Easy, Creamy One-Pot Salmon Chowder Recipe

The Food Lab

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Easy, Creamy One-Pot Salmon Chowder Recipe

[Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt]

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.

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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.
  • Yield:Serves 4 to 6
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes


  • 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. 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. 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. 3.

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