Creamy Seafood Chowder with Homemade Seafood Stock
Creamy Seafood Chowder comes in many varieties, but nearly all of them include shrimp and potatoes. This creamy seafood chowder recipe starts with an easy-to-make homemade seafood stock, to which potatoes, shrimp, crab, and lobster meat are added.
Creamy seafood chowder is a perfectly savory dish that comes together so quickly. Not including the 45 minutes needed to make the stock which can be made ahead of time, this delicious soup comes together in just 20 minutes!
Creamy Seafood Chowder 101
We love fresh seafood, especially shellfish like shrimp and crab. For the most part, we make appetizers like shrimp shooters and clams casino dip with shellfish but it also makes a delicious summer salad. Let’s not forget about clam chowder, either. Hands down, it is one of our favorite chowder recipes. Truth be told, we can’t think of a single way that we don’t enjoy eating seafood.
Seafood does come with unique considerations on the food safety front.
How long is seafood chowder good for? In the refrigerator in an airtight container, your chowder will be good for 3-4 days.
Can I freeze seafood chowder? Yes, you can! Portion your chowder and place in heavy-duty freezer bags. Until it initially freezes, be sure to keep your bags of chowder in a plastic container so they stay upright/don’t tip and test the strength of the Ziploc seal.
What makes a soup a chowder?
It’s not hard to tell the difference between a soup and a chowder.
Chowder is thick, rich and chunky. Most chowders are made with some part of a white sauce base. For this creamy seafood chowder it means little nuggets of delicious seafood, naturally. For vegetable chowders, there are corn chowder and potato chowder.
In fact, the name Chowder originates from the French word for a cauldron that fishermen made their seafood stew. Aka, Chowder!
How to Make Homemade Seafood Stock
Homemade seafood stock is incredibly easy to make. If you are rushed for time (or making soup stock isn’t your thing) just purchase already prepared. Seafood stock is generally found in the aisle where the chicken, beef and vegetable stock are sold.
Borrowing from our Seafood Stock recipe we have harnessed the easy, perfectly balanced flavor of a homemade stock to make this soup spectacular.
Spoiler alert, one of the key ingredients is seafood. If you’re making a trip to Red Lobster and have a take-away bag, you might be in the perfect position to brew some up.
What Goes With Seafood Chowder?
The powerful flavor of this creamy seafood chowder is one that takes a little consideration for complimentary sides.
But the no-brainer option for us is absolutely garlic bread, the perfect pair for a little spicy and the dreamy creaminess of this chowder.
If you want to go with a little extra veggies, honey roasted carrots are delightful!
And don’t forget if you’re feeling feisty, a nice white wine pairs well. 😉
Ready to Chowder it Up?
If you make the seafood chowder recipe, please leave a comment and rate the recipe below!
We’d also love for you to share photos of it with me! Tag us on our Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram!
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Creamy Seafood Chowder
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small carrots diced small
- 1 large large onion diced small (white or yellow)
- 1 stalk celery diced medium
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 32 ounces seafood stock (1 quart) – homemade stock recipe below)
- 1 large russet potato diced medium
- ¾ teaspoon salt (more or less to your taste)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ cup half and half or whole milk
- 8 ounces cooked mixed seafood of your choice (I used medium shrimp, chopped lobster tail, and crab meat)
For Homemade Seafood Stock
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
- shells from 1 pound of fresh seafood (I used lobster, shrimp, and crab shells)
- 2 large onions chopped (peeled or unpeeled, your choice)
- 2 large carrots unpeeled and chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup white wine or water or vegetable broth
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ tsp black pepper
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme with the stems
To Make the Seafood Stock
- Warm oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
- Add the seafood shells, onions, carrots, and celery and saute for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
- Add 1 1/2 quarts of water, wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Strain stock through a sieve, pressing the solids.You should have approximately 1 quart of stock. You can make up the difference with water or wine if you need to.
To Make the Chowder
- Add olive oil to a 3 quart or larger soup pot over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, stir in carrot, onion, and celery, and saute until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute, stirring constantly so that garlic doesn’t burn.
- Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. They will appear pasty. Turn heat up to medium high and slowly whisk in seafood stock, about 1/4 cup at a time, until all stock has been incorporated.
- Turn heat to high and bring to a light boil. Add potatoes and all seasonings and reduce heat slightly. Cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork tender.
- In the final 3 minutes of cooking time, stir in cooked seafood and half and half or milk. Taste and add additional seasonings as desired.
- Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy!
I love seafood soups. This looks perfect to bolster you for cold weather – it looks cozy and warming. And with homemade seafood stock to boot! You rule.
You rock my world, Jessie! Thanks for the lovely comment. 🙂
Recipe calls for 16 oz (1 qt) of seafood stock. A quart is 32 oz — which should I use???
BJ, thank you so much for bringing my error to my attention. The recipe requires 32 ounces of stock. When I made it for my family, I halved the recipe (since it’s just the two of us), and obviously, I forgot to update my notes! The recipe has been updated to reflect the correct amount.
I can’t get mine the same color. Otherwise it turned out great! Any pointers???
I’m glad you enjoyed the seafood chowder. The color of my stock may have been different than yours because I used a mixture of cooked seafood shells, including part of a lobster tail, which probably has a lot more color to it than shrimp shells do. I don’t typically use that… I just happened to make my stock with some leftover shells from a dinner out at a restaurant. If you want to add a bit more color to your stock, you might want to try adding a bit of Old Bay seasoning. It has paprika in it, which should give you a nice reddish hue.
This is definitely yummy, Becca! Love this recipe and can’t wait to prepare it.
Thank you so much, Agness. I hope you enjoy the seafood chowder!
I’m thinking of making this for A Memorial Day outside gathering. Two things…What is the double asterisk referring to in both places where cooked seafood is mentioned? I don’t see what it ties back to. The link to adjust the number of servings doesn’t seem to be working. I need to make triple the amount. I could just triple the ingredients, but sometimes doing that doesn’t work because of the different spices. Thanks! Looks like a fabulous recipe. ?
I apologize for the confusion with my asterisks. Initially, I was going to add a note to the “notes” section saying that you can use fresh or thawed from frozen cooked seafood. Basically, anything goes as far as what type of seafood you use.
As for the recipe conversion tool, when you click on the link, a new window should ppp up, asking you how many servings you want to make. If you have a popup blocker installed, they may be why you didn’t see it. I just tried the link on mobile and on a desktop computer and it worked fine for me. Please let me know if you’re still having issues.
Great flavors and easy to follow directions. This will definitely make the menu rotation at our house. Thanks!
Thank you, Heather! I hope you love the seafood chowder as much as my family does. 🙂
If I wanted to do this in a crock pot how long do you think I would have to do it for?
Allison, if you make the seafood stock ahead of time and all of your seafood is cooked, I would think the soup would need about 2-3 hours on low in a slow cooker. If you use cooked seafood, don’t add it until the last 15 minutes of cooking time or it may get too rubbery. If you’re using uncooked seafood, I would say it could be added during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
I want to use raw seafood…how should I incorporate that?
Tim, if you want to use raw seafood in this chowder, the best way to do so is to prepare the chowder completely and then add the raw seafood during the last 6 to 8 minutes of cooking time. Most shellfish cooks very quickly and if you leave it to cook in the chowder for more than several minutes, it’s likely to over cook and become rubbery.
Would chicken stock work in this recipe?
Katie, you can use chicken stock in place of the seafood stock, but if you don’t want to use seafood stock, I would recommend using a vegetable stock rather than chicken. I think the seafood flavor might taste a little “off” with the addition of chicken.
This was awesome! I was doing a late Valentine’s dinner and decided to do this to go along with my main entree. I used vegetable stock and shrimp and scallops. So,so good! My boyfriend loved it.
