Creamy and flavorful, this easy Corn Chowder recipe is full of smoky bacon, sweet corn, tender potatoes and fresh herbs. Make it with fresh corn during the summer growing season, or use frozen corn when you need a cozy bowl of goodness on a chilly winter's day. It's a hearty and delicious soup that you can enjoy year-round!
If you've feasted on fresh corn on the cob all summer long, this creamy corn chowder recipe will be a welcome change and a fresh new way to take advantage of some of the season's best produce. Pair it with a crisp green salad and a hunk of crusty bread for the most delicious and easy dinner! It's a lovely transition from summer to fall when we all start craving those cozy comfort foods.
Easy Corn Chowder Recipe
There's nothing fancy about this pot of chowder -- just down-home, farmhouse cooking at its finest! In fact, in the United States, the old-fashioned dish dates back to at least 1884, when Mary Lincoln published a corn chowder recipe in her Boston Cook Book.
At its most basic, corn chowder is a soup prepared with corn, onion, celery, milk or cream, and butter. These days, you'll commonly find additional ingredients in the chowder, such as bacon, potatoes, herbs, seafood or chicken.
What makes a chowder a chowder?
Why not just call it corn soup? According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, a chowder is "a thick soup or stew made of seafood or corn with potatoes and onions and milk or tomatoes." That's exactly what we've got here with the corn and potatoes! The cooking process, ingredients and taste of corn chowder are very similar to the taste and texture of creamy New England Clam Chowder; however, the corn takes the place of the clams. As a result, a Potato Corn Chowder with bacon has a slightly sweet taste from the corn that's balanced beautifully by the savory, smoky flavor of the bacon. You’ll love the rich and creamy texture, as well as the crisp bite of corn in every spoonful!
How to make this Corn Chowder Recipe
Just like Grandma's corn chowder! This Southern Corn Chowder recipe is thickened with a roux and cream (or milk) for a rich, smooth texture. Use fresh or frozen corn -- whatever you have available -- and stir together a pot for dinner tonight!
- Chicken broth
- Bay leaf
- Cream-style corn
- Milk or cream
- Corn kernels (fresh off the cob or frozen)
Why use cream-style corn?
This corn chowder uses a combination of fresh (or frozen) corn kernels for texture, along with two small cans of cream-style corn. The canned cream-style corn helps to thicken the chowder and also adds a good amount of flavor and sweetness. It's a quick and easy alternative to the messier, more time-consuming extra step of squeezing the starchy milk from fresh corn cobs or pureeing fresh corn kernels to achieve that same thick, creamy, sweet texture.
Step 1: Fry Bacon
Fry chopped bacon in a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot until it's lightly browned.
Step 2: Add Garlic and Onion
Add the onion and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Then stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 more seconds, stirring the whole time.
Step 3: Make the Roux
Add the flour to the bacon fat in the pot and cook for 1 minute. Then slowly stir in the broth, scraping up those flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Step 4: Add Veggies and Season
Add the celery, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme and cream-style corn. Bring the pot to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes).
Step 5: Stir in Corn and Cream
Add the corn kernels and milk or cream, and simmer the chowder over low heat just until the corn is slightly tender (but still crunchy). This will only take about 5 minutes, but make sure that you don't boil the soup or the cream can curdle. Discard the bay leaf, stir in the parsley, and season with plenty of salt and pepper.
We like to garnish each bowl with some additional crispy bacon and a little bit of fresh parsley or thyme, but that's totally optional!
What to serve with this Creamy Corn Chowder Recipe
The corn chowder recipe has a rich, creamy and mild taste, so it pairs beautifully with a crisp green salad. It also goes well with saltines or oyster crackers, homemade buttermilk biscuits, or a loaf of crusty bread for dipping.
How to Thicken Corn Chowder
This chowder is creamy and rich, without being too thick or heavy. It tastes fresh and light, while still feeling cozy and flavorful. If you’d like it even thicker, you can add a cornstarch slurry (equal parts cornstarch and cold water whisked together) a little bit at a time, while the soup is simmering.
How to Store
Properly stored in an airtight container, the chowder will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To Reheat: Place the chowder in a pot and warm over a low flame, just until heated through. Be careful not to let the soup boil.
Can you freeze Corn Chowder?
I do not recommend freezing this corn chowder recipe, as the milk or cream will “break” or separate when thawed.
How to Freeze Cream-Based Soups
If you'd like to prepare this chowder in advance to store in the freezer, just follow the recipe, but leave out the dairy. Cool in freezer-safe containers, leaving an inch of headspace. When ready to thaw, place the soup in a pot over low heat. When liquefied and simmering, stir in the milk or cream, being careful not to let it boil.
More chowder recipes that you might enjoy:
Corn Chowder Recipe
- 4 ounces bacon (about 4 strips), chopped
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ -inch dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cans (8.25 ounces each) cream-style corn
- 2 cups milk, cream or half-and-half
- Kernels from 4 ears of corn (or about 3 cups of frozen corn kernels)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional garnish: additional cooked, chopped bacon; thyme or parsley
- Fry chopped bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, just until lightly browned and the fat has rendered. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add celery, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, and cream-style corn. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (about 15-20 minutes).
- Stir in the corn kernels and milk (or cream). Simmer over low heat (do not boil) until the corn kernels are tender, but still slightly crunchy (about 5 minutes). Discard bay leaf, stir in parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.