RecipesSoups and Salads

New England Vegan Clam Chowder (Gluten-Free)

posted by Melissa Huggins January 16, 2017 54 Comments
Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes and it's easy to prepare.
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Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it’s easy to prepare, too.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.
If anyone knows me, they know I’m a big soup fanatic. They are easy to prepare, filling, satisfying, inexpensive, and they’re great make-ahead and freezable meals.

Some family favorites in the rotation are my Vegan French Onion Soup, my Creamy Potato Leek Soup and this New England Vegan Clam Chowder.

Vegan clam chowder? What? Why?

People may wonder why some vegans want to recreate a recipe that is mostly animal-based. For me, I just like to enjoy flavors and textures that are familiar to me, and there’s nothing else behind it.

I also feel recipes like this are great for transitioning vegans, and they can change their diet without changing their palate.

Besides, most animal-based ingredients taste kind of bland on their own. It’s the veggies, herbs, and spices that bring a recipe to life.

Clams have a chewy texture, are salty and sometimes sandy. Yep, I’ve had clam chowder with sand in it, and it’s not appetizing. Imagine just boiling clams in water without any flavoring – not so tasty anymore, right?

What makes the chowder appealing is the creamy, buttery texture, the tender veggies, and the warm, comforting feeling you get when you eat it.

So why not recreate the clam-like texture, saltiness and subtle sea-like flavor and make a tasty and cruelty-free version? Sounds good to me.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.Does it taste like the original?

Now I’m not going to say this tastes exactly like clam chowder, but it’s pretty darn close. This vegan version will provide similar textures and flavors of the original, without using dairy or clams.

It’s creamy, rich, buttery, hearty and worlds healthier, too.

You won’t be missing flavor at all, but you’ll be skipping out on unhealthy fat, antibiotics & other nasty stuff from the dairy. Plus, it will be sans mercury and other contaminants from the clams.

With this Vegan Clam Chowder, you can leave your friends in the ocean and cow’s udders alone.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.So what’s in this chowda?

To create the clam-like texture, I sautéed white button mushrooms in vegan butter, garlic and a bit of soy sauce. This will give them a nice depth and a hint of saltiness. Any mushrooms can be used, but I decided to use the most readily available and cheapest.

This goes well with oyster mushrooms or shiitake too, but those can be costly. You can also add a blend of your faves. There are no mushroom rules here!

Next, I sautéed onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and thyme together. Carrots aren’t traditionally used in the New England version, but they’re in the East Hampton one. I like the pop of color, flavor, and texture they add, so I use them. Feel free to omit them.

I’m not sure if this is traditionally used either, but I’ve gotta add some vino when possible. It adds another layer of flavor, plus it’s a great excuse to have a glass while you’re cooking. Cheers!

To thicken the soup, I sprinkle in gluten-free flour, but you can use regular all-purpose flour. Now I add the vegetable broth, potatoes, and sea salt.

To give the chowder a subtle sea-like flavor, I use kelp or dulce flakes/granules. Broken up nori sheets can be used too. This ingredient isn’t necessary but will make the flavor more reminiscent of clam chowder. It also provides a natural source of iodine too.

For the creamy finish, I blended raw cashews together with unsweetened soy milk. Any milk can be used, I just prefer soy because it has a richer texture. Full-fat coconut milk would be my next choice. Just make sure the milk is unsweetened.

Now ladle it into your favorite soup bowls, top with fresh-cut parsley and side with classic saltine crackers or crispy bread.

Are you ready to give this a try? Let’s do this!

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.I’d love to hear from you

If you make this Vegan Clam Chowder, I’d love to get your feedback. You can leave a comment below and let me know what you think. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.

*Click photo to pin*

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.