I am SO happy to hear that you both enjoyed the chowder, Sarabeth! Thank you for coming back to let me know. 🙂
The flavors in this chowder are absolutely incredible and I loved that you included a recipe for homemade seafood stock – so handy!
The color of your creamy seafood chowder is beautiful. You can tell how flavorful it is by looking at that delicious bowl of love!
This recipe looks really good. I haven’t made it yet, but when I do I’ll comment again and post pictures. I’m so often disappointed with recipes that include, for example, “a can of cream of mushroom soup” or some other can, box, or bag of processed gunk. I was pleasantly surprised at your use of homemade stock. While I don’t eat at places like Dead Lobster, your use of the left over shells is a great idea. The left over seafood is better used in tacos. Full disclosure: I spend 5 months in Port Aransas TX on the Gulf of Mexico, and usually another 2 months on the Gulf coast of Alabama and the Florida panhandle which makes me at least somewhat of a seafood snob. But. You need to work a little harder at acquiring fresh seafood. If you have access to a Dead Lobster you’re obviously not out in the boonies. I spent my first 67 years in the area of Detroit MI and like you I had an abundance of fresh water fish, but there were always fish markets and better grocery stores with good seafood selections. If you don’t have that access, buy on the internet. Look for “wild caught” and “individually flash frozen”. These should be as good as you would get at a reputable fish market. I have about 2 pounds of shrimp shells in the freezer so I intend to make this soon. I’ll comment when I do. (apologies if this sounded like a rant. I think your recipe looks really good.)
Tom, if your comment was a “rant”, I sure wouldn’t have known! I love thoughtful, respectful feedback such as this! I really appreciate your suggestion to look on the Internet for sources of wild caught seafood. Truthfully, there are a couple of local grocery stores here that sell “fresh” seafood, but it never looks healthy to me and the good Lord only knows how long ago it was caught. I would love to find someone behind the counter who truly knows what they’re talking about, because like you, chain restaurants aren’t my idea of fresh, locally sourced seafood. (“Dead Lobster” made me laugh SO hard!) 😀
I truly look forward to hearing your thoughts about the recipe after you’ve tried it!
made the chowder this evening. Couldn’t be happier with the results. Made the stock yesterday. Two small changes in the stock—I add the tomato paste before the liquid to let it brown a little. Do this with my bolognese sauce. For the liquid I used one quart water and 16 ounces bottled clam juice. For the chowder I followed your recipe except I about quadrupled the cayenne. I like my food to bite back. Don’t see how to add a photo.
I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the seafood chowder recipe, Tom. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe adaptions as well. In my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of finding recipes online is to use them as inspiration. Making a few tweaks to the recipe to create a dish that you will enjoy is never a bad thing! 🙂
P.S. Cayenne is my go-to source for sinus-clearing. 😀
if u see cream of mushroom soup etc u dont need to add it..recipes are only a guiide line we can tweak it
great recipe. I make a lot of soups and stews, etc. and this was a great introduction to seafood dishes
Best chowder recipe!!!
Thank you so much, Tanzie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the chowder. 🙂
Bec, bravo! What a great idea! Love this. I’m sure this is incredibly delicious!
Bec, it looks so yummy! I love the step-by-step instructions, making it an easy recipe to follow!
3 tablespoons of melted butter and half a dozen steamed clams half a dozen oysters steam them just long enough for the shell to open a little so they weren’t all the way rubbery are overcooked and added them to the chowder at the last minute
That sounds FANTASTIC, Cheryl! Thank you so much for your comment and for rating the recipe!
