Corn Chowder

For vegetarian option, omit the bacon and use 2 Tbsps of butter instead.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


  • 2 ounces of bacon (1 thick strip), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup small diced celery
  • 4-5 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 3 cups), cobs reserved (see steps for taking corn off the cob)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 1/2 cups milk, whole or low fat
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and large (1-inch) diced (about 3 cups)
  • 3 teaspoons of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves


1 Place chopped bacon into a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Heat on medium heat until the bacon slightly browns and renders its fat, 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped onions, red bell pepper, and celery, lower the heat to medium low and cook until vegetables soften.

2 Break the corn cobs in half (after you've stripped off the corn) and add the cobs to the pot. Add the milk and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes. Make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer (on our stove we had to use the "warm" setting) to prevent scalding the milk on the bottom of the pan.

3 After 20 minutes, add the potatoes, salt, and thyme to the pot. Increase the heat to return the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.

4 Discard the cobs and the bay leaf. Add the corn kernels and black pepper. Again raise the heat to bring the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook for another 5 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

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  • Jennifer

    This sounds delicious. I’ve been craving a good soup as the weather turns a bit colder lately.

    Q. Is the corn cooked first or just cut off the cob raw?

  • Elise

    Hi Jennifer – You’ll need very fresh, raw corn.

  • Anonymous

    Make it southwestern by substituting Sweet Potato and a canned chipotle pepper or green chiles! My Favorite!!!!

  • Anne

    Hi Elise-
    Does the broth thicken or is it more liquid-y? (Does my question even make sense?) Either way, it looks and sounds delicious. Yum.

  • Barbara

    I love it with chiles, especially chipotle!

    Great soup. I think I will have to make some, now. (Cilantro is good in it, too…)

  • Lydia

    Great way to use the last of the summer corn — we’re still getting Silver Queen at the farmstands in Rhode Island. A tiny bit of Spanish paprika would stand in for the smoky flavor of the bacon, for those of us who’d rather not use the bacon fat.

  • Lydia Sugarman

    There’s still very nice fresh corn in Whole Foods. I’m guessing that frozen corn on the cob would work very well. The milk should help enhance that “fresh” flavor and you might consider a tiny bit of sugar.

    I was thinking about smoky Spanish paprika and pancetta. Can’t wait to try this and I won’t be skimping on calories. A little half-and-half or whole cream might be a very nice addition.

  • Anonymous

    Tried this last night. The fresh corn flavor really was the star of this soup. For my taste I would decrease the red pepper next time. Great recipe!

  • miche

    I made this last night. What perfect timing as the weather has been so crummy. I love that there was no heavy cream in this recipe! I thought the potatoes did a great job of making it thick and chowdery. It is better the next day…just like all soups (imo).

  • Paul

    This was fantastic, Elise. It was just the ticket. I had gotten a bit over-enthusiastic at the farm stand and was glad to have another use for some corn. This came together very easily last night and was delicious. Looking forward to the leftovers.

  • Karina

    Hi Elise! Your corn chowder looks totally divine. Thanks so much for link to mine [it’s one of my favorite recipes]. I will really miss fresh corn. It makes such a difference in these kinds of soups.

  • Amy

    I actually used jarred roasted peppers in place of the regular pepper. YUM!

  • Danabee

    Fabulous soup, Elise! I doubled the bacon just because! I’m new to your site and really enjoying poking around. Thanks for the nice place to come to.

  • Derek Middlestones

    Very good recipe.
    Just ate it now.
    Didn’t add pepper and left the bacon in.

  • Pat

    Does anyone have a recipe for corn chowder that DOESN’T use milk at all?
    The person I need to make it for is a vegetarian AND lactose-intolerant.
    Any ideas?
    (Your recipe sounds DELICIOUS, though!)

  • Jim Price

    I used John Cope’s Corn in this and it was wonderful.

  • shelly

    I made this today and it was so good! I didn’t have corn on the cob so I skipped the part about boiling the cob and just used frozen corn and it still turned out well.

  • Laurie

    While a year after the question, here’s a Corn Chowder recipe I make to rave reviews and the bacon and cream are optional so it should appeal to a vegetarian/lactose intolerant person. I made it for a friend who was undergoing chemo and couldn’t handle the cream at the time. She loved it. I am now trying your chowder recipe (I’m in the 30 min simmer stage)…can’t wait to try it! I look forward to trying more on your fantastic blog.

    4oz sliced bacon (optional)
    2 T unsalted butter
    2 C chopped onions
    2 T flour
    4 C chicken or vegetable broth
    2 large potatoes
    1 C half and half (optional)
    4 C cooked corn
    3/4 t black pepper
    Salt to taste
    1 large red bell pepper diced
    3 scallions; white bulb and 3″ green cut into 1/4″ slices
    1 T chopped cilantro

    1. Wilt bacon in large soup pot over low heat until fat is rendered. Add the butter and allow to melt.
    2. Add the onions and wilt over low heat for 10 minutes.
    3. Add the flour and cook stirring another 5 minutes.
    4. Add the stock and potatoes; continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are just tender; 12 to 15 minutes.
    5. Add the half and half (if desired), and corn. Cook 7 minutes stirring occasionally. pepper and salt.
    6. Add bell pepper and scallions and cook for 5 minutes.
    7. Garnish with cilantro.

  • Markus from Cologne, Germany

    Wow, Elise, this is a wonderful recipe – traditional American food like this is just not known in good old Europe ;-)

    As a rule, we only get burgers, steaks and fries here – as the epitome of American culinary culture. As if! Thanx a billion, Markus (enjoying the chowder)

  • Julia

    This is one of my all time favorite recipes. I make it several times a year. Simmering w/corn cobs is an essential step, IMO. When fresh corn is not available I’ll use frozen corn on the cob.
    Definitely a hearty and filling soup. Love to pre-make and take camping. Yum Yum in the Tum Tum.

    This is my favorite place to get new recipes. Keep up the good work.

  • Jen

    Another amazing recipe from this site… I love how healthy this is, with all the veggies. I used 1% milk and it still came out great. I sprinkled some cheese over it just before serving, this is the best corn chowder recipe. I plan on topping my leftovers (tomorrow’s lunch) with crispy, cooked bacon. I have had nothing but luck with the recipes from this site. Thank you Elise!

  • Judy

    Does this freeze well? I used Laurie’s variation without the cream, as I had left over cooked corn on the cob.

    Don’t know, haven’t tried freezing it. ~Elise

  • SueC

    Hi Elsie,
    I’m new to this website and I think I’ll be a regular.
    I tried the corn chowder tonight. It is super.I used a little hot pepper in mine.
    I’d like to know if it can be frozen. ( And for how long) I’d like to make some and stash it in the freezer for another time. I have a lot of corn to be used up.

    I haven’t frozen this soup, so don’t know what to tell you about it. Why don’t you try freezing a small amount, defrosting it and tasting it? ~Elise

  • Susan Maciejczak

    I tried your Corn Chowder soup and it was simply devine. My husband and I just loved it. The only thing is I would like it a little more thicker. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make it thicker?

    Hi Susan, well, you could use russet potatoes instead of new potatoes. Russets tend to break up and thicken the soup with their starches. Or replace some of the milk in the recipe with cream. Or mix a sprinkle of flour or a little cornstarch into the soup. ~Elise

  • MLE

    I’ve cooked this recipe twice now, and I can’t say enough good things about it. One thing that I’d suggest is to add a healthy amount of black pepper, I think it offsets the sweetness of the corn really well. Also, this is definately the kind of soup that gets better after a few days in the fridge. By the third day, I was literally licking the bowl.

  • Christina

    I just made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I’ve never made a soup where the liquid was all milk, mm. And I made the London broil a few days back and that rub was excellent. Thank you for your delicious yet simple recipes!

  • Elise Marie

    Made this last night and it was delicious. I hail from California myself and this was a throwback to a childhood favorite of mine. I did add some shredded chicken though since my boyfriend is a big carnivore. That said, we both LOVED this recipe. Definitely making this again! Thanks Elise.

  • Amanda

    OMG, now this is GOOD! Thanks for posting.

  • Vanessa

    How can I double the recipe? Just double all the ingredients? I am going to make this for Chritmas Eve dinner. It looks amazing!

    Should be quite easy to double. Enjoy! ~Elise

  • Joe

    I love this chowder! I’ve made it a couple of times. I’ve even done varations on it by adding a cup of chicken or a cup of popcorn shrimp with a can of roasted diced tomatoes! Elise do you have any other suggestions?

    Sure, chopped green chile (cooked anaheim), some chorizo, chopped bacon, smoked paprika. Lots of possibilities. ~Elise

  • Nancy C. Booth

    In response to NO MILK in corn chowder. I made corn chowder for the first time and winged it for the most part, sautéed in olive oil with onions, carrots, celery and garlic, salt/white pepper (you could use black), a bag of frozen corn (defrosted in microwave). Stir around in pot and let cook for about 10 minutes. I put this mixture in a blender, helps thicken and makes it somewhat creamy. Put back in soup pot and add vegetable stock and simmer on low for about 1 hr. Sprinkle in some thyme, add about 1 tsp. of nutmeg, stir. Hope you like!

  • Amy

    Made this soup last night. Yum! We added chives and cilantro. The corn and the bell pepper are such good contrasts.

  • Randi Lynne

    The simmering corn cobs and the sweetness of the corn and carrot added such good flavor to the chowder. I am very appreciative for this recipe!

  • Kathy Walton

    I was craving a fresh corn chowder, and your website is my go-to place for things I don’t already to have a recipe for. This was my first stop. And my last. Oh, Elise, this is *wonderful*! And with the corn so fabulous this summer, I’ll be making it at least once a week, and definitely for company. I bet it’d be great with a garnish of fresh crab or shrimp. Thank you for this recipe!!

  • my boyfriend cooks for me

    We used your recipe tonight as a guideline for how to make corn chowder. Our end result was probably quite a bit different from yours (we omitted ingredients we didn’t have and added other ones), but the general method worked out fabulously – thanks!

    Here is our version of the chowder:

  • Marina

    Wonderful recipe! Had all the ingredients after going to the farmers market. Very unique taste, and thyme definitely goes well with the rest of the ingredients. Cooking it the second time in the past few weeks. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it is my favorite summer chowder now.

  • Lilia

    I’m Italian, I love to cook but never tried or made chowder before. My partner suggested I looked for a corn chowder recipe since we got lots of corn the other day. I made it for tonight’s supper with grilled cheese on the side and my partner said it’s the best corn chowder she’s ever had. I really loved it too, all the flavours are so well balanced, and even if I’ve read it’s supposed to be a little thicker, I have to say I didn’t mind the fact it was a bit runny at all.
    Thanks a lot, I’ll definitely make it again.

  • Lindsey

    This recipe was delicious! It was much lower in fat than many of the other corn chowder recipes out there, but it was creamy and full of flavour. It was so good that my husband and I ate it all for dinner ourselves!!!

  • Kathy

    I’ve made this recipe a couple of times now. YUMMY!! It’s so sweet. I didn’t expect that. I cut the bacon into small pieces and leave it in. Now I’m ready to try adding chicken. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Laura

    I had corn chowder at a restaurant and felt it could be improved. This recipe was the perfect template! I used less salt and a mixture of nonfat milk and 1% milk. It was excellent. The perfect way to celebrate sweet corn.

  • Amanda

    Even though this is my website of choice for recipes, I don’t believe I have ever commented. Thank you for all the wonderful recipes!
    My question is– why leave the corn cobbs in while cooking the soup? Does it thicken things, or add more flavor? Just wondering.

    Lots of flavor in the corn cobs. ~Elise

  • Sara

    Elise, you almost lost me when it said to discard the bacon. What?!? Well you haven’t steered me wrong yet so I gave it a try. I did add cheddar cheese, you took my bacon after all, and it was great. Added bonus, zack the wonder dog loved the bacon treat!

  • Anne

    Made this for the first time tonight. Wanted something truely American after visiting there earlier this year. The soup was fabulous. Didn’t use new pototo but used a small baker instead and it thickened it very well. A small touch of the USA in sleepy Lincolnshire UK.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you to Laurie for posting the dairy-free option for this recipe. Corn chowder is a fav from my childhood, but being lactose-intolerant made me discard it from my recipes. So thrilled to be adding it to the menu for next week!

  • Kate

    I didn’t see an answer about freezing this recipe, but I have one! (I apologize if I missed it.) The soup is delicious 6 months later (maybe better?), but the texture is slightly different — not quite as creamy, a bit broken. If a broken soup bothers you (or if you want to serve it to guests), then blend it into a bisque-type soup after defrosting — it’s wonderful.