Wholesome and Hearty: New England Clam Chowder Recipe

Welcome, my fellow foodies, to my New England Clam Chowder recipe! This hearty soup has earned its place as an American classic that originated from Rhode Island but is now enjoyed worldwide. If you’re looking for a comforting dish that’s perfect for a cold day or if you simply want to experience the authentic flavors of New England cuisine, then this recipe is for you.

As I’ve explored the world of culinary delights, I’ve come across many delicious dishes. However, there are few recipes that compare to the rich and savory taste of a well-made clam chowder. This dish is a true staple of traditional New England cuisine, and it’s perfect for those days when you crave something hearty and satisfying.

In this recipe article, I will give you step-by-step instructions on how to make an authentic New England clam chowder. This recipe is easy to follow and uses traditional ingredients such as potatoes, clams, bacon, and cream. By following my instructions closely, you will achieve a perfect balance of flavors that will awaken your taste buds and make you feel like you’re in the heart of Maine.

So put on your apron and let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

New England Clam Chowder
New England Clam Chowder

Folks, let me tell you something you’re going to love. If you’ve never savoured the taste of New England Clam Chowder before, this recipe will bring you to heaven and back! It’s one of the heartiest and most comforting dishes out there, packing rich flavours that are impossible to resist. Trust me; once you’ve tasted it, there’s no going back.

This recipe is a true masterpiece that combines succulent clams with salty bacon and sweet potatoes. Oh, the potato chunks in this chowder are so soft and flavourful that they make an excellent addition to the creamy texture of the broth. But wait until we add thyme, parsley, and bay leaf; the fragrance is so aromatic it will take over your senses!

Now a word on canned clam chowders- no can compare to the homemade goodness of this recipe. Homemade chowder is a whole other level – not only is it delicious but also easy to prepare. It’s perfect for a cozy night in or even to entertain your loved ones.

So don’t hesitate any longer. Take some time off your busy schedule, gather the ingredients together, and try my award-winning New England Clam Chowder recipe today!

Ingredient List

 A warm and creamy bowl of New England Clam Chowder is perfect for a cozy night in.
A warm and creamy bowl of New England Clam Chowder is perfect for a cozy night in.

Before you dive into making an award-winning New England clam chowder, gather all the ingredients you’ll need for this hearty and creamy soup. Here are the classic ingredients used in this traditional and authentic chowder, including some substitutions and variations you can try to suit your personal taste:


  • Fresh clams or canned clams (2 cups / 16 oz)
  • Clam juice (1 cup)

Salt pork or bacon

  • Slab bacon or center-cut bacon (4 slices), cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • Bacon fat or unsalted butter (2 tablespoons)


  • Onion (1 large), chopped
  • Celery (2 stalks), diced
  • Carrot (1 medium), peeled and cubed
  • Garlic (7-8 cloves), minced


  • Yellow potatoes, cut into ¼ inch cubes (4 cups / 1 lb)
  • Instant mashed potatoes (3/4 cup)


  • All-purpose flour (2 tablespoons)

Spices and herbs

  • Bay leaf (1)
  • Thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Tabasco sauce (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)

Dairy products

  • Half-and-half or milk cream (2 cups)


  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Optional substitutes:

  • Instead of salt pork, use diced pancetta, ham or prosciutto.

  • For a Rhode Island-style clam chowder, omit the bacon and add chopped tomatoes and hot peppers.

  • If you prefer a thicker soup, add more potatoes or instant mashed potatoes. Or if you want a thinner soup, add more clam juice or water.

With all these recipe ingredients at your disposal, let’s jump right into the recipe how-to.

The Recipe How-To

 Clams are the star of this dish, but the potatoes and bacon provide a hearty support.
Clams are the star of this dish, but the potatoes and bacon provide a hearty support.

Now it’s time to get down to business, the cooking business that is. The New England Clam Chowder Recipe might look daunting, but trust me, you’ll breeze through it with these easy-to-follow instructions. Grab your aprons and let’s get started!

Preparing the Delicious Meal
Step 1: The Bacon

  • Cut 4 slices of bacon into small pieces and sauté them in a 4-inch Dutch oven until they’re browned but not burnt.
  • Remove them with a slotted spoon and let them sit on a paper towel-lined plate.

Step 2: The Base

  • Using the same Dutch oven without cleaning it, add 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté diced onions, diced celery, and minced garlic over low heat till they’re translucent. Then start to add vegetables to it like 1 large cubed potato, 1 medium cubed carrot, and 3 cups of clam juice along with the bay leaf, thyme, and parsley bouquet garni.
  • Allow this mixture to cook for around 15 minutes before adding two cups of half-and-half. Reserve one cup for later.

