Fish and Seafood, Intermediate, Soups and Stews

New England Clam Chowder

Creamy, homemade New England clam chowder recipe is loaded with briny clams and bacon. It’s perfect for cold winter nights.

new england clam chowder recipe

Does anyone else out there have a cooking bucket list?  You know, a list of recipes that you hope one day you will be brave enough to try?

Homemade New England clam chowder was on my bucket list.  I have wanted to try making it for years, but kept putting it off for one reason or another.  For one, most of the recipes I came across called for at least four dozen littleneck clams.  My local market sells them for $.50 a piece, making that a grand toal of almost $25 for one ingredient.  If your family lives on a budget, you know where I’m coming from.  Two, I don’t work with fresh clams or oysters that often, and because of that I’m a little intimidated by them.

I planned on writing this very in-depth post on the proper way to purchase and handle fresh clams.  However, after trying to shuck 48 of them, I have come to the conclusion that I never want to shuck another clam as long as I live.  And I mean NEVER EVER.

I had no idea how I was supposed to go about shucking a clam.  I mean, how are you supposed to get these little suckers open?  This guy gives a great, short video demonstration and by following his instructions, I was able to get the first clam open with no problem.

It was pretty much all downhill from there.  An hour later, I still had only managed to get one clam open.  I tried letting them sit in the fridge to “relax” the muscles.  I tried pouring warm water over them.  Finally as a last resort (and maybe a little out of frustration), I placed them in a steamer basket over a little boiling water and let them steam just until I saw the shells begin to open.

All that work for something roughly the size of a quarter.  Yeah, I know fresh clams have the taste of the sea and all that jazz.  No thanks.  The chowder was delicious.  No doubt, I’ll make it again.  But next time, I’m reaching for a can opener.

So tell me, what’s on your cooking bucket list?

new england clam chowder recipe

More Chowder Recipes:

Creamy, homemade New England clam chowder recipe is loaded with briny clams and bacon. It's perfect for cold winter nights.
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5 from 1 vote

New England Clam Chowder

Creamy, homemade New England clam chowder recipe is loaded with briny clams and bacon. It’s perfect for cold winter nights.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Cook Time 47 minutes
Total Time 47 minutes
Servings 10 people
Author Lisa B.


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 3 celery ribs diced
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 5 potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
  • 5 cups clam juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 48 littleneck clams or 2 (15 oz.) good quality canned clams, juice reserved, coarsely chopped
  • 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, celery, and bacon and sauté for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add potatoes, clam juice, bay leaves, tarragon, and celery salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.
  • Stir in the clams, and continue to simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes.
  • Add Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Simmer for another 7 minutes.
  • Remove and discard bay leaves.


  1. Hmmm – this chowder has delicious and comfort written all over it. It’s just perfect for this time of year.

  2. I don’t like clam chowder, but yours looks seriously amazing! My cooking bucket list involves lobster, mussels, and very expensive cuts of steak. If only I didn’t have a grocery budget!

  3. That’s good to know! I was bracing myself for some flak for pushing canned. But you are right, fresh ones are too hard on my pocketbook!

  4. I always go for good quality canned clams because fresh ones most of the time are ridiculously priced. Ohhhh, your chowder looks amazingly delicious and thick! Yumm! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    ~ ray ~

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