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New England Clam Chowder

If you’re looking for the best New England clam chowder recipe there is, you’ve come to the right place!

Nothing beats a warm bowl of clam chowder to warm you up on a cold, rainy evening.

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New England clam chowder is a creamy soup loaded with briny clams, silky potatoes, and smoky bacon.

The broth is ultra-thick and flavored with heavy cream, to boot! It’s undoubtedly the ultimate comfort food.

Clam Chowder with Bread Crumbs

If you think clam chowder requires expert levels of cooking, think again!

This recipe is insanely easy and comes together in no time! Just 45 minutes and dinner is ready.

Eager for clam chowder? Let’s get started, then! 

New England Clam Chowder

This recipe for New England clam chowder could not be easier to make. It’s a simple, one-pot soup that’s ready in under an hour. 

But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean the flavor is basic. The combination of potatoes, bacon, and clams is absolutely to die for!

The creamy broth ties them all together, creating the perfect harmony of flavor and texture. 

Best of all, the soup counts as a stand-alone meal! Complete with carbs and protein, this soup is super hearty and satisfying.


  • Bacon — For that wonderful crisp and smoky contrast. Dice the bacon and cook them to a crisp.
  • Onion — Its flavor complements the clams and potatoes wonderfully well! 
  • Potatoes — For the creamiest chowder, stick to Yukon gold or red-skinned. Stay away from russet potatoes, as they’re not as creamy. 
  • Half-and-half — Aside from the potatoes, it’s also what makes the chowder super-rich and creamy. Milk or heavy cream works, too.
  • Butter — It adds richness to the chowder as well.
  • Flour — This is the element that makes your chowder incredibly thick! Two tablespoons will do, but you can add more if you want an extra thicker chowder.
  • Clams — You can use fresh or canned clams for this recipe. If using canned clams, opt for whole baby clams.

Tips for the Best Chowder

  • Yukon gold potatoes are the best for clam chowder. They’re a lot creamier than other potatoes, giving your chowder the best flavor and texture. Red-skinned potatoes come in second place.
  • If using fresh clams, do not add them until the final minutes of cooking. Clams get tough and rubbery when overcooked!
  • Thicken your chowder with a bit of flour. Just two tablespoons are all you’ll need to create that lovely consistency.
  • After adding the flour, stir the soup regularly for a smooth and creamy chowder. Otherwise, you’ll get a few lumps here and there.
  • Do not let the chowder come to a boil once you have added the half-and-half to prevent it from burning. Cook the soup on medium-low heat and stir constantly until you get the desired thickness.
  • Top your chowder with chopped cilantro for added flavor and a pop of color.
  • Clam chowder is already hearty on its own, but you can make your meal even more satisfying by pairing it with cornbread, biscuits, or bread. Dip them in the soup for the most delightful chowder experience!
  • If you find clam chowder too rich, you can contrast it with a side of roasted veggies or garden salad.

History of Clam Chowder

The actual origin of clam chowder is unclear, but it is believed to have been introduced to the country by French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers in the 1700s. 

The soup became so popular; it was featured in the beloved classic, Moby Dick.

It was described as a soup “made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazelnuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.”

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Its increasing popularity continued throughout the years. It was offered in Boston’s Ye Olde Union Oyster House by 1836.

It’s the oldest restaurant in Boston and is still in operation to this day!

Clam Chowder with Bread Crumbs and Bacon Bits

What Makes New England Clam Chowder Different From Manhattan Clam Chowder?

Clam chowder is a thick soup that showcases the wonderful flavor and texture combination of clams and potatoes.

It originated in the eastern United States and has several variations, all of which taste amazing. 

New England clam chowder, also called Boston clam chowder, is the earliest and most authentic clam chowder.

It’s white and creamy because of milk or cream and is packed with potato chunks, clams, pork, or bacon.

San Francisco clam chowder is almost exactly the same, except it is served in a bowl of sourdough bread.

Manhattan clam chowder, on the other hand, also has clams and potatoes, but its broth is clear and flavored with tomatoes.  

The Best Canned Clams for Chowder

Ideally, you’ll want to use freshly shucked clams for your chowder. Fresh is always best!

But if you can’t get a hold of them, canned clams are the next best thing. Specifically, whole baby clams.

But if that’s not available either, you can settle for chopped or minced clams. Just be sure to shorten the cooking time of the clams to avoid over-cooking them.

New England Clam Chowder



Prep time


Cooking time






  • 4 slices of bacon, diced

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 4 cups 4 peeled and cubed potatoes

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • Ground black pepper to taste

  • 3 cups 3 half-and-half

  • 3 tablespoons 3 butter

  • 2 tablespoons 2 flour

  • 2 (10-oz) cans whole baby clams, undrained


  • Place a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until almost crisp.
  • Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the water, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring water to a boil and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on.
  • Once the potatoes are fork-tender, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the half-and-half, butter, and flour. Stir constantly until the desired thickness is achieved. Dot not let it come to a boil to avoid burning the milk.
  • Add the canned clams (liquid included). Cook for 5 minutes or just until heated all the way through. Serve in bowls. Enjoy!
New England Clam Chowder

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Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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