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This summer Corn Chowder is creamy, comforting and full of flavor! Made with an abundance of fresh sweet corn, tender potatoes, flavorful hearty bacon, and finished with chives and cheese. Truly this soup is too hard to resist and can be enjoyed all summer long!
Corn Chowder Recipe
Don’t we all crave this time of year? Not only do we get those relaxing beach days, backyard cookouts, and weekend hikes to soak up that summer sun but it also means getting some of the best food of the year while all the fresh produce is in season.
It’s that time of year where you’ll find fresh corn on the cob galore, especially if you’re in the U.S. near the plethora of local growers. If you’re like us you’re likely eating it multiple times throughout the week and looking for more ways to use it and this corn chowder is one of the best ways to put it to good use!
It has everything you’d want in a corn chowder and then some. Nothing fancy, just tasty homestyle comfort food at its best!
You’ll love the rich and creamy texture paired with the tender crispness of corn in every bite.
Corn Chowder Ingredients
- Fresh Corn – I like to use yellow corn because it gives the chowder a nice color but white corn will work fine too.
- Butter – this use used for sautéing and of course it’s a staple duo with fresh corn.
- Bacon – doesn’t bacon make everything better? Here it adds an extra little oomph of flavor.
- Onion & garlic – these aromatics add dimension to the soup and help build of flavors.
- Flour – this is added to thicken up the soup.
- Yukon gold potatoes – another waxy potato can be substituted here like red potatoes.
- Water or chicken broth – several people have mentioned they like the chicken broth option best, if you want more corn flavor to shine through then go with water.
- Thyme, bay leaf and chives – these add a hint of herbiness which pairs nicely with the corn.
- Half & Half – this makes the chowder deliciously rich and creamy.
- Honey – just a hint will help highlight the sweetness of the corn. If you already are using super sweet corn then you may not even need it.
- Cheddar cheese – this is optional for one more last layer of something totally crave-able.
Can I Use Frozen Corn?
Key to the best corn chowder is to use the best corn on the cob you can find. It is the prominent flavor here after all and most important part of this soup. If your only option is frozen corn then yes it will work and it will make it easy, but when you have access to fresh corn use that for best results.
How to Make Corn Chowder
- Saute onion and bacon: melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened and just starting to brown around edges, about 8 – 10 minutes.
- Make roux: add in the flour and garlic and cook 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour in 5 cups water.
- Add remaining veggies and season: bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then stir in corn kernels and potatoes. Add in thyme and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Boil and simmer soup: bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Puree some of the chowder: remove bay leave then transfer 2 1/2 cups of the chowder to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add final liquid ingredients: stir the mixture back into the pot then stir in half and half and honey.
- Garnish: sprinkle each serving with chives and optional cheddar.
My Changes to the Original Recipe
I adapted this recipe with slight changes from Cook’s Illustrated. In their recipe they call for shaving off the remaining corn bits with a vegetable peeler after cutting the kernels from the cobs.
Then from there you have to wrap it in a cloth and squeeze out the juice.
First of all I found it a huge pain and a big mess and if I would have finished I wouldn’t have only ended up with half the amount of juice called for.
Secondly, I found an alternate method that was much easier, just cut the kernels from two extra cobs of corn, add to a food processor and pulse until pureed then force through a fine strainer and you should get about 1/2 cup juice.
But last of all, after finishing the soup I found it had plenty of corn flavor and everything seemed perfectly balanced so I didn’t even end up adding in that corn juice I’d extracted, so I figured it’s not worth the extra effort.
Who knows maybe that’s just personal opinion, but I thought the honey I added to the recipe (in place of the sugar they had listed) gave it the perfect touch of sweetness so the sweetness from the added juice wasn’t even needed.
I love how the bacon in this soup perfectly compliments the light natural sweetness of the corn, while the potatoes give it some body and extra creaminess. Then the final garnish of chives gives this soup the perfect little bite they need, so don’t omit them.
This is the perfect summer soup and once you try a bowlful you’ll want to head back for another serving and then you’ll want to continue to make it all summer long!
What to Serve with Corn Chowder?
Since this is a super hearty soup you don’t really need much with it. I like to serve with:
- Fresh crusty bread (for dipping of course)
- Side salad
- Roasted vegetables like zucchini
- Or pair smaller servings of this soup with a main dish like baked chicken or grilled salmon
More Corn Chowder Variations to Try!
- Creamy Ham & Potato Corn Chowder
- Creamy Mexican Corn Chowder
- Coconut Chicken Corn Chowder
- Summer Squash Corn Chowder
- Sweet Potato Ham and Corn Chowder
Follow Cooking Classy
Summer Corn Chowder
- 8 ears fresh sweet yellow corn, husked and silks removed and kernels cut from cob
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 5 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces (see note*)
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 2 - 3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
- Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened and just starting to brown around edges, about 8 - 10 minutes.
- Add in the flour and garlic and cook 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour in 5 cups water or broth.
- Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then stir in corn kernels and potatoes. Add in thyme and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove bay leave then transfer 2 1/2 cups of the chowder to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Stir the mixture back into the pot then stir in half and half and honey. Sprinkle each serving with chives and optional cheddar.
- If you like crispy bacon then cook it first on it's own separately until crisp. Use rendered bacon fat in the recipe (along with the butter). Reserve the bacon to the side on paper towels to drain until soup is done to add as a topping, otherwise it won't be crisp.
- Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated