Easiest 30-Minute Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe To Warm Your Soul

In the world of comfort food, a symphony of flavors exists – the Smoky Corn Chowder. A decadent blend of sweet corn and smoky undertones, this dish serves up a delightful surprise. 

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Each spoonful immerses you in a harmony of textures, from the velvety broth to the satisfying crunch of corn kernels. Its warmth cocooned your senses, evoking images of cozy fireplaces and shared laughter.

Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe

Unveiling its beauty requires no culinary mastery, only an adventurous palate and a penchant for heartwarming goodness. This chowder isn’t just a meal; it’s a gastronomic journey of comforting indulgence.

What Is Smoky Corn Chowder?

Smoky Corn Chowder is a flavorful and hearty soup, traditionally composed of sweet corn and vegetables simmered in a creamy broth.

It gets its unique ‘smoky’ twist from including ingredients such as smoked paprika or smoked ham hock. 

The soup is often garnished with crispy bacon or fresh herbs for an extra layer of complexity. This dish, a comfort food staple, is renowned for its rich, velvety texture and the beautiful contrast between the sweetness of the corn and the smoky undertones.

The History Of Smoky Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder traces its roots to early American cuisine, primarily influenced by Native American cooking. Corn, being a staple crop, was a common soup ingredient.

Over time, regional variations developed, one of the most flavorful being the Smoky Corn Chowder. 

The smoky profile was introduced by settlers who smoked and preserved meats, including bacon or ham hocks, that lent the chowder a full depth. 

This variation became particularly popular in Southern states, with strong smokehouse traditions. Today, the Smoky Corn Chowder is a comfort food icon, relished for its nostalgic charm and heartwarming taste.

Interesting Facts About Smoky Corn Chowder

  • Inventive Ingredients: While corn and smoke flavor are key, cooks often get creative with additions like sweet potatoes, crab meat, or spicy peppers to give the chowder an extra kick.
  • Seasonal Star: Smoky Corn Chowder shines in late summer and early autumn, aligning with the peak of corn season. However, it can be enjoyed year-round using canned or frozen corn.
  • Vegan Version: A vegan-friendly yet equally satisfying version can be concocted by substituting dairy with coconut milk and smoked meat with liquid smoke or smoked paprika.
  • Historical Significance: Smoky Corn Chowder is a culinary testament to early American settler innovation and their adaptation of Native American corn use.

What Makes The Smoky Corn Chowder Special?

The specialty of Smoky Corn Chowder lies in its harmonious blend of contrasting flavors and textures. 

Sweet kernels of corn paired with smoky undertones from bacon or smoked paprika create a captivating taste experience.

It’s creamy consistency and chunky textures offer a satisfying mouthfeel that can be customized with preferred additions. 

What truly sets it apart, though, is its versatility. The chowder can accommodate a range of dietary preferences, from vegetarian to gluten-free, simply by tweaking ingredients.

Ultimately, Smoky Corn Chowder’s ability to deliver comfort and culinary intrigue in each spoonful is what makes it truly special.

Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe

Ingredient Table 

Sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces8 oz
Large leek, chopped1
Cloves garlic, chopped2
Smoked paprika (sweet or hot)1/2 tsp
Cayenne pepper1/2 tsp
Frozen corn15 oz
Low-sodium homemade or store-bought chicken broth3 cups
Half-and-half1/2 cup
Skim (nonfat) milk1/2 cup
Kosher saltTo taste
Fresh black pepperTo taste
Scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish4

Ingredient Tips 

  • Bacon: Opt for thick-cut bacon with a robust flavor and satisfying texture. Consider applewood smoked or maple variants for an intriguing flavor twist.
  • Leek: Dirt often gets trapped between leek layers. Split them lengthwise, rinse under cold water, fanning out the layers to dislodge any grit. Once clean, finely chop for use.
  • Garlic: For the most aromatic impact, use freshly chopped garlic. A garlic press or a sharp knife will help achieve the desired fine mince.
  • Smoked Paprika: This provides a deep, smoky note. Depending on your palate, choose between sweet or hot smoked paprika.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Introduce a dash of heat with cayenne pepper. Be mindful of your spice tolerance when deciding the quantity.
  • Frozen Corn: Ensure the corn is thoroughly thawed before use – a quick rinse under cold water does the trick. Remember to drain well.
  • Chicken Broth: Go for low-sodium chicken broth to better control the dish’s saltiness. A high-quality brand will boost the flavor profile.
  • Half-and-half and Skim Milk: Their combination contributes to the chowder’s creaminess. Adjust the half-and-half to skim milk ratio based on your richness preference.
  • Salt and Pepper: Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper judiciously – start small and adjust according to taste.
  • Scallions: A garnish of diagonally sliced scallions not only adds visual appeal but also a refreshing, oniony undertone to the chowder.

Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?

The Smoky Corn Chowder recipe can be adapted to accommodate a variety of dietary preferences.

  • Keto: Use heavy cream to replace corn and skim milk with lower-carb vegetables like cauliflower. Use bacon and add more high-fat ingredients, such as avocado or cheese, as a garnish.
  • Paleo: Swap the traditional dairy cream base for full-fat coconut milk. Use fresh sweet corn, which is Paleo-friendly, and replace processed bacon with homemade smoked meat.
  • Gluten-Free: The Smoky Corn Chowder is naturally gluten-free, but ensure all processed ingredients like chicken broth and bacon are certified gluten-free.
  • Whole30: Use homemade chicken broth, fresh corn, and full-fat coconut milk instead of dairy. Be sure to choose Whole30-compliant bacon without added sugars or nitrates.
  • Vegetarian: Skip the bacon and use a drop or two of liquid smoke to provide that smoky flavor. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Vegan: Follow the vegetarian modifications and replace dairy with full-fat coconut milk or cashew cream for a creamy texture. Top it with vegan cheese and fresh herbs.

Recipe Directions

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set it aside, leaving the bacon drippings in the pot.
  • In the same pot with the bacon drippings, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the diced bell peppers to the pot and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until they start to soften.
  • Stir in the frozen corn kernels, smoked paprika, and ground cumin. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to toast the spices and coat the vegetables.
  • Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  • Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend about half of the soup until smooth. This will help thicken the chowder while leaving some texture. Be cautious when blending hot liquids.
  • Return the blended soup to the pot and stir in the milk and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes until the chowder is heated through.
  • Serve the Smoky Corn Chowder hot, garnished with crispy bacon and chopped chives or green onions.
boiled corns

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings For The Recipe


  • Seafood Chowder: Incorporate flaked cooked crabmeat, clams, or cooked shrimp to make a luxurious seafood chowder.
  • Spicy Chowder: Add a diced jalapeño or habanero pepper along with the garlic for an extra kick.
  • Vegetable Chowder: Add other veggies like bell peppers, celery, or carrots for additional texture and nutrition.


  • Cheese: Stir in some sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese for a delightful cheesy twist.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, or cilantro can add brightness and depth.
  • Protein: Chicken or ham could be a good addition to a meatier version.


  • Bacon: Crispy bacon bits add a savory crunch.
  • Croutons: Garlic croutons can provide a delightful contrast to the creamy soup.
  • Cheese: A sprinkle of grated cheddar or a dollop of sour cream can elevate the richness.
  • Fresh Herbs: Freshly chopped chives, parsley, or even cilantro provide a burst of new flavor and a splash of color.
  • Cracked Pepper: A sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper adds flavor and gives a gourmet touch.

Scaling The Recipe

Scaling the Smoky Corn Chowder recipe, or any recipe for that matter, depends on the number of servings you need. Here’s a basic guide:

  • Scaling Up

If you’re cooking for a larger group, multiply each ingredient by the number of additional servings you need. For instance, if the original recipe serves four and you need to serve 8, double the amount of each ingredient. If you’re scaling up significantly, be mindful that you may need to adjust cooking times and temperatures.

  • Scaling Down

Divide the ingredient quantities by your desired serving number to cook for fewer people. For example, halve each ingredient if the recipe serves four, and you only need two servings. However, reducing a recipe can be challenging, particularly when an ingredient is small, to begin with (like one clove of garlic). In such cases, use your best judgment and taste preference.

What Is Used For Garnishing Smoky Corn Chowder?

The Smoky Corn Chowder can be garnished with a variety of ingredients to enhance its flavor, texture, and visual appeal. Here are a few popular options:

  • Bacon: Crispy bacon bits add a rich, savory crunch that contrasts beautifully with the creamy soup.
  • Fresh Herbs: Chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, chives, or scallions, can provide a burst of fresh flavor and vibrant color contrast.
  • Cheese: A sprinkle of shredded sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or even a dollop of cream cheese can add a creamy richness.
  • Croutons: Garlic or seasoned croutons can provide a delightful, crunchy counterpoint to the creamy soup.
  • Drizzle of Cream or Oil: A spray of heavy cream, coconut milk, or a flavored oil like chili or truffle oil can give the chowder an indulgent finish and enhance its visual appeal.
  • Ground Spices: A sprinkle of ground paprika or freshly cracked black pepper adds flavor and gives a gourmet touch.
Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe

Can I Make Smoky Corn Chowder In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Smoky Corn Chowder can be adapted to be made in both a slow cooker and an Instant Pot.

