Creamy crockpot clam chowder with simple ingredients and very little prep. This recipe tastes so good, and the slow cooker does all the work for you, leaving plenty of time to do other things.
This is one of my favorite recipes to take on vacations. I also make ravioli lasagna and pulled pork while traveling in the RV or at vacation houses; cooking in a crock pot can feed a crowd quickly.
Why this recipe works
- If you are looking for an easy dinner idea that leaves you with plenty of time to relax this weekend, or make a busy weeknight less stressful, then this semi-homemade clam chowder might be exactly what you’re looking for!
- This recipe has all the elements of a successful clam chowder but with a few shortcuts. It turns out ultra-creamy and decadent. You won’t even know you added anything canned!
- I find that this is the best clam chowder soup recipe out there. Even the pickiest family member enjoys this wonderful dinner dish if I keep the flavor milder.
- We make this recipe when we are camping on the coast in our RV. It’s just as good as any restaurant clam chowder when we are dining out on the Oregon coast.
What is the difference between Manhattan Clam Chowder and New England Clam Chowder?
- New England clam chowder consists of a hearty broth with potatoes, onions, celery, and including clams. It’s thick and creamy. (This recipe is New England style).
- Manhattan red chowder is tomato based with no cream.
This easy clam chowder is a godsend- just throw your ingredients in the slow cooker and let it do all the work for you.
- Cream of Potato Soup – you won’t even taste this after you add the other ingredients. It adds the potatoes to the dish, which cuts back on the cooking time.
- Milk – use whole milk for an extra cream soup; if you have heavy cream or half and half on hand, that works just as well.
- Cream cheese – thickens the soup; I prefer the Philadelphia brand, for it melts the best.
- Canned Minced Clams – Canned clams taste great in clam chowder, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Add the clam juice from cans to the soup for more flavor. Or you can add bottled clam juice as well.
- White onion – finely minced for this doesn’t have a long cooking time to break down large chunks of onion.
- Bacon – sliced, cooked, and drained.
- Dried Leaf Thyme – is optional, but in my opinion, this makes the crock pot clam chowder recipe taste restaurant quality.
- Freshly ground black pepper
How long do I cook?
- The slow cooker should be on low heat for 4-5 hours.
- I like to stir this recipe occasionally during cooking, for it’s a thicker soup that can start sticking to the edges.
Can I use an instant pot instead?
Instant Pot clam chowder is also an excellent choice if you’re in a hurry, but I find that the flavors don’t melt together the same way they do if you use the crockpot for cooking your New England clam chowder.
Ways to serve
- Serve your crockpot clam chowder recipe in a bowl with saltine crackers or oyster crackers.
- For a restaurant style, top your chowder with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of paprika.
- Warm sourdough bread and butter is an excellent side for chowder.
- You can serve the soup in a bread bowl for an extra special touch. Just carve a circle out of the middle of a small round loaf of sourdough bread. Make sure not to cut too deep- you don’t want your chowder leaking out the bottom of the bowl! Place the bread bowl on a plate with the circle next to the bowl. Add your preferred toppings and serve. Who needs a seafood restaurant when your homemade clam chowder looks this good?
If you want a strong clam flavor, add some clam juice from the canned clams, I would add about a half-cup. If you want a big punch of clam flavor, add one cup of bottled clam juice.
Since clams have a short shelf life, do not store it longer than three days to be on the safe side.
Cream and potaotes do not freeze well, so it’s better to store leftovers in the fridge and eat them within a few days.
No! The bacon can be omitted if needed for lent; this chowder still has plenty of flavor without it.
Yes. Cook the fresh clams, baby clams, or razor clams in boiling water on the stove top for 8-10 minutes. Remove the clams from the water and pull the meat from the shells. Add to the chowder in the slow cooker.
How do you make your slow cooker? Do you add any extra ingredients to the recipe? Share in the comments below or on our social media pages!
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Easy Slow Cooker Clam Chowder
- 21 oz. Cream of Potato Soup (two-10.50 oz. cans)
- 21 oz. milk (measured in above cans) use whole milk for an extra creamy soup
- 8 oz. cream cheese cubed – Philadelphia brand melts the best.
- 13 oz. minced clams (two-6.5 oz cans) drained (see notes for adding the clam juice)
- 1/2 cup white onion finely minced
- 8 slices bacon sliced, cooked and drained
- 1/2 tsp. dried leaf thyme (not ground) or two teaspoons fresh
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- oyster crackers
- sourdough bread
- Add everything into the slow cooker.
- Stir. Don't worry about the cream cheese mixing in, it will melt as the slow cooker heats up.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally so the soup doesn't scorch. This is a thicker soup and can tend to stick to the edges.
- Serve with crackers and sourdough bread if desired.
How to Video:
Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.
Linda Pedery says
Second time making so easy and delicious!!!
I’m allergic to onions! Would this recipe be okay without them?
Sarah Olson says
Yes it would still be great! 🙂
April J Harris (@apriljharris) says
Love clam chowder, Sarah, and your recipe sounds delicious! I also love how easy it is to put together!
You could have all ingredients needing prepping done ahead of time and bagged up ready to pop in slow cooker! Looks good!
Sarah Olson says
Yes, this could easily be a freezer meal!
I absolutely love this…perfect anytime of year. I have to start using my slow cooker more often. My family would enjoy this very much. xo, Catherine
I made it exact same way but i used shrimp.
Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama says
Oh yum! Clam chowder is one of my son’s and I’s favorites. I am definitely going to give this recipe a go soon. 🙂
Grandma Kc says
Your cooking was making those chipmunks hungry! Your chowder does sound easy and delicious and with bacon and cream cheese it would have to be!
Sandra - The Foodie Affair says
This chowder looks so good! Such a great idea to use your slow cooker while camping! That chipmunk tried its hardest to break into your chowder!
I love a good chowder. I know I’ll be making this one. It’s so easy!
Too funny about the chipmunks! However, if that happened here, it could likely be bears that got into the crockpot and there would be nothing left for us! lol
This sounds and loos delish. Putting this on my soon to make list. Thank you.
Since ingredients (except for clams) are precooked, why does it require 6-8 hours. Don’t the clams get tough?
Sarah Olson says
No they didn’t get tough. The long cooking time makes all the flavors come together better. The onions would be raw if you cooked for less time. 🙂
Super! Definitely trying this. Thanks! 🙂
Sonsie Hollingsworth says
That’s called Manhattan clam chowder …. but I don’t have a recipe . Just wanted to let you know ! Have a great day !
Do you have a recipe for New England clam chowder the red one.