Best Clam Chowder

A classic clam chowder recipe for any time of year, with perfect tastes of bacon and clams. The flavors mingle together into a delicious Best Clam Chowder!

Best Clam Chowder

I love the magic of soup season—-the comfort and ease of gathering ’round the table with family and friends! Planning a soup meal is quite simple, especially serving my yummy Best Clam Chowder as the main dish, with a side of hot bread and a basic green salad (or Classic Shrimp Salad with Thousand Island Dressing.)

Clam Chowder Soup

In the past, I’ve been intimidated to make  a clam chowder soup, because I was afraid it wouldn’t be as tasty as a bowl that might be served at the beach, or at a really good restaurant. But this recipe is one of my favorites, and is one of the top easy recipes on my RE! Yay! :)

How to Make Clam Chowder

Homemade Clam Chowder

You may like New England Clam Chowder, or Manhattan Clam Chowder, and then there’s Boston Clam Chowder or Red Clam Chowder. Whatever the flavors, I say, make homemade clam chowder, and your guests will be happy!

In fact, watch the video below and see for yourself how to make this soup.

Soup season means slowing down, inviting people in to your home, and sharing life … and love. I changed it up awhile back and made a yummy Corn Salmon Chowder Recipe!

How to make Clam Chowder

BEST Clam Chowder is so easy to make, I always wonder why I don’t make it more often. (We trypically make it around Christmas or the holidays.) Plus, this recipe has bacon (YUM!)

It’s comforting, filling, and delicious, and it’s also the perfect “light” holiday meal.

Best Clam Chowder Recipe

Relax and enjoy.

Slowing down and enjoying the table experience means to be present in the moment!

Don’t over complicate. If you’re planning a soup night, keep it simple!

Make the soup ahead of time, set out hot bread and a fresh salad. You don’t need to be a slave to your kitchen! Planning a simple menu means more time with your guests.

Get off social media. Ask everyone around the table to put their phones away.

There’s no need to be looking at what others are doing (scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, while you’re at the table with dinner guests). Instead, if we only looked inside (our own windows), to not miss out on what’s happening right at the table!

Relish in the joys. Ask a lot of questions, get to know the people who are sitting around you.

Look into their eyes, look for joys (and pains), and listen. Be present. Enjoy!

I have one small wish when we have guests over for dinner, besides being prepared, and desperately wanting to RELAX.  My wish is to be present in the moment, to not worry about what’s going on around me, but to really engage, right then and there.

In the meantime, I love to entertain.

Best Clam Chowder

It is simple to make this chowder in your favorite Le Creuset Braiser and take it straight to the table for serving. Don’t forget the ladle, because your guests will be coming back for more. My favorite soup bowls, classic white always looks sharp.

And it’s even better when “my cup runneth over” with a bowl of delicious comforting Best Clam Chowder!

Easy Clam Chowder

Best Clam Chowder

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 ribs, chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 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 half-and-half, divided
  • 3 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) of whole clams, chopped into chunky pieces, drained
  • 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 (you can spoon out some of the drippings if you don’t want to ues that much); 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 (drained) clams and remaining half-and-half; heat through (do not boil); turn down to low heat; add the bay leaf. Cook for additional 2-3 minutes on low heat. Add in 4 strips of crumbled bacon.

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

All images and text ©

More Clam Chowder recipes: Manhattan Clam Chowder (Simply Recipes) Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder (Baked by Rachel).

This post has affiliate links. Every purchase from these links supports RE at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

155 comments on “Best Clam Chowder”

  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!

  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!

  27. Can this be frozen?

  28. Oh my God….must, must, must make. I’ve never made clam chowder because I always thought you HAD TO use fresh clams and I’m sort of intimidated by them and would be afraid the final dish would be full of sand… This looks amaaaaazing and with canned clams, easy peasy!

  29. Hi and thanks for this recipe!!! This is my husbands favorite and i have never tried to make it becasue i thought it was to difficult, but this looks simple and tasty!!! Just one question, at the end after you stir in the clams and the half and half how long to you let it cook? I assume the clams cook very fast so once its mixed is it basically done?

  30. I don’t eat pork. Can beef bacon be substituted?

  31. I love clam chowder, but not bacon.  Wondering if anyone has tried this without the bacon.  

    • I just made this tonight, absolutely delicious but the clam chowder I get on the coast does not usually have bacon so to me this is more of a bacon clam chowder than regular clam chowder. My plan for next time is to still fry up a couple pieces of bacon so I can cook the veggies in the grease but to leave out the bacon strips altogether. The soup before putting the crumbled bacon in didn’t have a strong bacon flavor (to me at least) until I put the crumbled strips in and then certain bites would be overpowering with bacon flavor.

