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Creamy New England Fish Chowder Recipe

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As a born and bred Maine girl, I’m super excited to bring you this recipe for authentic creamy New England fish chowder.

For this chowder, the fish is the star. Thick and meaty chunks of cod are guaranteed in every bite, along with diced potatoes, fresh herbs, and a flavorful creamy broth.

This chowder is a one pot meal that is super simple to make, incredibly delicious, and perfect for any night of the week! I know you’re going to love it!

A bowl of fish chowder on a white napkin, with green herbs off to the side.

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If you’re new to cooking with fish, this easy fish chowder and my Baked Panko Crusted Cod are super beginner friendly recipes. They’re quick, call for very few ingredients, and come out perfectly every time.

Ingredients For Fish Chowder

  • Meaty white fish: I used cod for this recipe, but you can make a haddock chowder by replacing the cod with fresh or frozen haddock filets.
  • Potatoes: I usually use what we have on hand like Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes.
  • Carrots: Not a typical ingredient, but I like the little pop of color it gives the soup.
  • Onions: I love a sweet onion in this chowder. Yellow onions work well too!
  • Milk and cream: This adds thickness and richness to the dish without adding butter and flour. The richness and silkiness of the cream will complement the lean chunks of fish swimming throughout the chowder.
  • Dill and parsley: For a pop of color and to brighten up the flavor of the chowder.

How To Make New England Fish Chowder

Fill a 4 quart saucepan with water and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and dice them into cubes about 1/2” to 3/4” in size. 

Diced potatoes in a metal mixing bowl

Add the potatoes to the pot of salted water and place on a burner set to high heat. Bring the potatoes and water to a boil.

Boil the potatoes until just fork tender, about 7-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when you pierce a potato with a fork and there is little to no resistance.

When the potatoes are ready, remove them from the heat and drain off the water. Set the potatoes aside and wipe out the pot. 

Diced potatoes draining in a silver strainer

Return the pot to the burner and set over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. 

Add in the diced onions and the shredded carrots and saute the veggies until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium if the veggies start to brown too quickly. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

While the vegetables cook, turn your attention toward the fish fillets. If your fillets are about 4”-5” in length, there’s nothing you need to do.

But if you have one or two giant fillets, cut them down just small enough to fit the width of the pot. We want to leave the fish fillets as whole as possible. This will ensure we have nice big chunks of fish in our chowder at the end.

Once the onions and carrots are soft, add the potatoes back to the pot and pour in the cream and milk. Give the pot a quick stir to incorporate the ingredients.

Allow the cream and veggies to come up to a simmer, but do not boil. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Once the pot is simmering, add your fish fillets and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Press the fish gently into the cream to submerge as best you can. It’s ok if some of the fish pokes through the surface. It will look like too much fish at first, but that’s what you want. The fish fillets will shrink and break apart during the cooking process.

Fish fillets sitting in the pot of chowder broth.

Simmer the cod until opaque and breaking apart about 7-10 minutes.  Once the fish is cooked, gently stir the chowder, breaking the fish fillets into bite sized chunks.

Reduce the heat to medium low and finish cooking for another 20-30 minutes. This will thicken the chowder slightly and allow the flavors to blend.

Stir in the fresh parsley and dill, and taste the chowder to check for seasonings. Add pepper to taste and more kosher salt if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

A bowl of fish chowder on a white napkin in the center, and a bowl in the distance. Oyster crackers and green herbs to the side.

Choosing the best fish for chowder

In this chowder, the fish is the star of the show. So selecting the right seafood is necessary.

  1. You want to use meaty white fish. I gravitate towards lean fish that you can get thick fillets of like cod, haddock, or pollock.
  2. Pick a fish with thick fillets. You want nice big chunks of fish throughout the chowder, a thin fish like a tilapia wouldn’t give you those nice chunks.
  3. Do not select a delicate fish like trout or flounder. It will just flake apart and get lost in the chowder. You want nice big chunks on your spoon when you’re digging in.
  4. Stay away from oily fish. Oily fish like bluefish or tuna or trout would throw off the texture and flavor of the chowder.
  5. When in doubt ask your fishmonger! Your local fish market or the folks at the seafood department in the grocery store will gladly point you in the direction of the best local fish to use. Some stores even sell containers of fish trimmings made just for chowders.
  6. If fresh fish is not accessible, feel free to use frozen! If fresh cod or haddock is not available, frozen fish works just fine! Make sure to thaw the fish fillets first before adding them to the chowder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze fish chowder?

