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New England Clam Chowder

Wonderfully creamy New England Clam Chowder is way easier than you think to make at home and about to become a new family favorite!  If you’re not sure you loooooove Clam Chowder -  this recipe will convert you! New England Clam Chowder is hearty, creamy and loaded with tender clams, creamy potatoes and salty, smoky bacon in a rich flavor bursting broth!  Homemade Clam Chowder might seem intimidating but you will be AMAZED at just how quick and easy it is to make at home in just one pot!  I’ve detailed how to use fresh clams or canned clams to make a New England Clam Chowder to rival your favorite restaurant!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 3 (6.5 oz.) cans chopped/minced clams in clam juice*
  • 1 (8 oz.) bottle clam juice*
  • 6 thick center-cut bacon strips, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds (3 1/2 cups) Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced into 1/4-1/2” cubes
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (Hold if using fresh clams)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried oregano, salt (salt to taste if using fresh clams)
  • 1/4 tsp EACH dried thyme, pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Garnishes (optional)

  • Oyster crackers
  • fresh parsley
  • bacon
  • cheese


  • Drain clam juice from cans into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough bottled clam juice to equal 2 1/2 cups. Set aside. (See directions in Notes if using fresh clams.)
  • In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until fat is rendered and slightly brown. Remove half of the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons grease. To the remaining bacon and drippings, melt in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.
  • Increase heat to medium high and add celery and onion. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until onions are soft. Add potatoes, garlic, red pepper (if using) and sauté 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook an additional 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, reserved 2 ½ cups clam juice, chicken bouillon, bay leaves and all seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.
  • Stir in heavy cream and bring to a simmer to heat through. Discard bay leaves. Remove from heat and stir in clams. Taste and add salt/pepper to taste. (You may or may not need additional salt depending on how salty your clams and bacon are.) For a thinner or less chunky soup stir in additional heavy cream/milk or chicken broth.
  • Top individual servings with reserved bacon and oyster crackers and fresh parsley if desired.



Don't miss the "how to make" recipe video at the top of the post!
*FRESH CLAM ALTERNATIVE* - Replace canned clams with 5 pounds of cherrystone clams in shells, scrubbed. (May sub quahogs clams) - You will use the stock of the fresh clams instead of the bottled clam juice.
How to Cook Fresh Clams: 1. Add 3 cups water to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. 2. Add clams, cover, cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Stir clams, cover and cook an additional 2 minutes. Uncover and remove any open clams. Continue to simmer and remove clams as they open up. Discard any unopened clams. 3. Drain the clams and reserve stock, scoop out the meat, and coarsely chop.   Set the clam meat aside until the end of cooking (see Soup directions). 4.  Strain the clam stock through a mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter and add to a measuring cup to equal 2 1/2 cups. Add additional water to equal 2 1/2 cups if needed.