This Corn Chowder recipe is a creamy, hearty, satisfying soup – all made in one pot!
This Corn Chowder recipe is destined to become a new easy family favorite – and definitely one of mine! It’s ridiculously creamy (but lightened up) loaded with sweet corn, juicy sausage, creamy potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic and onions for a symphony of comforting flavors and texture in every spoonful. It’s also extremely versatile and pantry friendly – swap the sausage for ground beef, turkey or chicken, the potatoes for sweet potatoes, cauliflower etc., and add any of your favorite veggies. This corn chowder also reheats beautifully for make ahead dinner or lunches!
If you love creamy soup recipes, don’t miss my Crock Pot Creamy White Chicken Chili, Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, Zuppa Toscana, White Chicken Lasagna Soup, Chicken Gnocchi Soup, and Creamy Potato Soup.
Corn chowder recipe
I am ecstatic to bring you this corn chowder recipe! It is one of my favorite soups to date and definitely Patrick’s. Patrick isn’t too effusive when it comes to food; usually a simple “it’s good,” means he thinks the recipe is amazing. So, when he slurped this corn chowder, and could not stop talking about it for days, describing it as “amazing,” “seriously so good,” “why is this so good?!” I knew I had to share it immediately.
ALL ABOUT THIS CORN CHOWDER RECIPE AND WHY WE’RE OBSESSED!
PANTRY FRIENDLY. The ingredients for this corn chowder recipe are simple, inexpensive and you probably have almost all of them on hand. If you don’t have Italian sausage, it should be easy to pick up or you can substitute it with ground beef or chicken, although the sausage would definitely be my first choice. You can also stock frozen sausage in your freezer, which is exactly what I used for this recipe.
ONE POT. Many corn chowder recipes will have you simmer the soup in one pot and make a roux in another then add it to the soup – but there’s no need for that! We make the roux directly in the soup pot at the start of the recipe to give the corn chowder body then make the soup even creamier at the end by whisking in half and half.
EASY. To that end, this corn chowder recipe is astonishingly easy – just watch the video! Simply brown the sausage with the veggies, add the flour, corn, broth and seasonings, simmer until the potatoes are tender then stir in the half and half. Done and done!
DELICIOUS. This corn chowder recipe is easily one of my favorite soups of all time. Because I already have a crockpot corn potato chowder recipe and a Mexican chicken corn chowder recipe, I wanted to create something entirely different, so I landed on Italian sausage – and it could not more hypnotic. Every spoonful is a warm, savory symphony of juicy sausage, creamy potatoes, tender veggies and layers of complex aromatic flavor swaddled in creamy broth.
LIGHTENED UP. This corn chowder recipe is not “skinny” but it is lightened up by using zero cheese (it’s so good, it doesn’t need it!) omitting the butter (we use sausage drippings instead), swapping the heavy cream in favor of a roux + half and half and cornstarch, and my secret ingredient – creamed corn. I’ve also included recipe variations to make it 100% guilt free.
VERSATILE. I’ve loaded this corn chowder with my favorite ingredients, but all of the add-ins from the protein, to the potatoes to the veggies are easy to customize with whatever you have on hand.
MEAL-IN-ONE. This corn chowder recipe is chock full of protein, veggies and starch for a complete meal-in-one all made in one pot! You can skip the sides all together or serve it with no-fuss sides like a simple green salad and crusty garlic bread.
MAKE AHEAD. This corn chowder can be prepped ahead or you can make it 100% ahead of time because it tastes even better the next day!
WHAT IS CORN CHOWDER?
Corn Chowder is a thick and creamy soup traditionally made with chicken and potatoes. I’ve taken traditional corn chowder and swapped the chicken for sausage to create the best corn chowder you’ve ever tasted!
CORN CHOWDER RECIPE INGREDIENTS
This corn chowder recipe is made with very simple ingredients. They key to the exploding flavor is to build layers of flavor by first browning the sausage with the mirepoix and then sautéing the aromatic garlic and optional red pepper flakes before adding the broth. To make this corn chowder recipe, you will need:
- Corn: you will need 30 ounces fresh, frozen or canned corn.
- Cream-style corn: a must to make this soup extra creamy and infuse it with extra corn flavor.
- Potatoes: Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced into 1/4-1/2” cubes. Don’t cube them too large or they’ll take longer to cook.
- Italian sausage: I prefer hot Italian Sausage – it will not make your corn chowder spicy, just flavorful. Italian sausage comes seasoned with Italian seasonings, primarily fennel. Fennel is crucial for authentic Italian flavor so if you swap the sausage for beef or turkey, make sure you add some Italian seasonings, fennel and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Chicken Broth: take care your chicken broth is low sodium otherwise your corn chowder will be too salty. Using low sodium broth also allows us to use chicken bouillon which amps up the flavor.
- Chicken bouillon: use bouillon powder, bouillon cubes or better than bouillon. Add to the corn chowder without dissolving in liquid first. If using cubes, you will need 2 which you crush up and then add directly to the broth.
- Half and Half: I often don’t keep half and half on hand, but keep heavy cream on hand. If you’re like me, you can substitute the half and half with half cream and half milk. For a healthier alternative you may substitute the half and half with evaporated milk mixed with 1 additional tablespoon cornstarch.
- Onion: one diced yellow onion.
- Garlic: 4-6 garlic cloves depending on your garlic love.
- Carrots: chop the carrots small, about ¼-inch cubes.
- Celery: also should be chopped small, about ¼-inch.
- Flour: helps thicken the chowder by creating a roux. You may substitute with gluten free all-purpose flour.
- Cornstarch: also helps thicken the soup which allows us to use lower calorie half and half as opposed to heavy cream.
- Seasonings: dried parsley, dried oregano, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper season our soup to perfection.
WHAT’S THE BEST CORN FOR CORN CHOWDER?
You can use whatever works for you, but I prefer fresh or frozen corn for this corn chowder recipe:
- Fresh corn: is awesome when it’s in season. You will need about 4-5 ears sweet corn, kernels cut off of the cob.
- Frozen corn: is what I used in this recipe because corn is not in season and it was fabulous. Frozen corn is usually packaged at peak freshness so it can even be fresher than some fresh corn! It is also flash frozen which preserves its nutrient content. When using frozen corn, no need to thaw first.
- Canned Corn: drain and rinse before adding to the chowder.
Can I use Russet Potatoes?
Use waxy potato such as Yukon gold, red potatoes, Dutch baby potatoes, new potatoes or fingerling potatoes. Waxy potatoes do not absorb moisture while they cook so they retain their shape despite extended high heat. This doesn’t mean waxy potatoes aren’t melt-in-your-mouth or flavorful! They taste soft, buttery and tender without ever tasting mealy.
Russet potatoes boast a soft, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, taste the most “potato-y” and practically fall apart in your mouth. The tricky thing about Russet potatoes is you don’t want them to actually fall apart, so you have to take care not to overcook them. They can also taste mealy if overcooked.
CAN I USE FRESH HERBS?
I prefer dried herbs in this corn chowder recipe because they get added to the soup at the beginning which infuses the creamy broth with flavor. You may use fresh herbs, but use three times the number of fresh herbs to dried herbs. Take care to add fresh herbs towards the end of cooking so they stay fresh and flavorful.
CAN I USE VEGETABLE BROTH INSTEAD?
I do not recommend vegetable broth because it’s not as flavorful as chicken broth. That doesn’t mean you can’t use vegetable broth, but it does mean the soup will not taste as flavorful.
CAN I ADD OTHER VEGETABLES TO CORN CHOWDER?
Absolutely! I’ve stuck with the basics, but you can add zucchini, squash, peas, etc. I’ve included all sorts of variations below.
CAN I USE FROZEN VEGETABLES?
You can use a thawed, frozen carrot/celery medley and cook with the sausage. You can also add other frozen vegetables with the broth. Add the vegetables the last 15 minutes of cooking.
CAN I MAKE THE SOUP GLUTEN FREE?
Yes! If you want to make gluten free corn chowder, use gluten-free flour – the rest of the ingredients should be gluten free, but make sure to check ingredient labels.
CAN I MAKE THE SOUP VEGAN?
To make vegan corn chowder, omit the sausage, use 5 tablespoons olive oil to sauté the vegetables, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth, replace the half and half with plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choice whisked with 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch.
WHAT CAN I PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME?
This corn chowder recipe is very simple but it does require some prep work as far as chopping vegetables. You can save time by:
- Prep mirepoix: the carrots, onions and celery can all be chopped a couple days ahead of time, the night before dinner or just a few hours before cooking then stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Potatoes: can be peeled and chopped 24 ahead of time but they will need to be submerged in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator to prevent them from turning brown (works like a charm).
- Measure Spices: it doesn’t take long to measure out the spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container.
HOW TO MAKE CORN CHOWDER
You are going to love how easy this corn chowder recipe is! Most of the work involves chopping vegetables and the rest is hands-off simmering. Here are step by step photos showing how to make corn chowder or you can also watch the “How to Make Corn Chowder” recipe video.
- Brown sausage with mirepoix: Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large soup pot/Dutch oven over medium heat-high. Add sausage, onion, carrots and celery and cook until sausage is cooked through and onions are tender. Don’t drain the drippings afterward because we are going to use the grease instead of adding additional butter to create the roux.
- Add potatoes: Add potatoes, garlic, red pepper (if using) and sauté 30 seconds. I only suggest using red pepper flakes if you want a spicy soup because the sausage already will have a little kick. We love heat at our house, so we use both. You may also use mild Italian sausage and add red pepper flakes to taste.
- Cook flour: Sprinkle in flour and cook one additional 1 minute. The mixture will become quite thick so it’s important to constantly stir so the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add remaining ingredients: Stir in creamed corn, corn, chicken bouillon, bay leaves and all seasonings. Whisk cornstarch with 1 cup of chicken broth and stir in. Add remaining chicken broth. When adding the cornstarch, you can whisk it with as little or as much broth as you like, the important part is that you use 4 cups broth total and that the cornstarch fully dissolves before adding it to the soup.
- Simmer until the potatoes are tender. Bring the corn chowder to a boil then reduce to a simmer. I like to cover the pot so it comes to a boil more quickly. Once boiling, remove the lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Make sure you stir the soup occasionally, especially towards the end as it thickens up, so the bottom doesn’t burn.
- Make it creamy! Stir in the half and half and heat through. Discard bay leaves. Taste and season salt/pepper to taste if desired.
HOW DO YOU THICKEN CORN CHOWDER?
This corn chowder recipe should already be luxuriously thick and creamy due to the flour, half and half and cornstarch, but if you would still like a thicker soup, you can use any of these methods:
- Cornstarch: This is my preferred method and super easy. Remove about ¼ cup chowder and whisk in 1-2 tablespoon cornstarch with a fork until smooth then whisk it back into the soup. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Repeat if needed.
- Flour: Remove about 1/2 cup chowder and whisk in 2-4 tablespoons flour with a fork until smooth then whisk it back into the soup. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Repeat if needed.
- Mash potatoes: Mashed potatoes are a great natural thickener. Remove some of the potatoes, mash them and return them to the soup. Alternatively, you can microwave a few potatoes separately, mash them and add them to the chowder.
- Add creamed corn: add an additional can of creamed corn to add corn flavor and thicken the soup.
- Puree soup: Remove 1-2 cups of the soup and puree it in your blender or food processor. It will add body to the soup while preserving the flavor.
- Puree beans: Add cannellini beans to a blender along with some of the soup. Puree until smooth to create a paste. Stir back into the soup and warm through.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BEST CORN CHICKEN RECIPE
Here is a summary of tips and tricks for the best corn chowder:
- Use hot Italian sausage. This corn chowder recipe will work with chicken, bacon and any other protein, but it doesn’t get any better than juicy, flavorful sausage.
- Don’t skip mirepoix. This corn chowder recipe boasts the classic combination of carrots, onions and celery sautéed in flavorful drippings. They are known as the holy trinity of cooking and provide a richness and depth of flavor that can’t be achieved any other way. Please don’t skip unless you can’t get your hands on these ingredients.
- Customize vegetables. In addition to the mirepoix, you can add whatever veggies you have on hand or mix it up just for fun! Green beans, zucchini, cabbage, bell peppers etc. Just be aware most vegetables only need 10 minutes to cook – see my detailed instructions in the Variations section.
- Vegetable size. Chop carrots and celery a about 1/4-inch thick so they will cook in time.
- Consistency. You can make this corn chowder more or less “chunky” or more or less creamy. For a less chunky soup, simply add additional broth or half and half at the end of cooking. See section on how to make it creamier.
CAN CORN CHOWDER BE MADE IN THE SLOW COOKER?
Absolutely! This corn chowder can be adapted to the slow cooker by following the recipe through cooking the flour, then transferring the ingredients to the crockpot and adding all of the remaining ingredients except the half and half. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low 6-7 hours or until potatoes are tender. Once tender, stir in 1-2 cups half and half and warm through.
Note, that crockpot corn chowder won’t be quite as thick because liquid doesn’t evaporate while cooking like on the stove, so you may want to blend the half and half with 4 oz. softened cream cheese before adding it to the crockpot like I do in this crockpot corn chowder recipe.
CORN CHOWDER RECIPE VARIATIONS
This corn chowder recipe boasts the best creamy, comforting broth, which means it is a fabulous springboard to make it all your own with all sorts of add-ins or whatever you have on hand:
You can swap the potatoes for other starchy alternative such as rice or go low carb with cauliflower. Here are some ideas:
- Swap potatoes for rice. Add 3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice and simmer for 8-12 minutes or until rice is cooked. Note that the cooking time may vary depending on how long it takes to bring your soup to a boil so I suggest checking the rice occasionally until done. You can also stir in 2 ½ cups cooked rice at the end of cooking and warm through.
- Swap potatoes for barley. Barley is another delightful texture. You will want to use pearl and simmer for about 30 minutes total which means you may need to add an additional cup of broth because more liquid will evaporate while cooking.
- Swap potatoes for lentils. Use 1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes total, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape. Again, you may need to add additional broth due to the longer simmering time.
- Swap potatoes for quinoa. For a higher protein option, you can add about ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained and simmer for about 25 minutes.
- Swap potatoes for low carb cauliflower. Use 2 ½ cups cauliflower chopped into bite size pieces. Cauliflower doesn’t take long to cook, so and add the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Although I am obsessed with Italian sausage in this recipe and don’t think it will be same without it, you can still use other proteins:
- Rotisserie chicken. Rotisserie chicken comes lightly seasoned for an added depth of flavor and is a mix of both light and dark meat. It also comes perfectly tender and ready to slurp up. You will need about 2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken. Add the chicken to the corn chowder at the same time as the half and half and heat through.
- Chicken thighs or breasts. I highly recommend chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in) over chicken breasts. Chicken thighs are dark meat which means they are inherently juicier, richer tasting and produce far more tender chicken than chicken breasts. If using chicken breasts, I suggest bone-in chicken breasts but boneless will also work.
- How to cook chicken thighs/breasts: To use chicken thighs or chicken breasts, heat 1 tablespoon oil in the soup pot, sear each side until golden, then remove from the pot. Add the chicken back in with the broth and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until chicken is tender enough to shred, remove, shred, then add back to the soup with the half and half.
- Leftover chicken. Add about 2 1/2 cups shredded or chopped leftover chicken to the corn chowder with the half and half.
- Bacon. Cook thick-cut bacon until crispy then remove it from the pot. Reserve about 5 tablespoons drippings to cook the mirepoix in and cook the roux. Add the crumbled bacon to the soup at the end of cooking.
- Ham. Add ham at the end of cooking and heat through. Ham can be quite salty so reduce the salt in the recipe and add salt to taste.
- Ground beef ground turkey. Season with Italian seasonings, fennel and a pinch of red pepper flakes to mimic the Italian sausage.
- Sausage. Brown kielbasa, Polish sausage or chicken sausage whole with the carrots/onions/celery then remove to a plate. Slice or chop into bite size pieces then add back to the soup with the broth to simmer with the potatoes.
I recommend sticking with the carrots and celery but you can also add any other vegetables such as:
- Mushrooms. Cremini/baby bella mushrooms will have the most flavor.
- Bell peppers. Any color will taste great! Add them the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Sweet potatoes. Peel, chop into ½-inch pieces.
- Butternut squash. Peel, chop into ½-inch pieces.
- Broccoli. Chop into bite size pieces and add the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Zucchini. Slice and quarter zucchini and the last 10 minutes of cooking. Slice zucchini on the thick side, about ¼-inch so it doesn’t get too soft.
- Green beans. Fresh green beans taste far superior than canned. Chop into 2” pieces and add the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Greens. Add spinach or cabbage at the very end of cooking and cover the pot for 1-2 minutes to wilt.
- Canned beans. Cannellini beans add a slight sweetness, creaminess and meaty texture.
- Cheese. This corn chowder is already creamy, but you can also make it cheesy! I personally don’t think it needs any cheese, but then again, cheese makes everything better. Stir in some freshly grated sharp cheddar, smoked gouda or Parmesan at the end of cooking or get fancy with Swiss or Gruyere like I do in my chicken Cordon Bleu Soup.
- Swap Seasonings. Mix up the flavor profile by swapping the seasonings – go Mexican with chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, etc., or go Cajun with black pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne. You can also amp up the smoked paprika or any of the original seasonings.
- Make it spicy. Swap the red pepper flake for seeded, diced jalapeno.
HOW DO I MAKE HEALTHY CORN CHOWDER?
This corn chowder is lightened up by using a combination of ingredients and cooking techniques:
- Roux: making a roux of flour and drippings creates a thick, creamy sauce-like base and eliminates the need for butter or heavy cream.
- Cornstarch: further thickens the corn chowder without having to add extra butter that would be required if we used more flour.
- Creamed corn: Creamed corn adds extra body to the corn chowder and the same trick I use in my Skinny Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese (amazing). The natural creaminess of creamed corn is a life changing as a secret ingredient.
To make your corn chowder even healthier:
- Swap the Italian sausage for ground turkey seasoned with Italian seasoning, fennel and a pinch of red pepper flakes or swap it for rotisserie chicken.
- Swap the half and half for evaporated milk whisked with 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
- Swap the potatoes for cauliflower chopped into bite size pieces and add them at the last 5 minutes of cooking.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CORN CHOWDER?
This corn chowder is a meal-in-one complete with protein, veggies and starch, so you can call dinner done or serve it with any of these additional sides:
- Bread: Mopping up chowder with bread is always a win! Serve corn chowder with a big loaf of crusty bread, Moist Sweet Cornbread, softy and fluffy Dinner Rolls, Parmesan Breadsticks, Garlic Bread or Pesto Pull Apart Bread.
- Salad: This corn chowder recipe pairs beautifully with a fresh, crunchy salad such as Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Apple Salad, Pear Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad or Green Bean Salad.
- Fruit: Bright, fresh fruit is always a welcome side to creamy soups. Go as simple as grapes, melon, etc. or you’ll love Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone, Tropical Fruit Salad, or Pina Colada Fruit Salad.
CAN I MAKE CORN CHOWDER AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes! The flavors of this corn chowder recipe only get better the next day and unlike chicken, the sausage doesn’t overcook/dry out, so it makes amazing leftovers! Reheat per below instructions.
HOW DO I REHEAT CORN CHOWDER?
- Stove: reheat large batches on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.
- Microwave: transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lids or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave for 20-second intervals, if needed.
- Crockpot: Transfer soup to a crockpot and heat on low for 1-3 hours. The time will depend on how much soup you have remaining.
HOW DO I STORE CORN CHOWDER?
Let the corn chowder cool to room temperature, then cover and store in your Dutch oven or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
CAN YOU FREEZE CORN CHOWDER?
As a general rule of thumb, creamy soups do not freeze well as the texture can become unpleasantly grainy as the dairy and fat separate. You can still freeze the soup with these expectations, or omit the half and half when freezing, then add the half and half to the soup after thawing. Alternatively, you can swap the half and half for evaporated milk (see tips below).
- Cook: Cook the corn chowder according to recipe directions.
- Cool: Allow soup to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients and prevent it from entering the “danger zone.”
- Package: Transfer soup to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag. You can even use sandwich size plastic bags for individual portions. Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and label
- Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, defrost overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave, crockpot or stove according to aforementioned instructions.
TIPS FOR FREEZING:
- Omit the half and half if you plan to freeze the corn chowder so it won’t become grainy. Once defrosted, add the half and half to the soup and simmer until thickened.
- Regular (not low fat) evaporated milk, or heavy cream freeze much better than half and half – the higher the fat content, the better it freezes. If you think you might freeze this corn chowder, then plan on using either of these alternatives.
- If freezing with half and half, reheat the thawed soup very gently over low heat to help incorporate the cream back into the soup.
- If freezing with half and half, add some fresh cream or softened cream cheese to improve the grainy texture.
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