Crockpot Clam Chowder

Slow cooker clam chowder in bowls with crackers

The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 4 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
434 Calories
25g Fat
23g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 434
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 12g 62%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 2125mg 92%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 29g
Calcium 188mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy and great-tasting clam chowder cooks in the slow cooker in just 4 hours. Made with potatoes, milk, bacon (or salt pork), and canned minced clams, this thick and creamy recipe is satisfying and full of flavor. Clams are a great source of protein at a relatively low caloric cost, as a three-ounce serving has about 125 calories, but is packed with 22 grams of protein, plus several vitamins and minerals. (An egg has six grams of protein, for comparison.)

We use bottled clam juice as the cooking liquid, but water or chicken stock may be used instead. If you use salted or low-sodium chicken broth, go easy on any additional salt. Taste halfway through the cooking process, and once the chowder is done add more if needed. 

This creamy soup is a great lunch or dinner on a cold day, and because it's made in the crock pot, it can be transported easily to potlucks. Serve with oyster crackers, saltines, or French bread.

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 1/2-ounce) cans minced clams, with juice
  • 6 ounces salt pork, or bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 to 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups water, or low-sodium chicken broth or clam juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups half-and-half, cream, or whole milk, divided
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for slow cooker clam chowder

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  2. If necessary, chop or slice the clams into bite-sized pieces.

  3. In a skillet, fry the ham or diced bacon and onion until golden brown. Drain and set aside. Alternately, if you have a crockpot with a sauté feature, fry the bacon right in the crock pot, then drain some of the fat.

    Fry bacon or salt pork in a skillet

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  4. Add the pork or bacon and onion to the slow cooker; add the clams and mix well.

    Pork or bacon and onion, along with clams, added to slow cooker

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic 

  5. Add the cubed potatoes and the water, low-sodium chicken broth, or clam juice. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the freshly ground black pepper.

    Cubed potatoes and water added to crock pot for clam chowder

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  6. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or until the vegetables are tender.

    Cover and cook clam chowder in slow cooker

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  7. As the crockpot mixture completes 3 hours of cooking, combine 1 cup of milk or half-and-half with the cornstarch.

    Combine milk and half and half

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  8. Add the cornstarch mixture and the remaining 3 cups of milk or half-and-half to the slow cooker and stir to blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, if needed. Let the dairy mixture heat up.

    Add cornstarch to clam chowder in crock pot

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  9. Top each bowl of chowder with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.

    Serve
    The Spruce Eats / Katarina Zunic

Variations and Substitutions

You can add one or more of the following ingredients or use one of our suggested substitutions for different and equally delicious clam chowders:

  • For extra crunch and texture add 1/2 cup of chopped celery to the skillet along with the onions.
  • Add a teaspoon of chopped fresh garlic when the onions and bacon are browned and cook for about 1 more minute. 
  • Use diced lean ham instead of pork or bacon to cut down on calories and sodium.
  • For a richer chowder, use only half-and-half instead of milk.
  • Fry a few extra strips of bacon, refrigerate while the chowder cooks, and crumble them when cold so you can use them as a garnish to top the finished chowder.
  • Use sliced green onion tops, shredded mild cheese, or chopped chives to garnish each serving.