After a few bites of creamy clam chowder, nothing seems to matter other than the warm, flavorful, and comforting soup filling your stomach and feeding your soul. Growing up with a grandmother in Massachusetts, I associate clam chowder with the contentment of family reunions and the excitement of vacation. We always had New England clam chowder with oyster crackers on the first night of our visit to Grandma's, and this tradition has given me a lifelong love of clam chowder. Unfortunately, I'm not always able to go to the East coast for Grandma's clam chowder when I'd like to, so I'm happy to report that this instant pot clam chowder is almost as delicious as the real deal!

Instant Pot Clam Chowder

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So this dish is kind of making us wish we were summering in New England right now but who says you still can’t enjoy New England Clam Chowder in the fall?! Loaded with red potatoes, applewood bacon, parsley, and scallions paired with oyster crackers and white wine! Recipe: 5 slices thick cut bacon, chopped 1/2 onion chopped 3 celery stalks chopped 1 large garlic clove chopped 2 tablespoons butter 1/3 cup flour 11/2 dozen ipswich or little neck clams, steamed open 3 cups clam juice 5 cans @bumblebeefoods chopped clams, juice strained and reserved 4 red potatoes chopped Salt and pepper Cayenne pepper 3 thyme sprig leaves 2 bay leaves 1 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/4 cup chopped green onion tops Oyster crackers for serving In a large stock pot, cook the bacon till crisp. Add onion, celery and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add butter and flour. Mix together. Very slowly start adding bottled clam juice. It will be very thick. The trick is to add slowly to start, a few tablespoons at a time. When it’s combined you can add quicker but stir constantly. Add reserved canned juice. Add potatoes, salt pepper, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne pepper to taste. Bring to boil and reduce heat stirring frequently. Simmer for 15-20 minutes till potatoes are tender. Add reserved canned clams and steamed clams. Add any clam juice from steamed clams. Add heavy cream and parsley. Stir together keeping warm. Serve topped with additional parsley, green onions and oyster crackers.😋

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One of the downsides of making clam chowder is that it can take a while to thicken on the stove. This isn't always ideal, and sometimes it feels like too much effort to babysit a meal on the stove, waiting for it to thicken but making sure it doesn't boil. This is why instant pots are so amazing- all you have to do is throw the ingredients in and it does all the cooking for you! Not only is it less effort on your part, but it's also faster since instant pots can use high pressure to cook meals quicker than stovetops or ovens are able to, significantly decreasing the cooking time.

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You can buy an instant pot on amazon or any store with a home and kitchen section. It can be used as a pressure cooker, rice cooker or slow cooker, versatility that is invaluable for a weeknight dinner. In this instant pot soup, you'll use the electric pressure cooker function and the saute function. This instant pot clam chowder recipe is great for a weeknight meal, especially on a cold day if you're feeling some comfort food.

There are lots of variations on chowder, from Manhattan clam chowder with its tomato base to Texas corn chowder. All are delicious in their own right, but New England clam chowder will always come first in my heart. It's hard to compete with the combo of heavy cream, potatoes and clams, especially when served with crispy bread or oyster crackers. When buying canned clams, you can purchase them chopped or whole- while chopped clams are typically a better size for eating, whole clams retain more of their clam juice.

How To Make Smooth and Creamy Instant Pot Clam Chowder

instant pot clam chowder
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Get your ingredients ready, dicing your veggies, onions and celery. Peel and cube the potatoes and drain the clams. After cooking the bacon, transfer it to a plate with a layer of paper towels to catch some of the grease. Turn on your instant pot and set it to the sauté function. Add half of the olive oil into the pot, put in your diced bacon, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring every so often.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to the instant pot and put in the diced onions, celery and garlic. The lid should be off for this stage of the recipe. Saute this for around 4 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add in the clam juice, potatoes, water, salt, pepper and thyme. Close the lid securely, and set instant pot to manual. Cook on the pressure cook setting for 5 minutes. Once finished, move the valve to vent to release the pressure.

Take the lid off again and set to saute function. Add the milk and cream and heat the soup to a low boil, continuing to stir occasionally. Put the flour in a small bowl, and then spoon about 3/4 cup of the liquid from the soup into the bowl. Use a fork to stir the liquid and flour together until it forms a homogenous paste. Scrape the paste into the pot and stir until fully mixed into the soup, ensuring that none is stuck to the bottom of the pot. Simmer for another 4 or 5 minutes until soup has thickened.

Garnish your soup with bacon and black pepper, then serve with oyster crackers and eat warm, tasty chowder to your heart's content!

Watch: Fried Cabbage and Potatoes for Your Go-to Weeknight Comfort Food

Instant Pot Clam Chowder 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 strips smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 5 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (about 3 Russet potatoes)
  • 1 10 oz can clams, drained
  • 1 8 oz bottle clam juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • oyster crackers for serving

Instructions

Dice your onions and celery and mince the garlic. Peel and cube the potatoes and drain your clams. Cook the bacon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate .

Set your instant pot to the sauté function. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil into the pot, add diced bacon and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring every so often.

Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the pot, along with the diced onions, celery and garlic. The lid should be off for this stage of the recipe. Saute for around 4 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.

Add in the clam juice, potatoes, water, salt, pepper and thyme. Close the lid securely, and set instant pot to manual. Cook on the pressure cook setting for 5 minutes and then move the valve to venting to release the pressure.

Take the lid off again and set the instant pot to saute function. Add the milk and cream and heat the soup to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

Put the flour in a small bowl and spoon about 3/4 cup of the liquid from the soup into the bowl. Use a fork to stir the liquid and flour together until it forms a thick paste. Scrape the paste into the pot and stir until fully mixed into the soup, ensuring that none is stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes until soup has thickened. Garnish with bacon and black pepper. Serve with oyster crackers and enjoy!

Notes

You can also top with chives as a garnish. Some other variations are using fresh thyme and bay leaves for extra flavor, or using chicken broth instead of water to add depth. The best clam chowder is freshly cooked, but it will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge!