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


  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 strip bacon, or 1 teaspoon bacon fat
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup small diced carrot
  • 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 Cook the bacon: Place butter and bacon into a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Heat on medium heat until the bacon renders its fat, 3-4 minutes.

2 Add the onions, bell pepper, carrot, celery: Add the chopped onions, red bell pepper, carrot, and celery, lower the heat to medium low and cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

3 Add corn cobs (stripped of corn), milk, bay leaf to pot, simmer: 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.

4 Add potatoes, salt, thyme: 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.

5 Discard cobs, bacon, bay leaf, then add corn, black pepper: Discard the cobs, the bacon strip, 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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  • Marcella

    I love this recipe as a way to celebrate fresh, perfect corn! To make this work with my diet, I made a few adjustments and the end product is perfect. I substituted a mix of almond milk and unsweetened coconut milk for the dairy; I omitted butter and bacon with no damage to the flavor; I substituted turnips for the potatoes.

    Great recipe and will definitely be making again.


  • Lelea M.

    I’ve made this corn chowder a bunch of times now, and it’s 10 stars in my book! I opt for the meatless version and I just love how easy and tasty it is. This year, it will be one of the stars at my Christmas dinner for family. Thank you Elise!


  • Josh

    Simmering the cobs makes all the difference! Recently we went vegan and this soup still tastes great! We used a flax milk & obviously omitted the bacon, but the result was loved by anyone who tried it!


  • Amelia

    WOW! Simply delicious. After reading through various other “quick” corn chowder recipes, I went with this recipe; I am glad I did! The flavor is worth the extra time. I was hesitant to put in the corn cobs. Despite my reservations, I put them in anyway. I am certain that without them the taste wouldn’t have been the same at all. DON’T SKIP THAT STEP! I made 3 minor variations to the recipe: No bacon, doubled the butter, and replaced a 1/2 cup of milk for a 1/2 cup of whipping cream. This will my new go-to chowder recipe. Thanks!


  • Janice

    Delicious on this rainy day in October. This is a very easy recipe to follow and great blend of flavors.


  • Brent

    It’s a hit! And OMG that corn kernel removal tip – Genius!

    I did make some slight variations, due to vegetarians and lactose intolerance in the house.

    As suggested at the beginning, I substituted additional butter for the bacon fat, and then I used soy milk instead of cow milk. The soy milk gave it a little bit of sweetness (the corn probably contributed as well) that made for a really good counterpoint against the ground pepper.

    The other slight variation was the Thyme. I just did about 1/2tsp of dried, instead of the listed amount, and it all just worked. Such a good recipe, I’m definitely keeping this one!


  • Lauren

    Awesome! If you let it sit for 15 minutes after it’s done, it thickens up beautifully!

    The amount of salt really depends on how fresh and sweet your corn is. I found a little over 3 tsp to be about right. I also swapped the bacon fat for a bit of browned butter, though, so that probably dropped my salt content.


  • Jestehr

    Really great recipe. Had corn chowder in the cafeteria at work one day and was inspired to try to make it myself. Fresh ground pepper is a must! I doubled the recipe because we love leftovers, used 2% lactose free milk, and as a last step – blended a few cups in the food processor to make it thicker and creamier. Can’t stop eating it!


  • Jess

    I just made this for dinner and it was really good! I didn’t have red bell pepper but used everything else as says. Thank you so much for all of the awesome recipe posts. I don’t think I have made one that I don’t like!!


  • Jan

    Absolutely loved it. Made it as is and it was perfect. Making a second batch for my daughter’s family tonight.


  • Cat

    Made recipe as written except reduced salt. Amazing. Will make again.


  • Aspanne

    Caution: Go easy on the salt. 3 tsp was way too much the first time I made this, especially if you’re using salted butter or bacon. I start now with 1 tsp and gradually added a bit until it tastes right. Otherwise, great recipe!

  • Kathy K.

    This chowder is delicious. My only addition was minced garlic. Will definitely make it again. Forgot to get fresh thyme. Used dry and it worked great. Corn was so sweet, did not need to add salt. Do believe the corn cobs added great flavor. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.


  • Katie O.

