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Salmon Chowder

April 23, 2020

salmon Chowder

The Comprehensive Guide to Salmon Chowder Recipes

While seafood chowder originated in the Americas in New England, salmon chowder is the chowder of choice in the Pacific Northwest. This is because salmon is plentiful there, and there are even many different species of salmon to choose from.


Because salmon chowder is so ubiquitous in the region, many different variations of the dish have popped up over the years. These days, people will argue that their family recipe is the proper way to make salmon chowder.

If you want to know how to make the best salmon chowder to impress your friends and family, keep reading. We are going to take you through the basic recipe, but also tell you about the many different variations you can make in order to make this recipe your own and discover the flavor combination that your family enjoys the most.


What You Need


Fresh salmon chowder recipes should be made using fresh salmon. You can use wild-caught Pacific salmon, or Atlantic salmon, which is all farm-raised when sold commercially. In a pinch, you can use canned salmon.

Cooking Vessel

You can make crockpot salmon chowder, instant pot salmon chowder, or use a regular pot on a stovetop. Whatever your preferred cooking method, it is important to have a large enough cooking vessel in which you can cook your salmon chowder slowly and without burning. This is important to get the correct, creamy consistency while also letting the flavors meld. If you choose to use a crockpot or instant pot, you can still follow the directions below, simply give your ingredients a bit more time to cook at each stage in a crockpot. In an instant pot, be sure not to overcook.


Salmon chowder crockpot recipes will be a variation on the classic recipe we detail below, as will salmon chowder instant pot recipes. The important rules of thumb to remember are to not burn the cream and to ensure that the fish is fully cooked before serving.

The Best Salmon Chowder Recipe

If you need to know how to make salmon chowder, this recipe will give you all the basics you need.

If you need to know how to make healthy salmon chowder or variations to the basic recipe such as a salmon corn chowder recipe, or a smoked salmon chowder recipe, keep on reading. We will cover the different variations of this classic dish in detail.


The recipe below makes a beautiful creamy salmon chowder that can be the base for many different variations. We encourage you to come up with your own to make this dish your family’s personalized favorite. Making your own salmon chowder recipe is a great way to have a recipe you can pass down to your kids and share with your friends. 

Below, you will find the ingredients and method you need to make a delicious and creamy salmon chowder that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

salmon chowder

Servings: 3

Total Time: 1 hour


  • ¼ pound potatoes (preferably red)
  • ¼ pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced scallions (approximately one bunch)
  • ½ cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Fresh thyme minced, to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 ½ cup fresh whole milk
  • ⅓ cup fresh heavy cream
  • 1 salmon fillet with skin discarded and cut into cubes
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: fresh chives for garnish, chopped


  1. First, prepare the potatoes by cutting them into cubes about ½ inch in size. Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water. You may salt the water if you’d like. Boil until they are just tender. For red potatoes, this will be 8 to 10 minutes, although you should check your potatoes frequently as some starchier potatoes will get too mushy in boiling water. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander and set them aside.
  2. Cook your bacon in a large heavy pot over medium heat, while stirring. Cook the bacon until it is a bit crunchy and crisp. This should take about 8 minutes. Once cooked, drain the bacon on paper towels by removing it safely from the pot with a cooking utensil such as a slotted spoon. Remove and reserve the bacon fat from the large heavy pot.
  3. In the same heavy pot, add two tablespoons of the reserved bacon grease and add vegetables and herbs. You will add the thyme, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, garlic, corn, and scallions in and cook over medium-low heat until fragrant and tender. In order not to burn these delicate ingredients, be sure to stir while they cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Now it is time to add the milk and cream and raise the temperature to medium and then medium-high, bringing the liquid just to the point where it is boiling. It is important not to overheat the liquid at this step, as that will cause it to burn and give it a bad taste. Once you bring it just to boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  5. Now, add the potatoes and bacon you cooked previously.
  6. Add the fresh salmon cubes.
  7. Add the salt and pepper and whatever other spices you would like to experiment with.
  8. Cook this mixture while occasionally stirring until the salmon is cooked through. This should take about 8 minutes. The salmon should be flaky and easily break apart.
  9. Now it is time to stir in the fresh lemon juice to finish the soup.
  10. Be sure to fish out the bay leaf and discard it before you serve your salmon chowder.

Variations of Salmon Chowder Soup

Now that you have the basic recipe down pat, there are many different variations to salmon chowder that you can experiment with in order to make the recipe your own. While many of these are variations on already-included ingredients, you will find that different techniques can give you different tastes and textures that you might prefer.

