This New England clam chowder contains bacon, potatoes, clams and vegetables, all simmered in a creamy broth. A classic appetizer or main course option that’s hearty enough to satisfy the largest appetites!

My family always requests soup for dinner, and I’m happy to oblige by whipping up a pot of cheeseburger soup, taco soup or this rich and creamy traditional clam chowder.

New England Clam Chowder Recipe | White Clam Chowder #chowder #soup #seafood #clams #bacon #dinner #dinneratthezoo New England Clam Chowder Recipe | White Clam Chowder #chowder #soup #seafood #clams #bacon #dinner #dinneratthezoo

A pot of New England clam chowder topped with oyster crackers, bacon and parsley.

Whenever I go to restaurants, if I see clam chowder on the menu I immediately order it. I’ve learned to make restaurant style New England clam chowder at home, and the end result is a perfectly creamy soup loaded with complex flavors.

How do you make New England clam chowder?

The first step in this recipe is to cook the bacon. After the bacon is done, remove it from the pan and saute some onions, celery and garlic. Add flour to the vegetables to thicken the soup base, then mix in clam juice, chicken broth, potatoes and seasonings. Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are tender, then stir in clams and heavy cream. Simmer the soup until it has thickened, then add the bacon and parsley and serve.

Cooked bacon in a soup pot.

Tips for the perfect New England clam chowder

  • I use canned clams because they’re super convenient and give this soup great flavor. If you prefer to use fresh clams, you can use 36 cherry stone or little neck clams. Place the scrubbed clams in the pot after the potatoes are tender, and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the clams have opened up.
  • This soup stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing this chowder because it has a high dairy content and could curdle when thawed.
  • Serve this soup as an appetizer with oyster crackers on top, or offer it as a main course option with garlic bread and a green salad on the side.

Potatoes, celery, herbs and onion in a pot.

What is the best potato for clam chowder?

I prefer to use Russet potatoes in this chowder because they break down a bit when they cook, and therefore thicken the soup. Other great choices include diced red potatoes, fingerling potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes.

What is the difference between Manhattan and New England clam chowder?

Manhattan clam chowder has many of the same flavor components of the New England version, such as clams, clam juice, onion, celery, bacon and seasonings. The major difference between the two is that Manhattan chowder has a tomato based broth and more vegetables. New England chowder has a creamy soup base without any tomato products involved.

Baby clams in broth.

Chowder variations

This is a fairly traditional clam chowder recipe, but you can add other ingredients to customize this dish to your tastes.

  • Meat: Instead of bacon, try salt pork, pancetta or even diced cubed ham.
  • Vegetables: Try adding carrots, green bell peppers or corn to add more nutrition to the dish.
  • Seafood: You can turn this into a seafood chowder by adding shrimp, mussels, crab or fish.

A bowl of New England clam chowder topped with bacon and crackers.

In my opinion, this clam chowder is even better than what you’d get at a restaurant. It’s sure to please both adults and kids alike!

More soup recipes to savor

New England Clam Chowder Video

5 from 16 votes

New England Clam Chowder

AuthorSara Welch
A pot of New England clam chowder topped with oyster crackers, bacon and parsley.
This New England clam chowder contains bacon, potatoes, clams and vegetables, all simmered in a creamy broth. A classic appetizer or main course option that's hearty enough to satisfy the largest appetites!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Serves 6


  • 6 slices bacon chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 1/2 cup celery sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 8 ounce bottles clam juice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 10 ounce can whole baby clams drained
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • additional cooked bacon and oyster crackers or serving optional


  • Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp.
  • Remove the bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels.
  • Add the onions and celery to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the flour, coating all the vegetables. Add the thyme, bay leaf and potatoes to the pot.
  • Pour in the clam juice and broth, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • Stir in the baby clams and cream. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for 8-10 more minutes or until soup has thickened. Stir in the reserved bacon. Top with chopped parsley. Sprinkle with bacon and oyster crackers if desired, then serve.


Calories: 284kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 761mg | Potassium: 699mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3807IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg


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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Easy and flavorful. I’d triple the clams next time, and not use baby clams.

    A lighter version – not super heavy and creamy.

  2. 5 stars
    Reminds me of summers on Cape Cod – this recipe produces a creamy (not too thick) flavorful chowder I plan to prepare again and again. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is so simple. I have always been too scared to try and make it. Also, you are right homemade was even better.