Slow Cooker

  • In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel. Reserve some of the drippings to sauté the leek until soft.
  • Transfer the bacon and leek to the slow cooker. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne, corn, broth, half-and-half, and milk.
  • Set the slow cooker to low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. If you prefer a thicker chowder, blend a portion of the soup using an immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a regular blender.
  • Before serving, season with salt and pepper and garnish as desired.

Instant Pot

  • Using the sauté function, cook the bacon until crisp, then remove and reserve drippings. Sauté the leek in the drippings until soft.
  • Add the garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne, sautéing for another minute. Add the corn, broth, half-and-half, and milk. Secure the lid and set to pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.
  • Allow the pressure to release for 10 minutes naturally, then manually release any remaining pressure.
  • If desired, blend a portion of the soup for a thicker consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish before serving.

Can I Use Store Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

You can certainly use store-bought broth for convenience and ease. However, if you have the time and ingredients, making your own broth can be a great way to maximize flavor and control the ingredients in your dishes.

  • Store-Bought Broth: This is a quick and easy option, especially if you’re short on time. However, selecting a high-quality brand for the best flavor is essential. Look for low-sodium versions so you have more control over the saltiness of your soup.
  • Homemade Broth: Making your own chicken, vegetable, or seafood broth allows for the customization of flavor and the ability to control sodium levels. It can be more time-consuming but offers a depth of flavor that’s hard to match with store-bought versions.

Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?

The beauty of chowder recipes like the Smoky Corn Chowder is their versatility. You can definitely incorporate different meats, fish, pasta, or vegetables to cater to your personal preferences or dietary needs. Here are some ideas:

  • Meat: In addition to bacon, other meats like ham, chorizo, or even smoked turkey could be great in this chowder. Just ensure they’re cooked properly before adding them to the soup.
  • Fish: To make a seafood version, you could add cooked shrimp, clams, or even crab meat. The seafood would lend a different but delicious flavor profile to the chowder.
  • Pasta: Small pasta shapes could be added to make the chowder more filling. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time and possibly the amount of liquid to accommodate the pasta.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add other vegetables like bell peppers, celery, or carrots for more texture and flavor. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes could also work well. If using harder veggies, they may need to be sautéed or pre-cooked before adding to ensure they’re tender.
healthy Chowder

Success Tips-Tips And Tricks For Making Smoky Corn Chowder

Making a delicious Smoky Corn Chowder involves certain techniques that can enhance the flavor and texture of the dish. Here are some tips and tricks to guide you through:

Prepping Tips

  • Quality Ingredients: Using high-quality, fresh ingredients can significantly improve the taste of your chowder. For example, opt for fresh corn when it’s in season.
  • Proper Cleaning: Leeks often trap dirt and grit between their layers. Be sure to clean them properly by slicing them lengthwise and rinsing them under running water.
  • Bacon Fat: Reserve the bacon fat after frying. It’s full of flavor and perfect for sautéing your vegetables.
  • Seasoning Preparation: Have all your seasonings measured and ready to go before you start cooking. This makes the process smoother and ensures you don’t burn anything while looking for ingredients.

Cooking Tips

  • Bacon Doneness: Be careful not to overcook or burn the bacon. It should be crisp but not overly hard or charred, as this can bring a bitter taste.
  • Stir Frequently: This is especially important when cooking the leek and adding the spices to prevent them from burning and sticking to the pan.
  • Thickness Adjustment: If you prefer a thicker chowder, remember you can blend a portion of it. An immersion blender is great for this as it can blend directly in the pot and offers control over the soup’s consistency.
  • Heat Management: Ensure the soup is not boiling vigorously when adding dairy, like half-and-half or milk. High heat can cause dairy to curdle. It’s best to add them in at a simmer.
  • Taste As You Go: Always taste your chowder at different stages and adjust the seasonings as necessary. This ensures the flavor is just right by the time your dish is ready to serve.
vegetarian chowder

Nutritional Values

Smoky Corn Chowder is a hearty soup featuring savory bacon, sweet corn, and aromatic spices. It offers a balance of flavors and textures.