4.89 from 9 votes
Vegan Clam Chowder (Gluten-Free)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.
Course: Main Course, Soup
Recipe Type: Gluten-Free, Vegan
Servings: 6
Calories: 246 kcal
Author: Melissa | Vegan Huggs
Cream Base
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 2-4 hours (*See Note)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (or any plant-based milk)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter (or olive oil)
  • 8 oz white button mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or any mushrooms)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium tamari (sub soy sauce)
Soup Base
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion , diced
  • 2 celery stalks , diced
  • 2 medium carrots , diced or sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2-3 med/large cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (*See Note)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth , low sodium (*See Note)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten-free or regular)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes , peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kelp granules (*see note for sub)
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt more to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (*optional)
  • Fresh cracked pepper , to taste
Cream Base
  1. Blend the soy milk & cashews (discard soaking water) together until very smooth. Set aside.
  1. In a large sauce pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon butter. When heated, add mushrooms and sauté until the liquid evaporates (about 3 minutes). Now add 1 clove minced garlic and soy sauce. Sauté until the mushrooms are tender & lightly browned. About 2-4 minutes. Remove mushrooms and set aside.
Soup Base
  1. Wipe out the same pot and return to stove. Heat oil & butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add celery, carrots, garlic & thyme. Sauté about 5-7 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
  2. Add wine and turn heat up to medium-high to simmer. Once simmering turn heat back to medium. Cook wine down, about 3-5 minutes. Stir often.
  3. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Stir in broth and add potatoes, bay leaf, kelp granules, and salt. Bring to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaves.

  5. Turn heat to medium low and slowly stir in cashew cream. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed. Cook for 3-4 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in mushrooms, lemon juice and fresh cracked pepper.
  6. Place in your favorite soup bowls & garnish with fresh parsley. Side with crackers or crispy bread. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

*To speed up soaking time for cashews: in a small pot, boil water and remove from heat. Add cashews and cover for 15-20 minutes, until softened.

*Vegetable Broth
: I like to use low sodium broth, so I can control the salt taste. Some broths are too salty and can ruin a good recipe. If you would like to use a regular broth, make sure to cut down the added salt in the recipe. Taste as you go along. Another option is to blend low sodium and regular broth together.

Wine: not all wine is vegan and may contain egg whites. However, there are many that are vegan. Here is a vegan wine directory.

* If you can't find kelp granules, you can use dulse flakes, dulse granules or break up a small piece of nori. If you don't want the ocean-like flavor, you can omit the seaweed altogether. It will still be delicious!  You can also add a teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning.

*Prep time doesn't include soaking time for cashews


Nutrition Facts
Vegan Clam Chowder (Gluten-Free)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 246 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Sodium 497mg 21%
Potassium 708mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 9g 18%
Vitamin A 4.2%
Vitamin C 6.6%
Calcium 7.2%
Iron 14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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dianne January 18, 2017 at 10:53 am

I’ve actually never had clam chowder! I always hated seafood as an omnivore and I was afraid to try it. I’d love to try this vegan version, though!

Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:04 pm

I know many people who hated seafood too. I thought it was so weird. Lol. I couldn’t imagine having it now 🙂

Mary Ellen @ VNutrition January 19, 2017 at 5:28 am

Ooh, I used to love clam chowder. Excited to try yours!

PS – your pin image with the little anchor is so cute!

Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Thank you, Mary Ellen! I hope you love it. Nick made the pin for me…I like the anchor too 🙂

Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day January 19, 2017 at 9:27 pm

I loved clam chowder as a kid, but not the clams! I would eat around them and they would all be left at the bottom of the bowl. I know I’m going to eat every drop when I try yours!

Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm

Thank you, Amy! My sister was the same way. She would put them in my bowl though 🙂

Jenn January 20, 2017 at 7:43 am

This looks amazing! Soup is my favorite thing too, but I was never a fan of clam chowder…even back in my seafood loving days. But THIS clam chowder I can definitely get on board with!!

Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:17 pm

Yeah, a lot of people are put off by the texture of the clams. I’m not sure why I loved them so much. I couldn’t imagine it now.