  32. If you are using fresh clams, do you cook them first or toss them in raw to cook in the soup?

  33. Do you add the liquid from the canned clams also to the pot?

  34. This recipe looks absolutely delicious, Sandy. I just have one question. Do you think I could substitute crab for the clams? I have two huge cans of lump crab sitting in my refrigerator that I would like to and need to be used. Many thanks.

  35. I’ve yet to find the actual recipe.
    And that seems like an awful lot of bacon grease–could we use just a couple tablespoons?

    • The recipe is in the post, click PRINT RECIPE, Karen :) Yes, as recipe states, you can adjust the bacon grease or use a leaner bacon! ENJOY!

  36. How much of each ingredients do u use….a cup? Half of cup? I really want to try but need more information…thank you

  37. I want to make this but not a big fan of celery. Will it taste completely different if I take that out? Does normal clam cowder have celery?? I feel like I never saw celery in it before, so I am wondering how that can alter the taste. But then again I only had real clam chower once and it was so amazing I didnt even look at the bowl since I was scarfing it down so fast ?????

  38. I have never used leek, do you use the whole bunch or just a part of it? This recipe is on my menu looks delish!!

  39. I’ve been searching for a good clam chowder recipe and think I’ve found it! It doesn’t seem too complicated. Plus I like the addition of the veggies (leek, celery) in there. Can’t wait to try this one. Thanks for sharing. 

  40. If I wanted to add corn and carrots to this how much would you adjust the liquid/cream? 

  41. I have made this twice in the last 3 weeks and doubled it both times, I love it!  I forgot to get bacon the second time and I didn’t even notice. It is just perfect on a cold day. I will be keeping this recipe for life, thank you!! 

  42. I made this today for a football game. It was delicious. I just about tripled the recipe and it worked great. The only thing I added was some Better Then Bouillon Lobster Base bc I’ve recently become obsessed with the better then bouillons and are using them a lot, and I used lite cream. So flavorful, so creamy so yummy. Thank you for the great recipe.

  43. I’m allergic to shellfish so using haddock instead of clams. Living on the seacoast of  New Hampshire, this is about as close to home as it gets!  Great recipe. Thank you!

  44. Hi Sandy.. this will be my first attempt at clam chowder for my guy. Could you please explain what I am looking for as far as “clam juice”. Is it an actual jar of clam juice or do you mean Clamato Juice? Thank you in advance for your help. 

  45. Can I use seafood broth?

  46. I’m making this tomorrow, super excited because I’ve never made clam chowder before! Stupid question – do you take the bay leaf out at any point?? Or just leave it in?

  47. Ok, so I left out the celery simply because I hate celery, and the store was out of green onions for the chives, but I did everything else exact. This is by far the BEST clam chowder I have ever had, and I order clam chowder at restaurants if they have it. The only down side is now I won’t want to order clam chowder from restaurants because I can make better at home! The whole family LOVED it! Thank you for the amazing recipe! It’s a favorite!

  48. For some reason the clams I use have absolutely NO clam taste.  Everything was great but no clam flavor.  Anyone else have this problem.  Thanks, need advice……


  50. Too much potato flavor and not enough clam flavor. I could only find chopped clams at the store, instead of whole ones. But next time I will double the clams anyways. And maybe chop the potatoes smaller?

  51. Can I substitute cornstarch for the flour? My daughter is glucose intolerant.

  52. So many positive reviews! Can’t wait to try it! I will be back for my comments soon! 

  53. Looks delicious, can you email this to me? Thank you

  54. I tried the receipe and it is sooooo good but was my first time ever cooking with leek and I used about 3/4 of a regular sized leek and I think I used to much because it was pretty pungent but was not bad tasting at all.  Still super good but I think I should use less leek next time. How much of leek do you actually use?

    • Mostly just the white and light green parts are eaten! Always google or ask if you’re not sure with a particular ingredient (I’ve learned to do this, too!) :)

  55. In my business, it can be a challenge to shut off and stay away from the laptop or social media. But it feels good to take a break. The cold nights are perfect for a hearty bowl of clam chowder.

  56. Could I make this a day early and just rewarm in the crockpot on the day of?

  57. I made this tonight and it was wonderful. Didn’t change a thing. 

  58. Can you use the drained liquid from the canned clams in lieu of the bottled clam juice?  Aren’t they the same thing?  Seems redundant to drain clams then buy a separate bottle of clam juice.

  59. Delightful and so delicious! Great recipe. 

  60. My husband said this was the best clam chowder he’s ever ever had!!

  61. I don’t have a Dutch oven. Can I use my regular soup pan?  I’ve got everything to make this just trying to figure out what to do. Thank you. I’m super excited!

  62. I made this yesterday and only got to taste it while cooking – it was gone before I knew it! Everyone loved it though and want me to make it again – I will double it!

  63. This recipe is insanely awesome. Just made it and impressed, not only myself, but kids and friends from New England. Im a home chef from Las Vegas and love cooking and trying different recipes and even making my own up or doing something different to another’s recipe. This is probably my third or fourth time making clam chowder and by far my favorite. Hands down Sandy, hands down!!!

  64. Hi Sandy, I loooooved this recipe, but for health purposes now have to be gluten free. What would be a good substitute for the flour? Corn starch? Brown rice flour? Potato starch? Thank you!

    • I always tell people who are gluten free that they know their diets (and what they can or cannot eat) best. SO I don’t really give advice for that. But YES, a GF substitution will work, Gaby! ENJOY!

  65. I have frozen clams. Would they work instead of canned?

  66. I would love to have this recipe, but cannot print from my iPad. Please could you email to me at . Many thanks. It sounds really delicious and winter will soon be upon us here in S.A.

  67. This is such an Easy and Most YUMMY recipe!

    Thank you soo soo much for sharing!

    When cooking, evaporated milk works well in place of half and half? when cooking, I rarely truly “measure” much ? this recipe works well this way? Very Yummy and comforting?

    Thank you, again ???

  68. Hello, and thanks for this greatttttt recipe!!! Followed it to the letter; and, it came out perfect. I like that it isn’t tooo clammy- just the right amount of clam taste, not overwhelming!!  Will make for many more years to come! 

    ! Btw, I am sitting here eating a bowl right now (on a 90 degree day in Michigan) and loving it!!!

  69. Has anyone used almond flour instead of the white flour?

    • I don’t think the flavor would be very good with almond flour, Colleen, but if you try it and you like it, please come back and tell us!

  70. I love clam chowder! I also add corn and grated carrot if I have it I put ham in well as bacon. A little cooking wine adds to the taste too.

  71. Oh wow!! This recipe was divine!! My entire crew loved it and I am excited to add it to my recipe collection….. it’s going in my coveted book, not just kept on Pinterest. Thanks for such a yummy and not difficult recipe. 

  72. Made this for game day today, did not change a thing. It was delicious. I like to use Bumblebee whole baby clams. They are just the right size with no chopping required. Since I don’t like to miss a down of football I cooked it in the slow cooker. Followed the cooking directions for a pot, just cooked it longer. Hubby said it was the best I have ever made & guests loved it. Being chowder lovers I like to serve in big bowls. Next time I will double the recipe as there was none left after one bowl for four of us. Granted it as enough but like to have extra just in case someone wants a second helping. 

  73. I am really sorry but the Thyme was absolutely waaaaay too overpowering.  I couldn’t taste anything else in the soup except the Thyme.  Very disappointed as I have never been to this site nor ever left a disparaging comment on one but I feel like there needs to be a disclaimer about the Thyme flavor.

  74. This was excellent and so glad I found the perfect recipe.

  75. I personally do not eat seafood but I would love to make this for my family because they all do.
    Could I also use this as a base for seafood chowder? If so what other seafood would I add to make it?
    If not what would I do to make it a seafood chowder?

  76. This chowder was amazing!!! Absolutely the BEST Clam Chowder my husband and I have ever had! Will definitely make again.

  77. I have read all these comments. Sooo good but I use shrimp , not being the clam love. Use lemon juice. Just thought I might say corn chowder & Shrimp . Best in the house . Loved it. Thx. 

  78. My husband is lactose intolerant and loves NE clam chowder. Substituted soy creamer for the half and half and it came out great!! Thanks so much for sharing this delicious easy recipe! Will be making it again and again :) 

  79. The title says it all- The Best Clam Chowder.  This soup is FABULOUS, a definite keeper in my soup file.

  80. I use clam juice when cooking the potatoes,add 3 bay leaves and some wonderfully flavored tarragon. Here’s a little restaurant secret- If your chowder isn’t thick enough,add some instant potato flakes to thicken it. They add flavor and thicken any chowder nicely.

  81. this is a regular (and favorite!!!) meal in our home. 
    we have always loved clam chowder, and need never 
    go out for it again. thank you, thank you, thank you!

  82. Here in Oregon clam chowder is pretty much a staple Friday “soup of the day”! This is very close to my recipe, I do sprinkle a bit of dill in if I have it on hand. Sometimes I add finely chopped or grated carrot to the vegetables when I saute’ them. I love to serve this with my crabmeat scones and coleslaw!

  83. It’s good, but not the best . Nothing is the best with canned anything . Use fresh clams, change out the chicken proth , with the salt water you cooked them in , and add a extra 1/2 cup of it, add 1/2 teaspoon of paprika , and 1/2 teaspoon of tarragon . Let it cool, then reheat ….

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