Best Clam Chowder

Any time of year, this delicious, creamy soup, Best Clam Chowder, is the perfect dish to serve for a lighter holiday meal.

Best Clam Chowder on Reluctant Entertainer. com

Merry Christmas Eve, Friends! I love the magic of today—the eve of the most wonderful day of the year! Hopefully your menus are planned, shopping is done, and you’re not working too hard with frantic last-minute details.

It’s easy to get snippy and short with one another with fractured spirits, when we’re doing too much! I’ve learned to slow down, realize it’s not a race (well, sort of it is), and to have everything crossed off my list by the Eve.

Part of my easy planning is to make a big pot of soup that everyone loves!

Best Clam Chowder

Best Clam Chowder.

Clam Chowder is so easy to make, I always wonder why I don’t make it more often. It’s comforting, filling, and delicious if you serve it with a shrimp salad and sourdough bread.

The perfect Christmas Eve meal.

Clam Chowder |

Relax and remember.

So from our family to yours, remember to slow down, relax, and be present in the moment!

Don’t over complicate. If you’re planning one big meal on Christmas Day or Eve, keep the other one simple! You don’t need to be a slave to your kitchen!

Get off social media. Hopefully once you’ve figured out your menu this week, you’re off Pinterest and Facebook and enjoying your family. Don’t be looking at what others are doing — look inside (your own windows) and don’t miss out on the beauty happening before your very eyes! Every day is a gift and we can’t take our days for granted.

Relish in the joys. Christmas is a time of giving, tradition, cheer, and relaxation. We’re hosting my Dad and his wife for prime rib on Christmas Day, but plan to relax, watch movies, slowly open gifts, go on a walk.

I have one small wish … a wish I always have on Christmas Day. It rarely happens in southern Oregon, but that wish is that we’d wake up to a blanket of snow.

Best Clam Chowder

In the meantime, my cup runneth over with the true meaning of this beautiful season, with gratitude, thanksgiving, and renewal.

And this delicious comforting Best Clam Chowder!

What do you plan to serve on Christmas Eve or Day this year?

Best Clam Chowder

Yield: 5-6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

This delicious, creamy Best Clam Chowder is the perfect soup to serve for a lighter holiday meal.


  • 8-10 bacon strips, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 celery pieces, chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free half-and-half, divided
  • 3 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) of whole clams, undrained, chop into chunky pieces
  • Bay leaf
  • Chopped fresh chives or green onions, for garnish


1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside. Add butter to the drippings; saute celery, leek, and onion until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the potatoes, broth, clam juice, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 cup half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into the soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.

3. Stir in clams and remaining half-and-half; heat through (do not boil); turn down to low heat; add the bay leaf. Add 4 strips of bacon (crumbled).

4. Crumble the reserved 2 strips of bacon. Garnish chowder with crumbled bacon and fresh chopped chives.

This delicious, creamy Best Clam Chowder is the perfect soup to serve for a lighter holiday meal.

More Clam Chowder recipes:

Manhattan Clam Chowder (Simply Recipes)

Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder (Baked by Rachel)

Smoked Salmon Chowder (Pinch of Yum)


  1. our CE meal is always clam chowder served in bread bowls…I’ve been making it for over 20 years and my youngest who loves clam chowder has yet to find one she likes as much…lol…a few have come close, but not quite. :) Makes this mama feel good! it is much anticipated by everyone especially my father-in-law

  2. Hi Sandy, We’ll be having our big Swedish Smorgasbord tonight. Forty Two at our house for dinner. Everybody brings a dish or two. We have the same exact thing every year, with my favorites being pickled herring with shots of Aquavit, Swedish Meatballs, Homemade Baked Beans, Corn pudding, Scalloped Oysters and of course lots of cookies! Stop over the blog for my Swedish Christmas House Tour! :) Merry Christmas to you and thanks for all the great inspiration! xo

  3. Hi Sandy!

    Merry Christmas dear friend! Your clam chowder looks amazing. We celebrated Christmas with Turkey and Ham. The ham was amazing. Pit-smoked. I am going to use the bone and make some navy bean soup over the next few day.

    Things have been busy here. My Mom turns 90 next week. She is doing amazing! But my Dad’s health is really failing. We do our best for him every day. It’s a struggle for him. Thanks for keeping him in your prayers.

    Much love, Mary

  4. Hello I was making this tonight and can’t figure out where the butter goes? Can you clarify?

  5. Looks fabulous! What type of broth?

  6. Clam chowder is hands-down one of my favorite meals! It’s a must when I visit San Francisco! This recipe is very similar to a recipe that I have that is supposed to mimic a famous Bay Area recipe, so I am 100% going to make this recipe!

  7. Is the butter added to the bacon drippings? The wording is confusing.

  8. I am also wondering if the butter is added to the bacon drippings or used seperately? This recipe sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it.

  9. Made this last night for 5 people. Everyone thought it was great. Don’t be shy with the bacon. Definitely add extra. It can only make it better in my opinion. I bought the cans of chopped clams but they chop them too small. It’s like a crumble. Next time I will buy 3 cans of whole clams and chop them myself into chunkier pieces. I also added a nice big bay leaf.

  10. Add the butter into the drippings then sauté the veggies in it.

  11. would you please clarify what you mean by 2 pieces of celery. is it 2 stalks, ribs, chunks—–

  12. Could you please clarify what type of broth (vegetable or chicken)?


  13. Thank you for this recipe. I just made it and it’s DELICIOUS!

  14. I’ve made this a couple of times, and it is so delicious! It’s easy, quick, and tastes like a million bucks!!

  15. Hi, I would like to make this tonight but cant find any leeks in my small town. Can I leave them out or is there a substitute you recommend?

  16. I love this clam chowder. I’d really like to double the recipe for Christmas day. Do you think doubling all the ingredients will work out?

  17. I have a relative with a severe gluten allergy. Could I use corn starch with the half & half? And how much would I use? Thank you in advance for the help!

    • Corn starch and half and half are both gluten free, but you need to go online and check it out for yourself, Mandy (or call your guest). Just to make sure! :) ENJOY!

  18. Hi, can you tell me what ‘half and half’ is ?

  19. looks amazing! can’t wait to try it!

  20. Hi, this sounds delicious.  

    Do you add the butter and veggies INTO the bacon drippings or discard those?  Thanks!

  21. I don’t normally leave comments on blogs, but I had to tell you this recipe is fantastic!  I have been making clam chowder for Christmas dinner for years,  This year I decided to try your recipe and it was hands down the best clam chowder I have ever had!  

  22. Oh my gosh- you’re the only other family that I know that eats clam chowder on Christmas Eve. We have been doing this for DECADES. Your recipe is very similar to mine (like, nearly EXACTLY the same)- I use whole milk, add a bit of thyme, too (I think it goes well with the bay) and use only onions, no leek. I bet that leek gives even another lighter, oniony layer to the soup. Mmmmm. Nice to know that someone else makes the same soup on the same day!

  23. Made for dinner today, it was awesone

  24. Hello,

    This looks delicious! I will
    Be the only one in my family to eat this (I know, I know) will this reheat well? 


  25. Do you think this could be made in the slow cooker (after sautéing everything)?

  26. I made this for father’s day, coupled with fish and chips. My family raved about the chowder 11yrs to 82yrs of age. I’m originally from the Boston area and this recipe far exceeded my expectations. I’m keeping this recipe to pass down to generations. Well done!

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