An Incredibly Easy Fish Chowder Recipe (2024)

This Easy Fish Chowder recipe tastes better than longer it sits! Make a big pot over the weekend and enjoy for lunch or dinner all week!

An Incredibly Easy Fish Chowder Recipe (1)

*Originally published Sept 2016. Updated Aug 2023*

Hi Friends!

Have you ever spent time looking for the best of all fish chowder recipes? This is it. Every summer while I was growing up, my mom, sister and I would head out to Maine to spend a couple of weeks with my aunt. Aside from fresh Maine lobster and hot dogs, both of which don’t involve a whole lot of cooking, the one thing we ate every year on this trip was this simple fish chowder.

Some years my aunt would have it made before we got there but other years I remember helping make it once we arrived. It’s made with simple ingredients, easy to make in large batches and tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge.

Easy Fish Chowder Recipe

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One of my biggest contributions as a kid was always standing over the sink peeling the potatoes…but aside from that and chopping up potatoes, onion and bacon, that’s really all there is to it!

Every afternoon after a long day at the beach we would come home all sandy and reheat in a big pot on the stove to eat after our showers. I’ve recently started making this simple fish chowder almost weekly because it’s so good.

And I’ve started adding extra veggies. In the winter, soup is my favorite way to eat vegetables so I always dump a bag of frozen mixed veggies in, or add some chopped carrots and peppers along with the potatoes. I’ve also discovered that it tastes just as good with just broth as it does with milk.

So if you’re looking to make it dairy-free, you can enjoy it as more of a fish and veggie soup vs a chowder. It’s the Old Bay that gives it that signature chowder flavor in my opinion!

What should I serve with fish chowder?

This is a hearty soup that makes a great meal all on it’s own. Don’t forget to top with oyster crackers or serve with some crusty bread for dipping.

You could easily pair with a side salad for a nice balanced meal!

How To Make Easy Fish Chowder

Here’s how you make this super easy fish chowder:


Easy Fish Chowder Recipe

An Incredibly Easy Fish Chowder Recipe (3)

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This Easy Fish Chowder tastes better than longer it sits! Make a big pot over the weekend and enjoy for lunch or dinner all week!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x



  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1.52 pounds Haddock (or cod) fillets, skin removed
  • 12 tsp Old Bay
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups 2% milk, whole milk or half & half


  1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Saute bacon, onion and potatoes for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add broth and lay fish on top of potatoes in pot. (Don’t worry about cutting it up. It will flake apart when cooked)
  3. Add the Old Bay, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until fish and potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Use a spatula to break the fish into chunks.
  4. Reduce the heat and add the milk or half and half. Heat through but don’t boil.

Fish Chowder FAQs

What are the different types of fish chowder / seafood chowder / clam chowder?

  • Manhattan clam chowder is easily recognizable because it uses a tomato-based broth.
  • New England clam chowder is more popular. It is made with a thick and creamy white broth and usually contains a mix of clams, potatoes, bacon and celery.
  • Long Island clam chowder is made with a creamy tomato-based broth.
  • Rhode Island clam chowder is similar to New England versions but with a much thinner broth that isn’t creamy.
  • Seafood chowder or fish chowder typically contain fish or a mix of shrimp ,fish and other seafood instead of just clams.

Can I add other seafood to the chowder? Can I use seafood instead of fish?

Yes! If you’re making this chowder, consider this a base recipe. Feel free to add in some clams, mussels, shrimp etc if you prefer those!

What fish is good for chowder?

We always used haddock when we made it growing up but it turns out that can be hard to find here in Ohio so I typically use cod and it works great. Really any thick, meaty white fish should work great!

Should I use fish stock?

This recipe does not use fish stock. You could substitute some or all of the chicken broth for fish stock if you want to but it isn’t necessary.

Can I freeze fish chowder?

While this isn’t my absolute favorite dish to freeze, it can be frozen. Make sure it is cooled completely and be aware that the texture might change slightly when it’s reheated. To minimize this, reheat very slowly at a low temperature.

Is it better to use heavy cream or milk? Can you use milk instead of heavy cream to finish fish chowder?

To me this is a personal preference. I most often ate it with heavy cream growing up and I most often make it with 2% milk now as an adult. The heavy cream or whole milk will give it a much richer taste and make the broth more white and creamy.

I use 2% milk and the broth is not quite as thick but ends up being the perfect richness for me.

What is Old Bay Seasoning?

Old Bay is a pre-mixed seasoning blend that’s made with a mix of celery salt, peppers, paprika and other spices. It’s a very distinct flavor and when a recipe calls for it, I tend to use it without substitute to achieve the desired flavor.

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Also, note I garnished mine with extra bacon and some parsley for photos but that’s definitely not required. Turns out soup made with white fish, white potatoes and milk/cream really isn’t that visually appealing…but luckily it doesn’t impact the taste! Just for fun, check out the collage below which includes a pic I used when I first mentioned this soup back in 2011 🙂

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What’s one of the first things you learned how to make in the kitchen?

Looking for other fish-based soups?

  • Salmon Corn Chowder
  • Instant Pot Salmon Tortellini Soup


An Incredibly Easy Fish Chowder Recipe (6)


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An Incredibly Easy Fish Chowder Recipe (2024)


What ingredient does chowder always have? ›

Types. Chowder is a soup with cream or milk mixed with ingredients such as potatoes, sweet corn, smoked haddock, clams and prawns, etc. Some cream-style chowders do not use cream, and are instead prepared using milk and a roux to thicken them.

What's the difference between fish soup and fish chowder? ›

Now, a soup is usually made with stock or broth and can have vegetables, meat or fish as ingredients and is generally not very thick. A chowder may have the same ingredients, but is more chunky, creamy and thick, much like a stew.

How do I thicken my fish chowder? ›

Add Flour Or Cornstarch

You can thicken soup by adding flour, cornstarch, or another starchy substitute. For the best results, never add flour or cornstarch directly to your soup. If you do, it will clump up on top. Instead, ladle a small amount of broth into a separate bowl and let it cool.

Why use evaporated milk in chowder? ›

Unlike cream, which runs the risk of splitting once added, evaporated milk can be mixed into the chowder's entourage when the clams are added. Thus, a steamy bowl of clam chowder is created, whose flavor whole-heartedly sings with a warming fishy essence. It's rich, it's divine, it's utterly moreish.

What is the floating fart from chowder? ›

Chowder's best friend and pet, Kimchi is a floating stink cloud. Most people don't' want to be around him, but Chowder doesn't mind Kimchi's smell.

What is a substitute for heavy cream in seafood chowder? ›

The Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream for Savory Recipes
  1. Evaporated milk works well as a substitute for heavy cream in sauces or soups calling for whole milk. ...
  2. Light cream has a fat content of around 20% (compared to heavy cream's 36% to 40%). ...
  3. Half-and-half.
Aug 30, 2023

What goes well with fish chowder? ›

We get it, there are a lot of delicious options to choose from. You can go for oyster crackers, warm sourdough bread, salad, french fries… the list goes on.

What is a fancy name for fish soup? ›

Cioppino, bourride, brodetto, cacciucco, zarzuela, gumbo. Fish soup. Shellfish stew. Beyond a wealth in tradition, what they have in common is the use of several varieties of fish or seafood cooked in one pot with vegetables and aromatics.

What makes it a bisque? ›

A traditional French chef would define a bisque as being a thick, creamy soup made with shellfish and thickened by a paste made from their shells. Julia Child was one chef to popularize lobster bisque in the United States; her recipe uses both the shells of the lobster and rice to thicken the bisque.

What is the best thickener for chowder? ›

The most classic and surefire way to thicken a broth-based soup is with a cornstarch slurry. Whisk together equal parts cornstarch (or arrowroot) and water or broth, then whisk it into the pot of soup. A good ratio to get to a pleasant thickness without your soup tasting goopy or heavy is one tablespoon.

What is a substitute for clam juice in fish chowder? ›

Fish Stock or Seafood Bullion

Substituting an equal amount of water for clam juice works well for a dish made with fish or seafood. Simmering the fish or seafood with the water will result in a fish stock that can substitute for clam juice.

Will heavy cream thicken chowder? ›

Heavy cream

Use heavy cream as a keto-friendly thickening option for your soups and broths. Heavy cream has more fat than regular whole milk, so you can add it to your soup recipes without worrying about it curdling.

Does chowder always have cream? ›

Customarily, chowder included onion, potatoes, and cream. Nowadays, not all chowders adhere to these guidelines. New England Clam Chowder is sometimes made with milk, whereas Manhattan Clam Chowder doesn't have any milk or cream but has a tomato base instead.

Which of the following ingredients is almost always found in traditional chowders? ›

Chowder is a rich, creamy soup that often contains clams and potatoes. Seafood chowders are typical in the Northeast, with New England clam chowder being the most famous. Other seafood chowders skip the clams and swap in scallops, shrimp, lobster, crab or even fish like cod or smoked salmon.

What is usually a main thickening agent of chowder? ›

Roux (pronounced roo) is a mixture of equal weights (parts) of flour and fat (usually clarified butter; chicken fat, bacon fat, and margarine are also used) cooked over medium heat and stirred constantly. Roux is the most common thickener for sauces and soups.

What makes chowder taste like chowder? ›

What Is Clam Chowder Supposed to Taste Like? New England clam chowder is a mix of creamy soup and briny, salty, chewy clams. This is complemented with soft onions, celery, and cubed potatoes. Seasonings like pepper enhance the soup, preventing it from being bland.

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