Creamy New England Clam Chowder

Creamy, hearty, and WAY better than canned, this New England style clam chowder is soon to be your family’s new favorite soup recipe!

New England clam chowder is an ionic and hearty soup that can be a little intimidating to make at home.  No more!  Even using fresh clams, this soup is a fun way to enjoy a favorite homemade soup that’s creamy, satisfying, and full of amazing flavors!!  Don’t want to use fresh clams?  No worries, I’ve detailed how you can make this with canned clams as well.

Creamy New England Clam Chowder | The perfect comfort food on a cold night, this creamy clam chowder is easy to make, uses fresh clams, and makes enough to feed a huge family! | | #clamchowder #clamchowderrecipe #newenglandclamchowder #souprecipe #soup #chowderIt’s officially cold fall weather here… perfect soup weather.  Clam chowder is an all-time favorite of mine… so creamy, flavorful, yet it still tastes fresh.  I got a little adventurous on this one (well, for me anyway), as I’ve never made clam chowder at home before, and have never steamed my own fresh clams… like ever.  I’m not a huge seafood person (I’m more of a chicken and beef gal), but I have a soft spot for clams… specifically, clam chowder and fried clam strips.

Our local grocery store didn’t have fresh clams, but luckily my husband works over near a crazy, awesome, grocery store called Jungle Jims.  LOVE that store.  He got us about 2 lbs. of fresh “live” clams, packed in some ice, and they hung out in my fridge for a few hours before steaming them.

Clams, leeks, celery and potatoes


It’s actually super easy!  Granted, it’s an extra step and pan, but in my opinion, it’s worth it for the great flavor.  Just bring your clam ingredients to a boil, add your clams, cover them, and steam until they open up (took me about 6-7 minutes).  If one or two doesn’t open up, just toss those, they’re not good.  Drain your clams, scoop out the meat, and chop.  You can also steam and chop your clams ahead of time.  Just toss them in a little bit of olive oil and refrigerate… but I wouldn’t do that for too long, like a day maybe?

Soup in pot with parsley in background


For sure!  Plus, they’re more readily available and more economical.  Down in the recipe notes section I’ve detailed how you can adapt this recipe to be made with canned clams, because, hey… we’re all busy, and sometimes, we really need a shortcut 🙂

Clam chowder in green bowl with bacon and oyster crackers

To me, no soup is complete without some great toppings and dippers.  So below are my favorite ways to top the chowder, as well as what to serve alongside.

  • Top with oyster crackers – traditional, but it’s a classic topping for a reason… it’s tasty!
  • Top with croutons – this may sound weird, but try it… it’s like a SUPER flavorful oyster cracker!
  • Top with more bacon – because more bacon is always a good thing.
  • Top with fresh parsley – I like to top rich dishes with a pop of something fresh like parsley.
  • Serve with a big piece of crusty bread – perfect for dunking!
  • Serve clam chowder IN a bread bowl – doesn’t get much better than that!

Clam chowder recipe in bread bowl

When you’re in the mood for something hearty and perfect for those chilly nights, give this homemade New England clam chowder recipe a try.  Once you try homemade, you’ll never want the canned version again!!



  • Le Creuset Dutch Oven – if your budget is open, I HIGHLY recommend this one… I own several pieces of Le Creuset and they’re all fantastic!
  • Lodge Dutch Oven – a much more budget-friendly option, which is still a very quality pot!

Creamy New England Clam Chowder | The perfect comfort food on a cold night, this creamy clam chowder is easy to make, uses fresh clams, and makes enough to feed a huge family! | | #clamchowder #clamchowderrecipe #newenglandclamchowder #souprecipe #soup #chowder

Recipe originally published in 2014 and has been updated with new photos added as well.




Creamy New England Clam Chowder | The perfect comfort food on a cold night, this creamy clam chowder is easy to make, uses fresh clams, and makes enough to feed a huge family! | | #clamchowder #clamchowderrecipe #newenglandclamchowder #souprecipe #soup #chowder

Creamy New England Clam Chowder

Creamy, hearty, and WAY better than canned, this New England style clam chowder is soon to be your family's new favorite soup recipe!
4.4 from 35 votes
Servings 8 - 10 servings
Calories 414



  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 lbs. fresh, live clams - (scrubbed clean)


  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1 cup onions, finely diced
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup leeks, finely sliced
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups red potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 3/4 cup clam juice (bottled is fine)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 3/4 cup steamed clams, chopped
  • 1 quart half and half (4 cups)



  • Scrub your clams to get rid of any grit, set aside.
  • Bring your water, chicken broth and garlic to a boil. Add your clams, cover, and steam until they open up (around 6-7 minutes).
  • If one or two clams don't open up, toss those, they're not good. Drain your clams, scoop out the meat and chop.


