New England Clam Chowder
This simple New England clam chowder (sometimes called Boston clam chowder) features chunks of red potatoes and minced clams. Thick cut bacon and herbs join the cream to make a luxurious, comforting dish that everyone will love!
A childhood favorite of mine (and maybe of yours!), a piping hot bowl of New England clam chowder with crackers always hits the spot. My grandma always had cans of it in her pantry and it was my favorite soup to pick when we had lunch at her house, but once I realized it was quite simple to make at home, I’ve never looked back!
One of the best things about a good soup recipe is how far you can stretch the ingredients, making it a super economic meal. If you live somewhere where fresh clams aren’t accessible at a reasonable price, you’re in luck! For this New England clam chowder, we use both clam juice and canned minced clams instead, and it’s a winner!
Ingredient notes and tips
- Clams: As I noted above, this recipe does not call for fresh clams. Instead, we use canned minced clams (and the juice in them), along with a bottle of clam juice. Both of these are available in grocery stores for only a few dollars. If you are lucky enough to have fresh clams, you can use those in place of the canned ones, and adjust the clam juice based on your salt preference.
- Heavy cream: The potatoes and clams float in the base of cream, water, clam juice, and the flavors from the bacon fat and onions. However, if the cream is added to the recipe too quickly, it may curdle. To avoid this, make sure it is room temperature when you add it and do so slowly.
- Potatoes: Some New England clam chowder recipes call for Yukon gold potatoes, but they can be on the soft side. I use red potatoes instead, which I scrub thoroughly before cutting into 1½-inch cubes. They hold their texture really well and take on a bit less salt than their softer counterparts.
- Onions: This calls for Spanish Onions, which you may know as a yellow onion. These give us the caramelization we want, and you can even save some of the onions to add on top when you serve!
Let’s make it!
This fantastic recipe takes less than an hour to get on the table, which puts it in the coveted category of a weeknight-worthy soup!
Here’s how you make it…
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium-low heat. You want to make sure the fat renders and the bacon crisps, which is usually about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Next, add the yellow onion and stir until they are softened (about 5 minutes).
- Then, add the flour and stir until it starts to get some color.
- Gradually whisk in the clam juice from the cans, as well as the bottled clam juice, and your water.
- Slowly add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. From here you will simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Finally, add the clams, cream, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer.
- Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve!
Serving, storing, and reheating New England clam chowder
I prefer to serve this immediately, but I know some folks like to let their soup sit longer! If doing so, make sure you reduce heat and stir occasionally to be sure your potatoes don’t fall apart. This goes really well as a main dish, alongside some cracker or crusty bread and a simple salad. If you want to take it up a notch, my copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits are crazy good with this.
After letting it cool completely, this soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freezing cream-based soups is risky as it can be grainy, but it can be done! Pour the cooled soup into a freezer bag or container, leaving room for expansion, and freeze for up to 3 months.
You can reheat the soup in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. Bust out the crackers and enjoy!
It’s soup season! Join me and try these out!
- French Onion Soup
- Creamy Potato Leek Soup
- Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Cheddar Cheese Soup with Potato, Ale, and Bacon
I would absolutely love it if you gave this New England Clam Chowder a try; if you do, please stop back and leave a rating and let me know how you liked it! ENJOY! 😍
New England Clam Chowder
- 4 slices center-cut thick-cut bacon, (about 4 ounces), cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 large Spanish onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 26 ounces (737.09 g) minced clams, drained and juice reserved
- 16 ounces (453.59 ml) clam juice
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 1½ pounds (680.39 g) red potatoes, about 4 medium, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) dried thyme
- 1 cup (238 ml) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Fry the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the reserved clam juice (from the cans), the bottled clam juice and the water.
- Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the clams, cream, parsley, salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve immediately.
- Clams: You can substitute fresh minced clams in place of the canned variety; adjust the clam juice based on your salt preference.
- Serving: Add crackers, a simple salad, or cheddar bay biscuits to make it a meal.
- Storing: The soup can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezing: The soup can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: The soup can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat.
- Recipe adapted from The Best Soups and Stews
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Photography by Lauren Grant.
Appreciate you for sharing this fantastic soup recipe. The online Indian product store is where you may get the ingredients for the recipe. Great Post!
Wonderful Blog! Nice soup recipe for the children. Thank you for sharing this amazing soup recipe. You can check out the ingredients for the recipe at Online Indian Grocery store.
First time making clam chowder from scratch! This recipe was a hit in our home! Thanks for the recipe!
This recipe was great. To hide some vegetables igraded,some .celery an carrots ,not a drop left thanks
A Very Yummy Wonderful and Healthy Recipe !!! WOW Nice Photos to See. I’ll Definitely Try it. Thank You For Sharing.
