Slow Cooker Clam Chowder

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Slow Cooker Clam Chowder is so easy to make with a deliciously creamy, briny flavor mixed with smoky crispy bits of bacon and rich buttery yukon potatoes.

Slow Cooker Clam Chowder is so easy to make with a deliciously creamy, briny flavor mixed with smoky crispy bits of bacon and rich buttery yukon potatoes.
Slow Cooker Clam Chowder

Slow Cooker Clam Chowder is an easy fall soup you’ll enjoy as well as great gameday food you can make for a crowd. We often serve this clam chowder in a bread bowl, but even more often I pile it into a giant bowl and throw a huge handful of oyster crackers on top.

The flavors in the soup scream “hey its not swimsuit weather anymore!” with half and half, bacon, potatoes and clams, but just a small bowl will keep you warm and full for HOURS. We went skiing last winter a lot and one of the few meals I made in our hotel mini kitchen was this soup. After a long day of playing in the snow, you’re going to love this thick, rich bacon filled chowder. Can I just be super bold and say this is the best clam chowder in the world?

The recipe for this clam chowder actually started as a back of the can recipe that I’ve added and subtracted ingredients from over the years. Since then I’ve actually entered this chowder into multiple office contests when I worked in an office and in one local soup challenge. The results, this is an award winning clam chowder recipe! I have the free movie tickets I won to prove it!

The easiest, most amazing Slow Cooker Clam Chowder you'll ever eat!

Tips for making this Slow Cooker Clam Chowder:

  • Get your bacon nice and crisp but not browned. The browned bacon will add an overcooked flavor to the soup.
  • You can swap out the half and half for milk, you may need to mash some of the potatoes to add thickness to the soup.
  • I’ve also made the Clam Chowder with heavy cream before and it is an indulgent treat!
  • You can top with parsley as I have or chopped chives which add flavor as well as freshness.
  • Want to make this clam chowder even better? My secret flavor boost is Clam Base. It isn’t something people generally keep in their kitchens so I left it as an optional ingredient in the directions, but I always add it!
  • If you don’t want to buy Clam Base you can also buy Clam Juice to replace the water.

What is the difference between New England Clam Chowder and Manhattan Clam Chowder?

Manhattan Clam Chowder uses tomatoes and is often referred to as Manhattan Red Chowder.

Q&A about the vegetables in this Slow Cooker Clam Chowder:

  • I used Yukon potatoes for their rich and buttery texture. You can also use red potatoes.
  • I added celery because I love the added flavor of it and it reminds me of a lobster roll. You can also add carrots.
  • For a huge flavor boost sauté your veggies in the bacon fat before adding (they will look less pretty in the soup).
  • Garlic is a flavor not added to some clam chowders but I find it adds a great flavor to the soup which still tastes like your favorite classic chowder.

Crockpot clam chowder with buttery yukon potatoes is creamy, easy and delicious.

Looking for more Slow Cooker Soups?

Tools used in the making of this Slow Cooker Clam Chowder:
3 Qt. Slow Cooker: The perfect size for side dishes for 10-12 people, this slow cooker is an absolute bargain and a workhorse.
Cast Iron Skillet: If you don’t have a slow cooker with a stovetop friendly insert, this is my most used pan in my kitchen, heavy, keeps heat well and gives the BEST sear ever.
Chopped Clams: I always use this brand and always use pre-chopped. You can also sub baby clams but the texture would be different than a classic clam chowder.
Clam Base: I almost never buy boxes of broth because I keep the beef, chicken and vegetable version of this Better Than Bouillon. Or you can use clam juice in place of the water too if you’d like.



Slow Cooker Clam Chowder

4.91 from 10 votes
  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours
  • Course: Soup
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Slow Cooker Clam Chowder is so easy to make with a deliciously creamy, briny flavor mixed with smoky crispy bits of bacon and rich buttery yukon potatoes.


  • 1/2 pound bacon diced
  • 3 cans clams (6.5 ounce, not drained)
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 4 yukon potatoes peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups water *
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


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

  1. In a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat cook the bacon until crisp, then remove from the pan.**

  2. Add half of the bacon, clams, onion, potatoes, celery, garlic, water, Kosher salt, black pepper and thyme into the slow cooker and stir.

  3. Cook on low for 7 hours and refrigerate the remaining bacon for serving with the soup.

  4. In a measuring cup add the half and half with the cornstarch and whisk together.
  5. Add in the half and half mixture to the slow cooker and stir.
  6. Cook on high for 30 minutes.

  7. Serve with the remainder of the bacon sprinkled over the top.***

Recipe Notes

  • * I add 1 tablespoon of Clam Base to the water to pump up the clam flavor in the chowder. Totally optional though.
  • ** Truth? When I don't need it to look all pretty, I brown the onions and potatoes in this bacon fat before adding it to the slow cooker.
  • *** You may want to heat the bacon slightly before sprinkling it on top since it will be cold from the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 Servings, Amount per serving: 256 calories, Calories: 256g, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 525mg, Potassium: 531mg, Fiber: 2g, Vitamin A: 270g, Vitamin C: 11.8g, Calcium: 101g, Iron: 3g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Slow Cooker Clam Chowder
Slow Cooker Clam Chowder is so easy to make with a deliciously creamy, briny flavor mixed with smoky crispy bits of bacon and rich buttery yukon potatoes. #clamchowder #slowcooker #crockpot #bacon #clams #chowder
Slow Cooker Clam Chowder with a deliciously creamy, briny flavor mixed with smoky crispy bits of bacon and rich buttery yukon potatoes. #clamchowder #slowcooker #crockpot #bacon #clams #chowder

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  1. This was very tasty chowder, the thyme and sauteing the vegetables in bacon fat really put it over the top. Our local Walmart didn’t have clam juice so I just stuck with water + canned clam juice, still delicious but next time I will definitely try using twice as many cans for the extra clams and juice to see what I’m missing.