While the specific nutritional values may vary based on the ingredients used, this chowder generally provides a good source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

It’s important to note that the nutritional content can be influenced by the portion size and any modifications made to the recipe.

What Are The Total Calories In Smoky Corn Chowder?

A typical serving of Smoky Corn Chowder might have around 300-400 calories per serving, depending on the specific ingredients used and their quantities. This can change significantly depending on additions such as bacon, cheese, or cream and the amount of butter or oil used in preparation.

Dietary Restrictions For Smoky Corn Chowder

The dietary restrictions for Smoky Corn Chowder largely depend on the specific ingredients used in your recipe. Here are some common nutritional considerations:

  • Gluten-Free: As long as all of your ingredients are naturally gluten-free (like corn, leek, garlic, broth, half-and-half, milk, etc.), this dish should be safe for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. However, always check the labels of store-bought ingredients like broth, as they can contain hidden gluten.
  • Dairy-Free: This recipe typically calls for dairy products such as half-and-half or milk. However, these can be replaced with dairy-free alternatives like coconut milk or almond milk for those with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: The original recipe includes bacon, so it’s not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, you can omit the bacon or replace it with a vegetarian/vegan alternative and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. For a vegan version, replace the dairy with plant-based alternatives.
  • Nut Allergies: This recipe should be safe for individuals with nut allergies unless you’re using nut-based milk as a dairy substitute. Always be aware of cross-contamination risks, particularly with store-bought items.
  • Low-Carb/Keto/Paleo: The corn in the chowder is high in carbohydrates so this recipe wouldn’t be suitable for these diets in its traditional form. You could use a lower-carb vegetable like cauliflower for a low-carb or keto version. The bacon, spices, and creamy broth should still make for a flavorful dish.

Health Benefits Of Smoky Corn Chowder

Smoky Corn Chowder, while a comfort food, also has several potential health benefits thanks to its nutrient-rich ingredients.

However, it’s essential to remember that these benefits can vary based on the specific recipe and the portion sizes consumed. Here are some potential health benefits:

  • Corn: Corn is rich in dietary fiber, which can aid digestion. It’s also a good source of antioxidants and vitamins like vitamin C and some B vitamins.
  • Leeks: Leeks belong to the same family as onions and garlic, and like their relatives, they are rich in compounds like allicin that have antioxidant and potentially heart health-promoting properties. They’re also a good source of vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Garlic: Garlic contains compounds with potential medicinal properties. It’s known for its effects on boosting the immune system, reducing blood pressure, and potentially lowering the risk of heart disease.
  • Milk and Half-and-Half: These ingredients add protein and calcium to the chowder, which is essential for bone health.
  • Bacon: While bacon should be eaten in moderation due to its high fat and sodium content, it does provide some protein.
  • Spices: Cayenne pepper and smoked paprika are known for their antioxidants. Cayenne pepper may also help boost metabolism.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition table

How Can I Make Smoky Corn Chowder Lower In Sodium?

Reducing the sodium content in your Smoky Corn Chowder can be achieved through a few simple modifications:

  • Choose Low-Sodium Broth: Opt for a low-sodium or no-salt-added broth. This allows you to control the amount of salt in the dish.
  • Less Salted Bacon: Look for lower-sodium bacon options or consider reducing the amount of bacon used in the recipe.
  • Control the Salt: Be mindful of the amount of added salt. If necessary, you can always add more to taste at the end of cooking.
  • Add More Herbs and Spices: Increase the number of herbs and spices like paprika, black pepper, and garlic. These natural flavor enhancers can help compensate for less salt.
  • Use Fresh Vegetables: Canned vegetables can often contain added sodium. Using fresh ingredients can help to lower the overall sodium content.

How Can I Make Smoky Corn Chowder Lower In Sugar?

Smoky Corn Chowder isn’t a high-sugar dish, as most of the ingredients, like corn, leeks, and spices, are low in sugar. However, if you’re trying to limit sugar intake even further, here are a few tips:

  • Watch Out for Hidden Sugars: Some store-bought broths, bacon, or half-and-half might have added sugars. Always check labels when buying these products.
  • Choose Fresh Ingredients: Using fresh corn and other vegetables ensures that no extra sugar has been added, unlike some canned or frozen options.
  • Limit Dairy: While dairy isn’t high in sugars, it does contain lactose, a type of sugar. Consider using less half-and-half or milk or using a non-dairy substitute with no added sugars.
  • No Sweeteners: Some people might add a touch of sugar or sweetener to balance flavors in a chowder. Skip this step to reduce sugar.
Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe

How To Serve The Smoky Corn Chowder Best?