Step 3: The Thickening Agent

  • After the soup has come to a boil, mix half a cup of flour with one cup of cold milk cream until smooth.
  • Slowly add this thickening mixture into soup. Keep whisking continuously so that no lumps are formed.

Step 4: Key Ingredient

  • Now it’s time for the star ingredient! Add two cans of clams into soup along with their juices. Cook until hot.
  • Now is time for seasonings; add salt, black pepper and a few drops of Tabasco sauce.

Step 5: Serving

  • Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf bouquet garni. Ladle four servings into bowls and sprinkle each bowl with some sliced parsley leaves and bacon pieces we made in step 1.

This hearty New England Clam Chowder tastes best when served immediately after cooking – hmmm… I do not think there will be any leftovers anyway!

Substitutions and Variations

 The combination of fresh thyme and bay leaves adds an earthy flavor that complements the clams perfectly.
The combination of fresh thyme and bay leaves adds an earthy flavor that complements the clams perfectly.

When it comes to making New England Clam Chowder, there are plenty of variations and substitutions you can try to make the recipe your own. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Bacon: For a lighter chowder, you can use turkey bacon instead of regular bacon. You can also substitute bacon fat with olive oil.

2. Potatoes: While traditional chowder calls for white potatoes, you can use sweet potatoes or yams for a different flavor profile. If you’re looking for a lower carb option, replace the potatoes with cauliflower.

3. Clams: Use fresh clams whenever possible to enhance the natural flavors of the dish. If they’re not available or out of season, canned or frozen clams are acceptable substitutions.

4. Cream/Half and Half: To reduce calories and fat, consider using whole milk or low-fat milk as a replacement for cream/half and half.

5. Spices: You can experiment with different spices such as smoked paprika or cayenne pepper, depending on your personal taste preferences.

6. Vegetables: Some recipes call for carrots, garlic, and celery in addition to onions. Other variations include chopped leeks or shallots.

7. Additional Ingredients: Some people like to add extra ingredients like corn or pancetta to their New England Clam Chowder variants.

Remember that cooking is all about exploring your creativity and your tastebuds; feel free to experiment and make this recipe your own!

Serving and Pairing

It’s time to dig into your creamy, hearty New England clam chowder! This dish is perfect for those chilly nights when you need something warm and comforting. The aroma of the tender clams and the smoky bacon tantalizes your taste buds, making this a dish you’ll want to enjoy again and again.

When serving your New England clam chowder, consider pairing it with some fresh crusty bread or oyster crackers for that extra crunch. You might also want to sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for a pop of color and flavor.

To truly complete the experience, pair this classic New England dish with a crisp white wine or a light beer. A classic pairing with clam chowder is Sauvignon Blanc. If you prefer beer, try an IPA or a lager to balance out the creaminess of the chowder.

This comforting bowl of clam chowder is sure to please everyone’s palate. Whether it’s a cozy weeknight dinner or the centerpiece of a special occasion, this traditional New England clam chowder recipe will leave you feeling satisfied and warm.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

After whipping up a mouth-watering batch of New England Clam Chowder, you may find yourself with leftovers that deserve to be savored later on. The good news is that this recipe can easily be made ahead of time, so you can enjoy its creamy, savory goodness without any stress.

To make ahead:

After cooking the chowder according to the recipe instructions and allowing it to cool to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat:

When you’re ready to enjoy your leftover clam chowder, take it out of the refrigerator and place it in a pot over medium heat. Be sure to stir the chowder intermittently as it reheats in order to prevent burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add a splash of half-and-half or milk if necessary to adjust the consistency.

To freeze:

If you want to save some chowder for later use, you can also freeze it. Let the soup cool completely before transferring it into an airtight freezer-safe container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To thaw and reheat:

When you’re ready to eat it again, take out your frozen soup and put it in your fridge overnight. Then reheat as needed by following the same instructions as before.

It’s worth noting that when thawing and reheating your clam chowder, there may be some separation of ingredients, which is normal. Just give it a good stir until everything is evenly distributed again, and then dig in!

Pro-tip: Don’t add milk or half-and-half until you are ready eat reheated soup. That way liquid doesn’t separate upon storage.

Overall, this New England Clam Chowder recipe is perfect for meal prep and is easy to store for later enjoyment!