  • Over MED-LOW heat, add a small drizzle of olive oil to the bottom of a large dutch oven.  Add bacon pieces and cook until crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon (or tongs) to a paper towel lined plate, reserving drippings in pot.
  • Increase heat to MED and add onion, celery and leeks and sauté about 3-4 minutes, until soft.  Add flour and stir to coat vegetables.  Cook 1 minute.
  • Add potatoes, chicken broth, clam juice, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, and tabasco sauce.  Stir well, then bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmering about 15 minutes or so, until potatoes are fork tender.
  • Add half and half to chowder, along with the chopped clams, and stir well to combine.
  • Increase heat to MED and cook, stirring often, about 3-5 minutes, or until heated through and thickened to desired consistency.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with cooked bacon and enjoy!


Replace fresh clams with 2-3 small cans of minced clams, omitting the steam clams section of the ingredients and instructions.
Author The Chunky Chef
Tried this recipe?Mention @the_chunky_chef or tag #thechunkychef!

If changing the recipe serving quantity, the recipe plugin will change the ingredient values for you, but it does NOT change the written instructions, those are manually added and not subject to a slider/button. You will have to extrapolate that multiplication to any amounts listed in the instructions.

For example: if an ingredient calls for 4 cups, and you doubled the recipe, it will automatically change to 8 cups. In the instructions, if I say “use 4 cups of cheese”, you will have to realize that since you doubled it, you use 8 cups, not 4



Creamy New England Clam Chowder | The perfect comfort food on a cold night, this creamy clam chowder is easy to make, uses fresh clams, and makes enough to feed a huge family! | | #clamchowder #clamchowderrecipe #newenglandclamchowder #souprecipe #soup #chowder

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Recipe Rating

93 comments on “Creamy New England Clam Chowder”

  1. The best so far. Just made my first batch. Yum, yum!!!!

  2. So good… I used double the flour, added carrots, next time double the potatoes! So great, my family loved it! Thanks

  3. Is this a recipe that you could freeze? I am the only one in my household that will eat clam chowder. Instead of cutting the recipe in half, could I freeze the leftovers?

    • Freezing dairy can potentially cause it to separate, but without testing and retesting it myself, I can’t say for certain if that would happen. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out!

  4. Hi – I was wondering how to prepare the leek for the soup? Does it call for the white part of the vegetable?

  5. I enjoyed your recipe as did my wife. In particular I was looking for a recipe that employed the use of fresh clams. I am wondering why you used the bottled clam juice instead of the clam juice created after steaming the clams? I suppose there would be more consistency using the bottled, but I used what came from my clams as I have done in the past. The key in my mind is to minimize the amount of water you use for steaming so the juice created is flavorful.

    Another interesting this about the recipe is the amount of Thyme used. I had to look at the amount used twice to confirm it was 3/4 TBS vs TSP. I really enjoyed the flavor as it added a nice floral component. Well done! I will be keeping the recipe.

  6. Great chowder, really loved it.

  7. Your recipe was delicious! I used a bit less cream and a bit more broth to keep the calories down, yet it still turned out lovely. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  8. Funny I should stumble on your website. I’ll not tell you my age LOL but I used to see and talk to Jim at his roadside stand about everyday on my way to worK. Heckava nice guy! Glad he has done good,he worked hard for it. I believe everybody that worked at GM/Fischer Body knew him! BTW….your recipe is 👍!

  9. Do you have directions on how you would cook this in a slow cooker with canned minced clams?

  10. Me my wife and our dear friend neighbor enjoyed it this evening five stars.
    Third time I made it great every time

  11. Added craw crab meat, delicious.

  12. Just curious. After draining bacon on the paper towels, the recipe never mentions the bacon again when does it get added?

  13. Seriously the best clam chowder I’ve had! And we just got back from Boston! This could be served in a restaurant! I added some carrots and white corn and used canned clams and it was still excellent!

  14. This was Dee-lish! I had to use canned clams (funny thing… fresh clams are kind of hard to find in Millington, TN). They did not take away from the dish. I will definitely make this dish again!

  15. Just finished making the chowder and it is very good.. thought maybe a couple more potatoes would have worked as well thank you!

  16. Made this chowder today. Must say it is very good.

  17. If I read your yummy recipe right, is 2lbs of fresh chopped clams is the same as 2-3 cans of chopped claims?  Can wait to try this!!

  18. Awesome my family loved it 

  19. Carolyn from Michigan
    Just made this and it is close to getting it fresh . I changed a bit, no bacon, no leeks but extra onion, about 1/2 c. I added chicken broth and a bottle of clam juice plus the liquid from the clams, used 4 cans. I ended up with about 4-5 qts. Enough to freeze. Really good.

  20. I also love Jungle Jims they have the best seafood in Ohio. This recipe is great . I have a tip when it comes to using fresh clams. After you boil them take the clams out of the liquid along with the shells and let the liquid cool a bit then ladel the flavorful liquid slowly into another pot without stirring the pot the liquid is in . When you do this all the sand from the clams falls the the bottom of the pot . Then use the liquid in the soup, throw  the sand away. I just made the chowder today and I used 15 large quahogs from Jungle Jims and they made about 2 quarts of clam juice 10 times more flavorfull than the canned stuff. When the chowder is finished you can add a touch of cream sherry to kick it up a notch.

  21. Super tasty recipe.  I used canned clams.  Drain the juice into the broth.  Added clams last of course.

  22. Hi,
    Can I make this with out the flour? Is there a substitute you’d recommend if not? 
    I tend to stick to a Keto diet .
    Thank you !

    • Hi Debra, I’m not entirely sure how to convert this to be a keto recipe. Perhaps almond flour? The flour is what thickens it up to be a chowder consistency.

    • Hey Debra, you will also have to omit the potatoes as well if you want to keep it ‘keto friendly’ good luck!

    • Debra: What about using a little corn starch which you’d dissolve in cold water before adding it to the soup. I’ve not made this recipe, but when I cook it I’d add some corn starch dissolved in cold water instead of the four. Good luck.

    • To thicken any soup without flour…scoop about 1-2 cups (including any vegetables, potatoes or meat) into a blender til smooth
      Pour back in
      A Rachael Ray tip I always use

    • In lieu of flour you can thicken with corn starch

  23. I made the chowder with fresh clams and used the liquid from the steamed clams in place of clam juice and it was FABULOUS! I only made half the recipe to try, I wish I had made a full recipe, everyone wanted more! 

  24. My first time ever making chowda! I’ve been craving it and this absolutely hit the spot! Amazing recipe and pretty simple. I used 2 cans of chopped clams (I like chunky clams rather than minced) with all the juice, instead of fresh. Love it!!! Thank you for sharing!


  26. If I choose to use the canned clams instead of steaming fresh clams, would I use the “juice” in the can as well, or drain them? I am thinking I would use it, but want to make sure. Thanks!

  27. Could the last step be done in a crock pot … and if so how long would you expect it to take to thicken?  Thanks

  28. You had me at Jungle Jim’s…I’m about a 30 minute drive from there. That place is AWESOME for sure. Recipe looks great, I look forward to trying it.

  29. Should I peel the potatoes?

  30. Great soup recipe and will make again, BUT, way too much salt.  We used only a tablespoon of course salt and that was too much, so next time I will try 1/2 tbsp.  
    We also used canned clams

  31. I made the soup this week having only eaten it twice and never made before. In sharing with my neighbor I made him promise to be honest with me. HE LOVED IT and so did I! I didn’t use as much salt, figured you can add that if needed, I did add carrots. It was an easy recipe to follow had to use canned clams, it’s where I live but added 2 chopped and 1 minced. I couldn’t tell from you’re pictures if yours was thicker than how mine turned out. Might go for mine being thicker next time. It was nice to find your recipe we enjoyed it very much like others have said!

  32. Hi there! Can’t wait to try this recipe! I hail from near Jungle Jim’s and that place is amazing! Always loved going there as a kid. Unfortunately, now I am in a rural area and I am going to try this with the canned clams. Hopefully I can find clam juice, too. I have some heavy whipping cream—would that work instead of half and half?  Thanks in advance!

