Print the recipe card!  pantry clam chowder

Finding a good clam chowder recipe that uses only food storage ingredients was harder than you’d think it would be.  Finally, after many recipes tried, this was the best one (by far) that we tasted.  I’d happily serve this to company, so with that it’s earned a spot in my cookbook.

It’s adapted from the “Quick Pantry Clam Chowder” recipe found in March 1998’s Cook’s Illustrated magazine.  Not only is it a really fast (1o minute) meal to put together, as far as clam chowder goes it tastes just right.  Enjoy!

serves 6 (about 2 quarts)

Prep time:  10 minutes


1 (2.8 oz) jar Hormel Real Bacon Pieces

1 cup freeze dried white onion flakes (*see note)

1 cup water

4 TBS. flour

2 (8 oz.) bottles clam juice

4 (6.5 oz.) cans minced clams

1 cup water

2 (14.5 oz) cans whole potatoes (*see note)

1 large Bay leaf

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk (*see note)

salt and ground pepper to taste


Rehydrate onion flakes using 1 cup water.  While waiting for onions, drain the potatoes and chop coarse according to desired size.  In a medium heated pot, saute the bacon pieces while stirring for one minute and then add the drained rehydrated onion.  Add 4 TBS flour, stirring to mix.  Whisk in clam juice, reserved clam juice from clams and water.  Add chopped potatoes, bay leaf and thyme;  stir to combine and bring to a simmer.  Finally add clams, evaporated milk , salt/pepper (if needed, to taste) and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and serve.

Serve with some fresh bread or crackers.   Delicious!



  • It’s been surprising to some in the past when I’ve used a full cup of freeze dried onion flakes in certain recipes. While I don’t use this much usually, it’s important to differentiate that I’m using freeze dried onion flakes here, not dried minced onion, which would be a lot more potent since it’s more densely packed. The original recipe for this soup called for 2 cups chopped onion. Even after rehydrating the onion here it still doesn’t measure 2 cups and (in our opinion atleast) the end result doesn’t end up too onion-ey.
  • As far as potatoes go, you could probably substitute freeze dried potato chunks if you wanted to.  My preference is to go with the canned whole potatoes because  #1, it’s nice to have larger chunks of potatoes in a chowder style soup and #2 these potatoes don’t seem to disintegrate in the chowder like the freeze dried chunks do.
  • When choosing an evaporated milk to use keep in mind that the milk is replacing cream in the original recipe. Carnation brand’s Vitamin D milk contains 2 grams of fat, the most “cream-y” I’ve found, so that’s what I used here. I’ve been told there’s actually shelf stable cream sold by Gossner’s Milk Company but I haven’t tried it yet.

In my book this recipe is used as a:

*Long Term Recipe

*3 month meal (using fresh potatoes and onions)

*Pantry Meal

8 thoughts on “Quick Pantry Clam Chowder

  1. We made this for dinner tonight. It was great! My family all agreed- it’s a keeper! Thank you for all of your service. You have really been an inspiration to me! Good job mama!

  2. I have a similar recipe that uses double strength (or half-constituted) dry milk instead of canned evap. Since powdered milk and canned evap (in the US anyway) is non-fat, I found adding butter powder and/or sour cream powder helps replace the creamy flavor lost when you remove the actual cream and a splash of oil improves the texture/mouth feel.

    You can also use this exact base recipe and replace the canned clams with canned/dried shrimp, canned crab, or canned/smoked salmon for more variety of seafood chowder… it’s a great way to add “pantry” seafood to your food storage menus. And if you’re lucky enough to have some fresh catch of the day, this chowder is an awesome use of leftovers. If you replace the canned evap with dry milk, this makes a good take-along boil-in-bag meal when you go camping during fishing season, too.

    • I really like your ideas on variations PlicketyCat! I thought I should mention though, that although there isn’t a LOT of fat in canned evaporated milk, the Carnation brand evap. milk has .5 grams of fat in their 2% milk, and 2 grams of fat in the Vitamin D. So while there isn’t much (about 1/4 of what’s found in heavy cream), it’s not completely fat free.

      Love this recipe- thanks so much for the excellent website and help with food storage ideas, Megan!

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