Chunky Clam Chowder

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Chunky Clam Chowder recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Thick and creamy clam chowder filled with plenty of potatoes, clams, and bacon is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion. This is an excellent clam chowder that rivals some of the best chowder I’ve ever eaten. (and yes, that includes Pike Place Chowder!)

I’ve tried several different clam chowder recipes over the past few years and I’ve never liked one enough to share it with you. However, I absolutely love this Chunky Clam Chowder; it is rich and flavorful with the clam flavor present in every bite.

This is your best potato soup taken to a completely new level.

Chunky Clam Chowder is thick and creamy, filled with plenty of potatoes, clams, and bacon. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion. - by Barefeet In The Kitchen

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Chunky Clam Chowder

Recipe adapted from and with thanks to Very Culinary
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Servings: 4 -6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 4 strips bacon sliced into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped, about 1 cup's worth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose or brown rice flour
  • 2 large russet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces, about 4 cups worth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 8 ounce jar of clam juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 6.5 ounce cans chopped clams
  • Optional: crackers for serving

Instructions

  • In a large pot, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until it begins to brown, but isn't yet crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but a tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Add the butter to the hot pan and swirl to melt. Add the onion to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the flour over the onion, stir, and cook another 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the clam juice, cream and milk, potatoes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high and bring just to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and barely simmer while stirring frequently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves, add the cooked bacon, and the clams along with their juice. Stir over low heat for about a minute to warm everything through. Ladle into bowls and top with crackers, if desired, just before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

Feel free to substitute 2 1/2 cups half and half for the heavy cream and whole milk. I've also made this soup without the cream and with milk alone and it is good, but we prefer it with the cream.
When simmering potatoes in cream or milk, be careful not to boil the soup. You're looking for a low boil initially and then barely a simmer as they cook. Stir frequently as the soup is cooking, to prevent the soup from scorching on the bottom of the pan.
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Paulaena Marie says

    Clam chowder is an absolute favourite of mine. My family used to 'cheat' and we'd buy the Campbell's cans of the stuff, but since moving to Australia we haven't been able to enjoy it as they don't sell them here. Now, with your recipe we can have the homemade version! Thanks!

    Tweezers and Tongs

  2. Kim in MN says

    As I make yet another batch of this soup I want to tell you that of all the chowder recipes I have made, this is by far our favorite. My husband frequently requests it during our long Minnesota winters. Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. geneva lane says

    this recipe is exactly the way I have been making my chowder since my mother taught me how in the 50’s……I also add some bay scallops every now and then…..

    • Daphne M. Stannard says

      6 and 1/2 ounces (6.5). The clams I buy come in either minced (very small) or chopped (slightly larger pieces), so pay close attention to the can labels when you buy them.

  4. Daphne M. Stannard says

    I’ve never tried bay leaves in my chowder (pretty much the same as your recipe), but I do add garlic which I find makes it DELICIOUS. I never use flour any more for thickening. I add instant potatoes (start with one spoonful, stir, and keep adding until it’s thick enough, usually another 1-2 spoonfuls) at the end. This way, it comes out perfectly thick and smooth, no lumps, no flour taste, and no burning on the bottom.

  5. Daphne M. Stannard says

    Don’t forget to also add the juice from the canned clams, but be careful to examine the last few drops which may contain some sand from the clams. I like to boil the potatoes in just clam juice before adding any milk. That way the potatoes have lots of flavor. Also, never add the clams early as over cooking can make them rubbery.

  6. Ashley Judd says

    Made this last night and it was truly excellent! Better than excellent even. Didn’t have bacon. Nor vegetable broth (used chicken broth). Only had 1 can of clams but it was enough. This is now my go-to clam chowder and I live in clam chowder land