How Do You Make Clam Chowder Thicker?

To thicken clam chowder, add either more starch or more fat to it. It is best to thicken clam chowder with flour or cornstarch. An alternative way to thicken an already cooked clam chowder is with potatoes or crackers. You can also use heavy cream instead.

On Martha’s Vineyard, where I spent a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, I set a personal record for the quantity of fresh seafood I consumed in four days. Given that we were on honeymoon, my husband and I spent a lot of money on a few fancy dinners. We rode our bicycles through picturesque farmland (with ocean views, rock walls, and grazing sheep—you could almost be in Ireland) to the small fishing village of Menemsha for lunch on our second day, but I think that was my favorite meal. There, we placed a fresh lobster order from one of the fish markets, had it prepared to our specifications, and dined on the docks while observing the fishing boats arrive.

I also ordered a cup of clam chowder, and I was surprised to find that it was much thinner and milkier than the versions I was used to, which you could stand your spoon up in. Subsequent research has made me realize that with that statement, native New Englanders (at least coastal ones) will be shaking their heads and pitying my ignorance — I could just as easily be opining that Kevin Youkilis has a stupid-looking batting stance or that the word “wicked” should only be used as an adjective, not an adverb.

It turns out that, at least according to some purists, growing up on the West Coast has prevented me from ever having the chance to eat “proper” New England clam chowder.

According to Charlie Burke of the online publication The Heart of New England, “Authentic New England chowders are never thick, with most relying on the starch from the potatoes to slightly thicken the broth and milk or cream.” “The thick, pasty chowders served in many restaurants are full of flour, which dilutes the taste of the clams, and would never be prepared by any self-respecting Yankee cook at a church supper in Maine,” “.

Some Chowhound forum commenters were even more vehement about the subject, calling thick chowder “an abomination” or “wallpaper paste.” Burke’s explanation makes sense because, in contrast to the viscous versions I’ve tasted elsewhere, the clam flavor in the lighter soup I had in Massachusetts was much more noticeable. Consider me a convert.

John Thorne delves into the background of chowder in his book Serious Pig: An American Cook in Search of His Roots. The word is believed to have originated from the French word chaudière, which translates to “cauldron.” Breton immigrants brought the word to Newfoundland and down the coast to New England, though Thorne notes that some people think it originated from the English term “jowter,” which is slang for a fish vendor. His fascinating essay reveals that there are other aspects of chowder that are debatable in addition to etymology.

The ingredients and methods used in published recipes from the 18th and 19th centuries varied greatly, using everything from claret to tomato ketchup. (Thorne states that “A thousand Yankee mariners groaned and rolled over in their graves” in response to this. Milk and cream probably weren’t widely used until much later, and even then, local preferences occasionally substituted clear clam broth or, the horror!, tomato. In the chapter titled “The Abhorred Tomato,” which is entirely devoted to this, he writes that “the topic tomatoes and clams has become a mainstay of Yankee identity, or at least the curmudgeonly, self-congratulatory kind.” “.

In fact, that rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees that I have observed since moving to upstate New York sounds a lot like that. Having wed into a true-blue Yankees family, I may bow to the culinary knowledge of New England seafood preparation, but it is my duty to continue to make fun of the Boston team. Blood, after all, is thicker than chowder—even the pasty kind. Recommended Videos Most Popular.

What Can I Add to My Chowder?

Chowders can be made with a wide range of ingredients, including haddock, corn, potatoes, bacon bits, lobster, crayfish, and other kinds of seafood. Each of these will give your pot its own distinct flavor. Clams are my favorite because they give the dish a unique flavor that is unmatched by any other ingredients. Later on in this article, I will explain how I prepare it and provide you with my simple recipe.

Your chowder shouldn’t be completely liquid because otherwise it would just be soup. However, you don’t want it to be so thick that it almost solidifies, like a stew. Finding a delicate balance between the two is the challenge. My personal litmus test is that the spoon should gently slide off in a blob rather than splashing off.

There are many techniques available for thickening clam chowder. I have tried all of these, and they have all worked well.

You should use heavy cream to achieve that thick, creamy consistency. It will give your chowder a rich, smooth texture.

Add a tablespoon of cornstarch to the cream if you prefer a really thick chowder. Pour it into the pot very gradually, stirring as you pour, after thoroughly stirring it to ensure there are no lumps. As you incorporate the mixture of cream and cornstarch, the chowder will thicken.

If you’ve already added the cream but your chowder is still too thin and you want to thicken it even more, you can combine a small amount of cornstarch with one or two tablespoons of cold water. You will find that this is a simple and efficient way to thicken clam chowder if you slowly pour this into your pot.

If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use the same procedure as above with flour, but you might need to use a little bit more to achieve the same results.

Adding chunked potatoes is another method of thickening clam chowder. Using the proper type of potatoes is the key to this dish. You get starchy potatoes and waxy potatoes. Avoid waxy potatoes, like the ever-popular Yukon Gold.

