Best New England Clam Chowder Recipe

An authentic New England Clam Chowder recipe from an authentic life-time New Englander. Try this recipe for the ultimate in creamy comfort food from Maine blogger, Sheryl Thompson, The Wilderness Wife.



1 1/2 lbs fresh clams *see notes

1 quart water

1 bay leaf

34 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp of dried thyme if no fresh avalable

4 ounces Salt pork, diced into 1/4” pieces

1 large yellow onion, 1/4″ dice

2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4” pieces

1 quart clam broth (created when you steamed clams)

34 large Russet potatoes, 1/2″ cubes

1 cup heavy cream

Yukon Gold potatoes, 1/2 cubes cooked till fork tender

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp kosher salt, if needed. Taste test first before adding as many of the ingredients are salty.


In a large steamer pot with a steamer basket, 1 quart of water, 1 bay leaf and 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme. (If using dried thyme use 1 1/2 tsp.) Steam the clams over high heat till clams just open, about 10-15 minutes. Remove clams as soon as they open with a slotted spoon. It is important not to overcook clams! Discard any that do not open. They were dead are not good to eat. Place open cooked clams in bowl and allow to cool.


In a large pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, add salt pork, Cook stirring to render the salt pork until golden brown. Remove the salt pork from pot with a slotted spoon, leaving rendered fat, and set aside for now.

Add onions and celery to pot. Cook until translucent and just beginning to turn brown.

Add clam broth.** see notes

Bring to a low boil. Add Idaho potatoes. Cook until Idaho potatoes begin to dissolve and thicken broth.

With heat on medium-low add cream.

Add clams and Yukon gold potatoes. 

Add 1 tsp. of white pepper. ( you can use black pepper, but you will see the black specks in the chowder)

Add kosher salt if needed.  Be sure to taste first, and only add if needed. The clams and the clam broth will add a lot of salt to the chowder and the salt pork will have the same effect.

Heat thru for 5 minutes and serve with oyster crackers.

Optional: You can garnish with a few oyster crackers and pieces of salt pork sprinkled on top.