Ultimate Clam Chowder

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Ultimate Clam Chowder is creamy and savory, made with potatoes, cream, seasoning, and minced clams, ready in 30 minutes!

Creamy soups are one of our favorite things to make when it’s cold outside, and this week we’re making Corn Chowder, Broccoli Cheese Soup, and Slow Cooker Ham and Potato Soup.

Clam ChowderULTIMATE CLAM CHOWDER

Ultimate Clam Chowder is unbelievably creamy, hearty, and savory with a combo of heavy cream and whole milk added to seasoned vegetables, clam juice, clams, and red wine vinegar. This is my go-to version of New England clam chowder, due to the dairy and white color. It’s great for starting a meal, or as a meal all by itself. Plus it’s ready in 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for weeknights!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANHATTAN AND NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER?

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two chowder dishes is by the color of the broth. In Manhattan clam chowder, the broth is made with tomato instead of milk, giving it a red color.

Manhattan chowder is similar to Rhode Island clam chowder, but Rhode Island chowder has less vegetables. While New England clam chowder uses milk or cream with no tomatoes, with the addition of potatoes and a thicker consistency.

HOW DO YOU MAKE CHOWDER WITH FRESH CLAMS?

If you want to make this with fresh clams instead of canned, then you’ll have to cook the clams first. Clean the clams by scrubbing them to remove any sand on the shells. Then add 1 cup of chicken broth to a large pot, for about 2 pounds of clams.

Cook over medium-high heat, until the water boils and clams steam open in about 10 minutes. Any clams that don’t open should be discarded. Then remove the clams from the shells, discard the shells and drain the water. You can also reserve some of the drippings to make the chowder in place of the clam juice.

WHAT KIND OF POTATOES DO YOU USE FOR CLAM CHOWDER?

You can use peeled russet potatoes, but I like to use Yukon gold or red potatoes for clam chowder, because the skin is soft enough so you don’t have to peel them. Yukon gold potatoes also have a buttery flavor that pairs perfectly with creamy soups.

HOW DO YOU STORE CLAM CHOWDER?

Let the chowder cool completely, then store in an airtight container for 2-3 days refrigerated. I don’t recommend freezing this clam chowder recipe, because the broth has dairy and it won’t freeze well. If you’re making a Manhattan clam chowder that does not have dairy, you can freeze it for several months.

Ladle of Clam Chowder with Bacon

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HOW DO YOU THICKEN CLAM CHOWDER?

If your chowder turns out too thin, you can thicken it by removing some of the broth, and whisking 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch into it. Then slowly adding it back into the chowder. Wait a few minutes, whisking, while the broth thickens.

This clam chowder recipe starts with a quick roux. You can also try whisking the all purpose flour for slightly longer before adding any other liquids.

MORE SOUP and Stew RECIPES

TIPS FOR MAKING CLAM CHOWDER

  • Add additional seasoning to the clam chowder, like cayenne pepper. bay leaf, or thyme, for different flavors. You can also garnish with fresh thyme.
  • This recipe calls for heavy cream and whole milk, but you can substitute half-and-half if that’s what you have. I would not make this with skim milk, because the fat is important for the creamy texture of the broth. I also like to use real bacon and not turkey bacon, for flavor.
  • You can use chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of clam juice in this recipe if you want to. Or use the clam stock you made by boiling fresh clams.
  • I prefer to use unsalted butter, because I like to control the flavor myself in a recipe.
  • Top the clam chowder with fresh herbs before serving, like thyme or chives.
  • This recipe already calls for celery and carrots, but you can also add parsnips, spinach, or more.
  • Serve this clam chowder with toasted bread, oyster crackers, and a glass of your favorite white wine!
  • Make this faster by chopping your vegetables ahead of time and using clams from a can with bottled clam juice.

Easy Clam Chowder

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Ultimate Clam Chowder

5 from 9 votes
  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Course: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Ultimate Clam Chowder is creamy and savory, made with potatoes, cream, seasoning, and minced clams, ready in 30 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces bacon diced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 6.5 ounce cans minced clams
  • 2 yukon potatoes diced
  • 2 cups clam juice 16 ounces
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Add the bacon to a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook until crisp, remove and leave fat behind then add in the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes before adding in the juice from all the cans of clams, the clam juice and the potatoes and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender.

  2. In a medium saucepan add the butter and flour whisking together for a minute to cook out the raw flour taste before whisking in the heavy cream and whole milk until smooth then pour it into the pot with the vegetables and warm (do not let this boil).
  3. Just before servings add in the clams and red wine vinegar and garnish with the crumbled bacon.

Recipe Notes

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 10 servings, Amount per serving: 434 calories, Calories: 434g, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 826mg, Potassium: 377mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 66.6g, Vitamin C: 9.3g, Calcium: 11.4g, Iron: 9.3g

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Keyword: clam chowder
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Clam Chowder with Bacon

About the Author

Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

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Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

Categories:

Main Dishes Meat & Seafood Recipe Seafood Recipes Soup Soups & Salads

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Comments

  1. Oh Sabrina, this clam chowder is truly a winner! I cooked up a gallon for a large group of volunteers last night and then warmed up two more gallons this morning for our homeless soup kitchen. They inhaled it all. We fed over 100 homeless folks this morning, and thanks to your clam chowder recipe they enjoyed a truly gourmet feast. Next time I’ll cook more! Don’t worry, we also served scrambled eggs, toast, chicken, rice, spaghetti, and lots of veggies. Thanks for all you do. We’re huge fans of yours here in Arlington VA!!!

  2. I’ve never made clam chowder but I’m excited to try your recipe! Your easy to follow recipe will make my first time a breeze.

  3. My mouth is watering just reading through your clam chowder recipe! The sauce looks so thick and creamy. Perfect for a cold night!

  4. I’m on a keto diet and can’t have potatoes. someone suggested replacing them with cauliflower? I’d also have to use all heavy cream, but not sure if this would thicken it or would I still have to add a thickener of some sort? also can’t have the flour. but making this minus those with cauliflower? your thoughts?

    1. You can use cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes, no problem. I would probably add more sour cream to help thicken it up more. Hope this helps!

  5. Two questions, what does the red wine vinegar do to the soup taste wise and have you tried putting dried dill in this soup? I have never used red wine vinegar before, and one recipe I tried for clam chowder had dried dill in it. The dried dill made the soup taste pretty good so was curious.

    1. The red wine vinegar adds acidity to the dish to help balance out the flavors. You don’t actually taste it in the soup. I’ve never added dill before but you can add it if that’s the flavor profile you’re looking for. Enjoy!