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New England Clam Chowder

4.82 from 77 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
4.82 from 77 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


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    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Andrea says

    5 stars
    Have you ever tried to freeze this?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I haven’t. Cream based soups aren’t my favorite for freezing, but it can be done. When you are ready to eat it, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then warm up on the stove top over low heat, stirring often.

  2. Miriam says

    Garlic doesn’t belong in New England clam chowder. You have a list of substitutions – how about including garlic in that list?

    • Lisa Longley says

      We will have to agree to disagree.

  3. Carl Minor says

    4 stars
    Probably as good as I have had anywhere, thank you!

  4. Linda C says

    5 stars
    This is the only clam chowder recipe I use! It’s fabulous and gets rave reviews whenever I make it

    Linda C

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you like it, Linda!

  5. Diane N says

    5 stars
    Great recipe!
    I use 3-6oz cans chopped clams in clam juice. Sautéed onions, celery, parsley and garlic plus bay leaves and several thyme sprigs in bacon grease (liquid gold)I keep a jar in the fridge and added 1/2 cup flour. The clam juice = 1 cup + 4 cups vegetable broth. Added diced potatoes salt and freshly ground pepper. Finished with a pint 2 cups of heavy cream and several dashes of Tabasco. Taste and adjust seasonings and consistency to your preferences. Yields 8+ cups of chowdah. Excellent!

  6. Ellie M says

    5 stars
    First time making this and I’m so happy I chose this recipe! It was delicious!! Thanks!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it, Ellie!

  7. Dani says

    This looks delicious!!

    Do I drain the grease from the bacon? Or will it cook into the soup? I don’t want it to be too greasy. Thanks!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      You definitely should not drain the bacon. We use the fat from the bacon to make the roux that thickens the soup. It won’t taste greasy, I promise!

  8. Deanna says

    5 stars
    I made your New England Clam Chowder and it was so so good! My fiancé and I love clam chowder so we always get it when we are out and it’s available. He said “this is the best clam chowder we have ever had!”
    Trust me he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t mean. Thank you!:)

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you both enjoyed it!

  9. Charla says

    I am so excited to make this recipe. Can I make this two days in advance and plop in the crockpot to re-heat? I’d like to make this evening to serve Saturday for a Friendsgiving.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Charla! This does work well to make ahead of time, but I’ve never tried reheating it in the crockpot. Because it is made with a roux, it needs to be reheated over low heat so that it doesn’t separate. I’m just not sure if the crockpot will do that or not.

  10. Jill says

    What kind of broth is the best? I used all the clam juice and wasn’t enough liquid. All I had was beef. Haven’t tried it yet but not sure that was the best ..

    • Lisa Longley says

      I would go with additional clam juice, which you can buy near the canned clams, next time. Though we’ve also had it with chicken stock and it was still good. I’m not sure about the beef! let me know.

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners