Easy Boston Clam Chowder
Soups & Stews

Easy Boston Clam Chowder Recipe

We just returned from a fall cruise from Boston to the ABC Islands. One of the best things about this cruise was I got to go to Boston and eat some terrific foods, including Boston Clam Chowder.

Of course, they don’t call this hearty ode to the sea in a bowl Boston Clam Chowder in Boston. It’s usually just called “chowda.” This thick creamy soup is a typical New England-style chowder. You may think chowder might be hard to make at home. But I’m here to show you how easy it is to have this hearty dish on your dinner table in no time.


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Creamy Boston Clam Chowder Is New England Clam Chowder

In Boston, you can find clam chowder on the menu at almost every restaurant in town. One of the most popular places you hear about is Ye Olde Union Oyster House on Union Street near Boston Public Market.

The chowder served in this part of the United States is New England Clam Chowder, the creamy chowder. To me, this is the best clam chowder. You will find this creamy chowder all over New England, not only in Boston. Bar Harbor, Maine, also makes a fantastic chowder.

Manhattan clam chowder uses a tomato-based broth. This “red tomato broth” chowder seems to me to be more of a seafood stew or soup. There’s no doubt that Manhattan clam chowder is very tasty. It reminds me of a good bowl of San Francisco Cioppino, but for me, it’s not a chowder. 

Chowder recipes vary a bit based on the chef. My recipe is fashioned after great chowders I’ve eaten on my travels, but I add a few west coast things, like pancetta, instead of salt pork and garlic. These additions make my taste buds happy. Sometimes herbs are added to the chowder, like thyme or bay leaves. If you have herbs (fresh or dried), feel free to add them.

To keep this recipe quick and easy, I use frozen clam meat. You can use fresh clams, but you will need to clean and steam them to extract the clam meat for the chowder. You can also use canned clams, but for me, the frozen ones are the way to go.

Often you will see heavy cream on the list of ingredients. I use half & half. With all the butter in the roux, I find cream slightly overkill. If you want to up the flavor a bit, don’t hesitate to add a little white wine and garnish the finished chowder with fresh parsley.

I like to use my 6-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven when making soups and stews. For this creamy Boston clam chowder, again, it’s my choice

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7 Easy Steps For Making The Best Clam Chowder

Step 1:  Get All Your Ingredients together. Clams (to make the chowder fast and easy, I use frozen clams), red potatoes, pancetta, celery, onion, clam juice, all-purpose flour, butter, and half & half.

A Picture of The Ingredients For Easy Boston Clam Chowder

Step 2: Prep your veggies. This means dicing the potatoes, celery, and onions.

Step 3: Add the pancetta to a skillet and, over low heat, render the fat, then add the celery and onions. Cook on medium-low, stirring occasionally.

Step 4: Place the diced potatoes and clam juice into a large pot. The clam juice should cover the potatoes by about 1-inch; if not, add enough water to make up the difference. Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Potatoes and Clam Juice In Dutch Oven

Step 5: By now, your veggies should be soft and have a little color. Add your butter and when it’s melted, add the flour. Mix this all together and let it cook for a few minutes. This is the roux for your chowder.

Step 6: When the roux and vegetable mixture has cooked for about 5 minutes, add it slowly to the simmering potatoes while stirring continuously. The roux will cause the broth to thicken.

Photo of Veggies, Pancetta and Roux Ready To Combine with Potatoes

Step 7: Add the clams and half and half, and bring the pot back to a simmer. Reduce your heat to the lowest setting and cook the chowder for around 5 minutes. Do not overcook, as the clams will get rubbery.

Add a little salt and pepper to taste; voila, you’ve turned these simple ingredients into authentic clam chowder!

Clam Chowder

Now That You Have The Chowder, What Should You Serve Along Side?

Oyster crackers are always served with chowder in restaurants, but we can do better. I think simple homemade buttermilk biscuits (yes, I have a recipe for these, too) are a great way to sop up all that delicious creamy chowder.

Buttermilk Biscuits With Melting Butter

Some people like to serve the chowder in a homemade bread bowl. In the SF Bay Area, where I live, Boudin Bakery makes the best sourdough bread (and bread bowls). I’ve been known to cheat and buy my bread bowls there.


Easy Boston Clam Chowder
Yield: 12 cups

Easy Boston Clam Chowder

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

A delicious New England clam chowder inspired by my visit to Boston.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz Clams (Frozen fully cooked clam meat)
  • 4 oz Pancetta (diced, uncured)
  • 4 cups red potatoes (diced)
  • 2 cups yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 stalks celery (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 24 oz Clam Juice
  • 1 cup Half & Half
  • 4 tbl Butter
  • 4 tbl flour (all-purpose)

Instructions

  1. Step 1:  Get All Your Ingredients together. Clams, red potatoes, pancetta, celery, onion, clam juice, all-purpose flour, butter, and half & half.
  2. Step 2: Prep your veggies. This means dicing the potatoes, celery, and onions.
  3. Step 3: Add the pancetta to a skillet and, over low heat, render the fat, then add the celery and onions. Cook on medium-low, stirring occasionally.
  4. Step 4: Place the diced potatoes and clam juice into a large pot. The clam juice should cover the potatoes by about 1-inch; if not, add enough water to make up the difference. Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce the
    heat to a simmer.
  5. Step 5: By now, your veggies should be soft and have a little color. Add your butter and when it's melted, add the flour. Mix this all together and let it cook for a few minutes. This is the roux for your chowder.
  6. Step 6: When the roux and vegetable mixture has cooked for about 5 minutes, add it slowly to the simmering potatoes while stirring continuously. The roux will cause the broth to thicken.
  7. Step 7: Add the clams and half and half, and bring the pot back to a simmer. Reduce your heat to the lowest setting and cook the chowder for around 5 minutes. Do not overcook, as the clams will get rubbery.
  8. Add a little salt and pepper to taste;

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1 1/2 cups

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 572Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 702mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 22g

Nutritional Information is an estimate and will vary depending on the specific ingredients used

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

How Do You Store Any Left Over Boston Clam Chowder

If you have leftover chowder, you can keep it for tomorrow’s lunch. Place the chowder in covered airtight containers as soon as it is cool enough and store it in the refrigerator. The sooner you eat the chowder, the better, but it will last for up to 3 days refrigerated.


Can You Freeze Clam Chowder?

Yes! You can freeze your clam chowder! But keep in mind that you want to do this right away. You should not take the chowder you place in the refrigerator two days ago and freeze it. The cream, clams, and potatoes will be best when frozen quickly.

Place the chowder in either an airtight container or in a freezer bag. Seal the container and label it along with the date. I like freezer bags because they lay flat for freezing, and the contents defrost faster.

The chowder will last for up to three months in the freezer.


The Best Way To Thaw Frozen Chowder?

Take the clam chowder out of the freezer in the morning and place it in the refrigerator to thaw. Before dinner, you can quickly reheat your chowder in a saucepan on the stove, stirring slowly to reincorporate the ingredients. This will give you the best results.


You’ve Got The Recipe – Now It’s Your Turn!

Now that you see how easy it is to make a great pot of homemade clam chowder, what’s stopping you? Make the chowder, make the biscuits, grab a salad and enjoy!

VickieDe has eaten her way through more than 300 cities in over 40 countries. Learning along the way that food and culture go hand in hand. Read More

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