Homemade clam chowder is an easy hearty soup that warms you up on a cold day, but it’s also so light and satisfying. This creamy clam chowder recipe is loaded with tender clams, silky potatoes, and crunchy bacon.

It’s so fun to recreate restaurant-quality dishes at home like our Zuppa Toscana Recipe, hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup, and our wildly popular Chicken Tortilla Soup. If you’re a fan of hearty cozy soups that reheat well, you might just be adding this to your regular rotation. It’s that good.

Homemade clam chowder recipe in a bowl

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The Best Clam Chowder Recipe

Creamy soups are such a treat. I fell in love with them on our honeymoon in Mexico over 20 years ago where we enjoyed 5-star dining for the first time in our lives. Now we have all kinds of creamy soups from Creamy Carrot Soup to roasted Butternut Squash Soup. Nearly every bite of this New England-style Clam Chowder has clams in it which is awesome because what you get at seafood restaurants is very little clams and veggies but just a ton of cream. I find that our homemade clam chowder recipe is so much more enjoyable than dining out and it’s much easier to make than you think.

Clam Chowder Video

Watch the video tutorial to see how easy it is to make Creamy New England-style clam Chowder. Note that since filming this video, I’ve updated this recipe to increase the clams and also found that adding clams at the end ensures they are more tender. You’ll see these changes reflected in the recipe card below.

Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Ready in under an hour – a great weeknight meal, but fancy enough for company
  • Tastes indulgent (but isn’t)– with only 1 cup of cream for the whole pot, it’s not as guilty as most clam chowder recipes, but it sure tastes like it is (WINNING!)
  • Fresh or canned clams – we include tips for using fresh clams, but we always use canned clams for our clam chowder. It’s much easier, less expensive, and tastes just as delicious.
  • Forgiving and foolproof – This soup has rustic roots, so it is not overcomplicated and can be modified easily to use what you have in the pantry
  • Crowd-pleaser – my kids love this chowder, and it’s always a hit whenever we serve it to friends and family
  • Make Ahead – The soup keeps well in the fridge, so you can make it now and reheat when ready to eat
Pot of clam chowder with ladle

Ingredients for Homemade Clam Chowder

This may seem like a lot of ingredients, but odds are you can make the best clam chowder recipe from what’s tucked away in your pantry then you can just add some canned clams to your grocery list.

  • Bacon – chopped. Traditional New England clam chowder uses salt pork to make the base of the soup (the roux), but bacon is easier to find and just as delicious!
  • Carrots, celery, and onions – sliced thin, this combination of veggies used at the base of many soups is called mirepoix. You can mince it thinly if you don’t prefer a flavor and it will disappear into the soup while adding tons of flavor.
  • Flour – all-purpose, used to thicken the soup—for gluten-free, substitute GF flour
  • Chicken broth – low sodium is best to control the amount of salt, can substitute chicken stock or use vegetable stock.
  • Clams – 3 cans of clams – drain the clams, but keep the juice. If using fresh, see our tips below.
  • Worcestershire sauce – adds great depth of flavor, you can substitute for soy sauce if needed, for gluten-free, check that your brand doesn’t contain gluten
  • Tabasco sauce – adds a great kick, but can be omitted
  • Bay Leaf, Thyme, and Salt and Pepper – Flavors the broth and add salt to taste since the sodium will change depending on your clams
  • Potatoes – peeled and chopped, Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes hold up great to cooking, any waxy potato will work, or use russet potatoes for a softer texture
  • Milk – you can use any kind, or substitute with Half and Half
  • Whipping cream – also called heavy whipping cream, this makes the base of the soup creamy. You don’t want to skip this ingredient!
  • Cilantro – optional for garnish, but —try it! It’s brilliant—an idea I picked up from my favorite restaurant clam chowder.
Ingredients for fish stew including bacon, celery, carrots, clams, onion, salt, pepper, flour, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco, potatoes, milk and whipping cream

Substitutions

New England Clam chowder has rustic roots as a variation of fish stew, so it’s very forgiving depending on what you have on hand. Here are a few tips:

  • For Gluten-Free – Substitute the flour with your favorite GF option, or replace it with a slurry of 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water stirred into the soup when adding the clams. Also, be sure the brand of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce are gluten-free.
  • Seasonings – replace thyme with dill, fresh parsley, or Old Bay seasoning, or add minced garlic to the veggies before sautéing 
  • Potato – try using cauliflower, turnips, or parsnips
  • Add Veggies – try adding chopped red peppers with the veggies, or add some frozen corn at the end

Pro Tip:

To use fresh clams, buy about 7 lbs of Quahog (littleneck or cherrystone) clams to get 1.5 generous cups for this recipe, and use about 8 oz of clam juice (to replace the juice from the can).