Smoky Corn Chowder is a versatile dish that can be served in various ways, and each can add a delightful dimension to your meal. Here are a few suggestions on how to serve it best:

  • As a Starter: Serve it in smaller bowls as a flavorful introduction to a main course. Pair with a light, crisp white wine if desired.
  • Main Course: Serve larger portions with a side of crusty bread, a salad, or a grilled cheese sandwich for a heartier meal.
  • Toppings: Toppings can add an exciting texture contrast and boost the flavors. Consider options like crumbled bacon, chopped fresh herbs (like parsley or cilantro), a sprinkle of smoked paprika, grated cheese, or a dollop of sour cream.
  • In a Bread Bowl: Consider serving your chowder in a bread bowl for a rustic presentation. Choose a sturdy variety like a sourdough round, hollow out the center, and ladle the chowder directly inside.
  • Outdoor Gatherings: Chowder makes a great warming dish if you’re hosting an outdoor gathering in the cooler months. Serve in mugs for easy handling.

What Are The Perfect Side Dishes To Complement Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe?

Smoky Corn Chowder is a hearty and flavorful dish that can stand on its own, but a variety of side dishes can also complement it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Crusty Bread: A slice of crusty bread or a warm baguette is perfect for dipping into the chowder and soaking up its creamy, flavorful broth.
  • Green Salad: A light, fresh salad with a vinaigrette dressing can provide a nice contrast to the rich, smoky flavors of the chowder.
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich: This classic pairing offers a comforting, satisfying meal. You can add a gourmet twist with different cheese varieties or additions like avocado or tomato.
  • Roasted Veggies: Simple, seasoned roasted vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or bell peppers can complement the chowder without overpowering it.
  • Cornbread: Given the corn in the chowder, cornbread can be a thematic and tasty side dish.
  • Coleslaw: A tangy, crunchy coleslaw can contrast refreshingly to the creamy chowder.
  • Sautéed Greens: For a healthier option, consider a side of sautéed greens like spinach or Swiss chard.
garnished chowder

How Long Can We Store The Smoky Corn Chowder?

Smoky Corn Chowder can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days. To store, allow the chowder to cool completely, then place it in airtight containers before refrigerating.

If you’d like to store it longer, you can freeze the chowder. However, chowders containing dairy products like milk or cream, as in this case, can sometimes separate or become grainy when frozen and then reheated. While it doesn’t affect the safety or nutrition of the soup, it may alter the texture.

To freeze, let the chowder cool completely, then transfer it to freezer-safe containers, leaving some space at the top for expansion.

The chowder can be frozen for up to 2 to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Can I Make Smoky Corn Chowder In Advance?

Smoky Corn Chowder can be made in advance, and it can often taste even better after a day or two. The extra time allows the flavors to meld together beautifully, enhancing the overall taste of the chowder.

If you plan to serve it within a couple of days, make the recipe as directed, let it cool completely, and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, gently reheat the chowder on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until heated.

If you want to prepare it further in advance, you can freeze it, though keep in mind that the texture might change a bit due to the dairy in the chowder, as mentioned earlier.

Making Smoky Corn Chowder in advance is a great way to save time when preparing a meal, and it’s also convenient for meal planning and prep for the week.  

What Can We Do With Leftovers? 

Leftover Smoky Corn Chowder can be creatively repurposed in several ways. You can use it as a hearty sauce for a baked chicken or fish dish, adding a smoky, creamy element.

Alternatively, consider turning it into a pasta sauce, served over your favorite noodles with a sprinkle of cheese. 

Another option is to use it as a filling for a savory pie or puff pastry, creating a whole new meal. If you’re a fan of spicy food, you can spice it up with some hot sauce or chilies and serve it over rice for a comforting bowl. No matter the choice, these options ensure no delicious chowder goes to waste!

chowder served in bowl

Special Tools And Equipment

Cooking Smoky Corn Chowder doesn’t require any special or unusual kitchen tools. Here are the basic items you’ll likely need:

  • Dutch Oven or Large Saucepan: A large pot is necessary to hold all the ingredients and allow them to simmer together. A Dutch oven is a great option due to its heavy bottom and even heat distribution.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: These are needed for chopping and preparing your vegetables and bacon.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: These will ensure you add the correct amounts of each ingredient.
  • Stirring Spoon: You’ll need a spoon or spatula to stir the chowder as it cooks to prevent it from sticking or burning.
  • Blender or Immersion Blender (optional): If you prefer a thicker chowder, you can blend a portion of it. An immersion blender is handy for this, as it can blend right in the pot, but a regular blender works too.
  • Ladle: For serving the chowder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use fresh corn instead of frozen in Smoky Corn Chowder?

