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New England Clam Chowder

4.83 from 78 votes

posted: 02/06/19

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This New England Clam Chowder is the absolute best! This easy chowder recipe is perfect comfort food for a cold night.

Made with bacon, plenty of potatoes, and with just the right amount of cream, you will be a chowder master with my instructions for how to make clam chowder.

small white soup bowl full of new england clam chowder recipe and garnished with parsley


This recipe has been a favorite in our house for ages! It is far and away Nathan’s favorite dinner recipe.

What makes this the best clam chowder recipe you ask? Simple. The roux starts out with bacon! A roux is the mixture of fat and flour to create a thickening agent.

That fat is often butter, like in my Chicken Noodle Casserole, but in this amazing clam chowder, it is bacon fat. The bacon fat works perfectly to make a nice creamy base for this soup while adding tons of flavor.

overhead view of pot of clam chowder recipe


It was actually my husband who first started making this soup. I had never been a big fan because the broth was so liquidy and thin. New England Clam Chowder should have a nice and thick creamy broth.

And then one day I watched Nathan make it. After combining the bacon fat and the flour, he just poured in the clam juice in one big fell swoop. (Cue the horror face emoji.)

The key to this recipe working well is to add the clam juice really slowly. I’m talking like two tablespoons at a time when you first start adding it. You want it to be a nice gummy mess with the little bit of clam juice being absorbed each time before you add in more.

Do you see how creamy it is in the photos? That’s what you are going for.


  1. Add the diced thick cut bacon to the preheated stock pot.
  2. Cook until crisp. Add in the onions and celery, cooking until they are tender. Add in the garlic, cooking for 30 seconds making sure not to burn it.
  3. Mix in the flour.
  4. Very slowly stir in the clam juice. Start with about two tablespoons at a time, whisking it in until the liquid is absorbed and then adding more. At the end you can add more at a time and more quickly.
  5. Add the thyme, potatoes, and two bay leaves. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the clams and heavy cream and enjoy!

Once you have made it a few times, you’ll be able to make it in your sleep!

overhead view of clam chowder soup in a small soup bowl


  • My husband hates onions and isn’t a huge fan of celery or parsley, so when I’m making it for just him, I leave all of that out.
  • He loves potatoes, so I add a few more of those than this recipe calls for.
  • You can substitute chicken stock for the clam juice. It lessens the clam taste a little, but saves a bundle as clam juice can be expensive. On the other hand, I’ve had people tell me I’m a heathen for this. It’s your call.


I guess that you can do this without bacon. (But WHY?!?)

Start your recipe by melting 3 tablespoons of butter, and then start sautéing your vegetables. Carry on from there as normal. It is very likely that you will need to season your final soup with a bit of salt.


Please don’t. Without heavy cream, you just aren’t going to get that final creamy soup that I know you want.


This recipe is great with bread for dipping. These one hour dinner rolls or my homemade beer bread would both be perfect.

I also love having a salad with my soup. Either this spinach salad or my winter salad would be delicious on the side.

If you make this soup or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear from you!

two bowls of the best clam chowder recipe

small white soup bowl full of new england clam chowder recipe and garnished with parsley
4.83 from 78 votes

New England Clam Chowder

Serves: 6 bowls
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
This New England Clam Chowder is the absolute best!  This easy clam chowder recipe makes perfect comfort food for a cold night.  Made with bacon, plenty of potatoes, and with just the right amount of cream, you will be a chowder master with my instructions for how to make clam chowder.


  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon diced into small pieces
  • 3 cups clam juice or chicken stock see note
  • 4 6.5 oz cans of chopped clams, liquid reserved (see step 2)
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes about five medium diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBSPs well minced parsley
  • salt and pepper


  • In a large stew pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, stirring often.
  • While the bacon is cooking, drain the clam juice from the canned clams into a measuring cup. You will need approximately 3 cups more of clam juice or chicken stock to get a total of 4 1/2 cups of liquid.
  • Add the diced celery and onions, cooking until they are translucent and very soft.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, being careful that the garlic doesn't burn.
  • Stir in the flour, coating all of the veggies and the bacon. Continue cooking about a minute until the flour begins to brown.
  • EXTREMELY gradually, pour in the clam juice (or clam juice/chicken stock mixture). Pour about two tablespoons at a time (no need to measure, this is just an estimate), whisking it into the flour veggie mixture. There should be no visible liquid between each pour. The veggies should look like a gummy mess. Continue this way until you use all the liquid, pouring more quickly at the end.
  • Add the potatoes, thyme, and bay leaves and increase the heat to high and bring to a boil (you are looking for big bubbles at the surface). Then reduce to a simmer (the lowest you can go heat wise and still see bubbles) and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  • Stir in the cream and chopped clams, and let heat through for a minute. Remove from the heat stir in the fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