Steph January 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm

This soup is great, we had it last night with homemade crusty bread! I didn’t see where the recipe specifies when to add the sautéed mushrooms so I put them in with the potatoes.
Will definitely make again

Melissa Huggins January 20, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Hi Steph, thank you so much for your feedback. I’m so happy to hear you liked it. I’m so sorry the inclusion of mushrooms was missing from the recipe. I fixed the error and thank you for catching that. Have a great weekend 🙂

Diane January 22, 2017 at 7:59 am

Delicious. Great to have a recipe that keeps the vegans and non-vegans happy.

Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:13 pm

Hi Diane, I agree… it’s a great way to keep us all together 🙂

Mel | January 22, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I used to love clam chowder in my pre-vegan days and this looks so much like it.It’s so thick and creamy. I love the big chunks of veggies in it too. I need to try it!

Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:11 pm

Thank you, Mel! I was a big fan too. So cool to have mock dishes that we used to love. 🙂

Johanne January 24, 2017 at 1:54 pm

I have never even thought of replicating clam chowder in a vegan form. Hmmm I need to try this ASAP. Thank you Johanne

Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:09 pm

It’s quite close to the real thing. Thank you for stopping by Johanne 🙂

Lee | LifeNaturalee February 27, 2017 at 5:25 am

Love this recipe 🙂 I’ve been looking for the perfect clam chowder recipe and I believe I’ve found it! Thank you so much for sharing!

Melissa Huggins March 7, 2017 at 10:37 am

Hi Lee, thank you so much! I hope you love it 🙂

Sydney February 28, 2017 at 7:40 pm

One of the best vegan dishes I have made yet! Most of them I modify myself, but I decided to follow this one pretty closely. Couldn’t get any closer to vegan clam chowder than this recipe!

Melissa Huggins March 1, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Hi Sydney, Thank you so much! I’m so happy you liked it. I’ve been making it a lot lately. Need to get it all in before the warm weather hits 🙂

Tina T March 29, 2017 at 11:02 am

I made this last night with fresh King Oyster Mushrooms and Shiitake Mushrooms, it was delicious. These two mushrooms mimicked the chewy texture of clams quite well from what I remember before going vegan. I also tossed in a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning with the Kelp Granules to boost the seafood like flavor. I look forward to making this dish again and plan to garnish it with pieces of crispy vegan bacon next time.

Melissa Huggins March 30, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Hi Tina, thank you for making it! I love the mushroom combo you used. I love the idea of Old Bay, too… I think I have to try that next time. Oh, and definitely with that crispy vegan bacon! Thank you for your feedback 🙂

Caitlin August 20, 2017 at 7:46 pm

My boyfriend was a vegan for 13 years before meeting me. We’ve recently gone 100% vegan (going on a month now!) – he loved this dish. I didn’t use dry white wine as I do not cook with alcohol, but used a mixture of rice wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar, diluted with water. I served this in fresh baked bread bowls and it is TO DIE FOR. I have yet to find a vegan recipe that I have devoured like this vegan clam chowder. I believe that’s because my taste buds are adjusting, but whatever. Charles’ favorite part, and without prompt from me, was the mushrooms as they did really resemble the texture of clams. The only thing I’ll change? I’ll double the recipe next time! 🙂 this was plenty for dinner and for lunch the next day, but seriously I finished eating 10 minutes ago and I already want more. Thank you!!! Rant over;)

Melissa Huggins August 20, 2017 at 11:22 pm

Hi Caitlin, thank you for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I’m so happy you both loved it. Congratulations on your 1-month vegan journey! It’s so nice to have that kind of support from each other. Let me know if you’re looking for a particular recipe. I’d love to help 🙂

Leigh August 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm

My hubby just converted to vegan about a week ago, and he said that the one thing he will miss is clam chowder. So happy to have found this recipe, I’ll be making it tonight!