Yes, you can certainly use fresh corn in this recipe. Fresh corn would give the chowder a sweeter, more vibrant flavor, especially during the summer months when corn is in season. You’ll need about 4 to 5 ears of corn to replace the 4 cups of frozen corn in the recipe.

What can I substitute for the half-and-half?

If you don’t have half-and-half, you can make a substitute with a mixture of milk and heavy cream. Combine 3/4 cup of whole milk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream to make 1 cup of half-and-half. Alternatively, for a lower-fat option, you can use all milk, though the soup will be less creamy.

Can I make this chowder vegan?

Yes, you can modify the recipe to make a vegan version. Replace the bacon with smoked tempeh, or omit it. Use vegan butter or oil to sauté the vegetables, plant-based milk instead of dairy, and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Why is my chowder curdling?

Chowder may curdle if heated too quickly or at too high a temperature after adding the dairy. Add the dairy last, and gently heat the chowder over low to medium heat to prevent curdling.

What if my chowder is too thin?

If it is too thin, you can thicken your chowder by making a cornstarch slurry. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with equal cold water, then stir it into the hot chowder and simmer until thickened. Alternatively, you can puree a portion of the chowder with an immersion or stand blender.

Unlocking The Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe Secrets

Unlocking The Smoky Corn Chowder Recipe Secrets

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Chowder Recipe


Prep time


Cooking time





Smoky Corn Chowder is a comforting and flavorful soup combining the smokiness of bacon, corn’s sweetness, and species richness. With its creamy texture and aromatic flavors, this chowder is a satisfying and nourishing dish that will warm you up on any occasion.


  • Sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • Large leek, chopped

  • Cloves garlic, chopped

  • Smoked paprika (sweet or hot)

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Frozen corn

  • Low-sodium homemade or store-bought chicken broth

  • Half-and-half

  • Skim (nonfat) milk

  • Kosher salt

  • Fresh black pepper

  • Scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation Steps
    Gather all your ingredients: bacon, leek, garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, corn, chicken broth, half-and-half, milk, salt, pepper, and scallions for garnish.
  • Cooking
    In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, render the bacon over low heat until crisp, ensuring it doesn’t burn. Once cooked, transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.
    Leave two tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan. Add the chopped leek, stirring frequently until softened but not browned.
  • Blending
    Stir in the garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper, letting it cook for 2 minutes to let the flavors meld.
    Incorporate the corn, chicken broth, half-and-half, and milk. Increase the heat to medium and stir occasionally until the soup begins to bubble at the edges.
    Use an immersion blender to puree half of the soup directly in the pot for a thicker consistency.
  • Final Touches
    Season the chowder with salt and black pepper according to your taste preference.
  • Serving
    Serve the chowder hot, garnishing each bowl with crispy bacon pieces and sliced scallions for a vibrant, tasty touch.
  • Additional Options
    For a vegetarian version, replace bacon with smoked paprika or liquid smoke and use vegetable broth. To make it vegan, substitute dairy with coconut milk or other plant-based alternatives. Adjust ingredients as needed for dietary restrictions.


  • Bacon Variation: Experiment with different types of bacon, such as maple or applewood smoked, for added flavor.
  • Leek Preparation: Clean leeks thoroughly, as they can accumulate dirt between their layers. Slice lengthwise and rinse well under cold water to remove any grit.
  • Adjusting Spiciness: Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper based on your preference for heat. Add more or less according to your taste.
  • Thawing Frozen Corn: Thaw frozen corn by running it under cold water in a colander until fully thawed. Drain well before using in the recipe.
  • Seasoning: Taste the chowder as you go and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to suit your preference. Remember that the bacon can add saltiness to the dish.
  • Creaminess Level: Adjust the ratio of half-and-half to skim milk based on your desired level of creaminess. For a richer chowder, increase the amount of half-and-half.
  • Garnish: The thinly sliced scallions add a fresh and colorful touch to the chowder. Sprinkle them on top just before serving.
  • Leftovers: Smoky Corn Chowder can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop, adding a little extra broth if needed.
Lana Rivera

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