Crab and Corn Chowder

Sweet corn, smoky bacon, potatoes, and cream are the classic foundations of New England-style chowder. This recipe adds crabmeat for a Maryland twist!

Corn and Crab Chowder in a Soup Bowl with Handles Next to a Bowl of Lemon Slices

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Sweet corn, smoky bacon, potatoes, and cream are the classic foundations of New England-style chowder. Lobster, clams, or scallops would be my normal go-to seafood where I live in Massachusetts, but I decided to look further south to crab country, and I was not disappointed! 

Though Maryland crab soup or chowder usually includes tomato, I’m sticking with my favorite New England-style chowder for this recipe; it’s a blueprint for just about any seafood you might choose to include. The crab adds sweetness to the already rich and creamy chowder that is chock full of corn, potatoes, and bacon—enough to make a filling meal by itself.

Corn and Crab Chowder in Two Soup Bowls with Handles at a Table Setting with a Pot with More Chowder, a Glass of White Wine, a Plate of Parsley, Small Bowl of Cracked Pepper, and Bowl of Lemon Slices

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

What is Chowder?

Chowder is typically a stew made with potatoes and cream, but there are many regional types of chowder. Clams, fish, lobster, scallops, mixed seafood, shrimp, chicken, and corn are typical variations. It is a hearty, creamy soup that can be thick and comforting. (Manhattan clam chowder is tomato-based, making it an exception to the cream rule.)

The Best Crab for Chowder

Crabmeat is typically sold in plastic containers in the refrigerated seafood section at the market. The meat is fully cooked—steamed or boiled—and is usually pasteurized to kill bacteria and extend its shelf life. If you come across just-picked crabmeat (unpasteurized), go for it, but it is not that commonly available. If you’re able to find fresh or frozen crabmeat, that’s another option. 

You have a few choices when picking out crabmeat: Jumbo, lump, and backfin all have large chunks. Flake is just what you would expect, with smaller pieces of crab meat. Claw meat has a slightly brownish color and different texture, but is also delicious. In this recipe, I used a combination of lump crabmeat and claw meat for variety, and was happy with the result.

Corn and Crab Chowder in Two Soup Bowls with Handles at a Table Setting with a Plate of Parsley, Small Bowl of Cracked Pepper, and Lemon Slices on the Counter

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Tips for Making Crab and Corn Chowder

  • Use chicken stock for the broth. It’s a trick I learned from a French chef, and even though you are making seafood chowder, it adds a flavor that is not too fishy, savory, and delicious.
  • To balance the sweetness of the crabmeat and corn, you’ll need some acidity. Lemon juice and white wine provide it.
  • Be sure to use heavy cream. Heavy cream has enough fat in it to keep the chowder from curdling when you are cooking with wine or lemon juice.
  • I love this easy tip for getting corn kernels off the cob. I also like this handy corn shucker tool.
  • If corn isn’t in season, use good-quality frozen corn instead. No need to defrost.

How to Store and Freeze Chowder

Refrigerator storage: Ladle the hot soup into containers and let it cool for about 20 minutes (small containers will cool faster than the whole pot). Refrigerate for up to 3 days and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Freezer storage: Soups with cream can take on a grainy texture when frozen, so freeze the chowder before you add the cream and add it when you reheat the chowder. Fill containers with the cream-free chowder, leaving 1 inch of headspace to allow for the soup to expand. Let it cool completely before topping it with a lid. Freeze for up to 4 months. 

To reheat, place frozen chowder in a saucepan with a thin layer of water on the bottom to prevent scorching. Cover the pot and set it over low heat. Be sure to bring it to a simmer and let cook for at least 1 minute. Add the cream and heat again.

Corn and Crab Chowder in a Soup Bowl with Handles Next to Another Bowl of Chowder and a Bowl of Lemon Slices

Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Comforting, Cozy Chowders

Crab and Corn Chowder

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon (4 ounces), cut into thin strips

  • 1 large leek, trimmed and halved lengthwise, cut into thin, half-moon slices

  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced

  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 2 russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

  • 3 cups corn kernels (about 3 ears of fresh corn) 

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen crab meat

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, or more to taste

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons, or more to taste)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. Cook the bacon, leek, and celery:

    In a large soup pot over medium heat, cook and stir the bacon until it renders its fat and begins to crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the leek, celery, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, another 3 minutes.

    Bacon Slices Cooked in a Pot for Corn and Crab Chowder Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

    Leeks and Minced Celery Added to Pot and Lightly Sautéed with Bacon for Corn and Crab Chowder Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

  2. Add the wine, potatoes, and stock:

    Add the wine and stir, bringing it to a simmer. Add the diced potatoes and chicken stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

    Potatoes and Chicken Stock Stirred into the Pot with a Few Potato Pieces Lifted up Using a Spoon for Crab Chowder Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

  3. Finish cooking the chowder:

    Add the corn to the pot and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the crabmeat and cream and simmer for about 3 minutes more, or until the chowder is hot all the way through. 

    Simple Tip!

    Though we recommend the cream that the recipe calls for, if you want to use milk instead of cream, you need to stir some beurre manié (softened butter mixed one-to-one with flour) into the broth to prevent curdling.

    Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice if needed. Serve.

    Store cooled, leftover soup in the fridge for up to 3 days.

    Love the recipe? Leave us stars below!

    Corn Added to Pot of Crab Chowder

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

    Bowl of Crab Meat for Corn and Crab Chowder Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

    Cream, Parsley, and Lemon Juice Mixed into Pot of Corn and Crab Chowder

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
365 Calories
14g Fat
37g Carbs
22g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 365
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 94mg 31%
Sodium 1039mg 45%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 17mg 87%
Calcium 112mg 9%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 1064mg 23%
*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. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.