Tips for Perfect Results

When it comes to making New England clam chowder, there are a few key tips to keep in mind that will help ensure perfect results every time. Here are some of my top tips for achieving a creamy, flavorful and authentic tasting chowder:

1. Choose the right potatoes: Yukon Gold or red potatoes work best in this dish. They hold their shape well during cooking and have a natural creaminess that complements the soup.

2. Use fresh clams whenever possible: If you can find fresh, shucked clams at your local seafood market or grocer, use them. They will have the best flavor and texture. However, canned clams can also be used if fresh is not available.

3. Don’t use too much flour: Flour is used to thicken the chowder, but using too much can make the soup taste heavy and starchy. Use just enough to achieve a creamy consistency.

4. Add fish sauce instead of salt: Fish sauce adds a savory depth of flavor to the chowder, without adding additional salt which can overpower its other flavors.

5. Cook the bacon separately: Instead of adding uncooked bacon directly to the soup, cook it separately until crispy and then crumble it over the finished soup. This prevents the bacon from becoming soggy and preserves its crisp texture.

6. Let it simmer: Allow the chowder to simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes to allow all of the flavors to meld together and for it to thicken properly.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making an award-winning New England clam chowder that your friends and family will love!


Now that you know how to make a delicious New England Clam Chowder, you may still have some questions or concerns about the recipe. This FAQ section will address any queries that you might have, from how to thicken the chowder to what type of bacon to use. Keep reading for all the answers to your burning questions.

What is the ingredient in New England clam chowder?

The creamy New England clam chowder sets itself apart from other chowders with its use of clams, potatoes, onions, salted pork, and milk or cream. The presence of dairy is what makes this chowder unique.

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

New England chowder, or the “Boston-style” clam chowder, is a creamy variation of clam chowder that features a thick consistency compared to other regional styles. It commonly uses a combination of ingredients such as potatoes, pork, onions, and clams, along with milk or cream, and is served with oyster crackers on the side.

What is the thickener in New England clam chowder?

According to Charlie Burke, a writer for The Heart of New England, traditional chowders from the New England region are typically not thickened with artificial means. Instead, the starch from potatoes is used to slightly thicken the broth along with the addition of milk or cream.

What is the difference between New England and Rhode Island clam chowder?

Rhode Island is known for its unique style of clam chowder, which can vary in color and consistency from other popular chowders. Some versions of Rhode Island chowder are similar to New England chowder, but without the addition of dairy. Meanwhile, others contain stewed tomatoes that are often credited to the influence of Portuguese settlers in the area.

Bottom Line

And there you have it, my fellow foodies. The recipe for an authentic New England clam chowder that is sure to warm your soul and satisfy your taste buds. Trust me, once you taste this award-winning recipe, you’ll never go back to the canned version again.

Whether you’re from Maine, Rhode Island or anywhere else in the world, this thick and creamy chowder will transport you to the rocky shores of New England with each savory bite.

So why not give this recipe a try? With its easy-to-follow instructions, versatile ingredients and rich flavors, it’s the perfect addition to any home-cooked meal. And who knows? This just might become your new favorite comfort food.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this New England clam chowder recipe to anyone looking for a traditional and authentic dish with hearty flavor. It’s quick and straightforward preparations consist of accessible ingredients that guarantee winning results. Don’t hesitate to make this creamy New England style clam chowder using bacon salt pork, potatoes and clams for your next dinner; your family will surely thank you!

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

As a New Englander I can tell you this is the best Clam Chowder around! It's from The Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, Connecticut. This is the original recipe. In addition to the onion & celery I sometimes like to add 1/2 cup shredded carrots.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Fusion
Calories 832.9 kcal


  • 2 ounces bacon fat
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 shredded carrot (optional)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes
  • 4 chef potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 quart clam juice
  • 3 cups chopped clams
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 drop Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (garnish)


  • Melt butter and bacon fat in large pot.
  • Sautee onion, celery garlic (and 1/2 cup shredded carrots, if using) until tender.
  • Add seasonings (parsley, Tabasco, celery salt, thyme & bay).
  • Add flour and instant mash potatoes.
  • Turn off flame and stir until flour is no longer visible.
  • Add the clam juice and stir.
  • Turn flame back on to high and continue stirring (constantly) to avoid sticking.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add potatoes and stir.
  • Cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • Add clams.
  • Stir.
  • Add cream.
  • Stir.
  • Simmer for 1/2 hour.
  • Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve garnished with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Your Own Notes


Serving: 879gCalories: 832.9kcalCarbohydrates: 98gProtein: 38.2gFat: 32.2gSaturated Fat: 16.9gCholesterol: 127.3mgSodium: 2116.7mgFiber: 8.4gSugar: 12.9g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Chowders
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