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New England Clam Chowder Recipe

On the hunt for the best New England clam chowder recipe? You’ve come to the right place!

It’s a creamy soup loaded with briny clams, silky potatoes, and smoky bacon.

The broth is ultra-thick and flavored with heavy cream! And I know you’ll love it.

Clam Chowder with Bread Crumbs
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New England Clam Chowder vs. Manhattan Clam Chowder

This recipe could not be easier to make. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean the flavor is basic.

New England clam chowder is a simple, one-pot soup that’s ready in under an hour. 

The combination of potatoes, bacon, and clams is absolutely to die for! And the creamy broth ties them all together, creating the perfect harmony of flavor and texture. 

But what about Manhattan clam chowder? And how is it different from New England chowder?

  • New England clam chowder. This chowder is the OG. It came to New England by way of French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers in the 1700s. It’s creamy with a briny pop from oysters.
  • Manhattan Clam Chowder. Manhattan clam chowder incorporates similar ingredients like clams and potatoes, but the soup base is radically different. Instead of a creamy soup base, it infuses a light, brothy tomato base and lots of herbs. 

Both are delicious, and both are worth making at home if you can. But today, we’re going with the creamy version.

Eager for clam chowder? Let’s get started! 

Bowl of creamy clam chowder with chopped parsley.

Ingredients

Here’s everything you need to make an authentic New England clam chowder at home.

I’ll get into more precise measurements in the full recipe below. But for now, here’s your shopping list!

  • 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. Adding potatoes to this soup adds a rich heartiness to ensure no one goes to bed hungry. 
  • Half-and-half.  Aside from the potatoes, it also 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 thicker chowder.
  • Clams. Behold: the star of the show! Clams (juice included) add such a wonderful briny pop of flavor to this soup. 

The Best Canned Clams for Chowder

Since clams are the star, here’s a quick guide on the best clams for this recipe.

  • Fresh. As the saying goes, “fresh is best”. But for all my land-locked friends out there, I know this isn’t always an option. 
  • Canned. When shopping for canned clams, look for whole baby clams. They work best in this recipe. And if you can’t find them, chopped or minced clams are the next best thing. Keep in mind that minced or chopped clams will reduce the cooking time. 
New England clam chowder with toasted croutons on top.

How to Make New England Clam Chowder

This New England clam chowder is one of those soups that only requires one big pot. 

Check out how easy this recipe comes together. Don’t worry, I’ll get into more details at the bottom of the page!

1. Cook the bacon and onion. In a large stockpot, crisp the bacon over medium-high heat. Then, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. 

2. Make the soup base. Add the flour and some broth to make a quick roux. Then add the rest of the broth, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, place a lid on top, and cook for 15 minutes. When the potatoes are fork-tender, reduce the heat to medium-low. 

3. Add creamy ingredients. Pour half-and-half, butter, and flour into the pot. Stir constantly until the soup thickens. Make sure the soup doesn’t come to a boil to avoid burning the milk. 

4. Time for clams. Add the clams with the liquid into the pot and cook for 5 more minutes. Ladle into bowls, serve, and enjoy!

New England clam chowder in a bowl topped with bacon strips.

Tips for the Best Chowder

This recipe is pretty hard to mess up. And if you follow these quick tips below, your chowder is sure to be a big hit at dinnertime!

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  • Always add clams last. Clams are delicate and don’t need as much time in the pot. So, always add them last. Cook whole clams for 5 minutes and chopped clams for 2-3 minutes.
  • Pick the right potato. 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.
  • Always stir your flour! When adding flour, make sure you keep stirring. If you don’t, it will become lumpy. To make it easier, add flour and a half cup of broth into a separate bowl to make a slurry. Then, add it to the soup. 
  • Never let the cream boil. Once you add the cream, the boiling portion of the recipe is over. Keep the heat low, and if you notice the pot is starting to boil, remove it from the heat immediately. 
  • Garnish with fresh herbs. Did you notice there are no spices in this recipe? It really doesn’t need them, it’s that good! But if you want a pop of color, try garnishing with fresh cilantro or parsley. 

What to Serve with Clam Chowder

Clam chowder isn’t an overly potent soup, so the possibilities are limitless.

If you want some stellar ideas on what to serve with this classic soup, I have a few ideas!

  • Crusty bread. A simple French baguette or sourdough loaf is a great option. Bread is perfect for dipping!
  • Grilled cheese sandwich. Is there any soup that grilled cheese doesn’t go with?
  • More seafood. Want to make it a seafood night? Try serving clam chowder alongside grilled shrimp, scallops, or your favorite fish fillet. 
  • Coleslaw. The bright acidity and crunchy texture of coleslaw is a wonderful side dish for this classic soup. 
Clam Chowder with Bread Crumbs and Bacon Bits

How to Store

What I love most about making a big pot of soup is that there are always leftovers for lunch! Here are a few quick suggestions on how to store and reheat those tasty leftovers. 

To Store. Allow the soup to reach room temperature, and place it in an air-tight container. It will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days

To Reheat. When it’s time to reheat leftovers, gently warm them under low heat on the stove until warmed through. 

To Freeze. Sadly, clam chowder doesn’t freeze very well. But that’s okay because making a fresh batch on a busy weeknight is so fast and easy. 

More Creamy Soups You’ll Love

Best Creamy Chicken Rice Soup Recipe
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Crockpot White Chicken Chili
Copycat O’Charley’s Loaded Potato Soup
Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

New England Clam Chowder

Course: Soups, SidesCuisine: American
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Calories

372

kcal

It’s rich, creamy, and hearty with a gentle kiss of briny clams. This New England clam chowder recipe is sure to warm your bones this winter!

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, diced

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • ground black pepper to taste

  • 3 cups half-and-half

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons flour

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

Instructions

  • Place a large stockpot on the stove and add the bacon while it’s still cold. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook until the bacon is almost crisp.
  • Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Add the butter and stir well. When the butter is melted, sprinkle the flour into the pot and mix into a paste. Pour in a splash of chicken broth and stir until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the broth and the potatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on.
  • When the potatoes are fork-tender, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the half-and-half, and stir constantly until the desired thickness is achieved. Do not let it come to a boil to avoid burning the milk.
  • Add the canned clams (liquid included) and cook for 5 minutes or until heated all the way through.
  • Serve in bowls with crust bread, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Cook whole clams for 5 minutes and chopped clams for 2-3 minutes.
  • After adding the cream, do not let the soup boil.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 372kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 39g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Fat: 19g
  • Saturated Fat: 11g
  • Cholesterol: 68mg
  • Sodium: 829mg
  • Potassium: 1062mg
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Calcium: 144mg
  • Iron: 7mg
New England Clam Chowder

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INSANELYGOOD

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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