Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Cook: 25 min.
This New England fish chowder combines flaky haddock, tender potatoes and an ultra-creamy broth, creating a comforting soup ideal for any season.

Updated: Jun. 21, 2024

As a second-generation New Englander, I can attest that no matter whether we’re at a beach shack in the middle of summer or cozied up in a diner surrounded by mounds of snow on the ground, we always make space for a comforting bowl of fish chowder. 

Everyone parades their go-to recipe for this creamy soup packed with flaky fish and tender potatoes. But its origins trace back to Indigenous culinary innovations. Mi’kmaq, Pequot, Narragansett and Wampanoag communities would glean seafood gems from the North Atlantic Ocean and transform them into what we deem chowder today. 

This fish chowder recipe honors its sacred history and encourages you to tap into your creative spirit. The highly versatile recipe is intentionally simple, allowing you to substitute or blend in new ingredients to make it unique to your culture, taste preferences or local bounty. 

Fish Chowder Ingredients

  • Butter: The fat in this fish chowder recipe browns the onions and infuses rich flavors into the broth, enhancing the dish’s overall taste.
  • Onions: Slice the onions into bite-sized pieces for this recipe. Their delicious blend of savory and sweet notes enhances the fish chowder.
  • Potatoes: Fish chowder is comforting and satisfying, in part due to the potatoes cooked with cream and spices, giving you delicious, tender and buttery bites.
  • Haddock: We prefer haddock or any flaky white fish that’s available because they are mild in flavor and will absorb the broth they simmer in.
  • Milk: Add whole milk to the broth to create a creamy texture and enhance the flavors.
  • Evaporated milk: We use evaporated milk to add rich flavor to this fish chowder.


Step 1: Saute the onions, potatoes and fish

Place a Dutch oven on medium heat and melt 1/4 cup of the butter, reserving the rest of the fat for later. Then saute the onions until tender, being careful not to cook them until they are brown. Add the potatoes, salt, pepper and water. Gently place the haddock on top.

Step 2: Simmer the potatoes

Turn the fire to low heat and simmer the haddock and potatoes in the broth until fork-tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Step 3: Combine the fish and potato base into the creamy broth

Begin by grabbing a large saucepan and placing it on medium heat. Pour in your milk and heat it until bubbles form on the edges. Stir in the evaporated milk and the remaining butter. Add this to the fish and potato mixture and mix everything. Heat it through thoroughly and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fish Chowder Recipe Variations 

  • Start with a mirepoix: For the base of your fish chowder, chop up carrots, onions and celery to make a mirepoix. This simple technique adds extra flavor and color to your soup.
  • Swap the fish: This recipe uses haddock, but you can substitute it with tilapia, catfish or Dover sole. Other types of seafood, such as mussels, shrimp or lobster, also work well added to this fish chowder.
  • Stir in smoky bites: Fish pairs well with earthy and smoky flavors. Add crunchy bacon or tender mushrooms for extra depth.

How to Store Fish Chowder

We suggest allowing your fish chowder to come to room temperature before refrigerating it to ensure even cooling. If you have a lot left over, divide the soup into smaller portions and store them in airtight containers. You can keep this dish in the fridge for three to four days.

Can you make fish chowder ahead of time? 

This fish chowder is excellent for meal prep. Try making this recipe in your crockpot. Cook according to the instructions and when it’s finished, turn the dial to “keep warm” to avoid overcooking. If you don’t plan to eat it the same day, store it in the fridge for three to four days, heating it when you’re ready to dig in.

Can you freeze this fish chowder recipe?

Store the chowder in the freezer for two to three months. To make reheating easier, freeze the soup in large silicone ice trays or freezer bags. 

How long does fish chowder last? 

Fish chowder can remain in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two to four days or in the freezer for two to three months. For the most delicious results, we don’t recommend storing it past these time frames.

How do you reheat fish chowder?

You have a few options for reheating your fish chowder. Warm it up in a pot on the stove over medium heat or place it in the microwave. Another option is to add it to your crockpot and let it heat up slowly.

Fish Chowder Tips

What other types of fish can I add to this chowder recipe?

We recommend using any white, flaky fish that is local or easily accessible, such as cod, snapper or tilapia. To prevent the fish from overcooking, carefully monitor the simmering process in this chowder recipe. Look for the fish to reach a fork-tender consistency to determine its doneness.

What other ingredients can I add to this recipe for fish chowder?

The history of this chowder’s inception derives from Indigenous culinary ingenuity. You are welcome to create it with your own ingredients. Add bay leaf, parsley or rosemary to the broth to infuse a depth of aromatic notes. Increase your seasoning and sprinkle in nutmeg, a Cajun seasoning mix or cayenne pepper for more flavorful bites. To give this chowder even more depth, substitute the water in this recipe with fish or chicken stock or vegetable broth.

What should you serve with fish chowder?

In New England, when you order a bowl of fish chowder, you’ll usually get a side of crunchy oyster crackers to sprinkle on top or a warm piece of bread. (Psst: You can even season your oyster crackers to give your meal an extra pop of flavor.) 

While you can enjoy this soup as the main course, eating it as an appetizer is typical before digging into a plate of fried fish and chips or a buttery lobster roll.

New England Fish Chowder

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 25 min
Yield about 4-1/2 quarts


  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 pounds haddock, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • Additional salt and pepper, optional


  1. In a Dutch oven, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Cook onions until tender but not browned. Add the potatoes, salt, pepper and water. Top with fish. Simmer, covered, until potatoes are fork-tender, 20-25 minutes.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until bubbles form around side of saucepan. Stir in evaporated milk and remaining butter; add to fish and potato mixture. If desired, season with additional salt and pepper. Heat through.
This recipe was handed down by my mother, although I have changed it a bit. This really reflects our region, since New England is famous for its fish.
Recipe Creator