  33. So how many fresh clams do I buy?

  34. How many servings does this recipe make? And how long can I leave it in the refrigerator or freezer? 

    • There’s a bright green box in the upper left-hand corner of the recipe box that says how many servings each recipe makes (this one is 8-10). I haven’t had the best luck freezing soups with dairy in them, but it should last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

  35. This clam chowder is absolutely stunning. My idea growing up would consist of the same stuff in the can but not anymore.

  36. No chicken stock…can I use water?

  37. My husband and son went fishing but instead of fish they came with a whole bucket of clams. He wants me to make clam chowder but I got rid of the juice where they were steamed, in your recipe calls for that and where I live I can’t get bottled clam juice, what could I do then? Your recipe looks amazing and I really want to try it!!!

    • Hi Marlyn 🙂 I think a vegetable or chicken broth could replace the clam juice. It might have a less “clam-y” flavor, but should still taste yummy 🙂

      • I did it!!! My hubbie, son and even my in laws loved it! They want more, they said they’d go fishing for more clams 😉 thanks for your awesone recipe.

  38. Used minced clams from the fish market.  Altered the chicken broth since I only had one can. The chowder is nice and thick. Tastes really good!!

  39. I need to try this recipe out! It looks so good!

  40. Loving everything about this. I need to make something like this soon. So comforting.

  41. Pass me a big bowl of this now! It looks so good!

  42. Oh boy, this dish screams comfort food. We are in the first week of snowfall and I can imagine myself cozying up to a full bowl of this tasty beautifulness.

  43. I’m also not a big seafood fan, although I do love cod and tuna. This chowder looks absolutely delicious, wish I could grab a bowl!

  44. Best clam chowder ever! Excited to try it!

  45. This is one of my favorite soups, so I can’t wait to make it!

  46. This looks and sounds like the ULTIMATE bowl of comfort for a chilly evening! I’m all about some homemade clam chowder, too! YUM.

  47. Those clams look amazing! I love chowder and am so excited to try it!!

  48. LOVE that you used fresh clams! This looks amazing, my boyfriend will love this recipe 🙂
    Thanks Amanda

  49. We all love clam chowder here but I have to admit that is one recipe I have not tackled because my family has such high expectations. My in laws used to have a house on Martha’s Vineyard and the chowder there, especially at certain restaurants, was just amazing. I think I am going to have to give your recipe a try…it looks really good! Thanks for sharing with us at Foodie Fridays! Pinning!

    • Oh wow, I hope you love it!!! Yeah I would be scared to try a clam chowder as well because I’d be worried that wouldn’t compare to the chowder over there…. that’d be hard to beat. Living in the midwest, I’ve actually never been to the east coast, but I’d love to go sometime to try things like that 🙂 Thank you and let me know how you like it!

  50. That clam chowder looks worth digging into on a cold evening!

  51. Impressive pictures! Looks delicious. I’m also not a big seafood fan, but do love clam chowder. It’s interesting that you put in bacon — restaurants seem to be doing this more and more to chowder as well. I wonder if bacon in clam chowder isn’t the new norm. (If so, though, is it cheating? Are they doing it to mask blandness or something?)

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  53. I’ve always wanted to make clam chowder, but it always seemed so intimidating. Yours look so do-able and now I’m soo tempted to run out for clams! Thanks for sharing at FF!

  54. …..Annnnddd….. PINNED! I might just pin this two or three times! I’m from New England so I’m allowed to officially state that this look like the best clame chowder recipe EVER. I have a great recipe on my site, but after seeing these pictures… I have to try yours! I love that you used fresh clams, that’s the way to do it. Oh, and I REALLY want to make my own fried clams at home too— I love the whole belly ones, but strips are also delicious! (Man, now I really want clams… shoot.)- There’s a soup place near me, I might have to go see if they have clam chowder…. Those pics look way too good…thanks for sharing : )

    • You are so sweet!!! I’m jealous that you’re in New England and have access to super fresh clams 🙂 Thank you so much for the compliments, pins and tweet! 😀 I’m off to peruse your site, I’m sure I’ll find tons of things to make there too!

  55. Congratulations on a successful first try! This chowder looks fabulous. 🙂

  56. This is my all-time favorite soup/chowder… and your recipe and presentation look amazing.

  57. Wow that looks thick and yummy! I’ve never cooked my own clams either. I need to pull up my big girl pants and give it a try. I’m pinning this for when that happens! 🙂

  58. That looks fantastic!

  59. Wow that clam chowder looks so thick you could eat with a fork. Salad also looks yummy.