Our stovetop dairy free clam chowder is the best recipe when you are looking to make a healthy version of this classic dish.
We are making some good-for-you swaps, including coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and parsnips, and leaving the good stuff like fresh clams and bacon, to make a paleo clam chowder without dairy that is a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Paleo Clam Chowder
Is there anything better than a steaming bowl of clam chowder? Well, how about a delicious bowl of steaming hot dairy-free clam chowder made with sweet potatoes, parsnips, freshly steamed clams, and, of course, bacon? We are loving this easy and healthy recipe for dairy free clam chowder made with coconut milk, so much so, that even though the recipe makes enough for eight, we don't cut it in half, even when it's just my husband and me.
We are all about healthy eating and making better food choices when we can, including making easy to accommodate swaps for soups like our paleo butternut squash soup and our low carb egg drop soup, both of which are dairy free soup recipes that you are going to love.
Want to know how to make your own clam juice for this and other recipes that call for it? We've got all the details on how you can make the best clam juice recipe using your fresh steamers in just 20-minutes.
Why You'll Love This!
- Start to finish, our homemade dairy free clam chowder takes just 1 hour, but I assure you, this stovetop chowder will taste like it simmered all day long.
- We are making this non-dairy clam chowder recipe as healthy as we can by utilizing homemade clam juice and swapping white potatoes for a variety of sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots.
- Speaking of healthy choices, did you know that our clam chowder recipe is perfect for those following paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, and dairy free lifestyles?
- Starting with fresh clams and then making your own homemade clam juice, are going to ensure that your dairy-free clam chowder has the best and boldest clam flavor you have ever tasted in a chowder.
We are making our paleo clam chowder with fresh clams, bacon, parsnips, sweet potato, carrots, and onion, and seasoning it all with bay leaves, dried thyme, salt & pepper. And because every good chowder has a cream, we are going to use coconut cream (or milk) to keep the consistency but ditch the dairy.
- clams - rinsed
- water - for steaming the clams and making homemade clam juice
- bacon - uncooked and diced
- yellow onion - diced
- sweet potato - peeled and cut into ½ " cubes
- carrots - peeled and diced or use baby carrots
- Russet potatoes or parsnips - peeled and diced
- black pepper
- dried thyme
- dried bay leaf
- coconut cream - from a can in the Asian isle, not coffee creamer
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
- If you don't want to use bacon you can skip it and use either coconut oil or ghee.
- For a more traditional chowder, use Russet potatoes in place of parsnips, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
- To speed up the cooking time, diced canned clams and store-bought clam broth can be used instead of fresh clams and homemade clam stock.
- You can swap out clams and make shrimp chowder instead.
- Keto- To make your clam chowder with coconut milk keto-friendly, use cauliflower in place of the potatoes & parsnips.
Step by Step Instructions
It may seem like a lot, but trust me, making homemade dairy free clam chowder with fresh clams and homemade clam juice is so worth it! We are going to start by cleaning and steaming our clams, then straining the juice to make clean and delicious homemade clam juice. From there, chop and prep the clams, boil the vegetables and add the coconut cream. It's a quick and easy way to make healthy, homemade clam chowder.
Add the rinsed clams and water to a large pot.
Put the lid on the pot and bring it to boil over medium-high heat.
Turn the heat down to a low boil and simmer the clams for 5+ minutes until the clam shells have opened up. Discard any clams that didn't open.
Strain the pot liquid through a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter and into a bowl or large liquid measuring cup. You should now have about 4 cups of liquid. If you have less you can add a little water to bring it up to the 4 cup line or you can add extra coconut milk/cream instead.
When the clams have cooled, remove them from the shells and coarsely chop them.
Discard the shells.
Rinse and dry the large pot before proceeding.
Over medium-high heat fry the bacon until crisp, which will take about 3-4 minutes.
Add the onion to the pot and continue cooking for 4-5 more minutes until it's soft.
Add the strained clam broth to the pot in addition to the sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips (or Russet potatoes), thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the pot to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, which will take 8-10 minutes. Mash the potatoes slightly if desired.
Remove the bay leaf from the pot.
Add the coconut cream to the pot and cook it on medium-low until the soup is heated through.
Stir in the chopped clams and cook them for just 1 minute until they're heated through. Don't overcook the clams or they'll toughen.
Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy!
- Be sure to discard any clams that do not open up during steaming.
- When straining your clam juice, be sure to use a fine-mesh sieve and coffee filters. This will ensure that you remove all of the grit that boiled out from the clams. Feel free to strain more than once to ensure a clean juice.
- If you are pressed for time and prefer to use store-bought clam juice you may need to reduce the amount of salt you add to your dairy free clam chowder as store-bought clam juice tends to be high in sodium.
- For best results, cut your parsnips and potato cubes about the same size.
- If you have a large enough pot, feel free to double this recipe!
While a steaming bowl of clam chowder without cream is a meal all by itself, we know that sometimes you just want a little something extra. 😉 Bread, rolls, and oyster crackers all go well with a chowder, as does a little classic sandwich known as the grilled cheese (feel free to opt for either the traditional made with American cheese, or get fancy with swiss, gruyere, or mozzarella cheeses).
You can store leftover non-dairy clam chowder in the fridge for 3-4 days. Be sure to store it in an airtight container.
Yes, because our clam chowder is non-dairy you can store a batch for up to 3 months.
More Dairy Free Recipes
Looking for more dairy free recipes?
- Dairy free beef stroganoff
- Irish soda bread without buttermilk (vegan)
- Fish taco bowls
- Blackened cod recipe
- Crab cakes recipe