Clean the clams well, and then steam them until they just open up. Remove the meat and chop finely so they don’t become rubbery. Here’s a tutorial on how to Steam fresh clams.

How to Make Clam Chowder

It’s quick and easy to make New England Clam Chowder following these few simple steps.

  • Brown the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven until browned and crisp. Then transfer to a power towel-lined plate.
  • Sauté the vegetables (carrots, onion, and celery) in the same pot with the bacon drippings. Stir occasionally until soft and golden, and then sprinkle with flour. Sauté another minute while stirring constantly until you can’t smell the raw flour.
  • Add the chicken broth, clam juice, 1 bay leaf, Worcestershire, Tabasco sauce, thyme, 1 tsp salt, and pepper. Bring to a light boil.
  • Add the chopped potatoes to the pot, and then stir in the milk and whipping cream. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the chopped clams, and return the pot to a light boil. Then remove from the heat so the clams don’t get overcooked and tough. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with the cilantro if desired, and cooked bacon.
clam chowder made in a dutch oven

Pro Tip:

The soup with thicken as it cools. If needed, you can thin it out by adding more milk or chicken broth and bringing it to a boil once more.

Common Questions

What is Clam Chowder?

This filling stew is a staple American soup made with clams. There are three different types of clam chowder, named after the region where they were popularized.

What is the difference between New England Clam Chowder vs Manhattan Clam Chowder? And what is Rhode Island Clam Chowder?

It all comes down to the soup base or broth. New England Clam Chowder contains cream for a white, cream-based broth. Manhattan Clam Chowder has a tomato base, giving the broth a red color. The lesser-known Rhode Island Clam Chowder has a clear broth without tomato or cream.

What is the best thickener for clam chowder?

We find that using flour to make a roux makes the perfect thickness for clam chowder, but you can also use a slurry of cornstarch and water/broth added along with the clams in the last step.

Hearty soup recipe with bacon potatoes and clams

What to Serve with Clam Chowder?

This soup is hearty enough to serve as a full meal, but pairs well with these sides:

Make-Ahead

Clam Chowder keeps nicely in the refrigerator but changes texture when frozen due to the potatoes, flour, and heavy cream. It’s still safe to freeze and reheat as long as you’re ok with a slightly different texture and look.

  • To Refrigerate: once cool, store in an airtight container for 3-5 days
  • Freezing: separate single portions into zip-top bags and freeze for up to three months
  • To Reheat: heat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through. Add a dash more milk if it gets too thick
Clam chowder recipe in a bowl garnished with bacon and cilantro

Homemade clam chowder is creamy, hearty and so satisfying. Our recipe is full of clams in every bite and topped with crunchy bacon. Don’t wait to try this recipe during soup season and all year long.

More Classic Soup Recipes

If you love this Clam Chowder Recipe, then you won’t want to miss these other classic soup recipes.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Clam Chowder Recipe (VIDEO)

4.97 from 217 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Clam chowder in bowl
Homemade clam chowder is easy and a real treat. It's creamy, but light and so satisfying. This creamy clam chowder recipe is loaded with tender clams, silky potatoes, and crunchy bacon.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients 

Servings: 8 people (1 cup servings)
  • 6 slices lean bacon, cut into 1/2" strips
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into thin rings or half rings
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour, or GF flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, or stock
  • 1 1/2 cups canned chopped clams, drained with juices reserved, from 3 (6.5 oz) cans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 lbs 6 medium potatoes (Yukon gold or russet), peeled
  • 2 cups milk, any kind
  • 1 cup whipping cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, optional for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over med/high heat and add the chopped bacon. Sauté, stirring occasionally until browned and crisp then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Keep 3 Tbsp of bacon grease in the pot (discard excess if desired).
  • Add prepared carrots, onion, and celery and continue cooking over med/high heat, stirring occasionally until soft and golden (7-8 min). Sprinkle in 4 Tbsp flour, and saute another minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add 2 cups chicken broth, reserved clam juice, 1 bay leaf, 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire, 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Bring soup to a light boil.
  • While the soup is heating up, chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces about 1/4" thick. Add potatoes to pot then stir in 2 cups milk and 1 cup whipping cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and lightly boil until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork (about 20 min).
  • When potatoes are tender, add chopped clams, return to a light boil, and remove from heat. Don't overcook clams or they will get tough*. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, garnish with cooked bacon and fresh cilantro if desired.