Northwest Salmon Chowder

Alaskan salmon chowder is a common dish in the state of Alaska, but it is very close to the original. To make your own, use frozen hash browns instead of potatoes in your recipe. One benefit to this is you can add the frozen hashbrowns in without having to pre-boil them the way you would with fresh potatoes. Salmon chowder Alaska style also frequently uses evaporated milk instead of fresh whole milk and heavy cream.

Salmon and Corn Chowder

There are many different salmon corn chowder recipes, but if you want to make your salmon corn chowder be heavier on the corn side, a good way to do that is to double the amount of corn and puree half of it with the milk and heavy cream before adding to the pot. This will give your chowder a hearty and thick texture while upping the sweet corn taste.

Salmon Potato Chowder

Another way to thicken your soup is to puree boiled potatoes with broth and use that as a base. You can mix this with whole milk and heavy cream, or you can forgo the dairy entirely and focus just on the potato stock. If you are watching your fat intake, this is a good substitution to make.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

Smoked salmon chowder recipes are very popular in Seattle, and these variations are often called Seattle-style salmon chowder. For the best smoked salmon chowder recipe, be sure to buy Pacific wild-caught smoked salmon. Additionally, you don’t need to cook the salmon all the way through in this recipe as smoked salmon is already cooked, so be sure to add it later in the process than what is called for in the original recipe.

Salmon Clam Chowder

Seattle-style smoked salmon chowder often includes clams and crab meat, as well. The Pacific Northwest is brimming with fresh seafood, so you will find many different recipes that use as many seafood ingredients as possible. You can add fresh or canned clams to your chowder when you add your salmon. Additionally, you can add seafood stock to the base to give it even more of that Pacific Northwest flavor.

Salmon Curry Chowder

Salmon chowder with coconut milk is the base for a curry recipe. This type of salmon chowder is based on the original but uses coconut milk instead of whole milk and heavy cream. For a red curry salmon chowder, you would forgo the bacon and use coconut oil to cook your herbs and vegetables instead. You would also add freshly grated ginger and fresh minced hot peppers to the mix, as well as red curry paste. Red onion, bok choy, mushrooms, basil, cilantro, and lime are also recommended in order to obtain that authentic curry flavor.

The Best Salmon Chowder Recipes For The Health-Conscious

Now that we have gone over some of the common variations of salmon chowder, we can talk about making it a bit more healthy. As you might have guessed, all that heavy cream and bacon isn’t the best for you. However, salmon is one of the most nutritious foods around, so there are ways to edit the original salmon chowder recipe in order to make it healthier.

Salmon Chowder Paleo

In order to make your salmon chowder paleo, you will need to avoid too many carbs and heavy fats. For the broth, you should use a seafood bone broth that you can make out of fish bones in your pressure cooker or instant pot, as well as coconut milk for creaminess. Instead of boiled potatoes and corn, you should use fresh celery, carrots, turnips, and onions to fill your soup with vegetables and give it that chunky texture.

Keto Salmon Chowder

To keep this recipe high-protein, you should also use bone broth when making a keto version of salmon chowder. However, you should still use heavy cream in order to get the fat content up without increasing the number of carbs. To keep the carbs to a minimum in this recipe, use vegetables such as celery and radishes and avoid potatoes, corn, and carrots, and they have too many carbs for a Keto diet.

Dairy-Free Salmon Chowder

You may have already noticed that many of these variations are dairy-free, such as the curry salmon chowder and paleo salmon chowder. You can make any variation dairy-free by using a bone broth, coconut milk, or by pureeing corn and potatoes in order to make a base. A good tip to make a thick and creamy salmon chowder without using dairy is also to create a roux using flour in order to thicken the soup the way heavy cream traditionally would.

How to Make Salmon Chowder Easy

An easy way to make slow cooker salmon chowder is to buy high quality canned salmon chowder and heat it slowly in the slow cooker. When you do this it allows the flavors to really meld.

Canned salmon chowder is already fully cooked, so you need to ensure that you don’t overcook it. This is why you should heat the canned soup in the slow cooker and not over high heat in a pot. If you cook salmon chowder too long or at too high of a temperature, the fish taste will become too strong and the cream base will burn. 

However, if you cook it in the slow cooker, you can also create your own salmon chowder slow cooker recipe that you can come back to time and again. When you put the canned soup into the slow cooker, you can add things like frozen corn, frozen pearl onions, peas, leftover potatoes, or anything else you desire. 

If you are craving salmon chowder but don’t want to put in the work for a fully home-cooked meal, this method is a great alternative.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all about salmon chowder, the only thing left is to make it and serve it to your friends and family and see what they think about it. However, there is one last tip that we will leave you with. Salmon chowder is best when the flavors have melded together. For this reason, salmon chowder should be left in the refrigerator after cooking for one day, and reheated slowly in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. This method will guarantee the best flavor for the ingredients you have chosen. Happy cooking!