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.
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 including 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. And for that, we are grateful.
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.
Price at time of publish: $35
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.
Price at time of publish: $5
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.
Price at time of publish: $60
Best Large Clams
Bar Harbor Cherrystone Clam Chowder
Another option from Bar Harbor, this Cherrystone Clam Chowder is about 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.
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.
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. It also uses gluten-free ingredients for thickening.
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.
Price at time of publish: $24
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.
Price at time of publish: $25
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?
Price at time of publish: $5
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.
What to Look for in Canned Clam Chowder
There's nothing more disappointing than opening a can of soup only to find it contains a scant amount of the main advertised ingredient. You want your clam chowder to have a generous amount of clams in it, but some brands will skimp on the clams. If you're reading labels, check to see if clams are one of the first three ingredients; this should assure you that you're purchasing clam chowder, not chowder with clams.
If you are concerned about the origin of your clams, check the label to determine whether the company makes its practices transparent by indicating how and/or where the clams were harvested.
Soup, by definition, typically has a long shelf life, and canned clam chowder should keep for two to three years, provided it's been stored in a cool, dry place. If for some reason the can rusts, bulges, or shows signs of being severely dented, you should discard it.
What can I add to canned clam chowder to make it taste better?
There are many ingredients you can add that will spruce up the taste of your canned clam chowder, including chopped cooked bacon, fresh thyme, clam stock, additional chopped clams, or additional red or Yukon Gold potatoes.
How do you know if canned clam chowder is bad?
Here's where the smell test will help you considerably. If the chowder develops a weird odor, flavor, or appearance, it's no good. Similarly, if there is visible mold, it should not be consumed.
How long does clam chowder last in the refrigerator?
Leftover clam chowder should keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days. You may need to add a little stock or water to the soup when you reheat it, which can be done in the microwave or in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
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.
Food and Drug Administration. Gluten-free labeling of foods.