Notes

  1. The soup will thicken more as it cools. If needed, you can thin it out by adding more milk or chicken broth and bringing it to a boil once more.
  2. Add the clams at the end and be sure you just bring to a boil then remove the soup from the heat. Overcooking the clams will make them chewy and rubbery.
  3. Don’t skip the bacon. That little bit of bacon adds so much flavor, both in the soup and as a topping, and makes every bite completely irresistible.
  4. To Make this Gluten-free, make sure the Tabasco and Worcestershire are FG, then replace the flour with GF flour or create a cornstarch slurry with 2 Tbsp cornstarch and 1/4 cup broth. Add slurry with the clams.
  5. To use fresh clams, you’ll need 7 pounds of clams. Be sure to clean them very well and steam them until they open. Then chop the meat. See more tips in the post above.
  6. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Freezing is not recommended, because the texture changes when frozen.

Nutrition Per Serving

236kcal Calories26g Carbs8g Protein12g Fat7g Saturated Fat1g Polyunsaturated Fat3g Monounsaturated Fat0.001g Trans Fat38mg Cholesterol549mg Sodium643mg Potassium3g Fiber6g Sugar3171IU Vitamin A20mg Vitamin C125mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Clam Chowder Recipe (VIDEO)
Amount per Serving
Calories
236
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
7
g
44
%
Trans Fat
 
0.001
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Cholesterol
 
38
mg
13
%
Sodium
 
549
mg
24
%
Potassium
 
643
mg
18
%
Carbohydrates
 
26
g
9
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
6
g
7
%
Protein
 
8
g
16
%
Vitamin A
 
3171
IU
63
%
Vitamin C
 
20
mg
24
%
Calcium
 
125
mg
13
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Clam Chowder Recipe
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 236

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Sandy
    April 17, 2024

    Love all your recepies. Made this soup for our quilting group and there was not a drop left to bring home. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 17, 2024

      I’m so glad this soup was a hit, Sandy!

      Reply

  • Joan Stanley
    April 1, 2024

    Natasha, This is the most delicious New England clam chowder recipe I’ve ever had! I couldn’t stop eating it but had to because it was very filling. I added about 1.5 Tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning at the end and a few drops more of Tabasco in my bowl! WOW! Thank you!❤️

    Reply

  • Mike Cotner
    March 25, 2024

    Delicious, I added shrimp and crab to make it a seafood chowder. Definitely, will make again.

    Reply

  • Alexis Martinez
    March 15, 2024

    This came out great even without the bacon! Loved it for Fridays for lent!

    Reply

  • Cindy Berry
    March 7, 2024

    This was soooo good! Another winning recipe! It does make a lot, so with just my husband and me at home now, I’ll try halving the recipe next time, which will probably be next week! Thanks Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 7, 2024

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Cindy!

      Reply

  • Anngie Stevens
    March 7, 2024

    Made this last night minus the cilantro and it was fantastic!!! I’ve always loved eating clam chowder at restaurants and never imagined I could make it as good at home. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 7, 2024

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us, Anngie!

      Reply

  • Lynn
    March 3, 2024

    Just finished my NE clam chowder! Outstanding never thought to add thyme or Worcestershire sauce! Thank you lady

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 3, 2024

      You’re very welcome, Lynn! So glad you loved the recipe.

      Reply

  • rod
    February 13, 2024

    Pro Tip
    The soup with thicken as it cools. If needed, you can thin it out by adding more milk or chicken broth and bringing it to a boil once more.

    Reply

  • Diane
    February 12, 2024

    Hi! Very excited to try this recipe but have a question…i’m using fresh clams that i have frozen in the freezer. Do you recommend me just buying clam juice to add? If so, how much clam juice should i add?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 12, 2024

      Hi Diane! Yes, see my “pro-tip” notes for details. I provided instructions for using fresh clams. I hope you love the recipe!

