatoes. Once you add the potatoes, you don’t have as much flexibility with cooking time, as you don’t want to overcook them.
  • The Hot Sauce is a flavor enhancer that you can’t taste outright and it won’t make the soup spicey. I use Frank’s Hot Sauce.
  • The Worcestershire Sauce adds umami and also can’t be tasted in this soup. Soy sauce can be used as a substitute if needed.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-5 days. The flour in this soup helps it maintain it’s original consistency a little bit better when reheated.
  • While you can freeze this soup, it likely won’t restore back to it’s exact consistency as dairy-based soups don’t reheat as well. (But that doesn’t stop me from freezing it.)
  • It’s best to let it thaw completely in the fridge before reheating it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  • Make sure you don’t overcook the potatoes if you plan on freezing it, as you don’t want them to be crumbly when reheated.

A white bowl filled with New England Clam Chowder with bacon and oyster crackers on top.

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • 4.5 Quart Dutch Oven– This is the one I use that’s pictured in this recipe.
  • Food Storage Containers– These are what I use to store leftovers!
  • Better Than Bouillon– This is what I always use for broth in my recipes. It takes very little space and makes it easy to measure out customized amounts of broth.
  • Silicone Spatula– To “clean” the pot throughout cooking, which incorporates flavor into the broth. It’s nice and gentle on the surface of your cookware. 
  • Measuring Spoons– I have these magnetic ones which stay nice and organized in my utensil drawer.
  • Pinch Bowls– For measuring seasonings, etc. ahead of time.
  • Soup Ladle

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A soup pot filled with creamy New England Clam Chowder with bacon and parsley on top.

Clam Chowder Recipe

5 from 5 ratings
This New England Clam Chowder recipe has a creamy broth that's loaded with delicious clams, savory bacon, simple seasonings, and perfectly cooked potatoes

Ingredients

  • 6 strips thick-cut bacon, can sub salt pork
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or ½ tsp tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cups Half and Half
  • 8 oz. clam juice
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ¼ lbs. potatoes, see notes
  • 3 (6.5 oz. cans) chopped clams, juices reserved
  • Fresh parsley & Freshly cracked pepper, for serving

Seasonings

  • ½ teaspoon EACH: dried oregano, dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon EACH: dried thyme, salt, pepper.
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

Instructions

Prep Work

  • Cook the bacon in a 4.5-quart soup pot slowly over low heat. (I cut my bacon in half, it’s easier to fit it in the pan and have it cook evenly.) While the bacon cooks, measure out remaining ingredients. Once the bacon is cooked, set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Chop once cooled and reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings.
  • Wipe any dark spots from the pot but leave as much bacon remnants as you can, as that will add flavor to the soup.

Make the Soup

  • Add reserved bacon drippings and butter to the pot over medium heat and use a silicone spatula to “clean” the bottom and sides of the pot. Add the diced onions and celery. Toss to coat and soften for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring continuously, until the raw flour smell is gone.
  • Add the chicken broth in small splashes, stirring continuously, and wiping the pan “clean” again as you do so. Add the half and half in the same manner.
  • Stir in the chicken bouillon- and add the bay leaf. Add the juice from the canned clams to the soup, but don’t add the clams yet. Stir in the additional clam juice.
  • Bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer, so that its just gently bubbling. Simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered. Stir occasionally as it cooks.
  • Peel and dice the potatoes and add them to the soup. Bring back to a very gentle bubble and let the potatoes cook through for 20-25 minutes, until fork tender. Reduce heat to low.
  • Stir in the clams and let them heat through, about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  • Ladle soup into serving bowls and garnish with roughly chopped parsley, freshly cracked pepper, and chopped bacon.

Notes

Pro Tips
  • Clams: I use Bar Harbor Chopped Clams and Clam Juice for this recipe.
  • Potatoes: I use Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe because I love their creamy consistency, but red potatoes are always a great candidate for soups and chowders because they hold up the best. Russet potatoes may also be used, but they're also the starchiest, which makes them more prone to falling apart.
  • Bacon: Salt Pork can be used instead of bacon if preferred!
  • The longer this soup simmers, the thicker it gets, so you can control the consistency with that in mind. I always let it simmer, reduce, and concentrate for at least 20 minutes before I add the potatoes. Once you add the potatoes, you don't have as much flexibility with cooking time, as you don't want to overcook them
  • Using Fresh Clams: 1 heaping cup of chopped fresh clams can be used in this recipe along with 1.5 cups of clam juice. Make sure the clams are cleaned and steamed prior to chopping. 
  • The Hot Sauce is a flavor enhancer that you can't taste outright and it won't make the soup spicey. I use Frank's Hot Sauce.
  • The Worcestershire Sauce adds umami and also can't be tasted in this soup. Soy sauce can be used as a substitute if needed.

