Easy Clam Chowder (Low Carb)

by Kendall
9 cups
25 min

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This creamy clam chowder is the ultimate in healthy, wholesome comfort food! It’s super easy to make and is ready after just 5 minutes of prep and 20 minutes in an Instant Pot! The recipe uses cauliflower instead of potatoes and skips the bacon, making it both low-carb and pescatarian!

Make a pot of this classic New England clam chowder for dinner or have it as a side for lunch. The recipe yields about six servings so it’s a great option for your weekly meal prep! Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days or pack them in your freezer for those nights you just don’t feel like cooking!

Hey, Boston, I see you!

Being from Boston, I felt a bit of an obligation to create my own version of the famous New England Clam Chowdah! Now, I didn’t grow up eating a ton of clam chowder as a kid. But, when I did have a cup, it felt like a rather indulgent treat.

There was one restaurant in particular we went to as a family that served a chowder I went especially crazy for. The name of the place escapes me now. And I’m sure it doesn’t even exist anymore. But, there was just something about their clam chowder. It’s quite possible my interest was mostly thanks to the hundreds of oyster crackers I would dump on top. But, I like to think there was also something more magical at play with the chowder itself.

In any event, clam chowder has a way of wrapping me up and reminding me of home. It’s the ultimate comfort food for the New Englander living far away. But, over the years, as I’ve become more health conscious, I’ve stayed away from ordering clam chowder at restaurants. I likely caught a peek at the nutritional breakdown and decided it wasn’t really in my best interest anymore.

And so, this winter, I set out to create a healthier version of clam chowder to remind me of home!

How to make Low-carb Clam Chowder in an Instant Pot

From start to finish, this clam chowder comes together in just 25 minutes thanks to one of my favourite kitchen appliances- the Instant Pot! It has a ton of functions and settings and I can’t recommend it enough for one-stop shop cooking.

The Instant Pot also tends to speed up cooking times, which means you can have healthy meals prepared easily and quickly! If you have a recipe written for another cooking method, you can easily adjust it to be made in an Instant Pot. Check out my Low-Carb Instant Pot Chili post for tips and tricks on adjusting recipes.

Preparing your ingredients

This recipe only requires about 5 minutes of prep time. Start by mincing your garlic cloves and slicing up your shallot, onion, and celery stalks into thin pieces. Don’t worry too much about achieving consistent sizes. You’ll be using an immersion blender after everything is cooked anyway.

Clam Chowder without Potatoes

I’ll let you in on a little secret- cauliflower is KING! It’s an amazing substitute for a ton of things (did you catch my Cauliflower Pizza Crust post a few weeks ago?). Cauliflower has come in handy as a substitute for ingredients I have sensitivities to and/or for just making a recipe a little less carb rich.

For this recipe, cauliflower is used as a substitute for potatoes, which makes the dish both lower carb and lower on the glycemic index.

To prep your cauliflower, take a medium sized head and break or cut the florets off. Discard the stems that are leftover or save them for a stir fry some other night. You want bite-sized florets so that each piece cooks through. But, again, don’t worry too much about size- things will get partially-blended later!

Adding your ingredients to the Instant Pot in stages

Start by melting your butter in the Instant Pot on it’s Sauté function. Add your veggies to the pot and cook them for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the herbs and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.

For stage two, turn the Instant Pot off and add in your clam juice and cauliflower florets. Place the cover on the pot and switch it to ‘Pressure Cook’ on High for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, release the pressure and remove the lid once the valve has dropped. Use an immersion blender for a few pulses to slightly blend the chowder (the immersion blender I use, and love, is the Cuisinart Smart Stick). Since the cauliflower is meant to replace potatoes, I like to leave some pieces in tact. Don’t over blend!

Finally, add the cream and drained baby clams and stir until everything is well-combined. Depending on how thick you prefer your clam chowder, you can either serve right away as-is, or continue to cook. If you opt for a thicker chowder, turn the Instant Pot back on to ‘Sauté’ and bring everything to a soft boil. Let the clam chowder simmer for 5 -10 minutes, stirring occasionally before turning the pot off and serving!

How should I store leftover Clam Chowder?

This clam chowder recipe makes enough to serve about six people, making it a great option for family dinners or entertaining guests. But, one of my favourite ways to use this recipe is in weekend meal prepping! I can make a batch in under 30 minutes, have a bowl for dinner, and easily store the rest for meals throughout the week.

This clam chowder will stay fresh for about 3-5 days in the fridge. If you don’t think you’re going to get through it all in that time, you can freeze the chowder instead. I recommend freezing the clam chowder in individual servings. Place one serving each in a freezer-safe container so that you can thaw them one at a time.

If I have a few servings in my freezer, I’ll take one out in the morning before I head to work and place it in the fridge for the day. When it’s time to prepare dinner, I place the mostly thawed clam chowder in a small saucepan, heat it until it’s just starting to boil, and serve! A super quick and easy meal option without compromising on health or budget!

Looking for other easy, low-carb Instant Pot recipes?

Head on over to the Bespoke Bite’s Instant Pot recipes category if you need more inspiration for easy, healthy meals that are ready in a snap!

If you try this clam chowder recipe, please rate it and add your comments below. And be sure to tag @thebespokebites in your photos and videos on Instagram for a chance to be featured!

This Easy Clam Chowder (Low Carb) recipe was inspired by I Breathe I’m Hungry’s Keto Clam Chowder.

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Easy Clam Chowder (Low Carb)
Recipe details
  • 9  cups
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 25 min
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  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower; florets only (yields about 2 cups or 650g of florets)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cans of baby clams (284g each), drained*

Add the butter to the Instant Pot and turn on to ‘Sauté’. Select ‘Normal’ and set timer for 8 minutes.
Once the butter has melted, stir in the garlic, shallots, onion and celery. Cook until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally; about 3-5 minutes.
Add the thyme, salt and pepper and sauté another 3 minutes.
Turn the Instant Pot off. Add the clam juice and cauliflower florets to the Instant Pot and place the cover on. Make sure the steam release handle is on correctly. Turn the Instant Pot on to ‘Pressure Cook’ and select ‘High’. Set to 10 minutes.
Once the Instant Pot timer goes off, let the pressure out by turning the steam release handle. The float valve will drop when the pot is depressurized. Remove the lid.
Using an immersion blender, pulse the chowder a few times so that it is somewhat smooth but still has some chunks of cauliflower.
Add the cream and drained clams and stir until combined. Ladle the chowder into bowls and top with fresh parsley.**
  • *If you don’t have access to the 284g cans of baby clams, buy whatever you can find. You want to end up with roughly 10 ounces of baby clams after draining the cans.
  • **If you want a thicker chowder, turn the Instant Pot back on to ‘Sauté’ and bring to a low boil. Let the chowder simmer for 5-10 minutes before turning the Instant Pot off.
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  • Connie Connie on Feb 22, 2021

    It would be so helpful if your recipes included nutritional information. Thanks

    • Kendall Kendall on Feb 22, 2021

      Nutritional information is listed on my blog posts on my website. If you click the article and navigate to my site you will see them! This site doesn’t import the nutritional label for some reason.

  • Nancy Collins Nancy Collins on Feb 22, 2021

    Heavy cream kind of negates the low-calorie part of this soup. I use evaporated milk for the same effect. Also, one could add smoked paprika or liquid smoke to sub for the bacon flavor.