Easy, Creamy One-Pot Salmon Chowder Recipe

Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt

Easy One-Pot Salmon Chowder

Why It Works

  • Cooking the pork with a little water kickstarts the fat-rendering process.
  • Bottled clam juice packs a ton of natural flavor with minimal effort.
  • Leaving out the fish until the last moment ensures tender, moist results.

As a born-and-bred Boston kid, chowder holds a special place in my heart, and fish-based chowders doubly so, as a fish chowder was the very first dish I ever got to stick on a real restaurant menu. It was creamy, rich, and satisfying, and totally impractical for any kind of home cooking. At home, I take a much more traditional one-pot approach to chowder-making. While the resulting dish it may not quite reach the lofty heights of fine dining, the results are still creamy, satisfying, delicious, a great use of leftovers or inexpensive fish, and—most important—really, really easy.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 1/2 pound salt pork or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (225g)

  • 2 tablespoons water (30ml)

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 8 ounces; 225g)

  • 2 large ribs celery, finely chopped (about 6 ounces; 170g)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (about 20g)

  • 1 cup bottled clam juice (235ml)

  • 1 quart whole milk (900ml)

  • 1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (450g)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 3/4 to 1 pound boneless, skinless fish scraps, such as salmon, cod, or halibut, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (350-450g)

  • Minced fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, or chives, for serving

  • Hot sauce, for serving

  • Crackers, for serving


  1. Combine salt pork or bacon and water in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until water has evaporated and pork has begun to brown and crisp in spots, about 8 minutes. Add onion, and celery. Season gently with salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes longer. Add flour and cook, stirring, until no pockets of raw flour remain. Stir in clam juice, followed by milk. Add potatoes and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.

  2. Simmer chowder, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fully tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in fish chunks and simmer just until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. Serve immediately, garnished with minced fresh herbs, hot sauce, and crackers.

Special equipment

Heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
538 Calories
37g Fat
32g Carbs
21g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 538
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 47%
Saturated Fat 14g 71%
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Sodium 1662mg 72%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 14mg 71%
Calcium 222mg 17%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 1107mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)