Storage
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-5 days. 

The nutritional information provided is an estimate and is per cup. There are approximately 9 cups in this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 281kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 46mg, Sodium: 498mg, Potassium: 461mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 460IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 107mg, Iron: 1mg
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21 comments on “Clam Chowder Recipe”

  1. This was a fair amount of prep but SO worth it.  Delicious!!!

  2. Absolutely delicious! Better than any standard clam chowda in New England! The depth of flavor is amazing! 

  3. Can this be frozen?

    • Hi Angie! Here is the information about freezing that I have in the blog post:
      “While you can freeze this soup, it likely won’t restore back to it’s exact consistency as dairy-based soups don’t reheat as well. (But that doesn’t stop me from freezing it.)
      It’s best to let it thaw completely in the fridge before reheating it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
      Make sure you don’t overcook the potatoes if you plan on freezing it, as you don’t want them to be crumbly when reheated.”

  4. I’m making this tonight & a little confused, I bought 3 6.5 ounce cans of chopped clams.. So I use the juice in these cans PLUS the 8oz bottle of clam juice as well? Or because it’s canned I just use the juice from the cans? The below comment regarding this confused me and the recipe doesn’t call for Juice outright, just cans.. thank you!!

  5. Made this tonight, first time making clam chowder. Was super yummy. And I was happy that I could pretend I can cook. I used red potatoes, canned clams and I started hesitating on how much clam juice I was supposed to use because it seemed like a lot (a whole bottle + juice from cans) but then it turned out great. I also used half heavy cream + half water because I didn’t have half and half and wasn’t sure how that was gonna go, but turned out fine. ++ would make again, saved this for next time.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. As a New Englander I expected better than this Im so sorry. There is no bacon flour or chicken boullion or worcestershire sauce in clam chowder.
    Clam chowder is simply all about the clam and the brineyness of the sea. Salt pork is what is used Bacon brings a smokey flavor and hides the flavor of the clam. Flour makes wall paper paste. The starch from the potato is enough to thicken slightly and thats all thats needed. True clam chowder is very simple.

    • Hi Lynne, this recipe indicates that you can use salt pork instead of bacon, if you used smokey bacon, I can’t take credit/responsibility for that one. Reserving the drippings of either to make a roux is absolutely a standard practice and starts the soup off with an appropriate base that’s needed to thicken the soup. Potatoes alone will not thicken the soup nearly enough unless they are pureed in or mashed. Bouillon adds a unique depth of flavor and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce is something I use as a flavor enhancer in almost all of my recipes, as it adds umami. Nothing here is against the standards of what you would find in New England. I’m not sure when you visited here last, as I see you’re writing from Florida, but I’m sorry to say that your critiques are off base.

    • I have not made this recipe yet, planning for this weekend 12/3 for group of my girlfriends (total of 7). Can this recipe be doubled? These girls have hearty appetites and I want to be sure that I have plenty to allow for seconds. Hope to hear back quickly 🤗

      • Hi Mauri! You can absolutely double it, just note that a some extra simmering time will likely be required to thicken, condense, and concentrate it since there is twice as much liquid that’ll need to evaporate 🙂 ENJOY!!

  7. This recipe was delicious. I never thought I would ever try to make clam chowder at home but your directions made it look achievable!!! I had clam chowder like this when I was visiting Martha’s Vineyard a few years ago and let me tell you, this is equally if not more tasty than their version. The bacon really adds a lot of flavor. I will be making this in rotation with your other soups all winter. You are the queen of soup recipes for sure!!! Thank. you.

  8. I can’t have regular flour of any kind, but I can however have flour made from nuts like almond flour. Will that still work for this recipe?

  9. This clam chowder is the best I’ve ever had! Recipe was simple to follow. It is so smooth and creamy. The potato and clam ratio is perfection.  My son who would never eat clam chowder, ever, had 2 big bowls!  In the notes, she left information about storing in fridge and freezer but in this house there are no leftovers! WOW!!

    • I am soooo happy to hear that you loved this recipe Pam, that means a LOT TO ME! I have been meaning to post this recipe on my site for years, so I was really excited to do it this week and you made me extra happy that I did!! Your support is SO appreciated! Thank you!!! -Stephanie (PS- I’m psyched that your son loved it too!!!)

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