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A large white soup bowl filled with New England Clam Chowder on a plate with oyster crackers and spoon next to it.

New England Clam Chowder

Course: Chowder, Soup or Stew
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Clam chowder recipe, easy clam chowder, New England Clam Chowder recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 401kcal
This iconic chowder is so comforting, and not fishy tasting at all. Go with fresh clams, if possible, but if not, then canned will do in a pinch. This comes together in less than an hour and is so deeply flavorful and satisfying.
Print Recipe


  • Sturdy pot, such as a Dutch oven


  • 48 clams littleneck or cherrystone, scrubbed clean
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 strips bacon thick slice
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 3 sprigs thyme fresh, bundled together with twine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • lb gold potatoes peeled and cubed, about 4 to 5 potatoes
  • cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp hot sauce a few splashes, to taste - optional
  • 1 tbsp Sherry optional
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chopped, for garnish


  • After scrubbing the clams under cold water, discard any that are open and don't close to the touch.
  • Add clams to a large pot (i.e., Dutch oven) with 1 cup of water. Cover and bring to boil and cook for 7 minutes. Carefully remove the lid. If the majority of the clams have not opened up, place the lid back on the pot and continue steaming for another 2 minutes.
  • Remove the clams from the pot with tongs onto a cutting board.
  • Line a sieve (or colander) with cheesecloth and place over a large measuring cup. Strain the clam broth through the cheesecloth into the measuring cup. Add additional water to the measuring cup until you have a total of 4 cups.
  • Once the clams are cool enough to handle, use a small knife, or your fingers, to remove the meat from the clams and roughly chop. IMPORTANT: Discard any clams that did not open during the steaming process.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the cut bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt, pepper, bundled thyme, bay leaves and stir to combine. Add in the potatoes and stir again.
  • Add the reserved clam juice, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the cream and milk and cook for a few minutes until heated (don't bring to a boil). Add the clams.
  • Make a corn starch slurry by mixing together in a small bowl 3 tbsp corn starch with ¼ cup of cold water.
  • Add the slurry to the chowder and stir until slightly thickened. If desired, smash a few of the tender potato cubes against the side of the pot for additional thickening and texture.
  • If desired, add a few splashes of hot sauce and Sherry. Taste and add more salt, if necessary.
  • Serve warm in bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and oyster crackers, if desired.



If using clams from the sea, we recommend scrubbing them first under cold water, and then dissolving 2 tsp of salt in 4 quarts of cold water, and then adding the clams.  Refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to overnight) to allow the clams to expel sand and grit. Drain before proceeding.
When straining the broth, use cheesecloth, or a couple of coffee filters.  If there is a lot of sand and grit, another straining with fresh cheesecloth (or filters) may be necessary. 
If you don't have access to fresh clams, then use two 10-ounce cans of clams, drained and then 2 cups of bottled clam juice (combined with two more cups of water).
If you prefer, you can thicken the chowder by adding ¼ cup of all-purpose flour to the vegetables and cooking for several minutes before adding the clam juice.  The chowder will begin to thicken as the potatoes are cooking, but this is just fine.
You can use half and half in place of the heavy cream, although the finished chowder won't be quite as silky and rich. 
Serve in sourdough bowls for a fun (San Fransico-style) variation.
We love serving the soup with hot sauce, oyster crackers, and chopped parsley or chives, for garnish.
The soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and freezes beautifully for up to 2 months. 


Calories: 401kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: -4g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 657mg | Potassium: 650mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1127IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 4mg