The clam chowder recipe of all clam chowder recipes, this creamy, hearty New England clam chowder is absolute perfection.

New England Clam Chowder


This clam chowder is so incredibly delicious, it’s totally converted me from being slightly lukewarm about clam chowder (I like it but haven’t ever really loved it) to being completely passionate about the stuff.

It’s long been Brian’s favorite soup (this is our old go-to recipe, which is good, but today’s version is incredible), and this year, I knew I wanted a favorite version. A stellar version. A so-good-you’ll-cry version.

And this is it. The crying part may have actually happened, too, because it took me several variations to get this New England-style clam chowder just right, and even though it was getting more delicious and more delicious with each variation, I was wanting and needing Clam Chowder Bonanza 2016 to be over sooner than later (one can only eat clam chowder so many nights in a row without getting slightly emotional).

New England Clam Chowder

The simple flavors of this clam chowder come together to form something magical. Creamy and hearty, this clam chowder is perfection. Really, it is.

I experimented with all different varieties of potatoes and found that I far preferred russet potatoes over red potatoes, which isn’t usually the case (sorry, humble little russets). Yukon Gold’s make an acceptable substitute, but russets are my fave here – their soft, creamy texture is just what the chowder needs.

I totally understand clam chowder can be a very personal (and often polarizing) subject. For us, creamy New England- or Boston-style clam chowder reigns supreme, and this version is going to be a long-standing favorite, I just know it.

New England Clam Chowder

This soup reheats beautifully, although it will definitely thicken as it stands (especially if refrigerated overnight). The flavors are even more delicious the next day. And don’t ask me how I know, but even straight from the fridge, the clam chowder is tasty, tasty, tasty.

Sorry if the thought of cold leftovers is revolting (Brian is giving you a high five). I’m a cold leftover lover and proud of it, and I’m happy to report most of my kids agree with me. Some of that may be the inheritance of my impatient nature – who wants to waste a good minute warming something up in the microwave?

If you’ve been on the lookout for a great clam chowder recipe, give this one a whirl! I have a feeling I’m not the only one who will become fully converted to clam chowder after tasting the deliciousness of this New England-style version.

Gosh, I love soup season.

New England Clam Chowder

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New England Clam Chowder

Yield: Serves 6

New England Clam Chowder


  • 5 cans (6.5 ounces each) chopped clams
  • 2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and small diced (about 3 medium potatoes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 4 medium stalks)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


  1. Drain the clams, reserving the juice. Set both the clams and juice aside.
  2. In a 5- or 6-quart pot, combine the clam juice, broth and potatoes (the potatoes will just barely be covered with liquid; it's important they are diced small). Bring to a simmer, add the bay leaf, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. While the potatoes cook, in a second pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the onions, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and half and half, stirring quickly to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture has thickened, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Stir the creamy mixture into the potatoes, whisking quickly until combined (take out the bay leaf if it's getting in the way). Stir in the salt, pepper, vinegar, and reserved clams. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Stir in any of the reserved clam juice to thin the consistency, if desired (I usually don't but we like it thick). Serve.

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (after playing around with a lot of different versions including this old version on my site for Boston clam chowder and this recipe at Epicurious, among others)

35 Responses to New England Clam Chowder {Our Favorite Version}

  1. Cassie says:

    How do I make this with fresh clams? Going to the coast with family and my assignment is to use the clams we dig to make chowder. I, of course, just search your site for any recipe I need. But how would I do it with fresh clams?

    • Mel says:

      That’s a great question, but honestly, I’ve never used fresh clams, so I don’t know what to suggest. You might try googling “fresh clams in clam chowder” to see if that helps.

  2. Meg says:

    Hi Mel, this is a fantastic recipe.
    It gets a bit expensive though if you haven’t hit a recent sale for clams and clam juice.
    Question – is there a particular reason you only reserve the canned clam juice for thinning? Is bottled clam juice really much superior? Is there much of a difference if I use 1 bottle of juice and the remainder from the cans? It just seems like a waste of all that canned clam juice…

    • Mel says:

      Good question, Meg. The brand of clams I use often doesn’t produce that much excess clam juice so I have to resort to bottled but if you have enough juice from the clams, yes, by all means, use it! 🙂

    • Sandra says:

      I absolutely love this recipe. The last time I made it, I followed Danielle’s hint from above and used just the clam juice from the cans of clams….worked perfectly! Good luck Meg…definitely worth making this chowder. (I have successfully made half the recipe with only two cans of clams as well….be warned: you’ll wish you’d made it all!)