No. It just won’t hold up. This chowder is best consumed within a couple of days after making it.

How long will leftover chowder keep for?

This chowder is best consumed the day it’s made, but will remain delicious for another 2-3 days after.

How do I reheat leftovers?

You can microwave leftovers in a microwave safe bowl until heated through. Or you can transfer the chowder to a saucepan and reheat it slowly over low to medium heat on the stovetop. Heat until just warmed through, but do not bring to a boil.

Can I add other seafood to this chowder?

Absolutely! You can totally transform this from a fish chowder into a seafood chowder by adding chunks of shrimp or lobster, diced clams, and bay scallops! You want about 2 1/2 pounds of seafood total, so have fun playing around with combinations of your favorite seafood!

What to serve with fish chowder

A bowl of fish chowder with chunks of fish, potatoes, herbs, and oyster crackers. A spoon sits in the chowder.

I love serving this chowder with some crusty bread, my garlic crostini, or crispy oyster crackers. For the ultimate comfort food, serve this fish chowder in a bread bowl, with a light and zesty salad on the side.

I have a whole list of delicious fall salads that will pair perfectly with this chowder if you’re looking for some cold-weather dinner inspiration! If you’re making this chowder in the summer, serve this chowder alongside a delicious plate of Pan-Fried Asparagus with Lemon for the perfect veggie compliment.

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A bowl of fish chowder on a white napkin, with green herbs off to the side.

Simple And Creamy New England Fish Chowder

Yield: 4-6 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Authentic New England fish chowder recipe. Made with chunks of meaty white fish, and diced potatoes, and served in a creamy broth.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (about 3-4 medium) russet or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 1/2 lbs of cod or haddock fillets
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, minced fine
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh dill, minced fine
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Fill a 4 quart saucepan with water and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Set aside.
  2. Peel the potatoes and dice into cubes about 1/2” to 3/4” in size. 
  3. Add the potatoes to the pot of salted water and place on a burner set to high heat. Bring the potatoes and water to a boil.
  4. Boil the potatoes until just fork tender, about 7-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when you pierce a potato with a fork and there is little to no resistance.
  5. When the potatoes are ready, remove them from the heat and drain off the water. Set the potatoes aside and wipe out the pot. 
  6. Return the pot to the burner and set over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. 
  7. Add in the diced onions and the shredded carrots and saute the veggies until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium if the veggies start to brown too quickly. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  8. While the vegetables cook, turn your attention towards the fish fillets. If your fillets are about 4”-5” in length, there’s nothing you need to do. But if your fillets are quite large, cut them down just small enough to fit the width of your pot. We want to leave the fish fillets as whole as possible. This will help give you nice big chunks of fish in the chowder when it’s finished cooking. 
  9. Once the onions and carrots are soft, add the potatoes back to the pot and pour in the cream and milk. Give the pot a quick stir to incorporate the ingredients.
  10. Allow the cream and veggies to come up to a simmer, but do not boil. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  11. Once the pot is simmering, add your fish fillets and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Press the fish gently into the cream to submerge as best you can. It’s ok if some of the fish pokes through the surface. It will look like too much fish at first, but that’s what you want. The fish fillets will shrink and break apart during the cooking process.
  12. Simmer the cod until opaque and breaking apart, about 7-10 minutes.  Once the fish is cooked, gently stir the chowder, breaking the fish fillets into bite sized chunks.
  13. Reduce the heat to medium low and finish cooking for another 20-30 minutes to slightly thicken the chowder and allow the flavors to blend.
  14. Stir in the fresh parsley and dill, and taste the chowder to check for seasonings. Add pepper to taste and more kosher salt if desired.

Notes

You can use frozen fish fillets for this recipe, just thaw them completely first!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 644Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 200mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 50g

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