Chowder: How To Make Classic Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is one of several chowder soups with clams and broth in it. Common ingredients include diced potatoes, onions, and celery, in addition to clams. Although sometimes, small carrot strips or a parsley garnish may be added solely for color. In addition, a garnish of bay leaves adds color as well as flavor.

Clams are believed to have been used in chowder because of the relative ease of processing them. Clam chowder is generally served with saltine crackers or thin, hexagonal crackers of oysters. In some instances, the chowder is served with a warm, hearty piece of bread.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, chowder is a seafood soup or stew typically made from milk, tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables.

Classic Clam Chowder

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: American

The whole preparation and cooking time is 45 minutes. This recipe is suitable for at least six servings. 

Photo credit: @higuccini /

Classic Clam Chowder Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 cans chopped clams, juices reserved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Classic Clam Chowder Instructions

Step 1: Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook for 6-8 minutes, until brown and crispy. Move to a towel-lined plate, reserving 1 spoonful of excess fat, and set aside.

Step 2: Melt butter in a stockpot. Add the garlic and onion, and cook until the onions have become translucent, around 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Step 3: Stir in thyme for about 1 minute, until it is fragrant. Whisk in flour for about 1 minute, until lightly browned.

Step 4: Gradually whisk in the milk, vegetable stock, clam juice, and bay leaves and cook for about 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously until slightly thickened. Stir in the diced potatoes.

Step 4: Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. To taste, season with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add more milk as needed until it reaches the desired consistency.

Step 5: Garnished with bacon and parsley. Serve immediately.

Classic Clam Chowder Additional Information

  • You may need to change the cooking time depending on the thickness of the potatoes.
  • Generally, this recipe will take 45 minutes to prepare.
  • This recipe will make chowder for six people.
  • Per serving, this recipe has 252 calories, 11g of total fat, 24mg of cholesterol, 1,344mg of sodium. 

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About Classic Clam Chowder

Although different types of chowder exist, the variety with clams is, without doubt, the most well-known. The soup description varies depending on which part of the country you’re in. Still, it mostly involves clams, potatoes, onions, and sometimes wine.

The most significant difference between them is the broth. Some use milk to make a rich, creamy broth, while others use a red base made from tomatoes and spices. Every region can prepare chowder differently, but they all share one thing in common; they all feel their chowder is the best.


The dish originated in the Eastern United States. However, it is now widely served throughout the country in restaurants. For more great recipes and soups, click here.

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