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
4.2 from 20 votes
8 - 10 servings
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!

Calories: 414 kcal
Author: The Chunky Chef
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1 cup onions, finely diced
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup leeks, finely sliced
  • 3 cups red potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 3/4 cup clam juice (bottled is fine)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 3/4 cup fresh clams, steamed, shelled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1 quart half and half (4 cups)
  1. Scrub your clams to get rid of any grit, set aside.

  2. Bring your water, chicken broth and garlic to a boil. Add your clams, cover, and steam until they open up (around 6-7 minutes).

  3. If one or two clams don't open up, toss those, they're not good. Drain your clams, scoop out the meat and chop.

  1. 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.

  2. Increase heat to MED and add onion, celery and leeks and sauté about 3-4 minutes, until soft.  Add 2 Tbsp flour and stir to coat vegetables.  Cook 1 minute.

  3. 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.

  4. In a mixing bowl, combine 2/3 cup flour with half and half, whisking well to remove lumps.  Add to chowder, along with the chopped clams, and stir well to combine.

  5. Increase heat to MED and cook, stirring often, about 3-5 minutes, or until heated through and thickened to desired consistency.

  6. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes


Replace fresh clams with 2-3 small cans of minced clams, omitting the steam clams section of the ingredients and instructions.



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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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35 comments on “Creamy New England Clam Chowder”

  1. 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.

  2. 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!!

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

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

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

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

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

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

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

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

  13. 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!

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

  15. 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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  17. 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!

  18. …..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!

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

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

  21. 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! 🙂

  22. That looks fantastic!

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