    I poured in the juice from the clams at the beginning but waited to mix in the clams themselves until the chowder was done because they’re already cooked in the can and just need to be warmed, and I tripled the cornstarch for a more chowder-like consistency. Also didn’t have 7 hours to cook this but 3.5 hours on high was perfect for my slow cooker.

  2. I’m an old guy and not very creative when it comes to cooking. That makes me a recipe cooker. Until this recipe, I had never had a clam chowder that I really enjoyed enough to make it again or buy it often – until this recipe. It probably sounds silly. However. when my wife tasted this recipe she said, “Don’t ever buy clam chowder again, make it instead”. The only deviation from your recipe I made was I bought heavy cream instead, by mistake. I have stuck with it ever since. Also, I increased all the ingredients by 50% to fill the crockpot. I have been making this every 10 days or so for several months. I thank you, my wife thanks you and company thas come to dinner and had it thank you.

    1. Oh my gosh, you are the sweetest!! Thank you for your kind words. I’m so happy that you love the recipe so much.

  3. Very tasty soup but very watery even after adding 4 Tablespoons of Cornstarch. It was very much a soup not a Chowder. I guess being from New England we know our Chowder.

  4. Great recipe my family and everyone I cook for loves it. Even my husband who hates everything. I had no thyme so I used oregano which worked great. The second time I made it I added more clams , made the potatoes easier and just bought diced canned ones. I used clam juice instead of water which made the flavor even better. I added the veggies my family likes and a can of cream celery. I used a quart of half and half to make more and did a simple rue with butter and flour to thicken it up. I just decided to make it less work. Still a great recipe so thank you.

    1. I’ve not tested it so if you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. You can always substitute milk with a tablespoon of melted butter for each cup of half and half.

  5. I substitute cream of celery soup in place of fresh celery and in place of cornstarch. If it needs thickening I add a bit of Parmesan cheese

  6. This was sooooo DELICIOUS!! It was so EASY to make and my husband couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. I told my mother about it and she can’t wait to make it. Everything turned out Perfect! The potatoes were perfect! I will be making this ALOT!

  7. 2 TSP of cornstarch didn’t thicken the soup so I added quite a bit more. The cook time was about half what the recipe says. All in all, a nice, tasty soup.

  8. Quick question: what if I were to omit the bacon? I’m currently avoiding all meats except seafood, but this recipe sounds delicious! Thanks in advance!

  9. I made this and it was awesome! I followed directions to the “t” and used whipped cream rather than the half and half. (It’s not bathing suit weather) It was wonderful. My husband didn’t wish to wait for another serving. I had the leftovers in a freezer bag and he pulled them out for more!
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  10. My husband has a recreational clamming license and dug some beautiful surf (hen) clams last fall, which we froze. We are in Maine and expecting 2 feet of snow tomorrow so plan to make this. Thinking I may add some other seafood as well. Can’t wait to try it!

        1. Yes, add them in once cleaned. You’ll need to add some bottled clam juice though since there won’t be any clam nectar. Enjoy!

  11. Hey. Your recipe sounds amazing, but I have a 6qt slow cooker so was thinking of doubling the recipe. How would that change the cooking time?

  12. Hi Betsy, I put the clams in when the chowder is done. The heat from the chowder warms them to the perfect temp. After all, if the clams are canned they are already cooked. Never a rubbery clam will be had.

  13. This was last night’s dinner and it was wonderful!! You were the center of conversation around the dinner table last night. (Was your nose itching?) 🙂 I’m not a big fan of clam chowder and I thought it was really good so that’s gotta say something! I doubled the recipe because a 3 quart crock pot wouldn’t last long around here and I wanted some left over for his lunch. Saving half of the bacon until serving time was ingenous. Nice touch! It really enhanced the flavor! I had a question though – in your notes you mentioned that for added flavor to saute the veggies in the bacon fat. Did you mean the potatoes too? I wasn’t sure so I just did the onions, celery, and garlic.

    It was 9 degrees when my hub’s walked out to go to work with his thermos chock full of hot clam chowder and a croissant on the side. Who knew that after 30 years of marriage all it took to make my man super happy was a thermos full of Sabrina’s soup on a cold winter day! As always, keep ’em coming! ~C

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the chowder! You can never go wrong with sautéing in bacon fat 🙂 You can definitely add the potatoes in that process.

  14. My mom used to make fish chowder and added salt pork. Really tasty. I have only made corn chowder in my cooker. I have a new slow cooker but also one from the 70’s that is a regular cooker, has heavy insert for slow cooking and wire basket insert for deep frying.

  15. Thanks Sabrina, looks like a great recipe & I will try it out on Friday (clam chowder day?)
    One request…could you please give an aproximation of how many cups/oz is one onion…two stalks celery….four potatoes and so on? I’m an experienced cook & pretty much know the quantities of vegetables I want in a recipe. But my daughter-in-law is not so experienced and has a problem with the quantities unless the recipe states 1 cup, or 3 oz of something.
    This is just a suggestion not a criticism & you are not the only blogger/chef/recipe author that does not state more exact quantities. Just my opinion. Thanks.

    1. No worries PattiAnn! I joke that its a good thing that I do minimal sweets because I’m the queen of “oh throw in one of these.”
      Here are some ratios I would stick to:
      1 – 1 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
      1 cup finely diced celery
      2 – 2 1/2 cup chopped potatoes
      2 teaspoons minced garlic

      For the ones with variation, I’d err on the lower amount, but if you find you have a half/quarter cup or so of ingredients left over just go ahead and throw them into the mix.