Melissa Huggins August 27, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Hi Leigh, that is awesome to hear! Congrats to your hubby on his vegan journey. Thank you for making the soup. I hope you guys love it as much as I do. ???? Have a great Sunday!

colleen Trentowsky September 24, 2017 at 2:14 pm

I just made this!!! this recipe is a keeper.

Melissa Huggins September 24, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Hi Colleen, thank you so much for making it! I’m so happy to hear you liked it. It’s one of my favorites, especially this time of year. Have a wonderful Sunday 🙂

Karen October 2, 2017 at 10:06 am

This really didn’t taste like clam chowder to me BUT it was delicious as its own dish! In fact, I’m making it a second time today. YUM!!! Thank you!

Melissa Huggins October 13, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Hi Karen, I’m so glad it worked out for you. Thank you for making it! It was always a favorite of mine, so I had to make a vegan version. To get more of an ocean-like flavor, you can try various types of seaweed. Have a great weekend! 🙂

Jo October 7, 2017 at 1:17 pm

This is sublime! I made this tonight and taste so reminiscent of the clam chowder I had in Boston. I will be buying a round loaf to make a bread bowl to serve the rest in next time though crackers were a great accompaniment!

Melissa Huggins October 13, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Thank you, Joanna! I’m so happy you liked it. It was one of my favorite soups back in the day. It’s great to still enjoy it in a healthier and kinder way.

Yum, it sounds perfect in a bread bowl. I’m totally inspired to do that next time. We have a great bakery nearby with so many vegan options. Thanks! Have a great weekend! 🙂

CeaCea November 15, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Hi! I tried this recipe & I will say that it is super tasty & I reallllly enjoyed it! I was looking 4 a vegan dupe of N.E. Clam chowdah though…& this tasted like a reaaally good mushroom soup. I am not sure how 2 turn it into what I was craving..maybe less mushrooms and adding old bay seasoning? Maybe I will try 2 replace the mushrooms w/ seitan since that seems a good chewy sub….

Anyway, great recipe regardless & I appreciate u sharing it with the world 2 eat tasty, healthy & cruelty free!

Melissa Huggins November 16, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Hi CeaCea, I’m glad you liked the soup. I guess it’s all a matter of taste because many people say it reminds them of clam chowder (me included). However, it would be really hard to taste exactly like it because it’s missing the clams. It’s more reminiscent of the original.

Maybe the mushrooms are throwing you off? Maybe try oyster mushrooms if you want a closer texture. You can definitely use seitan I just think the texture will be less clam-like, but it will be tasty. Have you tried soy curls? That might give you the texture you’re looking for without the mushroom-y flavor.

Oh, and yes, Old Bay is a great addition! 🙂

Thanks for sharing your feedback 🙂

Alexis Montrone November 19, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Yum! Will make again. I think this is a forgiving recipe. I added cauliflower to the cashew puree. I added cubed celery root and omitted the mushrooms.

Melissa Huggins November 19, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Hi, Alexis! Thank you so much! I’m so happy it worked out for you. I LOVE that you added cauliflower to the mix. Must’ve had a wonderful flavor and super-creamy texture! Thanks for sharing your feedback 🙂

Jo Ann Falato December 2, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Can this recipe be kept warm say in a crock pot? I’m doing Christmas Eve and guests come and go all evening. I’ve always done the clam chowder but since half the family are now vegans this recipe caught my eye.

Melissa Huggins December 2, 2017 at 11:17 pm

Hi Joann, I haven’t tried it, but I think it would work out fine. I’d love to hear how it turns out for you. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

Cap'n Dave December 8, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Cashews are on the soak – I’m making this tonight. Feeling kinda icky, achey, and cold – what better thing is there than some good chowdah? Sadly, no dulse flakes or nori, so I’ll just have to pretend – but I have everything else! Thought I’d also toss in some vegan bacon bits (this from an old Salem, Mass recipe I used to have…well, not vegan, they called for the real thing, but…yeah) and topped with some French-fried onions…just because it sounded good!