Great tip on the heavy cream. I didn’t know letting the cream come to room temp would avoid the curdling issue.
Thank you for providing an excellent image to continue my tradition of bookmarking google images of clam chowder on my school computer. (the recipe’s also really good too btw, excellent soup.)
Looks great! I’m always looking for new and wonderful NE Clam Chowder recipes. It’s always been my favorite too! Do you think it would work with freshly steamed clams instead of minced ones from a can? I can’t find canned clams, but I can find loads of fresh ones!
Hi Liz, I haven’t tried it with fresh clams but I don’t see why it wouldn’t! Enjoy!
This is really good, made it tonight but I was out of thyme. Just used a little extra parsley and I added celery to it as well. I will make this again and again. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
I am not a native New Englander, but my husband is. Whenever I’ve made clam chowder it was always Snows, because that was supposed to be the best canned. I didn’t know better because I grew up in Pennsylvannia and my mother never made it. So hubby made a challenge to me to make it home-made. Yours was the recipe I picked and he is so happy. He said it was the best clam chowder he ever had and that I can’t make any other recipe!
Thanks for your recipe!
Looks so yummy!!!!! Making tonight for dinner!!! Thank- you for recipe…..
Tried this tonight. Turned out great. Remember to leave the potatoes in long enough to become tender.
Is it unusual for children to like new england clam chowder? I loved it as a kid. As far as I knew, my friends loved it too. I had no idea that this was unusual.
I’ve never seen a recipe that didn’t use fresh clams either. I can get them, pretty cheaply, but I have bad luck with them. Either too many die before I cook them, or too many are dead in the final cooking and I have to pick them out. I have better luck cooking things with canned clams. I can get whole clams in their broth at the supermarket.
Also a huge fan of New England style even though I am a NY-er born & bred. I have never like Manhattan style at all. My sister went to college up in Cambridge, MA when I was 13 and we visited with her a few times a year. We would go to the original Legal Seafoods or to Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston and have the New England Clam Chowder. It was the best. Now you can find the Legal Seafoods brand at Costco so I can have their clam chowder any time I want. It is so thick and delicious. Thanks for this great recipe. I can’t wait to try it.
When I was little I LOVED clam chowder, canned and grandma’s homemade, when I came home from school for lunch my grandma would make us a nice hot bowl of clam chowder, unfortunately the older I got, fish started to creep me out so I stopped eating it. Just recently I ordered a bowl at a restaurant to try it out and realized, I still loved it! Will definitely be making this soon!
OMG!!! Made this over the weekend and it was delicious (and easy). Thanks for sharing.
I’ll start off by stating that I was born in Rhode Island, smack in the middle of chowder country (and where “Manhattan” chowder comes from) and my grandmother makes all three types of chowder; white, clear and red. We always just classified them by color.. And I must say, I certainly could not choose a favorite. They all seem to have their own place and time when that particular recipe is just better. During the summer, red and clear are perfect when that creamy richness of white is just a little too much during the heat. She goes back and forth with fresh/canned clams. (between you and me, she prefers the canned just because they are definitely easier) And oh, my, word. Since moving to North Carolina, I have never missed having a steaming hot clamcake as much as I do now. Dunk it in a bit of red chowder if you must, but I would kill for a whole bowl of clamcakes right now. They are FAR superior to hush puppies!
But enough of my homesickness- I have always wanted to make clam chowder and I’m super excited to try your recipe! (Grandma won’t give me hers!)
This looks fantastic! I LOVE this, but my husband will not eat anything that has to do with clams, mussels, oysters, etc. It’s disappointing because those are some of my favorite things, but I’m curious if I could half the recipe and it still be the same? I cook on a regular basis, but I’m new to the soup game! I can’t wait to try it!
Hi Haley, You could definitely cut this recipe in half with no problems. Enjoy the soup!
Thanks for posting this recipe – it is fabulous!
I use this recipe all of the time and love it. I found it from an old Boston Globe a long time ago.
Just wanted to say, this is my first time writing you, but I have been loving your site for about a year. I made this Clam Chowder recipe the other day and it was wonderful. Thanks for the site and all the recipes. I also made the Granola cookies and the Beef and Cheddar dog treats you made for Einsteins birthday. My Standard Poodle puppy Lottie is just 12 weeks but she loved chewing on these cookies. Thanks Again.
