Best Clam Chowder Recipe (VIDEO)
Best Clam Chowder is easy to make “from scratch,” with creamy soup flavors that mingle together with bacon, clams–for the very best chowder!
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!
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
- Chopped clams
- Bay leaf
- Chopped fresh chives
- OPTIONAL to add clam juice (for a more clam flavor)
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.
- Oyster Crackers
- Shrimp cocktail
- Corn on the cob
- French fries
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.
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).
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!
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.
How do you make Homemade Clam Chowder
Whatever the flavors, I say homemade is the best!
- In a Dutch oven, you cook bacon (for amazing flavor!) over medium heat until crisp.
- Then you saute celery, leek, and onion until tender, adding garlic. Eventually stirring in potatoes, broth, clam juice, salt, pepper and thyme.
- Boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.
- Make the creamy sauce (soooo good).
- Stir in the clams and crispy bacon!
- 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.
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!
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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!
Get the Recipe:
Best Clam Chowder
- 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
- ⅓ 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.
This is THE BEST clam chowder I’ve ever made! Thank you for this great recipe!
I made this tonight for my son who is visiting from Washington State. It was very good and I am impressed! Thanks for this delish recipe!
Made this for a rainy Saturday evening meal. We ate it during the football game. I made a few changes but nothing substantial. Easy and yummy!!
I’ve been making New England clam “Chowdah” for years. I’ve basically been using this recipe for year’s. I use a pound of bacon and also Old bay seasoning. I don’t uses exact measurement’s but same ingredients. This is the best combination of ingredients I’ve used. I gave it 5 stars.
I also neglected to mention, I use frozen whole clams and slightly chop them. Again, it’s the ingredient’s that make the best flavors.
Excellent clam chowder! My husband and son both had seconds!
Made the clam chowder this evening for my daughter and her friends. And hands down! The Best Clam Chowder Ever!!! Simple and delicious 😋
Thank you for sharing!
em (Kent, WA)
This is by far, the best recipe for Clam Chowder I’ve tried!!! 5 Stars
Will definitely make this my go to recipe every time! Thank you
So very yummy
Can’t wait to try it!
Best ever!! I added some old bay seasoning and cayenne. Thanks for sharing!
Oh my goodness, this was absolutely Delicious!! Thank you!
The best clam chowder ever! It’s a staple at our place during the fall and winter months. We add a few tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning. Other than this, we follow the recipe verbatim!
Very tasty, coming from New England!
Great clam chowder thanks! I did use 1 cup shrimp broth I had frozen.
Plus as suggested used tiny canned smoked oysters.
best clam chowder I ever made was with the Quahogs my Dad and I dug up on the North shore of Long Island. Your recipe – with quahogs – YUM!
Making chowder today. Using quahogs I dug yesterday and will hand chop them. I will also add in some salt pork to mine (that’s how Mom taught me). Then will follow your delicious recipe accept wont put in any chicken or veggie broth, just the clam juice from the quahogs.
What is the half and half in the chowder??
We sell half and half here in the US. Half whole milk, half heavy cream.
Great Clam Chowder. Thank you. Cheers.
The best clam chowder I have ever made! Love this recipe!
I made this tonight without the bacon. I also had to use heavy cream since that’s what I had available. This was absolutely fantastic! I don’t know if I will make it with bacon because I’m afraid it would cover the great flavor already in this soup. I will be impressing dinner guest in the future! Than you for sharing this recipe.
This is my new favorite Clam Chowder recipe.
Love! Love! Love It!
My husband loved it too :)
Ever since visiting the wharfs in Monterey and San Francisco and tasting the clam chowder samples competing restaurants give out (to lure you in), I spent the next few years trying to duplicate that “special something” that they all had that set their chowder apart from the rest of the world. I finally figured it out and you have nailed it as well. I can highly recommend this recipe (just like mine). But in my humble opinion, you can’t quite get there without that one secret ingredient—thyme. That is what separates this recipe from other wannabes. Good job!
We live out in the middle of the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas, so fresh clams are not available. I used canned clams and oysters. My husband and I both thought it was definitely one of the best chowders we have had even with the canned seafood. I also added clam juice. I will definitely keep making it. I love your boards. I find it an easy way to entertain and they look beautiful!
Thank you so much!
Tamhra (Hot Springs Village)
Thank you so much for this recipe, it worked perfectly!! I made this the day after Christmas & oh my god it came out amazing!! :-) The. Best. Clam. Chowder. EVER!!! Love this recipe & vid, very informative & easy to follow. I was able to have enough for 4 servings. And all the ingredients that come together is very tasty/yummy. A million thumbs up!! ;-)
Awesome Shelly. Would you be able to rate it? So glad you enjoyed it.
This is the best recipe I’ve tried-rivals my favorite restaurant’s.
I added diced carrots and corn and used heavy whipping cream because that’s what I had. Can’t wait to have it again tomorrow!
Thank you for sharing!!
Best clam chowder I ever made, will never use another recipe! I had some beef broth that I needed to get rid of, worked out deliciously. Thanks for sharing – well written recipe.