Clam chowder is one of those meals that provide a lot of nostalgia. The first time I remember having really good clam chowder was as a kid in San Francisco out of a sourdough bread bowl on the pier. It was amazing and one of my fondest food memories! While this version won’t be as rich as what you’ll find in San Francisco, all the delicious clam chowder flavor is there, probably about 1/4 of the calories, and is done in under 20 minutes using an Instant Pot.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can do this recipe on the stove, it will just take longer to get the same flavor.
Is the Instant Pot Worth It?!
Many of you have been asking on social media whether I feel the Instant Pot is worth the money. I’ve been using mine since Christmas (bought it at Best Buy on Boxing Day for $89), and I’ve used it quite a bit so far and its working so well for some staple items (rice, hard boiled eggs, steel cut oatmeal). It works so well for those items that even if I made nothing else with it, I would still keep it. I’m using it way more than I use my slow cooker, but rather than using it for slow cooking, I’m testing more quick recipes, ones that can be pressure cooked and done in under 20 minutes (including warm up time). Oh yeah, about that “warm up” time. That’s probably the biggest downfall. I find if you put in cold or frozen food, the machine takes 10+ minutes to warm up before the actual cooking time starts. Then there’s also the “cool down” time, but I always prefer to do a quick release of the steam to cool it down faster. Aside from rice, which actually cooks during the “cooling down” period (its pressure cooked for only 1 minute then continues cooking while it cools down). So, I guess I could say that overall, I’m liking it, and will keep it and continue to work with it. It probably won’t replace a ton of recipes, and I’m curious to see how much a use it in the summer, so time will tell! Keep in mind, I paid a great price for it ($89 CDN). Honestly, I’m not sure that I would pay over $200 for it, so keep that in mind. But if you can score one for under $100 or just over and you’ve been contemplated for a while, and have a place to store it, I’d say go for it!
Alright, now back to this delicious and easy clam chowder…..
For this easy dairy-free clam chowder, to get it dairy-free, rather than using cream, I enlisted the help of full fat coconut milk. It gives it the richness that it needs and comes together beautifully with the potatoes, corn, onion, carrots and clams. I don’t recommend subbing for another non-dairy milk like a carton kind, it won’t taste nearly as good. Speaking of clams, I went the easy route here and used canned clams (with the juice). I think you’d actually get more clam flavor doing it this way as with fresh clams you aren’t going to get as much clam juice with it, which is what really helps to flavor the broth.
So, if you love clam chowder and you have an Instant Pot, you need to try this. If you don’t have an Instant Pot and still love clam chowder, give it a go on your stove and you won’t be disappointed. Instructions for both methods are in the recipe below.
Easy Dairy-Free Clam Chowder – Instant Pot or Stove Top
- 2 cups onion, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, sliced (about 2 carrots)
- 1 cup celery, chopped (about 2 stalks)
- 3 cups white or red skinned potatoes, diced into small pieces
- 1½ cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
- 2 cups broth (lower sodium vegetable or chicken)
- 1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk
- 1 142 g can clams with juice (separate clams from the juice - reserve the clam juice)
- 1 Tbsp butter or vegan margarine (for dairy-free)
- 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
- Optional: salt & pepper to taste
- Turn your Instant Pot onto saute. Put in the 1 Tbsp butter. Saute the onion, carrot and celery together until they start to soften. Add in the diced potato, corn, broth & clam juice (not the clams). Do not add the coconut milk YET.
- Put on the lid and set to High Pressure for 10 minutes.
- When finished, release the steam, and when safe open it and cancel the program.
- Turn back on the saute option, add in the 1 can of coconut milk, clams, and the cornstarch mixed with water. Stir until its thickened up a bit.
- In a large soup pot over medium heat, add in the butter and the onion, carrots and celery and saute together until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add in the corn, potatoes, broth and clam juice.
- Place the lid on and simmer until the potatoes and vegetables are soft (about 20 min).
- Lastly, stir in the clams, coconut milk and cornstarch mixed with water (if needed to thicken the chowder).