      Reply

  • Kate Preston
    February 8, 2024

    Made as directed – likely added a bit more veg than called for and I didn’t have any Worcestershire or Tabasco on hand but I didn’t notice the difference. I added all the bacon to the soup at the end. As usual, Natasha did not disappoint. Very simple and delicious, will definitely make again! Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 8, 2024

      Hi Kate, nice to hear from you and thank you for sharing your feedback! I’m so glad you loved it so much!

      Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 8, 2024

      Simple but delicious recipes are our favorite. I’m so happy you loved this Clam Chowder, Kate! Thank you for your wonderful review.

      Reply

  • Margaret Mcgill
    January 23, 2024

    Made this last night just as writen….it was wonderful! As always easy to follow recipe and results are consistently great! As you noted the fresh cilantro was a fresh touch…..but not over powering.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 23, 2024

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed our Clam Chowder Recipe! Thank you so much for sharing.

      Reply

  • Colleen
    January 21, 2024

    My husband loves this chowder, but recently was told he needs to follow a low sodium, low potassium, low phosphorus diet. Are there adjustments we can make to the recipe to suit this new diet. For one, I think we’ll use fresh instead of canned clams. Thank you!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 22, 2024

      Hi Colleen! I’m sorry, I don’t have any recommendations for that. We use low-sodium broth in this, I suppose you could use unsalted broth but you will need to experiment with the spices and salt to your preference.

      Reply

  • Richard Ermolovich
    January 20, 2024

    Made it last night, sans the bacon(lazy). We loved it. Easy to make. Had most of the ingredients on hand.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 20, 2024

      Hi Richard! I’m so glad you loved it.

      Reply

  • Gail
    January 15, 2024

    I made this last night and OMG it is GREAT. i used minced clams and once the chowder was done, I added them in. The only regret I have was not to have cilantro. I will next time. This is the only clam chowder recipe I need. This is going into our favorite. recipe file.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 15, 2024

      That’s so great to hear, Gail! Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you found your new go-to recipe!

      Reply

  • April
    January 13, 2024

    I cannot RAVE enough about this soup! It is so rich and elegant tasting it tastes like it should have taken hours to prepare! But the directions are so easy! DH helped make it this freezing cold weekend and did not like that it called for Worcestershire sauce – but you couldn’t even taste it in the end, it just blended beautifully! I did end up adding 2 more cups of broth just because I added more veggies than called for instead of doubling the recipe, amd then added (per readers suggestion) 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning to season the extra broth but this was just a preference- the soup would still have been good without. And I did add the clams the last 5 minutes before serving. I know this isn’t in the cookbook but it should have been – this is why we follow Natasha!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 13, 2024

      Hi April! Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe!

      Reply

  • Emily
    January 13, 2024

    Totally Delicious! I garnished with bacon and a sprinkle of old bay seasoning 🥣

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 13, 2024

      So glad you loved it!

      Reply

  • Doctor Grandma Jeannie
    January 13, 2024

    Looking forward to trying this! I copied the recipe using “Cook’n Recipe Capture Plug-in”. FYI, the recipe that was downloaded only used 1 cup of clams from two cans… Looks like something didn’t get changed when you increased the clams!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      January 15, 2024

      That plug-in is using my recipe without permission. I can’t control what they do. I highly recommend getting recipes on my site and not a link gathering pluggin or app like that. They steal peoples recipes and profit off of others without permission.

      Reply

  • Sha
    January 10, 2024

    This clam chowder recipe is one of the best! It’s super rich, creamy and hearty. Even the picky love it!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 10, 2024

      Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that.

      Reply

  • Jill
    January 9, 2024

    I’m planning on making this and wondering if the Tabasco sauce is really necessary? Think it would be ok without it? What exactly does it do for this recipe? Thanks in advance Natasha!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 9, 2024

      Hi Jill! Yes, it’s optional and can be left out if you prefer. I hope you love the recipe!

      Reply

  • Jessica
    January 9, 2024

    Yep, I LOVE this soup. I figured I would when I saw the photos and ingredients but couldn’t wait to try it — it was delish!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 9, 2024

      Hi Jessica! That’s great news. Thank you for trying the recipe and for taking the time to leave feedback. I appreciate you.

      Reply

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