  3. Patti says:

    I made this clam chowder for dinner, and my husband said it was “outstanding!”
    It was my first time ever to make clam chowder. It was not only easy to prepare – but most importantly it tasted great! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  4. Dani B says:

    I cannot get enough of this chowder! I have always wanted to try and make clam chowder, but had never found a recipe I trusted would be worth the effort, but your post convinced me I was up to the task. Love the simplicity, and the amazing results. What I love to do is make this ahead of time, let it sit overnight in the fridge, then enjoy it the next day. AMAZING! I do have some feedback for others who are making it for the first time–definitely keep all of the juice you drain from the clams, especially if you plan to have leftovers, because the next day, the chowder is super thick, and that juice thins it out and adds even more delicious clam flavor. Also, for me, 5 cans of clams was a bit too much, so I cut it to 4, and it was perfect-o. Thanks again for another fantastic recipe, Mel!

  5. Danielle says:

    I would like to add a helpful hint. You really don’t need to buy the clam juice. After draining the clams, I measured the juice and ended up with more than the 16 oz. that came in the bottles. There was even enough left over to thin out the soup if you wanted to. Just an idea to help you save some money!

  6. Kaime says:

    I don’t do this–but I have to comment. This is a 5 star recipe. I loved New England clam chowder as a kid (ordering it often at restaurants) but never thought of making it from home. When I saw your post, I decided to try. This is so easy and the taste is spot on. It will go in my “tried and true” recipe folder…and it will come out more than once this fall/winter season. Thank you!!

  7. Patricia says:

    I made this on Sunday – very tasty! After cooking and trying new recipes for 20 + years, this is what I have learned – I am NOT a patient person when it comes to letting onions, carrots and celery cook down for a recipe! My celery is always still crunchy after almost doubling the recipe time – maybe I have to chop those ingredients much smaller that I am doing now? Besides the occasional piece of crunchy celery, the soup was delicious and came together pretty easily – thanks for sharing!

  8. Danielle B. says:

    Mel, your timing is perfect! I just read a book with my kids in which the main characters made clam chowder. They’ve been asking if we can make clam chowder too, but I was a little intimidated. They will be so excited!

  9. It’s so wet and cold over here, this will be my comfort soup today.

  10. Chelsea says:

    Let’s just say I’m scouring your site super late because I need to come up with a menu for our RS Christmas dinner…which of your recipes would you pick for a main dish? Would love the first two or three things that pop in your genius mind!

  11. Emily says:

    My go to recipe has always been the one on your site and we love it… But if this one is better, then I have to try it. Except, FIVE cans of clams and 2 bottles of clam juice!? You have never ever led me astray which is why I will dutifully and committedly (not a real word probably) try this one but that is going to be expensive soup! (Or is it just my local grocery store that sells clams at an outrageous price?) I’m excited to try it though!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Emily – you can definitely cut down on the clams – one of the reasons we like this soup better is because it’s loaded with clams but not everyone may want it as “clammy.” 🙂

  12. Laura says:

    Your old favorite recipe is the one I use for clam chowder (with a little bacon added). I will have to try this one now.

  13. Kimwithaktoo says:

    Yummy! Can’t wait to make this!❤

  14. Susan M says:

    Do you rinse the clams or have any problems with gritty texture? I can’t order it in most restaurants for that reason. Anyone else ever had a problem with that?

    • Heather says:

      Same here. Hopefully someone has a fix for that!

    • Mel says:

      Hmmm, I have to be honest that it’s not something I’ve noticed before…but I also don’t order clam chowder very often at restaurants. I just asked Brian if he thought this soup was gritty the last few times we’ve made and he says no. So for what it’s worth, it hasn’t been an issue for us. Hope that helps. 🙂

  15. Paige says:

    I havent’ had clam chowder in years! I need ot make this soon!


  16. Aimee G. says:

    I know I’ve bought canned clams at the grocery store before but I’ve never looked for clam juice. Is that something that’s easy to find at any grocery store?

    • Mel says:

      Clam juice is usually by the clams and/or canned fish. It’s at my fairly average neighborhood grocery store and also at Super Walmarts and larger grocery stores. I think you should be able to find it pretty easily!

      • Aimee G says:

        Thanks Mel! I found it and made it last night along with your Parmesan Breadstick Knots from your weeknight dinner PDF. I’ve been lukewarm about clam chowder too but this was really really good! Thumbs up from my family!

  17. Angie says:

    I love clam chowder, can’t wait to try this recipe! I have found in the past that different brands of clams vary wildly. Do you have a favorite brand of canned clams and clam juice?

  18. HEATHER says:

    Looks yummy. Though, as a New Englander, I must say this is missing one very important ingredient–Bacon (or salt pork)! And fresh clams, but you can have a pass for that since you live in a landlocked state ;).

  19. Jean says:

    Seriously, every one of your recipes that I’ve tried have been a success so we will be having this clam chowder for dinner tonight. (There will probably be some crusty French bread on the side for dunking, yum)

  20. Sheree L says:

    Haha! I chuckled about the cold leftovers. I’m a BIG fan! My hubby, not so much 🙂

  21. Nancy Long says:

    Can’t wait to try this, love Clam Chowder and always trying new recipes, looking for that perfect one!

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