Ultimate Clam Chowder

10 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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.



  • 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

Ultimate Clam Chowder is creamy and savory, made with potatoes, cream, seasoning, and minced clams, ready in 30 minutes!
Yield 10 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 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


  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Just before servings add in the clams and red wine vinegar and garnish with the crumbled bacon.


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


Calories: 434kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 826mg | Potassium: 377mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3330IU | Vitamin C: 7.7mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 1.7mg

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.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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.


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  1. Wowser, this chowder hit the spot!! I was hesitant on the vinegar, but trusted you since I have tried many of your dinner recipes with success. Will be my go to clam chowder recipe from today on out. Thanks for another great recipe.

  2. This clam chowder is amazing. The only thing I did was add a couple sprigs of fresh thyme while cooking the veggies in the clam juice and removed them before the cream mixture went in.

  3. I made this chowder tonight and I consider myself a foodie and pretty detailed in my cooking. My guests said it was the best chowder they’ve ever had and I have to agree. Simply luscious! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  4. I usually don’t take the time to rate a recipe but this is one of the best clam chowders I’ve had. I live in Florida and so many restaurants claim to have the best. I have not found one better than yours. Thank you so much!

  5. Excellent. A definite keeper. Did not put in carrots because being from New England I have never seen carrots used in clam chowder.

  6. I made this recipe for the clam chowder and my husband and I really enjoyed it. The bacon on top was an added flavor that we liked. I will be adding this to my
    List of soups to make.

  7. In this Ultimate Clam Chowder recipe, what (if anything) can be used instead of the cream? Lactose intolerance RE: cream (but not milk) within this household.

    1. You can use non-dairy products, but make sure it’s “creamy” in texture. If you’re making a Manhattan clam chowder that does not have dairy, you can freeze it for several months.

  8. Omg. Omg. Omg. The BEST and easiest clam chowder recipe. It’s amazing. I’ve never made it before so I was worried. But this recipe is so easy to follow. It doesn’t use weird ingredients or require a ton of prep. It’s truly amazing. Can’t get enough!! Highly recommend!

  9. Love this recipe, so much better than restaurants chowder. One question tho, can you freeze clam chowder?

  10. LOVE THIS CHOWDER….First time I made clam chowder and it was nice, thick, and oh so yummy. I bought a huge can of clams from a fish market and, since I love clams, I used all the clams. My niece and her husband (which doesn’t like any kind of seafood) raved about it too. Will be making it again and again.

  11. WOW! If you are a fan of a less thick chowder, not the type where the spoon stands up on its own, then this is THE one. I made several minor adjustments by adding ingredients found in other recipes. This included adding 2 tablespoons of butter to the bacon drippings, and the addition of 1/2 of a diced, red bell pepper to the veggies. Gorgeous colors! The addition of 2 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon clam base added depth to the flavor. This product has been discontinued, but their lobster base would be an excellent substitute, although the recipe will still be wonderful without it. A 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne added a hint of warmth and savoriness. Next time, I will use chopped clams, instead of minced, for a heartier bite and a touch of fresh thyme. Thanks so much, Sabrina! I’m over the moon.

  12. Wow! This clam chowder recipe is so good! I made it this morning for a soup luncheon that our school’s PTA hospitality team is putting on for the teachers. I followed the recipe as written and doubled it. It thickened up perfectly! The bacon is a nice touch (it looks great and it’s tasty), and the red wine vinegar really adds to it. I tasted the soup before and after adding the vinegar, and it gave a whole other level of yum. It’s subtle, but definitely makes a difference. I think the only thing I might do differently next time is reduce the amount of salt slightly for my personal preference. Thank you, Sabrina, for posting this recipe! It’s going right into my recipe book of “keepers” to make again…and again…and again…. :0)
    PS- We really like your Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes, too. ??

  13. Sabrina, why don’t the clams don’t get rubbery if you keep the chowder heating for a long time, like the restaurants do. Is there a way to keep them tender?

  14. I’ve made this now for the third time,as per the directions. Absolutely fab!!! Everyone loves it.do not change a thing!!

  15. Excellent recipe very tasty. I’m from the best clam chowder state MAINE if you can’t enjoy this recipe you will never have a clue what a clam chowder should taste like.

    1. What would be the serving size for this? Just trying to gauge how much I need to increase to feed a large crowd.

  16. This was a huge hit at our house! My husband and teenage son raves about it. It cooked perfectly as outlined (though I omitted the carrots due to hatred of cooked carrots). We will definitely be making this again. And I wanted to thank you for the tip on thickening chowder because we love a thick chowder.

    1. The flour and butter are whisked to make a roux for the chowder. Helps to thicken it. If you feel like it was too thick, you can cut both the butter and flour back to 1/2 cup.

  17. I love this clam chowder recipe. I made a few additions. I used two cans of the chopped clams and 2 cans of the whole clams. I also added 1/4 tsp. of sage and 1 diced carrot. I used a red onion and 3 cloves of garlic. It turns out so creamy, and delicious. Great recipe.

  18. Fabulous is all i can say. I let vegetables ( except potatoes) cook until almost dissolved and followed the recipe exactly. next time I will use larger clams. I was a little unsure about the red wine vinegar. Tasted before adding and after and boy does it make a huge difference. Don’t know why but it does. This recipe is a keeper! Thank you.

  19. I followed the recipe but some how it ended up tasting more like flour than clam chowder. 3/4 C of flour seemed a bit much but I did it anyway… would not recommend, sorry. I wouldn’t put that much flour in if you do make it.

  20. There is also a clear broth clam chowder. I use salt pork and have not added carrots. But I grew up in Connecticut so I would think that is an influence.

  21. 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!!!

  22. Absolute perfection! This is great for the meh overcast weather we’ve been having for the past couple of days here.

    1. To all of the people who rate a recipe they they haven’t even made…WHY?! Your comments and rating are not helpful at all. Try this: Make it and then rate it!

      1. It always irks me to see comments from people who’ve never made or tasted the recipe, & there are a LOT of them. I agree with Lori — MAKE IT & THEN RATE IT!

        1. I agree. It really galls me to see comments saying “oh, that looks delicious”, or “I can’t wait to make it”. People are looking for reviews from people who actually made the recipe. Make it before you review it!

  23. Okay I’m diving in – it looks so good. Perfect comfort food for a weeknight especially when topped with bacon!

  24. 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.

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

  26. 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!

  27. 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!