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Homemade Clam Chowder

Homemade Clam Chowder is a delicious, creamy soup made with either freshly dug, canned or frozen clams. This is a New England chowder which is the classic clam chowder recipe made with hearty potatoes, bacon, onions, and rich clam meat.

Enjoy this scrumptious soup in one of our homemade bread bowls with a chilled glass of white wine. We are walking you through how to prepare your clams and season this dinner for the perfect homemade clam chowder.

Homemade Clam Chowder

What is the most famous clam chowder?

New England style clam chowder is arguably the most famous recipe. It is believed to have been introduced to the region by French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers and became a common dish by the 1700’s. Another common name is Boston clam chowder recipe, but they are essentially the same dish; a rich, thick, creamy clam soup.

What two ingredients must be present for a soup to be called a chowder?

According to Miriam Webster’s dictionary, chowders are defined as thick soups or stews made from seafood with potatoes and onions, with a milk or tomato base. This recipe is made with evaporated milk that yields a thick clam chowder recipe so dense you can almost eat it with a fork.

What goes good in clam chowder?

Besides the traditional ingredients of onion, potato, and simple seasonings; you can add a variety of either roasted or steamed veggies to your chowder. Mushrooms, carrots, beets, and artichokes are all hearty vegetables that will add new flavor and texture to the soup without competing for the iconic flavor.

Homemade Clam Chowder 2

How can you make clam chowder better?

Chowders are rich, thick soups with lots of salt and a creamy dairy base. To elevate the flavor and consistency of this dish add more cream and whole milk. Equal parts will give you the best clam chowder recipe in the world with a thick, comforting base.

Adding in more bacon and butter will not only bring up the flavor, but will also add a smoky element that pairs well with briny clams. To keep this recipe classic, add a generous amount of dry vermouth.

How do I substitute fresh clams for canned clams?

We enjoy this homemade clam chowder with fresh clams. Living on the PNW coast affords us the ability to source fresh clams and other seafoods very easily. However, homemade clam chowder can absolutely be made with either frozen or canned clams just as easily, and will still deliver delicious flavor and wonderful texture.

Our recipe calls for 4 Cups of fresh or canned clams. If you enjoy the bold flavor of this seafood and you are using canned, we recommend adding in an extra bit of bottled clam juice. This will help to rehydrate the clams while adding more of their natural juices and flavor to the chowder.


How do you prepare fresh clams for chowder?

Preparing fresh clams can be a daunting undertaking for many of us, but it really is quite easy. Just requires a bit of extra work and some practice. Here are some tips on how to prepare fresh, unopened clams for your homemade clam chowder.

  • Select whole clams that are not cracked or partially open
  • Wash the clams well in cold water, then allow the clams to soak in cold water for up to 2 hours, changing the water out a few times. This pulls sediment and sand out of the clams
  • Using either a damp towel or soft brush, scrub and dry the clam shells
  • To open the clams hold them in your hand and very carefully pry them open. This can be done with a small pairing knife, but, there are special knives and gloves designed for this task that you may find quite helpful.
  • Find the hinge of the clam and gently push the knife lengthwise into the back of the hinge. Do not push the knife all the way through, only until you begin to see the shell begin to separate and create a gap
  • Flip the clam over, take the pairing knife and run it into that gap which will cut the muscle of the clam
  • Turn the clam over and do the same thing on the opposite end of the clam, cutting the second muscle. The clam will open
  • With your knife, separate the clam from the shell beginning on the top shell. Run the knife gently around the interior of the shell, pulling the clam down until it is lying in the bottom half of the shell
  • Pull the top shell off, and using the same technique, separate the clam from the bottom shell

Tenderizing fresh clams for homemade clam chowder

Fresh clams will be thick and a bit chewy, so tenderizing them for chowders is often preferred. To tenderize your fresh clams lay them in between two pieces of plastic wrap on your countertop. This will contain any splattering as well as protect the integrity of the clam meat.

Using a small rubber mallet, gently pound the clam meat. Tenderizing clam meat will break down the strong protein fibers the same way as steak meats, making them tender and easy to chew.

Homemade Clam Chowder 1

What makes clams chewy in homemade clam chowder?

Overcooking clams will result in tough, chewy clam meat. Be careful to cook your chowder low and slow to avoid excessive heat for too long. Clams are a delicate meat, requiring very little cook time and can quickly be overcooked resulting in a dense, rubbery texture.

Fresh clams will cook in 5-10 minutes while canned clams only need to be heated through. In chowders, clams are cooked and simmered for longer periods because they are not exposed to direct heat. However, they can still be over heated so be careful to watch the chowder and keep the heat low.

How do you serve clam chowder?

Rich and creamy seafood chowders are popular dishes that are loved for their rich flavors and comforting ingredients. Clam chowders can be enjoyed as a simple bowl of soup, or paired with a variety of sides for a full meal experience. Here are some ideas for how to serve and enjoy this hearty soup.

Homemade Clam Chowder Recipe

This classic clam chowder is easy to make and delivers a rich, bold flavor that everyone will love. Simple and rustic with a comforting, creamy base and delicious, hearty ingredients.

  • Peel and cube your potatoes, and set them on to boil
  • Cut up your bacon and onion, place in a skillet on medium heat and cook
  • When the potatoes are just done, drain enough water out of the pot to expose the potatoes
  • Add the bacon and onions, clams, milk and stir. Add salt and pepper, cover and set on low
  • Simmer about 30 minutes
  • Serve with your favorite sides

This clam chowder is excellent with canned, store-bought clams if you do not have access to fresh clams.

Be sure to check out some of our other delicious seafood recipes

Homemade Clam Chowder
Yield: 10 servings

Homemade Clam Chowder

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Homemade Clam Chowder is a delicious gluten-free soup made with either freshly dug, canned or frozen clams. Make this for a light meal served with a salad and rolls. Fantastic flavor in this easy to make soup!


  • 4 Cups clams, fresh or canned
  • 5 lbs. red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb. bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cans evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper


  1. Peel and cube the potatoes and place in a large pot with water to cover. Set on high. After the potatoes boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until fork tender but not mushy
  2. Cut the bacon and onions and place in a skillet on medium. Cook until bacon is well done
  3. Drain the excess water off the potatoes so they are barely showing above the water
  4. Drain the bacon and onion
  5. Add into the potatoes
  6. Add in the milk and stir thoroughly
  7. Simmer 30 minutes.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 652Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 127mgSodium 2076mgCarbohydrates 58gFiber 4gSugar 11gProtein 49g

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