Lighter Instant Pot Clam Chowder

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Lighter Instant Pot Clam Chowder is a fresh and filling version of the creamy soup you love, with a herb-flavored clear broth, crunchy celery, and tender potatoes. 

Close up, overhead shot of Instant Pot light clam chowder served in a white bowl and garnished with oyster crackers and fresh parley.

I first started making clam chowder in my Instant Pot when developing recipes for the Electric Pressure Cooking Cookbook.

This version is a lighter, refreshing take on traditional New England clam chowder. It has a delicate clear broth, fresh herbs and vegetables, and plenty of meaty clams.

It’s great on its own with oyster crackers and bread, and it would also make a great side dish for a lighter spring or summer meal. 

Pinterest IMage that reads "Instant Pot Lighter Clam Chowder, ready in 30 minutes. Recipe works in any brand of electric pressure cooker" overlaid on a photo of clear-broth clam chowder served in a white bowl with oyster crackers, parsley, and a roll, placed in front of an Instant Pot.

How to Make Lighter Clam Chowder in the Instant Pot

This chicken broth recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

The first step to making this light and flavorful clam chowder is to sauté onion, garlic, and celery in a bit of butter. The butter both adds flavor and helps prevent excessive foaming when you’re pressure cooking. This is especially important at higher altitudes. 

Sauteing onions and celery for clam chowder cooked in an Instant Pot.

You can substitute the butter with olive oil if you prefer. 

I make this chowder with low-sodium chicken broth. If you have the time, making your own stock is easy with an Instant Pot. 

You could also use homemade (or store-bought) seafood stock or vegetable broth if you prefer. If you’re using store-bought broth, I always recommend buying low-sodium so you can control the saltiness of your dish. 

Overhead shot of light clam chowder cooked in an Instant Pot and ready to serve.

Can I Double or Halve the Recipe?

You can double the recipe, though we recommend using an 8-quart pressure cooker to ensure there’s enough space. You can easily halve the recipe without any changes to the cooking steps or times. 

What to Serve with Instant Pot Clam Chowder

You can serve this chowder as a first course, a side dish, or an entree for a light lunch or dinner. On the side, I like to serve cornbread made in the Instant Pot or in the oven using our cheesy recipe from Barbara Bakes

Other great side dishes to pair with light clam chowder include Instant Pot corn on the cob and everyone’s favorite fluffy dinner rolls.

Close up of a white bowl with Instapot clam chowder, garnished with oyster crackers and fresh parsley, and served with a roll.

More Instant Pot Chowder Recipes

Here are some of our other favorite chowder recipes to make in an Instant Pot / electric pressure cooker:

Overhead shot of Instant Pot light clam chowder garnished with oyster crackers and parsley, served in a white bowl with a roll.

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Close up, overhead shot of Instant Pot light clam chowder served in a white bowl and garnished with oyster crackers and fresh parley.

Lighter Instant Pot Clam Chowder

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes

Instant Pot Light Clam Chowder has a clear herb-flavored broth, tender clams, and potatoes for a lighter and healthier seafood dish.


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large red potatoes, diced into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 cans (6.5 oz, each) chopped clams with juice
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Chopped parsley and oyster crackers, for serving


  1. Select Sauté and add butter to the pressure cooking pot. When the butter is melted, add onion, celery, and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, clams with juice, broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper to the pressure cooking pot. 
  3. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 3 minutes cook time.
  4. When the cook time ends, use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with chopped parsley and oyster crackers, if desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 284Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1008mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 20g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.


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