I started to make seafood stock last night after peeling half a kilo of shrimp. I pretty much winged it, adding carrots, celery, and onion. Then I found your recipe. I decided to chill everything and give it another go today. I added garlic, fresh thyme. Didn’t have tomato paste, but substituted a thick tomato sauce. I used two tablespoons of dry sherry instead of wine. That’s just my preference in many recipes. On a funny note, I had a couple of pieces of bacon left over from brunch and decided to add them. They were supposed be a treat for Leonardo, my Doberman. I’m not sure he will ever forgive me, but the stock is wonderful. I bought crab meat and calamari to make chowder. Thanks for a great seafood stock recipe.
It sounds like you made some incredibly tasty seafood stock! I’m so happy that you liked the recipe. Thank you for your comment and especially for rating the recipe. 🙂
I made this wonderful seafood chowder on today. Substituted with chicken broth, boullion and canola oil. Also, the crabmeat, shrimp and flounder marinated in lemon juice, then added some cornstarch. Posted the picture to Facebook and responses were overwhelming within 1 hour. Family almost finished it. This is a fabulous recipe, thank you for your sharing.
I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the seafood chowder recipe, Denee. Thank you so much for your nice comment and for rating the recipe!
LOVE IT! This is SO tasty. I made it for my family tonite and everyone loved it. This is definitely a keeper!
I am so happy to hear that, Angela! Thank you so much for rating the recipe and of course, for your nice comment. 🙂
Perfect! Easy. Husband and I had bad flues and this was most appreciated on sore throats and little appetite.
Made this with leftover clams, steamed spiced shrimp and mussels steamed in wine, garlic and butter. I had saved the liquids from the clams and mussels so used that as the base stock and WOW was it delicious!! Threw in a drained can of kippers which added another level of flavors. Will be making this again very soon for sure!!!
Made this recipe tonight with some minor tweaks, like others here. Wanted to post just in case others are considering using leftover shrimp and crab boil stock (it works!).
I quadrupled this recipe because I had just over two pounds of picked meat from blue crabs, dungeness crab, and jumbo shrimp after an impromptu boil I did at my family’s place in Wilmington, NC after coming down to Carolina Beach. The boil was 1 gallon Miller High Life and 2 gallons water, 1/2 cup Old Bay, 2 Zatarain’s boil sachets, one 5oz Louisiana crab boil packet, and 1/8 cup of sea salt, 3 lemons, 3 limes, a bag of yellow onions. The seafood that went through the liquid was two dozen blue crabs, 4 clusters of dungeness, and 3lbs of shrimp (also 2lbs of andoullie sausage and 6 ears of corn).
I saved 4 quarts of this boil liquid afterward because I knew there would be leftover seafood and my family aren’t fiends for the stuff like me and my girlfriend are. Glad I did. After driving back to Raleigh/Durham the next day, I painstakingly picked the rest of the meat myself until I had amassed over 2 lbs of mostly crab and some shrimp.
This is what set the stage for a quadruple batch of this chowder recipe. Here are the tweaks I made using this boil stock:
1) NO ADDED SALT. My leftover boil stock was already perfectly as salty as the sea.
2) Amish butter instead of the olive oil (had a ton leftover from the boil feast)
3) Added 6 strips of thick cut bacon, chopped cold then sauteed (cuz why not?)
4) 1/2 cup of dry sherry to deglaze the butter/mirapoix garlic sautee
5) Added 1 can tomato paste with the mirapoix before the flour, since my stock had no tomato in it originally.
6) Heavy cream instead of half & half (This ain’t coffee, lol, and I think I needed the cream to offset the acidity from my boil and the tomato).
7) Red potatoes instead of russets (more but same volume). They have an amazing texture, and the skin is delectable.
Yummy! Took my chances to serve at a small get together. Everyone raved about it. Added a cup of white wine replaced can of muchroom soup with fresh Shitake mushrooms you could taste. Forgot to buy crabmeat and it was actually fine without it. Can’t wait to make it again with the crabmeat. Thanks!
This s a wonderful recipe, I added 1/2 cup of white wine, three ears of corn, doubled the Old Bay and cayenne pepper(I love spicy), this is now my favorite recipe!