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Clam chowder is the ultimate comfort food, especially if you’re from New England. But having to make it yourself can quickly turn comfort into a chore. That’s where canned clam chowder comes in. If you’re used to homemade soups, you may be a little skeptical about whether or not these canned versions can hit the spot, but the best canned clam chowders are made with real clams, clam stock, and chunky potatoes and taste just like they came from your favorite clam shack right by the ocean.
Here are our top picks for canned clam chowder.
Best Overall: Bar Harbor New England Clam Chowder
The three things that make canned clam chowder good are taste, ingredients, and convenience, and this Bar Harbor Ready to Serve New England Clam Chowder has all of those boxes checked. Produced in small batches and made with real, authentic ingredients like clam juice, fresh Maine clams, potatoes, butter, onions, and ground white pepper, it’s as close as you can get to your grandmother’s recipe without having to make it yourself.
Bar Harbor also uses wild-caught and sustainably harvested fish in its soups and never adds artificial preservatives or MSG, so you can feel good about what you’re eating, too.
Best New England: Campbell's Homestyle New England Clam Chowder
When it comes to taste, texture, and ingredients, Campbell’s soups have come a long way, and this Homestyle New England Clam Chowder proves it. Made with a generous amount of fresh clams and hearty potatoes, this canned soup is chock full of the East coast flavors, and it’s creamy, chunky, and satisfying—all the things that make clam chowder great. If you’re short of time, or just don’t feel like putting in the effort to make your own soup, this canned version is pretty close to the real thing.
Best Manhattan: Campbell's Chunky Soup Manhattan Clam Chowder
Unlike New England clam chowder, which is rich and thick thanks to the added cream, Manhattan clam chowder is a tomato broth-based soup that’s dairy-free and a little heavier on the vegetables. While it’s easier to find canned clam chowder in the New England style, Campbell’s nailed the recipe with its Chunky Manhattan Clam Chowder.
Made with real ingredients, like clams, clam stock, tomatoes, and bell peppers, this Manhattan clam chowder is chunky, hearty, and totally hits the spot. And with 10 grams of protein per can, it helps fill your belly while satisfying your taste buds.
Best Healthy: Bar Harbor Cherrystone Clam Chowder
Another option from Bar Harbor, this Cherrystone Clam Chowder is about as healthy (and as fresh) as canned clam chowder is going to get. As is, each serving contains only 110 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, and since it’s condensed, you can choose which type of milk (or cream) you add, helping you control the nutrition facts, too.
The ingredient list is also impressive, with only whole ingredients like water, potatoes, Maine clams, clam juice, butter, and spices, and it’s made with Cherrystone clams, which are slightly larger than the Little Neck clams used in other canned soups. That means you get hearty, filling pieces of clam in every bite, rather than spoonfuls of cream broth without much substance.
Best Budget: Progresso Rich & Hearty New England Clam Chowder Soup
Available in a 12-pack of generously sized 2-cup serving cans, this Progresso New England Clam Chowder is a budget-friendly pick that helps you save some cash without making you skimp on flavor or quality. It’s made with only real ingredients and is completely free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Unlike many of the other options on this list, it’s also gluten-free, so it fits into specialized diets.
It also comes in a convenient pull-top can, so you can pull off the top, pour it into a microwave-safe bowl, and have hot, hearty, New England clam chowder in your belly in under five minutes.
Best Condensed: Snow's by Bumble Bee Condensed New England Clam Chowder
Made with fresh clams and large chunks of hearty potatoes, this condensed clam chowder from Snow's has a rich, authentic taste without any of the kitchen work. Snow's uses a traditional New England clam chowder recipe and adds 25 percent more clams than other canned clam chowders, so unlike other soups that are all broth and no substance, you get some of that chewy goodness in every bite.
Since it’s condensed, you can add milk, cream, or water depending on how thick and creamy you want the finished soup. If you really want to take the homemade feel up a notch, stir in some butter, black pepper, and chopped bacon, in addition to the extra liquid, for a real treat.
Best for On-the-Go: Campbell's Slow Kettle Style New England Clam Chowder
Although this option isn’t technically canned, it has an extra convenience factor and an authentic clam chowder taste that rightfully earned it a spot on this list. Made with real ingredients, like clam stock, potatoes, clams, and cream (in that order), this chunky slow-cooked, kettle-style soup has a creaminess and perfectly balanced clam flavor that hits the spot and gives off some serious New England vibes.
And it comes in an easy-open, microwave-safe bowl that makes it a cinch to heat it up when you’re at work or out and about without a bowl and a spoon—what’s easier than that?
Best with Bacon: Campbell's Chunky Clam & Corn Chowder with Bacon
If you’re looking for a clam chowder with a little more oomph, this chunky clam chowder, corn chowder, and bacon combo from Campbell’s has what you need. It has the characteristic creaminess of clam chowder, but with some added sweetness from the corn and a bit of smokiness from the bacon that hits all of your taste buds. And it’s made with real ingredients, like clam stock, potatoes, corn, clams, and uncured applewood bacon, rather than artificial flavors, so even though you’re not making it yourself, you can still feel pretty good about what you’re eating.
The Bar Harbor Ready to Serve New England Clam Chowder (view at Amazon) is an excellent all-around choice that gets high marks in taste, ingredients, and convenience. If you’re looking for Manhattan clam chowder or clam chowder with added ingredients like corn and bacon, Campbell’s Chunky (view at Amazon) has you covered.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and food and beverage-testing experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the healthiest, best-tasting options and ingredients across all food and drink categories.