As mentioned in the post, if you are looking for a budget friendly version of this recipe you can use the clam juice from the clams and get the rest of your liquid from chicken stock.
Calories: 359kcal (18%) Carbohydrates: 34.2g (11%) Protein: 13.2g (26%) Fat: 16.1g (25%) Saturated Fat: 8g (50%) Monounsaturated Fat: 4.7g Cholesterol: 50.8mg (17%) Sodium: 1207.4mg (52%) Potassium: 487mg (14%) Fiber: 2.8g (12%) Sugar: 2.1g (2%) Vitamin A: 113IU (2%) Vitamin C: 34mg (41%) Calcium: 31.6mg (3%) Iron: 2.8mg (16%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
small white soup bowl full of new england clam chowder recipe and garnished with parsley

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New England Clam Chowder

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Leticia says

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! It’s delicious and so easy. To make it less calorie dense, would half and half work instead of cream?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes, it will work, just understand that it won’t b quite as creamy.

  2. Kathy says

    I’m making this chowder for supper tomorrow night. Serving tuna sandwiches with it. I’m excited to try it, it looks delicious!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I hope everyone enjoys it!

  3. Sheri says

    5 stars
    I made it for hubby and he loved it.so I passed the recipe on to my daughter and while visiting her and family we made it.her family loved it.i personally cannot rate it as I do not eat ANY seafood.but watching her family devour it I can say it was a hit

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that it was such a hit with your people. ❤️

  4. Karen says

    4 stars
    Great flavor but very thick,I added extra chicken broth. The thyme gave it a nice rich comforting taste. If I make it again I’ll use fewer potatoes. My husband and nephew loved it.

  5. Anna says

    Thank you for your yummy recipes.

    • Lisa Longley says

      You’re welcome!

  6. Jean Banko says

    I hate putting it on pintrest because I can never find it under the name I give. is there a better way to get it and save it.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Jean! You could try creating specific boards on pinterest, so when you are looking for a soup recipe you go just to your soup board. I know some people save all their favorite Simple Joy recipes to a specific Simple Joy board. You could also just create a folder on your computer with the recipes. You should be able to search your computer for “New England Clam Chowder” then.

  7. Linda says

    5 stars
    Hi Lisa…
    I was scared to try this recipe because my hubs is a chowdah aficionado and he’s a great cook so he can be a harsh critic. Made it for him last night for lunch today (it’s a snowstorm out) and he LOVED it. Your written instructions helped so much or would have panicked when the veggies looked like a “gummy mess”! The only thing I will change next time (and this is my bad) … I tried to half the recipe in case it wasn’t to his liking, but didn’t use a smaller pot, so the liquid wasn’t really deep enough and I think the potatoes were a little undercooked because of that. By the time he reheats for lunch today I think they’ll be fine. I love a lot of your recipes but this is the first one I’ve commented on and rated but I did want to say THANK YOU for giving me another dish I can make! :)

    • Lisa Longley says

      Linda, I’m so happy you’ve been enjoying my recipes! And I’m glad that this one was a hit with your husband. Clam Chowder is serious!

  8. Becky says

    How would you suggest I reheat this the next day? It IS labor intensive (I’ve made it 3 times) and I don’t want to spend the time making it on the day my company is joining us for dinner, AND I don’t want to screw up reheating it! It is DELICIOUS!!!
    Thanks Lisa!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Becky! I’ve never reheated the whole batch. But! I don’t think it is a problem. Just heat it over really low heat and stir it often so that it doesn’t separate.

  9. JJ says

    5 stars
    I have made this so many times and every time I make it, my son-in-law says it’s the “BEST” he’s ever had. That says a lot, since he travels quite a bit and has tried other chowder. I do believe you need to take the time to add the liquid and not get in a hurry. This is what makes a smooth and delicate chowder. I also broke down the cost and it averages about $2.00 a bowl. You can’t beat that anywhere. Homemade is simply the best. Thanks again for a delicious recipe.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I totally agree with you about adding the liquid slowly and thanks for doing that price break down! That’s great!

  10. Linda says

    5 stars
    This is my favorite clam chowder recipe.. I’ve been making it for several years. Always a hit. I do replace one can of chopped clams with one can of whole baby clams but that’s only a preference.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that you enjoy it!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners