Salmon Chowder

My mother and father live down the street from me, just a few houses away. This is wonderfully convenient for yours truly, who often finds herself heading over to their house to raid their fridge. No, I’m not a teenager, but yes, I still do raid their fridge. (You would too, my parents have great leftovers!)

Thankfully for mom and dad, the arrangement goes both ways. They stopped by the other day when we had just finished up cooking this salmon chowder, and happily packed half of it to take home with them. The verdict the next day? Raves.

It’s rich, smoky, and comforting. It’s our left coast answer to New England’s clam chowder. Enjoy!

Salmon Chowder Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 4 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups cleaned, sliced leeks (see How to Clean Leeks)
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 3 cups cubed Yukon gold potatoes, 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 medium potatoes, 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1  to 1 1 /4 pounds of trimmed, skinned, salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup corn (optional, use when in season or frozen)
  • 2 Tbsp flour (use rice flour if cooking gluten-free)
  • A pinch of ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Chopped fresh chives for garnish


1 Place bacon in a thick-bottomed 5 to 6 quart pot. Heat on medium to medium  high heat. Cook until lightly browned and the fat mostly rendered out of the bacon, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat. (Do not put bacon fat in your sink drain, it will clog the pipes.)

salmon-chowder-1 salmon-chowder-2

2 Add the celery and leeks to the bacon and cook on medium heat until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes.


3 Add diced potatoes, chicken stock, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, bay leaves, and thyme to the pot. Increase heat to bring to a simmer. The lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.

salmon-chowder-4 salmon-chowder-5

4 While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the salmon. Place salmon in a bowl, sprinkle with flour and black pepper. Toss to coat. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Working in batches if necessary, lightly brown the salmon on one side, then turn over to brown on the other side. (The salmon doesn't have to be cooked through, just lightly browned.)


5 When the potatoes are cooked through, use a slotted spoon to transfer the salmon to the pot with the potatoes, bacon, leeks, and stock. Stir in corn if using. Cook gently for 5 minutes then remove from heat. Stir in the cream and lemon zest. Add salt to taste.

Garnish with chives to serve.

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  1. NurseJen

    This sounds wonderful! I have about 3/4lb smoked salmon in my fridge that needs to be eaten (I’ve been noshing on it, but not fast enough!) I wonder if I could use that instead of fresh?

  2. sue/the view from great island

    I am a huge chowder head! I lived in New England long enough to get pretty good a making it, and salmon is one of the best. I am so envious of you being so close to your parents…we just visited my dad, who is in his eighties, in Florida…such a long way!

  3. Kelly

    This recipe looks fantastic! I had something similar at Pike Place Market made with smoked salmon. I’m looking forward to giving this chowder a try.

  4. Mark

    Made this for dinner tonight…kids had seconds!

  5. Helen @ the crispy crouton

    I usually make chowder with crab meat and there are never any leftovers! I love this recipe with salmon though, so will definitely be trying it – its been added to my favourites for future reference!

  6. Cynthia J

    Hi Elise – love your recipes – thank you for sharing!! Would one be able to use canned salmon in this recipe? I don’t use fresh fish as I have no idea how to :(

    • Elise

      Hi Cynthia, I have not made this recipe with canned salmon, so don’t know how it would turn out. But if you do try it with canned, please let us know how it works for you.

  7. Shannon - Living Life Cajun Style

    I have made crab and crawfish chowder. Never have I even tasted salmon chowder. Yours looks so good. I can’t wait it try this! Thank you.

  8. Jeanne

    I have leftover pan seared salmon (from last night’s dinner) that will work in this. My husband will love it!

  9. Chiara

    Do you think you could make this with canned salmon? I’m sure it would taste better with salmon fillets, but I’m trying to use up the canned salmon in my pantry.

  10. PamW

    I am allergic to dairy so use coconut, almond and rice milk as substitutions. Any thoughts on which one I should use? This sounds really good, thanks.

  11. Carol

    YUM! Sounds wonderful! Your ‘prep’- using leeks, chicken stock make this one so good! Using pan sauté to pre-cook the fish is brilliant! Grew up in New England with ‘Friday Fish’, so ‘chowdahs’ are a ‘go to’ choice! Thanks!!

  12. Jena

    It’s a chilly spring day here & this looks so good! Wish I had some salmon…

  13. Sandy S

    I am all in on this recipe! It sounds and looks so good. Love using leeks, thyme and chives for flavor accents! I will be changing out the bacon for some smoked salmon and maybe a bit of cream cheese. A friend makes a fabulous vegetable chowder and her secret is to blend in some cream cheese. It really pulls the flavors together. Will probably need 2-3 bowlfuls to test the finished results. ;-)

  14. ashley

    Elise, another great recipe! Every time I visit San Francisco I always have a chowder bowl in Fisherman’s Wharf. I do get a little bored of clam chowder and always wanted to try something different and this recipe is calling my name! Can’t wait to try it!

  15. Paula Francese

    This is a lovely chowder. Made it for the first time last night. Next time I’ll brighten the flavor a bit with some hot sauce. I enjoyed cooking it; technique with the salmon was new to me. So it taught me something and gave us a delicious meal. Doesn’t get any better than that. Thanks Elise.

  16. Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    I live in the Pacific NW. Salmon is a special staple in our kitchens. Perusing this recipe, I can tell this is a champion recipe for this dish. Nice and rich, but not like pudding. A wonderful selection of ingredients in the right proportions to highlight the salmon, but not take over the headliner spot.

  17. Natasha

    Elise, I love coming to your site for inspiration. You are a blogger role model and superstar to me! This salmon chowder is brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  18. Jenna

    Pinned. Definitely making this one in the future.

  19. Edward

    Do you think this recipe would work with another fish, like cod?
    My wife doesn’t eat salmon but this looks too delicious to pass up.

    • Elise

      I would try this recipe: fish chowder.

      • Edward

        Thanks, Elise.
        I could tell the salmon flavour wouldn’t be too pronounced in this so I just went ahead and made the recipe as is. My wife loved it. And my picky young kids were crazy about it and asked that I make it again. Huge success. One thing though – within seconds of hitting the frying pan, my salmon lost the vibrant colour that yours seems to have retained, and turned a muted beige. I wonder if yours was closer to rare? Anyway, thanks again for another great recipe!

        • Elise

          Hi Edward, I’m guessing the cooked color had something to do with the variety of salmon. I forget which kind I used in this recipe, but different varieties of salmon have different shades of pink, orange, or deep red when raw. Perhaps that makes a difference when cooked?

  20. Natalie @ Paper & Birch

    Love the sound of this Elise! I’ve put both this and your Cauliflower Chickpea Curry in our menu for next week! Thanks for sharing this :)

  21. EdithThayer

    This salmon chowder is delicious! We had some skin on salmon fillets from our seafood buying club. I just quickly browned the salmon and was easily able to peel off the skin and add it to the chowder. Definitely a recipe to be saved and made again. Also a good way to use some of our CSA vegetables.

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