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!
*Originally published Sept 2016. Updated Aug 2023*
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
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
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
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
1.5 – 2 pounds Haddock (or cod) fillets, skin removed
1–2 tsp Old Bay
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups 2% milk, whole milk or half & half
Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Saute bacon, onion and potatoes for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add broth and lay fish on top of potatoes in pot. (Don’t worry about cutting it up. It will flake apart when cooked)
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.
Reduce the heat and add the milk or half and half. Heat through but don’t boil.
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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.
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
What’s one of the first things you learned how to make in the kitchen?
Looking for other fish-based soups?