Best Clam Chowder is easy to make “from scratch,” with creamy soup flavors that mingle together with bacon, clams–for the very best chowder!

best clam chowder with bacon

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I love the magic of soup season—-the comfort and ease of gathering ’round the table with family and friends! And BEST Clam Chowder always brings a little magic to the table! You’ve got to try my similar Best Seafood Chowder recipe, or a “tomato” spin, my Manhattan Clam Chowder soup.

Best Clam Chowder

Chowder is easy to make – a “by scratch”  version  that is creamy, flavorful  with bacon, and chockfull of clams! Watch the video!

glass bowl of Best Clam Chowder soup

What do you add to clam chowder to make it better?

If it’s the condensed kind, add heavy cream and whole milk in equal parts. And then of course we say bacon and butter! But grab the printable recipe below!

Simple ingredients for chowder soup:

  • Bacon + butter
  • Celery + leeks + onions + garlic
  • Red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes
  • Broth (or stock)
  • Salt, white pepper, thyme
  • Flour
  • Half-and-half
  • Chopped clams
  • Bay leaf
  • Chopped fresh chives
  • OPTIONAL to add clam juice (for a more clam flavor)

a spoonful of best clam chowder with bacon and chives

What do you serve with Clam Chowder?

Planning a soup meal is quite simple, especially serving my yummy chowder as the main dish, with a side of hot bread and a basic green salad with Best Thousand Island Dressing! Here’s a list of what to serve with a hot bowl of chowder.

  • Bacon
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Salad
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Bread
  • Corn on the cob
  • French fries

a beautiful dinner board with a pot of clam chowder in the middle, with bread, crackers, and shrimp cups

Make chowder from scratch

In the past, I’ve been intimidated to make this homemade 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! :)

Oh, and we did make a few changes to the recipe, but don’t worry. Add more clam juice (optional) for a more intense clam flavor if you choose to.

white bowl of best clam chowder with bacon

How do you serve clam chowder?

You can also serve it on a big board, like below! Here’s the link to Epic Clam Chowder Dinner Board! Or, grab the link below to buy THE BIG BOARD (at the bottom). We love to set out the pot of soup in a braiser pan (low-line big pot).

a woman holding a large board with a pot of clam chowder in the center, with bread, and shrimp cups

What is the difference between Boston and New England clam chowder?

Well, New England and Boston Clam Chowder are really the same dish. What makes a chowder “different” is the broth that is used. For example, Rhode Island broth is clear, and Manhattan Style Clam Chowder has a red tomato broth. Boston is thick and creamy!

making best clam chowder
Is chowder better the next day?

Yes, it’s just as good the next day, if not better. So YES, you can make ahead of time for easy entertaining.

The flavors of this soup mingle together to make the tastiest leftovers. It will thicken as it stands overnight in the refrigerator so just whisk in a little milk or half-and-half before reheating.

stirring a pot of best clam chowder

How do you make Homemade Clam Chowder

Whatever the flavors, I say homemade is the best! 

  1. In a Dutch oven, you cook bacon (for amazing flavor!) over medium heat until crisp.
  2. Then you saute celery, leek, and onion until tender, adding garlic. Eventually stirring in potatoes, broth, clam juice, salt, pepper and thyme.
  3. Boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  4. Make the creamy sauce (soooo good).
  5. Stir in the clams and crispy bacon!
  6. Optional to add in more clam juice (a couple bottles) if you choose to.

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

upclose spoonful of best clam chowder

The Big Board®

Friends, The Big Board® is here! Yes, I’ve partnered with JK Adams, the premier woodmaking company in Vermont, with my own line of RE boards!

  • 20-inch round, maple
  • 26-inch round, maple
  • 12 x 36-inch maple
  • NEW 12 x 24-inch maple
  • 23-inch Lazy Susan
  • 26-inch ebonized BLACK, cherry
  • 12 x 36-inch ebonized BLACK, cherry
  • A board with a lip (or raised edged) so the food doesn’t fall off
  • Made in the USA
  • Undercut handles (a unique design)

Thank you for your support, as we’ve sold out so many times already!

Order The Big Board® today!

taking a bite of best clam chowder

More Chowder recipes to try:

Manhattan Clam Chowder (Simply Recipes) Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder (Baked by Rachel). And friends, have you bought my new cookbook? Buy Big Boards for Families today! It’s “editor’s pick” on Amazon this month!

clam chowderin a big pot, on a round board with bread and shrimp cocktail cups
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Get the Recipe:

Best Clam Chowder

Best Clam Chowder is easy to make "from scratch," with creamy soup flavors that mingle together with bacon, clams--for the very best chowder!
Makes 4 main dish bowls or 6 small lunch bowls.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6
Print Recipe Pin Recipe Save Recipe


  • 8 bacon strips, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped (or 1 shallot)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 small unpeeled potatoes (red potatoes or Yukon gold), cubed into 1/2-inch pieces (optional to peel)
  • 2 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half, divided
  • 3 cans 6-1/2 ounces each of chopped clams, undrained
  • Bay leaf
  • Optional to add in more clam juice for a more intense flavor.
  • Chopped fresh chives or green onions, for garnish


  • 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, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • 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.
  • Stir in clams and juice 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.
    TIP: Optional to add in more clam juice in this step, if you choose a more clam flavor.
  • Crumble the reserved 4 strips of bacon. Garnish chowder with crumbled bacon and fresh chopped chives or green onions thinly sliced.


Originally posted December 2014 on Reluctant Entertainer
Cuisine: American
Course: Soup
Did you make this recipe?Tag @reluctantentertainer on Instagram and hashtag it #reluctantentertainer!

spoonful of best clam chowder