Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder

I had made New England clam chowder once before in the crock sometime last year. I wanted to give it another try since I not only hadn’t been blogging at the time – doing it again would allow me to take picture and share it, but also so I could make some adjustments.

The recipe I used the first time was very basic and quite frankly a total cheater recipe. I hadn’t thought much about that at the time, but looking back I realize just how much of a fake recipe that was. It called for canned everything. I kid you not. I don’t complain about prepackaged ingredients if it’s a few per recipe, but that one called for canned soup, canned cream of this and that. You’d certainly expect the outcome to be at least relatively flavorful since you’re using items that a company has already prepared for you, and it was but it still wasn’t homemade. I get satisfaction out of knowing I can make something myself. I’m not talking milk a cow and make my own cream, or anything along those lines… just making something with a little bit more love. The other downside to that early recipe was the lack of thickness. Clam chowder or at least the New England variety is suppose to be thick and creamy. The other clam chowder some may be familiar with is Manhattan clam chowder, that is not as thick and calls for tomatoes among other things. They have few similarities and in the overall picture are drastically different.

I decided to poke around and get an idea for what recipes were calling for so I could decide my plan of action. Lots of potatoes, veggies and other wonderful flavorings. In the end, this variety not only was much thicker and creamier but it was also mostly much more from scratch… outside of me catching the clams, growing the veggies, making my cream etc. Sure it’s store bought items but they didn’t all come from cans which made me happy. I only share recipes I think are worth sharing and that I think someone else may love but believe me when I say, this is a winner in the world of clam chowder. If you are a fan of it, you should definitely try this easy slow cooker recipe. It’s thick and creamy just like New England clam chowder should be and has an wonderful flavor. Not one part is too over powering, everything works just right with eachother.

And for those with cats, if you don’t normally have kitchen visitors while cooking… you will while making this. Normally my cat (the one of two that we actually see) doesn’t hang out a ton with me in the kitchen but he was stalking my ingredients the entire time… begging for a taste. It was rather comical. He didn’t even care when our one year old was trying to give him hugs.


Yield: Serves 6-8

Cook Time: 5-10 hours

Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder


  • 4 1/2 C potatoes
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 C onion, chopped
  • 1/2 C celery, chopped
  • *4: 6oz cans clams (see notes)
  • *1: 8oz bottle clam juice (see notes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 3 1/4 C half and half
  • 5-6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 Tb bacon grease, optional


Prepare onion, celery and garlic. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add vegetables, cooking over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add garlic and, thyme and optional red pepper flakes, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer to the bowl of a 6 quart slow cooker. 

Peel and chop potatoes into small pieces. Add to the slow cooker along with clams, juice and seasonings. Stir to combine. Cover and begin cooking on high for 5 hours or low for 10. 

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove 1/2 Tb bacon grease, transfering to the slow cooker, if desired. Chop bacon, reserving a small portion for topping chowder later. Toss remaining larger portion of chopped bacon to the slow cooker. Return lid and continue to cook. 


When 30 minutes remain in the cook time, add flour to half & half, whisking well until smooth. Add to the slow cooker, stirring wel lto combine. Replace lid and continue to cook until thickened. 

Divide among bowls serving warm and sprinkling with bacon.

*Use 2 cans of clams drained and 2 undrained or 4 cans of clams drained and 1: 8oz bottle of clam juice.

*created in a 6-quart slow cooker on high

Recipe source: My Recipes

*This recipe has been slightly adjusted from the original to assure better results. Please be sure to follow the recipe accordingly. Also, if this is your first time making this or any other slow cooker recipe, I recommend being home while it cooks so you can monitor it and guarantee desired results. 

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112 Responses to “Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder”

  1. #
    Rhonda Slates — November 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    When ddddoyouadd the potatoes? I added them with the clams.

    • Rachel — November 23rd, 2015 @ 7:22 am

      They should be added with everything else in the beginning. I hope you enjoyed it! :)

  2. #
    NancyK — December 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Probably a stupid question, but add clam juice in the beginning right?
    Making it tomorrow night and Hubby is picky about soup. Don’t want to screw this up.!!!!

    • Rachel — December 3rd, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

      Correct, add it in with everything else in the beginning. I hope everyone enjoys it! :)

  3. #
    Sherrie Carel — December 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    This chowder is absolutely wonderful. I made it according to directions with the exception of using celery. I plan on making this many more times. Bon Appetit!

    • Rachel — December 28th, 2015 @ 7:34 am

      So glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing, Sherrie!

  4. #
    Rebecca — January 7, 2016 at 12:26 am

    I seen someone cook their chowder in a pressure cooker. Since I didn’t have one, I questioned them on other preparation. I googled their answer ‘slow cooker’ and here I am! When I used clams before, they were tough, and I threw them in the last minute. Question I have, is, Are the clams get tender? Thanks for your answer.

    • Rachel — January 7th, 2016 @ 7:50 am

      Pressure cookers and slow cookers aren’t the same and recipes designed for one machine can not be used as is for the other. As far as your tough clam issue goes, that’s typically from over cooking but I’ve never experienced that with this recipe. Good luck!

  5. #
    Lauri — February 26, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    this looks SO good! trying it today, one you not add the half and half until the last 30 min? it seems as though more liquid is needed for cooking it 5 hours? thanks.

    • Rachel — February 27th, 2016 @ 8:23 am

      Correct, it is added at the end of the cook cycle. There should be plenty of liquid to cover the potatoes and other ingredients prior to that.

  6. #
    Amyo6 — June 12, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    This is just what I was looking for… unfortunately I am not able to copy into my recipe software (yummy soup). sigh

    • Rachel — June 14th, 2016 @ 8:40 am

      Copy/pasting of recipes is disabled to reduce the amount of copyright theft. There is a free print option or it can be typed out by hand. Enjoy! :)

  7. #
    Ally — September 20, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Wow! I wound up chowing down two HUGE bowls so fast that now I feel sick, but it was worth it! Haha, Yum. I added some extra clam juice, some “matchstick” carrots (those thinly sliced ones that are used in salads), and some green onions because I ran out of regular onion. Oh, and an extra can of clams! This will definitely become a staple in my household when the colder weather hits in a couple months. So easy and so delicious! Thanks!

    • Rachel — September 20th, 2016 @ 7:39 am

      So glad to hear you enjoyed it, Ally! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  8. #
    mae — October 10, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Why do you not have a print button? I would like to print this and take it home so I can make it.

    • Rachel — October 10th, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

      There is a print button within the recipe section.

  9. #
    Jerry — November 12, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Been looking for a good thick recipe for a long time with no luck, your’s sounds good. Trying it next week.

    • Rachel — November 14th, 2016 @ 7:13 am

      Enjoy! :)

  10. #
    Paula — November 20, 2016 at 7:22 am

    My family is coming for dinner today, I will let you know how it turned out!

    • Rachel — November 20th, 2016 @ 8:07 am

      I hope everyone enjoys it! :)

  11. #
    Paula — November 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Thank you Rachel the recipe for your Clam chowder was s hit!

    • Rachel — November 21st, 2016 @ 10:27 am

      So glad to hear everyone enjoyed it! :)

  12. #
    Lily — January 26, 2017 at 1:46 am

    I am new to cooking, but have enjoyed making meals from scratch lately. Would it be feasible to make this recipe from non-canned clam meat? Or would that not work? Or would that be rediculously expensive? Just curious. Looks delicious and I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Rachel — January 26th, 2017 @ 7:12 am

      For the amount of clam meat you would need, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not only would it be time consuming, but it would become rather expensive.

  13. #
    Jeanne Ferrari -Amas — October 23, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe-delicious!!! I will make it often-thank you!!

    • Rachel — October 26th, 2017 @ 6:53 am

      So glad you enjoyed it, Jeanne! :)

  14. #
    Janie — November 3, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Hi, this was an amazing recipe. My family loved it. I ended up doing a large sweet white onion, and cooked them until they were slightly brown before transferring them to the slow cooker. J also used 4 cans of clams undrained and the bottle of clam juice. It was perfect.

    • Rachel — November 4th, 2017 @ 2:07 pm

      So glad everyone enjoyed it!

  15. #
    Genevieve — November 11, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Hi! Found this recipe via Yummly and I really want to try it, but was curious how much extra room (if any) you had in your 6 quart slow cooker? Mine is only a 5 quart so I want to adjust (if necessary) before I start prepping, especially because I have a tendency to throw in extra veggies.

    • Rachel — November 13th, 2017 @ 7:51 am

      I’d recommend holding off on adding additional veggies until you see how much room you have. Good luck! :)

  16. #
    P.J. — January 5, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    I had been looking for a good slow cooker chowder recipe and came across this via Pinterest. I tweaked things ever-so-slightly (more clams, some shallots instead of all onion) and … yes! This is such a keeper. Great recipe. Perfect thickness. Thanks so much!

    • Rachel — January 9th, 2018 @ 9:49 am

      So glad you enjoyed it! :)

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