I had to comment again to tell you that I made this chowder this weekend. It is delicious and will be replacing my original clam chowder recipe! Thanks! ♥
In my previous life as a seller of temporary staffing services, I had the chance to meet with the controller of a local clam canning company (who knew NJ had such things?). He explained to me the difference between shuckers (who remove the clams from their shells, obviously) and squeezers (who remove the juice from the clams). Apparently the squeezers are the low men on the totem pole, and the promotion to shucker is a big deal. Anyway, I can’t see canned clams or clam juice without thinking about this little man with the big glasses who took his clams so seriously.
Anyway, that was my contribution to the conversation, haha. Your soup looks lovely!!
Thank you SO much for this recipe!!! I made it for dinner tonight, and we licked our bowls clean!!! So delicious and easy to make! THANK YOU!!!
My manfriend LOVES clam chowder, I’ll have to pull this out as a surprise!
I am a native Pittsburgher transferred to New England 19 years ago. New England Clam Chowder was the first thing I learned to make when I landed here. I am lucky to be able to get Quahogs at the grocery store. I do have to order them, but it is no big deal.
I’ve learned to love a lower calorie version… Rhode Island Clam Chowder. Just don’t add the cream.
Made this last night – we all loved it! Thanks for sharing!
I was the same way as a kid! Clam chowder was one of my fav soups, and I was the only kid I knew who liked it. Since moving to CA, I haven’t had a decent bowl of the stuff. Looks like I’ll just have to make it myself :)
Love this! Will make it tonight
This looks delish and am making for our seafood themed Christmas dinner. How can i make this a day or two early? Please give details because i am making 12 servings and want this to be the best! Thanks
Yum! I’m always looking for new clam chowder recipes as it is my husband’s favorite. I will have to try this sometime and soon!
My grandmother was from Massachusettes and she made the best New England clam chowder. It’s my all-time favorite. Your version is very similar to the clam chowder I make. Hmmm…I may have to put it on tomorrow’s menu.
I love New England clam chowder but I’ve never made it… I may have to try it!
This looks fantastic! Can’t wait to give this a try.
Thank you for posting this! I can totally sympathize with you about finding fresh seafood! I live in Ohio so I pretty much IGNORE all seafood recipes….which is a shame. I will definitely have to give this one a try…
Looks delicious. Love the texture of your recipe. It’s not too thick. The thyme and bacon must smell so good when this is cooking.
Oooh, perfect timing! I was just thinking about how I haven’t had clam chowder in soooo long and that I should make it for myself, because living where I do there’s about zero chance of getting some that isn’t from a can. This looks delicious – can’t wait to try it :D
Growing up in Boston, I took clam chowder for granted. Now living in Chicago, I, too, have trouble finding anything fresh relating to fish. Your recipe looks like a great alternative so that I can get a taste of home. Believe it or not, when I was a kid, a favorite soup was my mom’s lentil soup which I now make routinely all year long. Right now, during the cold weather, it’s especially good.
This looks wonderful! Do you have the recipe for I think it’s Manhatten Clam Chowder? It’s the red one. For some reason when we go to the boardwalk, people walk around with clam chowder, my husband and daughter searchout for the red one. I’m going to try your recipe and see if I can change there mind! This looks absolutly wonderful!
Hi Jennifer, I don’t have a recipe for Manhattan clam chowder unfortunately. I never quite liked that version!
My hubby loves NE Clam Chowder. I use Alton Brown’s recipe but I find it to be too starchy. Your recipe sounds really good and your picture looks even better. Can’t wait to try it. ♥
I totally agree with you on this! I’m a cream-based soup lover, as bad as it is, and Manhattan does not come close to New England! Can’t wait to try this.
my husband would love if I would fix this for him – it’s perfect for these cold, winter months!
Thanks for making a chowder that doesn’t look like wallpaper paste. I’m a Pittsburgher also and this will definitely hit the spot this coming weekend. As to using canned clams – I do too and haven’t used fresh clams since I lived in Rhode Island. When I’m really lazy, I even use canned potatoes (I love those little diced ones!!). Off to Giant Eagle for some crusty bread.
You’ve reminded me how much I like clams. I have never made a chowder, and as soon as we get some snow, I aim to use your recipe. (hopefully, we will; in Nashville, the snow could forget us).
I love New england clam chowder. I will make this for my family real soon.
Looks wonderful! I was introduced to chowders by my New England mother-in-law, but I’ve never dares make them myself. I love clam chowder, so your list goes on my to-make pile!
Living in Maine, I’ve had some amazing chowders… and yours looks fantastic! There’s a local group blogging project in March and, if I may, I’d love to make your recipe.
Fave soup as a kid was my grandma’s chicken noodle or dare I say, Campbell’s chicken noodle.
Your soup makes me wanna break out the oyster crackers and start cooking.