Creamy Clam Chowder Recipe

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My Creamy Clam Chowder Recipe is the perfect hearty soup to warm you right up. Filled with chunks of potatoes, a variety of vegetables, and soft clams, this creamy soup is so comforting and delicious.

creamy clam chowder recipe.

Ready in just 40 minutes, this clam chowder is not only delicious but also so easy to make!

ingredients for creamy clam chowder.

Creamy Clam Chowder Recipe

Clam chowder is one of my favorite soup recipes. It’s rich, savory, and makes a satisfying easy dinner on a chilly night.

This white clam chowder recipe is simple – you’ll only need 15 minutes of prep time, and soup will be ready to serve in just 40 minutes total!

If you love homemade chowder, try this Chicken Corn Chowder or this Cheesy Bacon Chowder next.

Or, for more hearty soup recipes, try my 15 Bean Soup with Ham or my copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup.

making a roux for creamy clam chowder

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions 

  • Clams – Use canned clams and make sure to save the juice!

    I love making this recipe with minced clams, but if you prefer bigger clam pieces, go for chopped clams instead.
  • Half & Half – If you don’t have half & half on hand, you can substitute with milk and cream. Use equal parts of both liquids to equal 1 quart.
  • Potatoes There’s debate over the best potatoes for chowder, but any potato of your choice will work fine.

    Waxy potatoes hold their shape well, but russet potatoes are also great for thick soups because of how starchy they are.
  • Vegetables – I use celery and a yellow onion, both finely chopped, as well as leeks, sliced into half moons.
  • Flour & Butter – You’ll combine these to make a roux, which will thicken the soup as it cooks.
  • Salt and Pepper – Simple seasonings will bring out the flavor in this creamy clam chowder recipe. Omit the additional salt if using salted butter.
  • White Sugar – This ingredient is optional but can be added to give the chowder just a little bit of sweetness.
clam chowder is in a pan

How to Make Creamy Clam Chowder From Scratch

  1. Cook Vegetables. In a Dutch oven, cover the vegetables in the clam juice and bring to a boil.

    Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  2. Create Cream Mixture. In a separate large saucepan, gradually whisk flour into melted butter to create a roux.

    Add the half & half to the roux and cook until the mixture thickens.
  3. Combine Cream Mixture and Vegetables. Add the thickened cream mixture to the vegetables once they have softened.
  4. Add Clams and Seasoning. Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. You’ll add your clams last, stirring until heated through.
  5. Serve Hot and Enjoy. Use a ladle to scoop a heaping serving of this creamy clam chowder recipe into a regular bowl or bread bowl.
clam chowder in pot.

Serving Suggestions

This easy clam chowder is delicious on its own but can also be enjoyed with additional toppings and sides to make the meal more complete.

Try topping it with oyster crackers, bacon crumbles, or parsley.

Or, pair your New England Clam Chowder with a side of no-yeast bread or my copycat Texas Roadhouse rolls

Tips and Tricks for Easy Clam Chowder

  • Cut Potatoes Evenly – Be sure to dice your potatoes to a consistent size so that they cook fully and evenly.
  • Add Flour Gradually. Adding the flour gradually as you create a roux is the key to preventing clumps and getting a smooth consistency.
  • Add Clams Last. Wait until the very end to add the clams — they will get rubbery if added too soon.

Storing and Reheating Leftover Clam Chowder 

Leftover clam chowder can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

To reheat, place back on the stove and heat on low. Since this creamy clam chowder recipe contains dairy, you’ll need to stir it frequently as you reheat so that the texture doesn’t become gritty.

Creamy Clam Chowder Recipe FAQ

Can I freeze clam chowder?

I don’t recommend it. Dairy-based soups often change in texture when frozen and reheated, and the potatoes in this chowder can get mushy as they defrost. 

This creamy clam chowder recipe is best served day-of, or consumed within a few days.

How do I make clam chowder thicker or thinner?

You can control the consistency as you cook, or adjust if afterwards.

For thinner chowder, add the half & half mixture to the cooked vegetables before it starts to bubble and thicken. If you prefer thicker chowder, let the mixture bubble slightly and keep cooking it until it has thickened.

Want to thin chowder that turned out too thick? Just add a little bit more half & half, and stir until you reach your desired consistency.

What is the difference between New England clam chowder and other clam chowder recipes?

Dairy is the key ingredient in the New England version of clam chowder, making it thick and creamy. Other clam chowders — such as Manhattan clam chowder — leave the dairy out, resulting in a more brothy base. 

creamy clam chowder on a spoon

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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top view of clam chowder.

New England clam chowder

Creamy Clam Chowder

Donna Elick
This Creamy Clam Chowder Recipe is hearty and delicious. New England clam chowder is popular at restaurants and easy to make at home too!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cup leeks, sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart half & half, *See Notes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar, optional
  • 1 dash black pepper, more/less to taste
  • 13 ounces minced clams, in clam juice *See Notes

Instructions
 

  • To a large soup pot or Dutch oven, add the potatoes, onion, leeks, and celery. Pour the juice from the clams over the vegetables. Add water until the vegetables are completely covered; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Using a whisk, gradually blend the flour with the butter to make a roux. Gradually, about ¼ cup at a time, whisk in half & half. Let the mixture come to a slight bubble and continue cooking until it becomes thick and creamy (it will be quite thick).
  • When the vegetables are tender, add the thickened cream mixture to the large pot with the vegetables; stir to combine. Add the sea salt, sugar, and pepper; stir again to combine. Add the clams and stir well. Continue cooking until clams are heated through.
  • Serve hot with your choice of toppings.

Donna’s Notes

Any kind of potatoes of your choice can be used.
If you don’t have half & half on hand, use equal parts milk and cream to equal 1 quart.
If you like bigger pieces of clam, use chopped clams instead of minced clams.
The half & half mixture will thicken quickly once it starts to bubble, so stop cooking it once it becomes thick and no more lumps are remaining. If you want your chowder to be not as thick, add the half & half mixture to the pot of vegetables right before it starts to bubble and is still a little bit thin.
Add the clams at the very end to avoid them becoming rubbery.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 537cal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 699mg | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 2g | Calcium: 207mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
creamy clam chowder recipe

Originally published December 2022

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