Best Canned Clam Chowder: 8 Options to Warm Up Any Meal

The weather’s starting to get cooler, making it the best time to start thinking about the best canned clam chowder options available. Canned clam chowder is the easiest and tastiest way to get the authentic flavors of New England or Manhattan clam chowder from the comforts of home. 

To help you determine the best soup for you and your family, we’ll share our top picks as well as some information about clam chowder and a few of our favorite recipes if you want to make it for yourself. 


Best Pick

Campbell’s Homestyle New England Clam Chowder

When we’re looking for a quick and tasty meal that has all of the authentic flavors of Clam Chowder you’d find at a seaside restaurant in Maine, Campbell’s Homestyle New England Clam Chowder is our pick.

Budget Pick

Bar Harbor Manhattan Style Clam Chowder

When it comes to price, Bar Harbor Manhattan Style Clam Chowder simply can’t be beat! You not only get all of the most natural and flavorful ingredients, but you also get it at a lower price.


Quick Comparison: The 8 Best Canned Clam Chowder


1. Campbell’s Homestyle New England Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Inspired by authentic East Coast flavors, with quality ingredients to match
  • An 18.8 oz can makes it big enough for two servings
  • Free of BPA and added preservatives
  • Makes for a convenient and delicious meal when you're short on time

There's a reason that Campbell's has become one of the world's most popular soup brands. Their products taste like something you make it home, and the same can be said for their homestyle New England clam chowder. Every rich and creamy spoonful will have you feeling like you're sitting in a Maine cafe overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

This best canned clam chowder variety contains surf clams, which are commonly found in the northeastern Atlantic. They are a large type of clam and are typically found in clam juice, minced clams, or canned clams. Additionally, the large clams are also found in high-end sushi restaurants and are very popular in Japan. 

We love to enjoy the soup on a cold or rainy day. Just top with some oyster crackers and you'll have a tasty meal in under five minutes! 

Pros

  • Easy to open pull tab makes this very convenient
  • Only 170 calories per serving
  • Contains some calcium, iron, and potassium
  • Low in cholesterol, good for people with heart conditions
  • Ready-to-serve, no water required

Cons

  • This product contains MSG, which is something some people may try to avoid
  • A 1 cup serving contains a whopping 890 mg of sodium (39% daily value)
  • Each can doesn’t contain many clams
  • Contains genetically modified ingredients

2. Bar Harbor Manhattan Style Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Contains the finest all-natural ingredients
  • This clam chowder will have you thinking you’re eating at a Manhattan restaurant
  • Produced just off the docks in Maine
  • Made in small batches, quality is assured

Just like New Yorkers have been making it for decades, this Bar Harbor clam chowder is made just off the docks. Using only the freshest and most simple all natural ingredients, this is as close as you can get to eating by the seashore.

We love that it only contains ingredients that are recognizable and easy to pronounce, like onion, fresh clams, potatoes, tomatoes, and garlic. Even better, this clam chowder is free of MSG, trans fat, and GMOs.

Pros

  • This clam chowder is a decent source of protein and an excellent source of vitamin C and Iron
  • This is a lower sodium option, with just 450 mg of sodium in each cup
  • The clams are wild caught and sustainably harvested
  • Authentic Manhattan taste that New Yorkers love

Cons

  • Strong odor that some people don’t like

3. Progresso Rich & Hearty New England Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Certified gluten free makes this a good choice for gluten intolerant individuals or those who suffer from celiac disease
  • Made with wholesome ingredients like potatoes
  • Free of artificial colors and flavors
  • Ready-to-serve in just five minutes!

If you're a clam chowder connoisseur, you may find that you really enjoy this clam chowder from Progresso. It's rich in flavor and with its creamy texture you'll probably want to eat more than just one bowl. 

Each serving contains a significant amount of both clams and potatoes, which provide a filling and satisfying texture. And with a relatively long shelf-life, this type of clam chowder makes for a great last minute meal or lunch on the go.

We like to keep it simple and just enjoy this clam chowder with some french bread and a small salad.

Pros

  • Rich and creamy flavor
  • Good source of potassium, decent source of protein and iron

Cons

  • Higher in sodium than some other options (760 mg per 1 cup serving)
  • Contains allergen (soy, whey)
  • Contains preservative (potassium chloride)
  • Can likely contains BPA
  • You may find some sand still stuck to the clams

4. Campbell’s Condensed Manhattan Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Contains tender clams and flavorful celery and carrots
  • Can is not lined with BPA and is fully recyclable
  • An easy way to enjoy traditional Manhattan flavor
  • Campbell’s is a company many of us know and trust
  • Condensed soup means a longer shelf life

If you're a fan of tomato-based clam chowder,  this clam chowder from Campbell's is definitely worth a try. It's a quick and easy way to have a light lunch or a bowl of soup with dinner. Even if you're someone who suffers from diet-related illnesses, you'll enjoy that this type of soup is low in both cholesterol and fat.

This condensed soup isn’t as hearty as some other options, meaning that it's a perfect choice for those who just want the flavor without all the texture.

Pros

  • Cooked in the USA
  • Just 60 calories per serving
  • Contains some iron and potassium
  • Low in fat, free of trans fats
  • Pull-top lid makes it easy to open

Cons

  • High in sodium (890 mg per serving)
  • Not ready-to-eat (must add water and heat)
  • Contains MSG
  • Contains allergens (soy)

5. Progresso Traditional Manhattan Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Incorporates all of the classic flavors of real Manhattan clam chowder
  • Free of added MSG and artificial flavors
  • You’ll recognize all of the real ingredients in this clam chowder
  • Each can contains two servings and is ready-to-eat immediately or just after heating

Here's a type of clam chowder that's perfect for a cold and wintry day. We like to pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich or a big salad for a delicious and filling meal. Here's an extra tip for you: if you're trying to make this can of clam chowder last, we recommend adding some things to it. In the past we've added extra vegetables like carrots and celery or cooked quinoa or rice.

Unlike New England clam chowder, this type of clam chowder is also free of butter and cream, making it a good choice for anyone who is lactose intolerant.

Pros

  • Great source of vitamin A, good source of iron and protein
  • Just 100 calories per 1 cup serving
  • Free of gluten

Cons

  • Contains allergen (soy)
  • Relatively high in sodium (690 mg per 1 cup serving)
  • Clams are a bit chewy

6. Chincoteague Seafood New England Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Traditional and authentic flavors
  • Free of preservatives, artificial flavors and colorings, and MSG
  • Condensed soup with a longer shelf life

Chincoteague has been in the seafood business for more than 50 years, so you can feel confident that they know what they’re doing. They use old-fashioned techniques and the finest ingredients to make this condensed clam chowder and it’s a great thing to always have in your pantry.

If you're looking for authentic taste and have about 10 to 15 minutes to prepare something in your kitchen, this is the clam chowder for you. We love mixing in either milk or half-and-half, along with some extra ground pepper and butter, to make this a creamy and authentically delicious clam chowder.

It’s better to let it simmer for a bit to let it thicken. Serve with freshly baked bread and voila! You’re transported to a restaurant in New England!

Pros

  • Contains a decent amount of tender clams
  • Contains less sodium than some other varieties (590 mg per serving)
  • Good source of iron

Cons

  • Contains allergens (soy, wheat, corn)
  • Tastes a little salty

7. Campbell’s Chunky Healthy Request New England Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Classic New England-inspired clam chowder that’s good for heart health
  • This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to satisfy hunger
  • Just open, heat, and serve—heating is optional if you’re on the go!
  • Prepared in the USA

This clam chowder is inspired by New England flavors and the first ingredient is clam stock, meaning that you'll get all the flavor you want in an easy to eat soup. You'll enjoy a lot of texture in every single spoonful, filled with all of the authentic flavors of Campbell's East Coast recipe along with large pieces of juicy clams, celery, and potatoes.

Pros

  • Less sodium than other options (just 410 mg per 1 cup serving)
  • Only 130 calories per serving
  • Decent source of iron and protein
  • Good source of calcium and potassium
  • Low in saturated fat and cholesterol (great for heart health)
  • Pop-top can is easy to open and recycle

Cons

  • Contains allergens (soy, corn, wheat, dairy)
  • Contains “flavoring” which may include ingredients that some people wish to avoid
  • Contains genetically modified ingredients
  • Not as much flavor as some other options
  • Contains a significant amount of potatoes

8. Tony’s Clam Chowder

Highlighted Features

  • Tony’s is a three times world champion for the Great Clam Chowder Cook-Off in Newport Rhode Island
  • Packed with fresh and juicy claims
  • Each bite is full of spice and has a rich and creamy texture
  • Each 51 oz condensed can can make around 3 quarts of cooked chowder
  • Tony’s is served in fine restaurants around the US

When it comes to clam chowder, Chef Eric of Tony's is a name you can trust. This clam chowder has become a culinary phenomenon after it's won the world’s longest running international clam chowder championship for 3 years in a row.

You'll see this on the can, but it's important to know that you should not add water to this condensed clam chowder. Instead, add two cups of heavy cream and four cups of half-and-half. Let it simmer for several minutes to allow the flavors to mix and the texture to thicken and then serve. Regardless of where you live, if you want authentic clam chowder, this is the best way to get it.

Pros

  • Decent source of calcium, vitamin C, protein, and iron

Cons

  • High in sodium (980 mg per serving)
  • Isn’t ready to eat like some other brands
  • Contains allergens (soy, corn)
  • Contains MSG and several other flavor enhancers
  • Contains a lot of preservatives (including sodium bisulfate)
  • Contains pork (not suitable for kosher diet)
  • Contains gluten (not suitable for gluten-free diets)

Things to Consider When Buying Canned Clam Chowder

When buying canned clam chowder, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration: namely price, volume, and ingredients. Beyond that, it’s likely that you’ll want to know a little bit of information about clam chowder so that you can buy the most authentic options available.

Ultimately, your taste preferences will determine what the best type of canned clam chowder is for you and your family. But here’s some information to help your decision.

What Exactly is Clam Chowder?

Chowder is one of the most popular and unique types of soup. Essentially, it can be considered a stew or a soup that contains seafood, milk or tomatoes, onions, and other types of herbs and vegetables.

There are several different types of chowder, but the clam variety is the most popular. How that clam chowder is prepared, however, depends on where you're eating it. Some may contain other types of meat, like pork, and others may just contain a clear broth that is made out of clam juice.

It’s important to note that there are two main types of clam chowder—New England and Manhattan. Each type has been made using a different recipe, and, as such, will have different appearances and flavors.

Manhattan clam chowder: You’ll notice right away that Manhattan clam chowder appears to have a red tint to it, as it contains whole tomatoes that make the soup look chunkier and red. Generally speaking, Manhattan clam chowder also contains more spice than New England clam chowder.

New England clam chowder: The New England version of clam chowder tends to be more common. It’s a cream-based soup that appears to have a white color, much like a creamy pasta sauce. It contains heavy cream, flour, and butter, which make the soup a little thicker than the Manhattan version of clam chowder.

As the name suggests, New England clam chowder is very popular in the northeastern United States. Two states that are typically associated with New England clam chowder are Massachusetts and Maine.

What Kind of Clams are in Clam Chowder?

When it comes to clam chowder, you'll see that there are several different types of clams that are normally included in it. For instance, some clam chowder recipes will include canned clams, while others will use fresh clams instead.

In most types of canned clam chowder, you can expect quahog clams to be used as they’re the most inexpensive and readily available type. However, if you are experimenting with making your own kind of clam chowder you might want to try a different variety.

Typically, the bigger clams are the ones that are more commonly used for clam chowder. We like to use Cherrystone clams because they're more tender without locking any flavor. Other ones that are good to try include soft-shell clams like Ipswich clams or steamers. Another one to try would be the very interesting looking geoduck clams. These are huge clams that look like elephants and grow in the Northwestern United States.

What is the History of Clam Chowder?

The history of clam chowder is just as unique as the flavors it provides. According to historical records, it is believed that the most common type of clam chowder, the New England variety, was introduced to that region by European settlers from France and England. It became a commonly consumed meal by the 1700s, and continued to get more and more popular through the years.

While it is considered that the New England clam chowder variety became the first, it was followed in a few decades by the Manhattan style clam chowder. Interestingly, this wasn't met with much enthusiasm from eaters and in 1939 a legislator from Maine actually introduced a bill to outlaw the tomato-based clam chowder!

Several other types of clam chowder from the Minorcan clam chowder of Florida—which contains the spicy and sweet datil pepper—to the Rhode Island clam chowder—which contains larger clams—it’s safe to say that this soup trend is one that has been embraced around the US. 

Is Canned Clam Chowder Healthy?

It’s important to realize that anytime you buy something in a can, chances are, it’s not going to be as healthy as making the product from scratch. In most cases, the sodium content of canned foods is going to be a concern for some people, and this is definitely the case for canned clam chowder.

In addition, some types of canned clam chowder—predominantly the New England style of canned chowder—will contain a significant amount of fat, which some people might want to avoid. Low-fat varieties are available but as traditional New England clam chowder contains butter and cream, you may be lacking some of the flavor with these low-fat options.

However, it is also important to consider all of the positive health benefits of clam chowder. Clams are a high source of protein and are generally relatively low in fat and calories. Clams are also filled with a lot of essential minerals—like magnesium, iron, zinc, and selenium— as well as B vitamins like niacin.

How to Eat Canned Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is an excellent meal on its own or as a side dish to a larger meal. It’s tasty year-round And a perfect way to warm up on a cold day or have a filling and flavorful meal in the summer.

You can enjoy it in a bowl or even served in a bread bowl with the top cut off for extra dipping! If you're feeling adventurous, you may be interested in trying a clam chowder Po Boy oh, I clam chowder Curry, or even a clam chowder protein where you drizzle the clam chowder over freshly made french fries.

There are also a few essential toppings that many people add to the clam chowder itself.

What You Can Add to Clam Chowder

What you add to your clam chowder will obviously be based on your own preferences and what you've got available in the kitchen, however, here are a few suggestions.

Milk

When preparing condensed clam chowder, you may see directions to add a cup or two of water before heating. We’ve found that if you want to have a creamier and more authentic flavor, you can add either heavy cream, milk, or half-and-half instead.

Similarly, if you’re really in the mood for something rich and decadent, we’d recommend adding a little bit of butter, too!

Oyster crackers

Oyster crackers are like the quintessential clam chowder topping. You can either make these yourself, or purchase them from the grocery store. Some people may even prefer spiced oyster crackers which have been seasoned with Old Bay seasoning.

Bacon bits

Bacon bits are another popular option for topping your clam chowder. Like you would do with other cream-based soups (like potato soup), fresh or packaged bacon bits go great with New England clam chowder especially.

Croutons

Many people claim that you've always got to add croutons to your clam chowder. Just like with cream-based tomato soups, the savory crunch from seasoned croutons add a delicious taste and texture to any type of clam chowder.

Can you Eat Canned Clam Chowder Cold?

There are two main types of canned clam chowder that you’ll see on the market—condensed and ready-to-serve. This will determine if the clam chowder will be able to be eaten cold. Here’s how:

Condensed canned clam chowder: When you buy any type of condensed soup, you’ll have to do some form of preparation in order to eat it. In most cases, this means that you’ll have to add water and heat the soup in a pot.

These soups come in a thicker consistency (because the water has been removed). Not only does this mean that the soup will provide more servings, but it also means that it will have a longer shelf-life.

Ready-to-serve canned clam chowder: As the name suggests, when you get ready-to-serve canned clam chowder, it’s ready to be eaten right away. This type of soup won’t last as long because it contains water, but it can be eaten immediately after opening—and the decision to heat it is up to you.

How to Make Clam Chowder

If you have the time and all the ingredients on hand, making clam chowder might be easier than you think. While clam chowder is great and super convenient, you really get to enjoy all of the flavors when you make it yourself.

Again, the ingredients that you choose to use will depend on what you've got, your taste preferences, and what style of clam chowder you like to make, however oh, we've rounded up a few ingredients that are commonly found in clam chowder.

Clam Chowder Ingredients

While these all certainly won't be found in one clam chowder recipe, here are a few ingredient ideas to get you started:

  • Fresh or canned clams
  • Butter
  • Cream or whole milk
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Thyme
  • Flour
  • Vegetable stock/chicken stock
  • Bay leaf
  • Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Chili peppers
  • Hot sauce
  • Bacon
  • Ribs
  • Salt Pork
  • Tomatoes
  • Oyster crackers
  • Salt and pepper

Best Canned Clam Chowder Recipe

For an easy clam chowder recipe that uses canned clams, we liked the recipe from Damn Delicious. It only takes 45 minutes!

An interesting southwest-style take on clam chowder, we liked this recipe for kicked up creamy clam chowder from That Spicy Chick.

If you want to be authentic and traditional, we recommend trying out this authentic New England clam chowder recipe from Garlic & Zest. 

Alternatively, perhaps you're curious about trying authentic Manhattan clam chowder. If so we think you should try out this recipe from The New York Times.

Conclusion

Doesn’t this just want to make you curl up with a bowl of the best clam chowder? We hope that after reading this you feel inspired to try a new brand of canned chowder or try to make it for yourself. There’s nothing as uniquely delicious as a big bowl of clam chowder and it’s something that everyone should have a few cans of in their pantry.

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