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Instant Pot New England Clam Chowder

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This Instant Pot version of New England Clam Chowder is thick, creamy, and perfect for those cold, wintry nights. Loaded with clams, potatoes, bacon, cream, thyme, and rosemary it has all the flavors of authentic Boston chowder and easy to prepare!

Check out the Instant Pot Recipes page for even more delicious pressure cooker recipes and tips.

Two bowls of creamy Boston Clam Chowder topped with fresh thyme and rosemary.

I originally shared this recipe January 2013. Updated January 2023.

What you will need

Ingredients to make Instant Pot New England Clam Chowder.
  • 6 slices of bacon cut into half-inch pieces
  • Olive oil or butter to sauté the vegetables
  • Chopped yellow onion, diced carrots or celery, and minced garlic
  • 3 cans of clams, I used Snow’s, with the juice reserved and added to bottled clam juice to equal 2 cups.
  • Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, whichever is available
  • Flour or potato starch to use as a thickener. Can be omitted if you prefer.
  • A combination of heavy cream and whole milk to add a creamy, richness. Half & Half can be substituted.
  • Dried thyme and rosemary are simple pantry herbs that most people have on hand. Fresh can be substituted if you prefer.
  • Fresh lemon juice to brighten up the soup and add a bit of tang, optional.

Be sure to check out the detailed printable recipe card below

Recipe inspiration

Once the temperatures drop I start craving a toasty French Dip Sandwich served with a big bowl of creamy, comforting New England Clam Chowder, aka Boston Clam Chowder. This combination became one of my favorite lunch meals to order at Deli & Bread Connection when we lived on the island of Kauai.

As soon as we moved back to the mainland I was determined to recreate this combination at home, then my son developed a dairy allergy. Once I created my Whole30 Clam Chowder recipe, which is dairy and gluten free, I switched things up and remade this version the way it is supposed to be made. You’re welcome!

A bowl of creamy clam chowder with French rolls and a small bowl of lemon wedges in the background.

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How to make New England Clam Chowder

Turn on your pressure cooker and press the Sauté button and add the chopped bacon.

Bacon pieces sautéed in a pressure cooker.

Cook, stirring occasionally until the bacon is cooked, but not crispy.

Drain clams and set aside, reserving the liquid.

Add the olive oil, onions, and carrots and stir to combine.

Sautéed bacon pieces, onion, and carrots in a pressure cooker.

Cook and continue stirring until the onion softens and turns translucent while scraping the bottom of the pot to remove any cooked on bits.

Note to scrape the bottom of the liner to remove all burnt on bits.

Stir in the minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Cook for one minute, stirring frequently.

Minced garlic, dried thyme and rosemary added to sautéed vegetables in a pressure cooker.

Add the potatoes and clam juice, stir to combine. Press “Cancel” to turn off the Sauté function.

Potato chunks and clam juice added to the sautéed vegetables in a pressure cooker.

Secure the lid and lock in place. Double check to make sure the seal release knob is in the “sealing” position.

Press the Pressure Cook or Manual button on High Pressure, and set the time for 4 minutes using the + or – buttons.

Instant Pot with 4 minutes on High pressure with red arrows pointing to the buttons.

When the pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for 3 minutes (do not touch anything). Press the seal release knob to quick release remaining pressure.

Remove the lid and stir soup to combine.

Potatoes, carrots, spices, and bacon cooked in clam juice in a pressure cooker.

Mash half of the potatoes with a potato masher, if desired.

Whisk flour with 4 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl.

Flour and milk whisked together in a small bowl.

Press the Sauté until it reads Less for the lowest setting.

Instant Pot set to Sauté Less.

Add the clams, milk, and cream. Stir and cook until heated through but not boiling, then stir in the flour mixture.

Cream added to the cooked clam chowder.

Turn off the pressure cooker, ladle into bowls, or bread bowls, and garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, chopped chives, or oyster crackers. This comforting soup is also delicious served with crusty bread or saltine crackers.

French-Dip-Sandwich-with-melted-cheese-served-with-a-small-cup-of-au-jus-and-a-bowl-of-New-England-clam-chowder.

Better yet, serve along side a French Dip Sandwich. Serve with lemon wedges to brighten the flavors and add a bit of tang!

What is Clam Chowder?

Chowder a rich soup typically containing fish, clams, or corn with potatoes, onions, and salt pork or bacon. It tends to have a creamy base and chunky texture like a stew.

Got Leftovers?

Allow chowder to cool completely, pour into an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.

Recipe Notes

  • Do not allow the soup to boil, it toughens the clams.
  • Be sure to scrape the bottom of the liner to remove ALL of the browned bits to reduce the risk of BURN notice.
  • If you receive a BURN notice, remove the lid and scrape the bottom until clear. Add additional liquid if need and replace the lid. Continue cooking following the instructions.

Tools used to create this recipe

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Enjoy!!

A bowl of creamy clam chowder with French rolls and a small bowl of lemon wedges in the background.

New England Clam Chowder

This Instant Pot version of New England Clam Chowder is thick, creamy, and loaded with clams, potatoes, bacon, cream, thyme, and rosemary.
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: creamy clam chowder
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 460kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 6 slices raw bacon cut into half-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion minced
  • 1 cup carrots minced – 2 large
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed or finely minced
  • 1.25 teaspoon dried thyme or .75 teaspoon fresh
  • .75 teaspoon dried rosemary or 0.5 teaspoon fresh, chopped
  • .25 teaspoon white pepper
  • 19.5 ounces canned clams 3 – 6.5-ounce cans, drained with liquid reserved
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice or enough to equal 2 cups with reserved liquid
  • 1.5 pounds Yukon gold or Russet potatoes peeled, cut into half-inch cubes
  • .75 cup heavy cream can substitute half & half
  • .75 cup whole milk I used lactose-free
  • 1 tablespoon flour or potato starch

Instructions

  • Turn on your pressure cooker and press the Sauté button and add the chopped bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally until the bacon is cooked, but not crispy.
  • Drain clams and set aside, reserving the liquid.
  • Add the olive oil, onions, and carrots and stir to combine. Cook and continue stirring until the onion softens and turns translucent while scraping the bottom to remove any cooked on bits.
  • Stir in the minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Cook for one minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add the potatoes and clam juice, stir to combine. Press “Cancel” to turn off the Sauté function. Secure the lid and lock in place. Double check to make sure the seal release knob is in the “sealing” position.
  • Press the Pressure Cook or Manual button on High Pressure, and set the time for 4 minutes using the + or – buttons.
  • When the pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for 3 minutes (do not touch anything). Press the seal release knob to release remaining pressure.
  • Remove the lid and stir soup to combine. Mash half of the potatoes with a potato masher, if desired.
  • Whisk flour with 4 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl until dissolved.
  • Press the Sauté until it reads Less for the lowest setting. Add the clams, milk, and cream. Stir and cook until heated through but not boiling, then stir in the flour mixture.
  • Turn off the pressure cooker, ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, chopped chives, or oyster crackers. Serve with lemon wedges to brighten the flavors and add a bit of tang!

Notes

  • Do not allow the soup to boil, it toughens the clams.
  • Be sure to scrape the bottom of the liner to remove ALL of the browned bits to reduce the risk of BURN notice.
  • If you receive a BURN notice, remove the lid and scrape the bottom until clear. Add additional liquid if need and replace the lid. Continue cooking following the instructions.
  • Minced celery, 2 stalks, can be substituted for the carrots.
  • Seafood stock or water can be substituted for the clam juice if needed.
  • Peel and chop potatoes while the bacon is cooking and place in a bowl filled with cold water until ready to use. Drain and remove as much liquid as possible before adding to the pressure cooker.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave on in a saucepan over low heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 460kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 383mg | Potassium: 786mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 4405IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 3mg

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