The Best Classic New England Creamy Clam Chowder

A bowl of New England clam chowder with a hand dipping bread.

5 from 5 reviews

This classic, Creamy New England Clam Chowder recipe is even better than what you'll find at the best seafood restaurant. Unlike Manhattan Clam Chowder, it’s creamy and filled with bacon, potatoes and tender clams. The flavor is unbeatable, plus, it’s ready in less than 60 minutes!


Units Scale
  • 6 ounces bacon, diced
  • 1 very large or 2 smaller onions, finely chopped
  • 6 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups clam juice *see note
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 lbs red skinned potatoes, diced
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped clams *see note
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • fresh chives or parsley, minced
  • salt, only as needed
  • crusty bread for serving


  1. Add the bacon to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until done and crispy. 
  2. Transfer the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon and discard most of the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pot.  Add the chopped onions and celery and cook for 8 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the flour for an additional minute. 
  3. Add the clam juice, water, thyme, bay leaf, and potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Season with black pepper, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. 
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in clams, bacon (reserve a little on the side for garnish), heavy cream and chives or parsley. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprig (if desired).Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 
  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved bacon and more fresh herbs if desired. Serve hot with crusty bread on the side. 


  • *If using fresh clams, you’ll need about 6 lbs of cherrystones to get 1 1/2 cups of meat. Steam them with a little bit of water until they just open, then remove them from the shells and chop very finely. Strain and save the cooking liquid to use as the clam juice in the broth, but taste it first. If it is very salty, go easy on it and use more water instead.
  • **If using canned clams and bottled juice, you’ll need 4 bottles of clam juice and 3 6.5 ounce cans of chopped clams.
  • Chop the clams up very finely. If too large of chunks are left, they can become rubbery as they continue to cook in the broth. 
  • If you prefer a thicker chowder, use a flour slurry to thicken it to your liking. 
  • Give it a taste before adding any salt. It will likely need some, but depending on the saltiness of your clams, it may not need any. 


Keywords: clams, clam chowder, New England clam chowder, soup