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Contest-Winning New England Clam Chowder

This is the best New England clam chowder recipe, ever! In the Pacific Northwest, we dig our own razor clams and I grind them for the chowder. Since these aren't readily available, the canned clams are perfectly acceptable. —Sandy Larson, Port Angeles, Washington
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Cook: 35 min.
  • Makes
    5 servings


  • 4 center-cut bacon strips
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
  • 3 teaspoons reduced-sodium chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free half-and-half, divided
  • 2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) chopped clams, undrained


  • In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside. Saute celery and onion in the drippings until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the potatoes, water, clam juice, bouillon, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 cup half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in clams and remaining half-and-half; heat through (do not boil). Crumble the cooked bacon; sprinkle over each serving.

Clam Chowder Tips

What is New England clam chowder?

New England clam chowder normally contains clams, potatoes, onions, salted pork and milk or cream. The addition of dairy is considered the biggest difference from other chowders. New England clam chowder is a classic American staple, first eaten by settlers as early as the 1700s. Be sure to check out our other wickedly good New England recipes!

What toppings can I add to clam chowder?

Classic clam chowder toppings are oyster crackers, chopped cooked bacon and fresh chives.

How do you thicken clam chowder?

This clam chowder is thickened with a slurry, a mixture of fat-free half-and-half and flour. By mixing these two together, you will prevent clumping. Cook the soup until it has thickened, and the taste of flour will be cooked out. Follow these additional soup thickening tips!
Nutrition Facts
1-1/3 cups: 260 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 22mg cholesterol, 788mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 3g fiber), 13g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2-1/2 starch, 1 lean meat.


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Average Rating:
  • LaTonya
    Oct 8, 2020

    No comment left

  • Laurie
    Sep 26, 2020

    This recipe was absolutely delicious! Fall came in with a roar over the last couple of days here in Washington, so I was looking for a hearty clam chowder recipe. I've made clam chowder many times and this recipe was close to how I've made it in the past, but with a few additions, like the garlic and thyme. I was hesitant at first to add them, but I gave it a whirl. Everyone raved about how good it was! I had to tweak it just a little to use what I had on hand. I didn't have half and half, so used heavy cream and milk and used fresh thyme from the garden rather than dried. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  • Patchara Khun Thong
    Sep 22, 2020

    Best recipe ever! I did combo of baby shrimps and crab meat . Thank you

  • Stewart
    Sep 21, 2020

    Same recipe I’ve used for years. All you tweakers need to start your own recipe blogs.

  • Joanne
    Sep 21, 2020

    Very good consistency and easy to make, but I think it needs more clam flavor. I will substitute another bottle of clam juice for the water if I make it again, and add more clams.

  • Jacob
    Jun 11, 2020

    I’m confused. Maybe it’s my iPad? But the YouTube doesn’t show anything besides the strips of bacon lying in the skillet ostensibly sizzling to the tune of Ian Post’s “Du Da.” I’m going to give this a try. I just dug razors down here in Newport, Oregon.

  • Deborah
    May 16, 2020

    I followed the changes the lady with vermouth and deglazing with white wine and this is the BEST CLAM CHOWDER EVER!!!

  • Corwin44
    May 11, 2020

    My family really liked this chowder. It is easy to make and very versatile. I’ve made this twice. The first time I made as directed. It was pretty good but I needed a little more flavor. The second time I deglazed the sautéed veggies with 2 Tb white wine before adding the broth and I used Chicken bone broth instead oF bouillon. I also added a bay leaf and 1 tsp of old bay seasoning in addition to the other seasonings. I added 1/4 cup of vermouth along with the half and half. The chowder was amazing.

  • Chris
    Apr 26, 2020

    This is a nice base, but if you even have a little bit of concern for your health ( I know, we're talking a chowder here) this thing is an absolute salt/sodium bomb. I tried it "as is" the first time, and modified the next to bring it down. First, I know its delicious, but skip the bacon and sautee the vegetables in a little butter. Reduce the chicken bouillon, which is the main culprit of un-necessary sodium, down to just half a teaspoon. Switch to black pepper to amp up the flavoring a little and cook the rest as recommended. Incidentally, the modified version tasted much more like authentic clam chowder from New England.

  • LindaCincinnati
    Apr 23, 2020

    I just made this for dinner tonight. I added two cans of cream of chicken soup and an extra clam juice to it. I don’t like to use flour if I can help it. Everything else I did exactly to the recipe. I liked it and will make it again. Thanks!