Melissa Huggins December 8, 2017 at 11:32 pm

Thank you so much! I hope it makes you feel better. It sounds delish with the “bacon” bits! I can’t believe I haven’t tried it. That’s going to change this weekend. 🙂

Chris December 13, 2017 at 9:20 am

I have an annual cookie swap and make a traditional seafood chowder for my meat-eating guests and, after a few soups, had settled on an onion soup for the vegan/GF alternative. However, I made your soup this year instead of the onion soup and this is now what I’ll be serving! Everyone who tried it loved it! Thank you for this beautiful soup recipe! It fits the occasion perfectly.

Melissa Huggins December 13, 2017 at 9:54 am

Hi Chris, oh, this is so nice to hear! Thank you for making it for everyone. I’m glad they loved it!!!:)

Dale December 30, 2017 at 3:41 pm

the vegan clam chowder recipe is absolutely delicious. I did not have cauliflower. I boiled the cashews. The only thing different that I like to do is use 3 different onions. Leeks, green and regular then I added a jalapeno pepper.

Melissa Huggins December 31, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Hi Dale, thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked it. The onion blend and jalapeno sound perfect! I must try that next time. Have a Happy New Year! 🙂

Desiree January 1, 2018 at 9:33 pm

Yum, Melissa!! Just made this tonight in frigid and arctic-feeling NH with a temperature of -20 with the wind chill. Hearty and rich! It’s about as close as possible to original clam chowder as a plant based recipe can get. I didn’t have dulce flakes, so ground up Nori in the blender. What a nice addition! The only ingredient I would skip next time is the lemon juice. I’ve never seen that in any (before becoming vegan) clam based recipe, so wonder in what way it was intended to add to the recipe? For my taste, I think it detracted from the chowder a little, but the end result was still delicious. Thank you again and Happy New Year!

Melissa Huggins January 2, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Hi Desiree, thank you for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I’m so happy you liked the chowder. The lemon just adds a little overall brightness, but it’s definitely not needed. Happy New Year to you too 🙂

Lauren January 21, 2018 at 10:56 pm

I was very surprised that this soup takes so much like clam chowder! I added corn and celery to mirror clam chowder in my region. Recipe takes a bit to make, but worth it. Thank you!

Melissa Huggins January 22, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Hi Lauren, thank you so much! I’m so happy the soup worked out for you. I used to love clam chowder, so I had to veganize it somehow. 🙂

Patricia February 2, 2018 at 9:32 pm

I’m excited to try this but need a substitute for the cashews. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

Melissa Huggins February 2, 2018 at 10:14 pm

Hi Patricia, can you have macadamia nuts? They will work well. If not, you can use full-fat coconut milk instead. 1/2 – 3/4 cup should work fine. I hope this helps. I’d love to hear how it turns out for you. 🙂

Marlene Love March 26, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Wow Melissa, I have made this recipe and recommended it countless times, thank you. You make being Vegan being easy. As a super treat, we pour this over vol au vent pastry, I add corn to this and sundried tomatoes for more chew. Thumbs up, glad I found you.

Melissa Huggins March 28, 2018 at 9:04 am

Yay! Thank you, Marlene! So happy to hear this. I must try adding the sundried tomatoes. Such a great idea! Have a great week 🙂

Marlene May 2, 2018 at 10:47 am

I have made this countless time and I recommend your website and recipe on every plant based eating group I follow. This is a winner, & a crowd pleaser. I have also added corn and sundried tomatoes for more chew. To be super decadent, I have served this over vol au vent pastry shells, with a side salad of boston lettuce with a creamy mustard dressing 🙂 Thank you.

Melissa Huggins May 9, 2018 at 9:12 pm

Hi Marlene, thank you so much! I’m so happy you like it! I must try it with the corn and sundried tomatoes. Must be delicious! 🙂


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