    I love this recipe so much and have made it a couple different ways between the 6 or so times I’ve made it. Once I doubled the recipe and I thought that was the least yummy batch. I always make this dairy-free substituting the milk for coconut milk and using smart balance soy- + dairy-free “butter.” Recently I haven’t had fresh thyme so I’ve used italian herbs. The first few batches I doubled the “butter” and left out the bacon but the last two batches I’ve used bacon. I also now see that I used 2 strips of bacon per batch rather than the recommended 1. So I’ll vouch for doubling up the bacon. For anyone looking for a positively scrumptious soup that is dairy-free, this one is two thumps up!


  • ap duffy

    ha ha ha…4 degree day in MA so we needed a chowda…. I had no corn but made this lovely concoction with all the other veggies left in my fridge. started it with a veg broth made from the trimmings from the soups veggies (broccoli, zucs, carrots, onions, shrooms, peppers, garlic and of course lots of small fingerling potatoes). It was amazing! Thanks Elise and friends!!

  • Elizabeth Masching

    Good flavor but I had to add way more liquid (more milk plus I added broth) because it was super salty with all 3t salt that the recipe said. I would definitely start with a lot less salt then add more to taste. Other than that it’s great! I cut up the bacon and used it to top at the end, and the grease to cook the veggies. Potatoes also took a lot longer to cook than what it said.

  • Katelynn

    This is the best corn chowder! I made it without bacon and it was still rich and flavorful. Follow the method exactly and you won’t have an issue with the milk scalding your soup pot. I’m throwing out my old recipe and using this one from now on.

  • Megan Fisher

    I didn’t use bacon and subbed 2 cups of milk for 2 cups chicken stock. I also added in 1/2 a jalapeño pepper with the red peppers. Came out delicious!!

  • Karen Paulson

    This is a great recipe and easily adaptable. The first thing that happened was that I only had cooked corn. It was fine. Not as full bodied as if I’d had fresh, but it was good. Also, the recipe says to add CHOPPED BACON and then later says to discard it. I left it in, for obvious reasons (I should have read ahead.)
    I had 1 leek in the bottom of the fridge so cut the onion to 1/4 cup and threw in the leek.
    Another great recipe, Elise!


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Karen, thanks for pointing out that inconsistency, I’ve fixed it! And yes of course you can chop up the bacon and put it back in the soup. Basically we are using the bacon for the flavor of its fat.

  • Amber

    I made this with one can full-fat coconut milk plus 2 cans vegetable broth due to a milk allergy. Used ham instead of bacon because that’s what I had to use, and I probably doubled the onion, celery, and carrots. I also added in a couple cloves garlic at the same time I sautéed the onion. Came out great, although next time I will add in another potato. I like my soup just a little thicker. I added a 1/4 cup flour as well to thicken it up.

  • Richard

    I’ve made this several times to rave reviews. My only modification was to use a Lee’s brand cream corn cutter on the kernels. This removes the inner part of the kernel and leaves the skin of the kernel the cob. This creamed corn makes the chowder thicker. After cooking the cobs I cool them and run them through the creamer again and get a fair amount more creamed corn to add.
    Thank you for this fine recipe.

  • Inci @ Bellas Apron

    This is a great chowder recipe. I ended up using turkey bacon and 1 cup of half and half in my version. I’ll def have to try it with red bell peppers. Great idea!

  • Michele

    Do you cook the corn before taking it off the cob

  • Rachael Cunningham

    Has anyone ever added cheese to this??

    • Nancy

      Have not made this soup yet…but I was thinking the same thing. May make it today with cheese…I have Gruyere or even a white cheddar? I’ll let you now!

  • Jean Graves

    Hi, just received a ton of fresh corn from a co-worker…plan to try this today, do I add the peppers in step 2 or 4… The directions and heading don’t match up…if I don’t hear back I’m going with step 4. Thanks in advance, looking forward to making this!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jean, sorry about the confusion! Either will work, but I’ve clarified the recipe to show that you add the peppers in step 2.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

  • 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!!

  • 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!

  • Amy

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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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

  • Amanda

    OMG, now this is GOOD! Thanks for posting.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jim Price

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

  • 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!)

  • Derek Middlestones

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

  • 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.

  • Amy

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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!

  • 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…)

  • 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.

  • Anonymous

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

  • Elise Bauer

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

  • 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?