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Creamy New England Clam Chowder

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This delicious New England clam chowder without bacon is easy to make and is ready to eat in about a half an hour. It’s creamy, comforting, and oh so good! 

close up of spoon in bowl of creamy New England clam chowder with oyster crackers, ready to enjoy.

Creamy chowders are a filling and wonderful way to enjoy soup season.  This New England style clam chowder is lent friendly and super delicious.

There are plenty of chunks to fill you up and the flavor is fabulous. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make! 

I have always been a fan of clam chowder.  I grew up on the canned stuff and liked it well enough.

It wasn’t until the first time I had it in a restaurant that I knew how much better it could be. You too can have the good stuff, and it’s easier to make your own creamy chowder than you’d think! 

bowl of New England clam chowder with creamy broth, chunks of potatoes, and clams, topped with soup crackers.

Much like the recipe for my brother’s shrimp and fish chowder, homemade clam chowder is delicious with the vegetables cooked in bacon grease. It adds that certain something to the final flavor. 

Feel free to do that and stir some bacon in at the end if you’d like.  This time I thought I’d keep the recipe lent friendly and bacon free.

You won’t miss it. This pescatarian clam chowder recipe is absolutely delicious without the bacon.

Tips for Making Homemade Clam Chowder

Like most of our favorite easy soup recipes, this chowder uses simple ingredients to make something fabulous. There really isn’t anything complicated to do or source.

The most time consuming part of the recipe is chopping the vegetables.  You will want to get the potatoes in nice small pieces.

It is easier to eat with a half inch or smaller dice. Plus the smaller chunks will cook more evenly and quickly. So it is worth spending the time chopping to get the best results.

small cubes of potato, chopped celery and onion being cooked in dutch oven.

Sautéing the chopped onions and celery makes them perfect in the final soup. It also gives the potatoes a chance to get started being cooked, ensuring they are cooked through before the soup is finished.

If you live on the coast, using canned clams may seem sacrilegious. For us in the center of the country, cans of clams are an obvious best choice.

Serving spoon lifting out chunks of potatoes, celery, and onions out of an enameled dutch oven full of new England clam chowder.

Sourcing great fresh clams is not always easy in a small town grocery store. Plus the canned chopped clams are ready to go! 

The tender clams and the liquor give such a great flavor. The texture of the clam meat ends up great too with almost no effort. 

Little dude says the best bowls of clam chowder have plenty of oyster crackers. Good clam chowder can also be topped with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or even a squeeze of lemon.

No matter how you top it, you’ll be happy you gave it a go.

While you are in the canned seafood aisle picking up the clams, pick up an extra.  Then whip up some of our family’s favorite clam dip.  It is creamy, delicious and perfect on potato chips or veggies. 

Bowl of creamy New England Clam chowder, ready to be eaten.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chowder Recipes

What makes a soup a chowder?

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines chowder as “a thick soup or stew made of seafood or corn with potatoes and onions and milk or tomatoes.” We have seafood, potatoes, onion and milk here so it’s officially chowder!

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

New England clam chowder has a creamy milk based broth like you see here. Manhattan clam chowder has a tomato based broth and is red in color. Both feature onions, potato and of course clams and both meet the definition of chowder.

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

close up of spoon in bowl of creamy New England clam chowder with oyster crackers, ready to enjoy.

Creamy New England Clam Chowder

Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Carlee
A bowl of creamy soup is a filling and wonderful way to warm up. This easy clam chowder recipe is lent friendly and super delicious. There are plenty of chunks to fill you up and the flavor is fabulous. You'll be surprised how easy it is to make!
4.93 from 51 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 medium potatoes*
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable or seafood stock*
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 19.5 ounces canned chopped clams 3 6.5 oz cans
  • cups half and half
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: oyster crackers or lemon wedges for serving


  • Thinly slice the celery. Finely dice the onion and cut the potato into approximately ½-¼ inch cubes.
    2 stalks celery, 1 medium onion, 3 medium potatoes*
  • In large pot or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and potatoes along with a quarter teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent.
    3 Tablespoons butter
  • Add the garlic, thyme and flour. Stir to coat everything with the flour and cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently.
    2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Slowly pour in the stock, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan as you do.
    2 cups vegetable or seafood stock*
  • Add the milk, bay leaf and clams (with the juice!)
    1 cup whole milk, 1 bay leaf, 19.5 ounces canned chopped clams
  • Cook over medium heat until it just starts to bubble then drop the heat to medium-low heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the half and half, heating until warmed through. Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.
    1½ cups half and half
  • If you would like to adjust the final thickness of your chowder, you can add a splash of milk to thin it further or let it simmer for a few more minutes to make an extra thick chowder.
  • Enjoy your delicious chowder!


*I like using red skinned or yukon gold potatoes in this chowder, but russet potatoes also work well.
Chicken broth is also delicious in this chowder if you aren't trying to keep it Lent friendly or pescatarian.
You can use half whole milk and half heavy cream in place of the half and half if desired.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 260kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 12gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 388mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Sunday 3rd of March 2024

Can you add dry sherry to this recipe? If so, at what point?


Sunday 3rd of March 2024

Sure! I would use it to deglaze the pan after you cook down the flour, before you add the stock.

Doug Nadvornick

Wednesday 27th of December 2023

We really enjoyed this, especially the second night after it had a chance to thicken. I used a can of coconut milk instead of half and half because it's what I had in the pantry. I think cutting the vegetables smaller, especially the potatoes, and sauteeing them first is a smart idea. We're adding this to our family recipe book.


Wednesday 27th of December 2023

I am so glad you liked it!

Ruth Nesbitt

Thursday 6th of April 2023

So happy to have a great clam chowder with no canned soup!!! Convenient but takes away home made taste and adds calories! Plus it's easy to keep all of these ingredients on hand! Thank you!


Monday 9th of May 2022

It was easy n awesome, it was yummy


Monday 9th of May 2022

I am so glad you liked it!

Southern Home Express

Thursday 12th of March 2020

This is so delicious!


Thursday 19th of March 2020

It really is!