New England Clam Chowder

This deliciously thick and rich New England clam chowder is loaded with minced and whole baby clams, potatoes and more, in a decadent creamy broth.

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Clam chowder is a New England staple recipe that combines salty, savory clams with all sorts of nourishing, filling ingredients to make a tasty soup that’s suitable for any weather.

Why not make your own Bread Bowls for this recipe? And if you love chowder, check out my Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe as well!

New England clam chowder in a bread bowl

New England Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is one of those recipes that you really only find at local restaurants on the New England seafront.

However, as long as you can get your hands on some cans of minced and whole clams, you can easily make it yourself.

It will feel like you are actually on the seaside, sipping some fresh clam chowder, ideally from a thick bread bowl, with the smell of salt, fish, and seaside wafting through the air. Plus, it will probably taste even better because you made it yourself!                                                                                                                                          

ingredients for New England clam chowder

New England Clam Chowder Ingredients

Don’t forget to look at the very bottom of the page for the exact amounts that you need for this recipe.

• Bacon

• Onion

• Celery

• Minced garlic

• Russet potatoes

• Bottles of clam juice

• Chicken broth

• Cans of minced clams

• Can of whole clams

• Dried thyme

• Bay leaf

• Heavy cream

• Cornstarch

• Black pepper & salt

• Green onions (or chives)

• Oyster crackers for garnish

• Bread bowls

clam chowder in a ladle

How To Make New England Clam Chowder

• Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the bacon is tender-crisp

• Drain the bacon on paper towels and reserve some of the fat in the Dutch oven

• Sauté the onions in the Dutch oven for 5 minutes

• Add in the celery and cook until the onions are translucent and the celery has softened

• Add in the garlic and sauté until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes

• reserve a bit of bacon to the side and then add the rest to the pot

• Add in the potatoes, and then pour in the clam juice, chicken broth, thyme, and bay leaf

• Bring to a low simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender and falling apart

• Remove the bay leaf and then whisk the cornstarch into the heavy cream

• Add the cornstarch mixture to the soup to thicken, simmering for 2 minutes while whisking

• Stir in the minced and whole clams and heat them through

• Season to taste, and then prepare your bread bowls and fill them with chowder

• Garnish with the reserved bacon, green onion, and oyster crackers and enjoy

close up of New England clam chowder in a bread bowl

What About All Of The Different Types Of Clam Chowder You Can Make?

This recipe for clam chowder makes a traditional New England clam chowder, which some would argue is the original style.

However, there are actually all sorts of different clam chowders you can make, all with varying levels of clam flavor and other ingredients.

The classic New England recipe here uses a simple cream sauce to provide the necessary richness. A Manhattan clam chowder, meanwhile, is a tomato-based broth rather than cream and is insanely red in color.

The recipe is pretty similar, except for the huge amount of tomato sauce.

There is also a Rhode Island clam chowder, made from a clear broth, which is super clam-forward with not a lot of other flavors.

Finally, there is the Long Island clam chowder, which is a sort of the halfway point between New England and Manhattan – you quite literally make both of them and mix them together!

Maybe not worth it in the home kitchen, but definitely something worth trying at some point.  

top down shot of clam chowder in a bread bowl with garnishes on top

Do You Have To Use Both Minced & Whole Clams?

This recipe for New England clam chowder uses both minced and whole clams, which some people might say is a little bit excessive.

Well, the trouble with making a clam chowder at home is the ability to get a hold of fresh clams. Unless you happen to live right on the seaside, you probably will not be able to find the best quality clams year-round.

Using cans of clams is definitely the best bet, as it ensures you have a good quality of freshness regardless of when in the year you buy it.

Using both minced and whole clams is necessary for the soup texture and it makes it a lot easier to buy minced clams. You could just as easily double up on the cans of whole clams and mince them yourself, but trying to mince wet clams with a kitchen knife is not an easy job.

Unless you feel like practicing chopping up clam bits, get the minced clams – you’ll thank me later. 

Looking for more delicious Soup recipes? Try these out:

Cabbage Soup Recipe

Cream of Celery Soup

French Onion Soup


Let’s hear it for soup season, it’s my favorite time of year!



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This deliciously thick and rich New England clam chowder is loaded with minced and whole baby clams, potatoes and more, in a decadent creamy broth.

New England Clam Chowder

This deliciously thick and rich New England clam chowder is loaded with minced and whole baby clams, potatoes and more, in a decadent creamy broth.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time
30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Main Course, Soups
Karlynn Johnston


  • 10 slices bacon
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups small cubed Russet potatoes
  • two 236 ml bottles clam juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • one bay leaf
  • one 142 ml can whole clams drained
  • two 6.5 ounce cans minced clams, drained
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • chopped fresh green onions or chives for garnish
  • oyster crackers for garnish
  • 6 bread bowls


  • Place the diced bacon into a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Fry over medium-high heat until the bacon is tender-crisp, then remove the bacon slices and place on a paper towel to drain.
  • Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pot and drain the rest out.
  • Place the onion in the bottom of the pot and saute for 5 minutes. Add in the celery, and continue to saute until the onions are translucent and the celery has softened slightly.
  • Add in the garlic, and saute until browned and fragrant.
  • Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the diced bacon for garnishing/topping, then place the rest into the bottom of the pot.
  • Add in the potatoes, then pour in the clam juice, chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf.
  • Bring to a low simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender and almost falling apart.
  • Remove the bay leaf.
  • Whisk the cornstarch into the heavy cream, then whisk into the soup to thicken. Let the soup simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking to ensure that the soup doesn’t burn on the bottom.
  • Stir in the minced and whole clams and stir until they are heated through. Don’t let them actually cook or they will get too tough, they are already cooked.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Prepare the bread bowls by cutting out a circle in the top, scooping out the insides, then fill with the chowder. Serve with the bread you scooped out.
  • Garnish with the reserved bacon, minced green onion and oyster crackers.

Recipe Notes

  • Calories are without bread bowls 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 392kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 79mg, Sodium: 568mg, Potassium: 569mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 678IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 60mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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