Corn Chowder

published Jun 9, 2024
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There is only one hot soup (gazpacho, you’re safe) I’ll eat in the summertime, and that’s corn chowder. Growing up, I was totally in love with a specific corn and crab chowder from a small family-owned grocery store in Louisiana. I moved from New Orleans to Houston when I was pretty young, but the soup stuck with me and I got it any chance I had. Whether it has crab or not, corn chowder is the only hot summer soup that matters.

Corn is at its peak in the summer, and this soup extracts all the flavor possible. It practically sings corn. And while I can (and do) totally make this chowder in non-summer months with frozen corn, it’s simply at its absolute best in-season. Once you cut fresh corn off the cob, the cobs still have plenty of flavor left inside them. Rather than steep them separately, I like to simply let them simmer with the rest of the vegetables. When the soup is ready, I simply pluck them out (with tongs, of course!) and stir in some cream.

Normally, once the warmer weather hits I like to eat as many meals as possible outside. However, I save this soup for stormy summer days, when I’m stuck inside with the air conditioning blasting anyway. That way, I get to have big summer soup flavor without the heat.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s the corniest, in the best, most delicious way possible. Don’t throw away the corn cobs! Building the soup with the cobs in the broth extracts maximum corn flavor. Plus, a can of creamed corn boosts flavor while making the soup extra creamy.
  • Bacon fat > butter. The veggies get sautéed in bacon fat for next-level flavor. 
  • Crunchy toppings galore! Sprinkle your chowder with crispy bacon and oyster crackers for a crunch in every bite.

Key Ingredients in Corn Chowder

  • Corn. Cut fresh corn from the cobs for peak summer corn flavor and steep the cobs in the broth while cooking for a boost of flavor. If it’s not corn season, don’t worry! Frozen corn is packaged at peak freshness so the chowder will still be delicious.
  • Bacon. Bacon makes a delicious topping, and the rendered fat flavors the whole bowl.
  • Vegetables. Carrots, onion, celery, and potatoes add bulk and flavor without overpowering the corn.
  • Cayenne pepper. While totally optional, I like a hint of heat in my corn chowder. 
  • Creamed corn. A can of cream-style corn (corn mixed with crushed corn and the natural starch from the stalk) adds extra flavor and creaminess.
  • Cream. Cream makes this soup silky and decadent.
  • Chives. Fresh chives add a pop of green and freshness sprinkled on top.

How to Make Corn Chowder

  1. Cook the bacon. Cut bacon into pieces and cook in a Dutch oven until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Prep the vegetables. Cut corn kernels from the cobs. Chop carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes.
  3. Cook the vegetables. Sauté corn, carrots, celery, and onions in rendered bacon fat until just starting to soften. Then add flour, stirring to coat, until fragrant and nutty.
  4. Build the chowder. Add vegetable broth, potatoes, corn cobs, and a can of cream-style corn to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes soften and the soup has a rich corn flavor, about 20 minutes.
  5. Finish the chowder. Discard the corn cobs and stir in heavy cream. Spoon the chowder into individual bowls and garnish with chopped chives and oyster crackers.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Helpful Swaps

  • Stir in cooked shredded crab meat at the end for corn and crab chowder (bacon optional!)
  • Add chopped jalapeños for a bit of extra heat.
  • Swap the oyster crackers for other crunchy toppings like crushed potato chips, crispy wonton strips, or cheesy goldfish crackers.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

The chowder can be made up to 2 days ahead. Let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container. Refrigerate the bacon and chives in separate airtight containers. Rewarm the chowder on the stovetop over medium heat. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

What to Serve With Corn Chowder

Other Summer Corn Recipes

Corn Chowder Recipe

It’s all about the crunchy toppings.

Prep time 15 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

Makes about 10 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 4 slices

    thick-cut bacon

  • 7 ears

    fresh corn or 5 cups frozen corn kernels (do not thaw)

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 3

    medium celery stalks

  • 2

    medium carrots

  • 1 pound

    Yukon gold potatoes (about 3 medium)

  • 2 cloves


  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups

    low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    creamed corn

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh chives

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • Oyster crackers, for serving (optional)


  1. Cut 4 thick-cut bacon slices crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Place the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered out and the bacon is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, if using fresh corn, remove and discard the husks and silk from 7 ears fresh corn. Cut the kernels off the cobs (about 5 cups) and transfer to a bowl; reserve the cobs.

  2. When the bacon is ready, transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate; leave the bacon fat in the pot. Turn off the heat.

  3. Dice 1 large yellow onion (about 2 cups). Peel and dice 2 medium carrots (about 1 cup). Dice 3 medium celery stalks (about 1 cup). Peel and dice 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 3/4 cups). Mince 2 garlic cloves.

  4. Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, onions, carrots, celery, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and stir until evenly coated and fragrant, about 1 minute.

  5. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender and the soup has a rich corn flavor, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop 1 small bunch fresh chives (about 1/4 cup).

  6. Using tongs, remove and discard the corn cobs. Turn off the heat. Add 1 cup heavy cream and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Garnish with the chives and bacon. Serve with oyster crackers if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The chowder can be made up to 2 days ahead. Let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container. Refrigerate the bacon and chives in separate airtight containers. Rewarm the chowder on the stovetop over medium heat.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.