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Ultimate Clam Chowder Recipe

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Are you ready to make the best clam chowder ever? This. Is. It. Your family and friends won’t believe that this is homemade. It’s so smooth and rich tasting that I’m calling it Ultimate Clam Chowder. You’ll love this easy, copycat recipe that’s inspired by the award-winning Splash Cafe Clam Chowder in Pismo Beach!

two bowl of ultimate best clam chowder recipe

What makes a perfect clam chowder? In my opinion, crave-worthy chowder absolutely must be creamy and decadent, with hearty veggies and loads of salty, tender clams packed in every spoonful.

Although originally created on the east coast as New England Clam Chowder, I am among the many who agree it’s the west coast that has truly made this dish an epic experience. Including bright herbs, earthy vegetables, and brine-y clams really takes the recipe up to the level of Ultimate Clam Chowder!

The flavor of my homemade clam chowder is spot-on. It has definitely become my favorite chowder, going up against my now-second-favorite, the Award Winning Clam Chowder from Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach, California.

If you like classic Clam Chowder, you need to make this ultimate recipe!

What Ingredients are in the Ultimate Clam Chowder

Use fewer clams, and more potatoes if you need to. Or make 1/2 of the recipe.

Here is everything you need

  • Canned minced clams or baby clams
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Half-and-half cream
  • Kinder’s Buttery Steakhouse Seasoning (or any all-purpose seasoning)
  • Salt and ground black pepper

To make this soup recipe more budget-friendly, check at big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, BJs, or Smart & Final. Or order a large can of baby or minced clams on Amazon (linked) or Walmart online.

Did you know that you can make your own half-and-half? It is half milk and half cream, hence the name half-and-half. In our household, regular milk and have cream are standards in our fridge so it is simple to make my own when I need to.

what you need to make Ultimate Clam Chowder - celery, natural heavy cream, butter, milk, onion, potatoes, carrots, herbes, buttery steakhouse seasoning, Sea Clam

How to Make the Best Clam Chowder

Start to finish it only takes roughly 30 minutes to make this Ultimate Clam Chowder recipe. But amazingly, it tastes even better than the best restaurant-style chowders that cook for hours!

1. First, do your veggie prep work by chopping up the onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery into roughly 1-inch pieces.

bowls of chopped carrots, celery, onions

2. Drain the clams, reserving the juice. Pour the clam juice into a medium-sized stockpot, 4 quarts or larger. Including the juices from the canned clams is what really ramps up that terrifically salty, ocean-y flavor!

3. Next, add the vegetables to the pot, put on the lid, and simmer for several minutes, until the onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery have all slightly softened.

simmering veggies in clam juice

4. Meanwhile, as the vegetables are simmering melt the butter in a large saucepan. I added a little Kerrygold Herb butter (subbed for an equal amount of regular butter) to really enhance the herbaceous flavor of the chowder.

5. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and cook for just a minute or two.

melting herbed butter

See Below for the Recipe + Video!

6. Slowly pour the half-and-half into the pan with flour and butter mixture, whisking constantly until incorporated. Simmer on low heat and continue to whisk until thickened.

7. Once slightly thick, add the half-and-half mixture to the vegetables in the stockpot. Stir well, and cook for several more minutes on low heat.

8. Lastly, turn off the heat and add the clams just a few minutes before serving. If they cook too long they will toughen, so you want them to just get warmed in the hot chowder.

creamy rich chowder on a pot

Then, just dish the chowder into soup bowls and serve.

This is such an easy recipe! I hope you serve this Ultimate Clam Chowder at your dinner table soon, and that your family loves it as much as we do.

two bowl of ultimate best clam chowder recipe

This amazing clam chowder always takes me right back to Pismo Beach. You’ll feel like you are eating at your favorite beachside cafe, too.

I assure you this is the best homemade Clam Chowder ever!

What Goes Well with Homemade Clam Chowder?

Serve this clam chowder in a homemade bread bowl for the true coastal dining experience! My easy bread bowl recipe (linked) using frozen dough is ideal for serving clam chowder.

Serve the clam chowder in a Bread Bowls that are good for the true coastal dining experience

Or serve this creamy, dreamy Clam Chowder with biscuits. Here is the perfect recipe for my Cheddar Biscuits Recipe or my Easy 3 Ingredient Biscuits.

Serve the clam chowder with biscuits

For a non-dairy side, try some delicious freshly baked bread. I have a nearly fool-proof recipe for crusty on the outside, soft on the inside homemade French Bread that you’ll love!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the main ingredient in a chowder?

Chowder is a soup with cream or milk mixed with ingredients such as potatoes, sweet corn, smoked haddock, clams and prawns, etc. Some cream-style chowders do not use cream, and are instead prepared using milk and a roux to thicken them.

Do you drain canned clams?

If you’re using canned clams, drain them, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the reserved clam juice (whether fresh or canned) to make 1-1/2 cups.

Does chowder have to have potatoes?

But the French can’t claim responsibility, for this truly is an American tradition. Customarily, chowder included onion, potatoes, and cream. Nowadays, not all chowders adhere to these guidelines.

Get the Pismo Beach Clam Chowder Recipe Here

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5 from 5 votes

Ultimate Clam Chowder Recipe

This Ultimate Clam Chowder is nothing short of amazing. Once you make it, you'll know exactly what I mean. It's creamy, tangy, and absolutely delicious. Serve it in easy homemade bread bowls for the ultimate coastal dining experience: https://thefeatherednester.com/pumpkin-bread-bowl/ (linked in notes).
Course Soup, Main Course, Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword clam chowder, clam chowder recipe, easy clam chowder
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 415kcal

Equipment

  • Soup Pot or large sauce pan

Ingredients

  • 1 can (51 ounces) minced clams (or use a few smaller cans to equal 51 ounces)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups cubed potatoes, 1" size
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart half-and-half cream
  • 2 teaspoons Kinder’s Buttery Steakhouse Seasoning (can substitute all-purpose seasoning)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Drain juice from clams into a large saucepan or medium stockpot. Add the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots. If needed, add water to cover, and cook over medium heat until tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook for 1-2 minutes until bubbly. Stir in half-and-half, and keep stirring until thick and smooth. 
  • Add half-and-half mixture to pot with vegetables. Stir in clams just before serving. When clams are heated through, stir in seasoning and add salt and pepper.

Notes

To make this soup more budget-friendly, I recommend checking big box stores, like Costco, Sam’s Club, BJs, Smart & Final, or Amazon and Walmart online for large cans of minced clams. 
Serve this in homemade bread bowls! Here’s the easy recipe: Easy Bread Bowl Recipe (linked)
If you don’t have half-and-half available, you can use half milk and half cream. I used Kinder’s Buttery Steakhouse seasoning, but any all-purpose seasoning will work.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 266mg | Potassium: 521mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3721IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 175mg | Iron: 2mg

Read more about Pismo Beach here, where I share what to see, where to stay, and where to eat.

For more meal inspiration, follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/thefeatherednester/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/houseon3rd/

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17 thoughts on “Ultimate Clam Chowder Recipe”

  1. What’s the serving size? Recipe says serves 8 (ppl).
    What is a serving size? 4 cups, 3 cups, 2 or 1 cup?
    I’d like to make for a get together but need to know so I can calculate accordingly 🙏🙏🙏🙏

    Reply
  2. Hi Renae,
    Just wanted to pop in and let you know I’m making this once again for the holidays. I love the ease of this recipe, as in my many attempt to come close to Splash cafes version, I’d end up burning the roux or over add unnecessary ingredients that took away from a fantastic base recipe. I love the two pot method as well and as mentioned before I use 2 cups HWC and 2 cups half and half and it was perfect for our home. I suspect if one wants a super thicker version, one can use 4 cups (1 quart) of heavy whipping cream (HWC) for a Splash Cafe version.

    Happy holidays !

    Reply
    • Hello, I’ve seen it at Safeway’s. So if you don’t have a Safeway, maybe try the sister stores (von, Albertsons, etc)
      If you really need it, try Kinders website. Good luck

      Reply
  3. I grew up going to Pismo, and love the chowder at Splash Cafe. I used your base recipe for corn chowder. It was awesome! Thick, creamy and very tasty. I think the Kinder’s seasoning makes the difference. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Thank You So Much For This Recipe! Growing up Pismo was the closest beach and Slash Cafe has been the chowder I’ve judged all others by. Many have fallen short so I’ve been searching for a recipe to make at home. Love It

    Reply
    • We were in Pismo last month and indulged in a bowl of Splash’s Clam Chowder. My recipe is very close to their recipe, though theirs was thicker than I remembered. You’ll love being able to make your own at home now.

      Reply
  5. Thank you. I used 2 tsps and followed your recipe. Btw First street canned clams (in your picture) must have reduced the size. It’s now 51 oz. This recipe was delish. Splash does not have bacon and I love how you added no bacon. It was thick and creamy but I used 2 cups HWC and the rest half n half and it was a hit b/c tasters love super creamy/chunky/thicker chowder. If one likes the chowder a little looser, then do all half and half. I have enjoyed Kinders BBQ so I was happy to find the rub. Can’t wait to make again :). Do you have other chowder recipes like potato, corm, seafood, etc? Yum yum

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Shar! We had Splash Cafe’s Clam Chowder in Pismo Beach this last week and it was even thicker and creamier than I’d remembered. And, that Kinder’s rub is so good. No, I don’t have any other chowder recipes. But, corn chowder sounds like something I should look in to!

      Reply
    • I have used both russet and red potatoes in this recipe. As for the onions, I likely used yellow onions, though I often use whichever I have on hand.

      Reply
  6. In your video you mentioned 2 tablespoons of kinder rub butter in your written recipe you said 2 teaspoons of the kinder buttery steakhouse seasoning. Which is it 2 tablespoons or 2 teaspoons? Please advise as soon as possible as I’d like to make this ASAP thank you very much

    Reply

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