You must use a starchy variety of potato, such as the russet. The potato actually functions similarly to cornstarch because it contains starch, which acts as a thickening agent, but the starch is not as concentrated.

Let the potato chunks cook in the chowder, and as they cook the starch is gradually released, thickening the chowder as it simmers. The bonus of this is that the potatoes also bulk up your chowder, turning it into a substantial, hearty, and wholesome meal.

Using crackers was another novel way I’ve thickened clam chowder. Break up your preferred crackers into very small pieces or crush them with a rolling pin, then stir them into your chowder and simmer it.

The starch in the crackers will thicken the chowder and also give it a delicious flavor. A word of caution: the amount of salt in the recipe should be reduced if you use salty crackers because they will salt up the chowder.

This is a little-known secret that I sometimes use. It will thicken beautifully if you add instant mashed potato powder to your chowder. Simply be mindful not to add too much. If you go overboard, your chowder will end up being like thick porridge because it will be too gooey.

Read Related Article: A Quick Guide to Thickening Mashed Potatoes

Though he still really likes my more traditional chowder, the hubs prefers his chowders “pre-thickened” if you will, as he hates crackers in his soups, stews, chilies, and chowders. So, even though he hates crackers in his soups, stews, chilies, and chowders, I decided to go ahead and add my other version for him and everyone else who may also enjoy it

This non-traditional, incredibly creamy New England clam chowder is packed with tender clams and potatoes that melt in your mouth, making it a dish to treasure all year round.

The second thickening happens very last. It’s the simplest and quickest way to modify something so that it is exactly how you prefer it to be. Be sure to stir while adding, and then simmer for at least 30 seconds while stirring to cook it a little. You simply stir equal parts cornstarch with COLD water until well mixed, scraping bottom to get it all mixed, (which is called a cornstarch “slurry”), and stir into a low simmering or boiling liquid.

*Leftover chowder will be super thick when chilled. DO NOT add any liquid. Chowder will thin out again when reheated.

Always make things how you enjoy them; if spoon-standing, super-thick makes you happy, then there’s no “right or wrong” about it. Therefore, in this recipe, I have you adding just one slurry at a time, until you have reached the perfect thickness that you like. My husband said, “When!” after just one addition, but you may want as much as three. No matter what the purists or connoisseurs say. Everyone ought to be able to take pleasure in things the way they find enjoyable. .

How to make Clam Chowder (step by step)

The printable recipe card is provided below, and it includes the entire list of ingredients, quantities, and directions.

Get prepped

Drain clams, reserving the clam juice. Peel the potatoes, chop the onions and celery. Cook the bacon, drain on paper towels.

Cook the vegetables

Add the potatoes, onions, celery, and clam juice to a large pot or Dutch oven. If necessary, cover the ingredients with water or chicken broth. As you finish the creamy mixture (next), heat over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.

How Do You Make Clam Chowder Thicker?

Make the cream base

Melt butter in a different pot over medium heat, then whisk in the flour, salt, and pepper. Let cook for 20 seconds.

How Do You Make Clam Chowder Thicker?

Stirring constantly will prevent lumps from forming as you add the milk to the butter and flour.

How Do You Make Clam Chowder Thicker?

Add the cream base into the veggies and broth

To the vegetables and broth, add the milk and flour/butter mixture.

The potatoes should be tender after 10 minutes of simmering after adding the chopped clams.

How Do You Make Clam Chowder Thicker?

Garnish and devour

Sprinkle bacon and extra green onions (scallions) on top.

How Do You Make Clam Chowder Thicker?

Serve a small bowl to each person if it’s a first course. If the chowder is the main course, serve a big bowl to each person.

While simmering, add a couple of bay leaves for a lovely savory flavor. Remove bay leaf at Step 5.

Fresh thyme is a great addition to this recipe.

What to do with leftovers

For up to four days, keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Reheat until it is piping hot!.


To freeze: Cool completely, mix in the bacon. Freeze.

To reheat, gently defrost and heat in a microwave or saucepan.

Love soup recipes? Here are some of my favorites:

Find me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram for more delectable recipes! If you have tried this recipe or any other recipe on Kylee Cooks, please leave a comment and rate the recipe; I genuinely love to hear from you!

How Do You Make Clam Chowder Thicker?


How do you thicken up clam chowder?

To thicken a low simmering or boiling liquid, you simply stir in an equal amount of cornstarch and COLD water until thoroughly combined, scraping the bottom to get it all mixed, and it will thicken instantly and magically!

How do you make chowder thicker?

You can thicken soup by including flour, cornstarch, or another starchy substance. Never directly add flour or cornstarch to your soup for the best results. If you do, it will clump up on top. Instead, pour a little broth into a different bowl and allow it to cool.

How do you fix runny chowder?

To thicken a soup, you can also use flour or cornflour. To make a smooth mixture, combine a tablespoon of each with two to three tablespoons of the soup in a small bowl. Bring the soup to a simmer and add this back in.

How long does it take for clam chowder to thicken?

Add clams, soup, cream, milk, and dill weed. Stir together. Add butter and let melt into the chowder. Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until thickened.

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