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Front shot of a spoon in a white bowl full of thick and creamy New England clam chowder
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5 from 1 vote

New England Clam Chowder

The best New England Clam Chowder recipe is thick, creamy and full of flavorful clams, tender potatoes and rich, smoky bacon!
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword clam chowder, New England Clam Chowder, Thick New England Clam Chowder Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 cups (approximately)
Calories 288kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter (or more or less, as needed)
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 (6.5 oz) cans chopped clams (or substitute with 2 cups fresh shucked clams and 2 cups of clam juice)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half (or heavy cream), at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional, for serving: saltine crackers; chopped fresh parsley


  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp and brown (stirring often). Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon; leave the drippings in the pot. You should have about ¼ cup of drippings and will need a total of ½ cup of fat in the pot. Add the butter to equal ½ cup (you will need about 4 tablespoons of butter with the drippings to total ½ cup). If you have more or less drippings from the bacon, you can adjust the amount of butter that you use accordingly.
  • Melt butter in the pot with the drippings over medium heat. Add onion; cook until softened and translucent. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Drain clams, reserving the liquid in a large measuring cup. Add enough water to the clam juice to equal 2 cups. Slowly stir the liquid into the pot. Add potatoes; bring to a boil. Once the liquid boils, reduce the heat to low; cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the potatoes are tender), stirring regularly. Be sure to stir frequently and scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. The mixture will be very thick, which is good, but if it becomes too thick for you to easily stir it, you can add more water to thin it slightly.
  • Once the potatoes are fork-tender, stir in clams, half-and-half and milk. Warm over low heat, being careful not to let the soup boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as necessary. Garnish with the cooked, chopped bacon.


  • New England Clam Chowder Recipe without Bacon: If you prefer a chowder made without bacon, you can omit the bacon and just use 1/2 cup of butter instead.
  • How to store Clam Chowder: Properly stored in an airtight container, the New England Clam Chowder will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • To reheat New England Clam Chowder: Place the chowder in a pot and warm over a low flame, just until heated through. Be careful not to let the chowder boil.
  • I do not recommend freezing this chowder, as the milk and cream have a tendency to "break" or separate when thawed.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 252mg | Potassium: 397mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 435IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 1mg