This Healthy Gluten Free Corn Chowder is a delicious vegetarian soup recipe that is sure to become your new favorite quick and easy weeknight dinner. Made all in one pot, you can have this rich and creamy chowder on the table in less than 45 minutes. Sweet corn, hearty potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic come together to make a lightened-up, yet satisfying corn chowder that the whole family is sure to love.
Growing up in Massachusetts, New England-style corn chowder was a staple in my household. As the weather turned cooler, I always looked forward to my mom making corn chowder with lots of bacon for me to crumble over the top. Yum!
As an adult, I've adapted my own corn chowder recipe. I like to keep mine on the lighter side, which means I skip the bacon and creamed corn. Instead, I cook the vegetables in olive oil and use a combination of milk, broth, and potatoes to make this soup rich and creamy.
The creaminess in this recipe comes mostly from the potatoes. Once cooked, potatoes can be crushed to release their starches, which helps to naturally thicken the soup. I like to use potatoes to thicken this corn chowder instead of flour because it means this recipe is gluten-free.
So, if you're looking to cozy up with a bowl of rich, creamy, and lightened-up corn chowder this fall or winter, keep reading to learn how to make my favorite gluten-free corn chowder recipe.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Gluten-Free & Vegetarian- All of your gluten-free and vegetarian friends will thank you when you make them this rich, decadent, and delicious corn chowder.
- Lightened Up- Filled with vegetables and light on the fat thanks to the vegetable broth, this creamy chowder won't leave you feeling sluggish and heavy after enjoying a bowl.
- Quick & Easy to Make- You'll be amazed at how easy it is to make this one-pot, 45-minute corn chowder. It's the perfect recipe for a cozy weeknight dinner on a chilly fall or winter evening.
- Inexpensive- Corn chowder is made with pantry staples, many of which you probably already have on hand. It's a wonderful, budget-friendly soup that still feels decadent and luxurious.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Corn Kernels- I recommend using either fresh or frozen corn. Fresh corn kernels cut from an ear of corn on the cob are so sweet and juicy. But, if corn isn't in season, frozen sweet corn is the best substitute.
- Russet Potatoes- Starchy potatoes, such as russet potatoes, are perfect for naturally thickening soup. Just like cornstarch or flour, potatoes release starch when cooked, which is what leads to a thicker, chowder-like consistency.
- Mirepoix- Carrots, celery, and onion add both flavor and texture to this rich and creamy soup. I like to dice my vegetables small, similar in size to a kernel of corn so that they cook quickly and evenly.
- Garlic- Since I didn't use any bacon in this recipe, I used 4 cloves to make sure this soup had lots of flavor.
- Milk- I used 1% milk in this corn chowder because I wanted the little bit of the creaminess that milk contributes without too much of the fat. Using a combination of 1% milk with vegetable broth helped to keep things on the lighter side.
- Vegetable Broth- To keep this soup vegetarian, I went with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You can use either homemade vegetable broth or store-bought.
- Seasonings- Kosher salt, ground black pepper, dried thyme, and a bay leaf infuse this soup with flavor.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this gluten-free corn chowder recipe.
Step 1: Sauté the vegetables and aromatics. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Then, add the garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, and bay leaf, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Cooking the spices and aromatics in the oil releases their flavor. This creates the first layer of flavor for the corn chowder and helps the vegetables begin to cook.
Step 2: Cook the corn and potatoes. Pour in the vegetable broth and milk. Then, add in the corn and diced potatoes, stirring to combine. Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove the bay leaf.
The potatoes will begin to release some of their starch into the broth as they cook. You should be able to easily pierce them with a fork when they're done.
Step 3: Thicken the chowder. Once the potatoes are cooked, use the back of a wooden spoon to crush some of the potatoes against the side of the pot. This will release the potato starch, naturally thickening the chowder. Continue stirring and breaking up some of the potatoes until the soup has reached your desired consistency. Remove from heat and serve with crusty bread, crackers, or a side salad.
It will take a few minutes for the starch to fully hydrate and thicken the soup. The soup should continue simmering slightly while you crush the potatoes.
Tips and Tricks
- Always double check your labels. If you need to follow a strict gluten-free diet, it's important to double check the ingredient label of any food before eating it. Check out the Celiac Disease Foundation's label reading guide for more info.
- Mise en place. This soup comes together quickly, which is one of the reasons why it's so great. But, that means it's important to have all of your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. Peel and chop your vegetables, measure your spices, and have the broth and milk ready to go.
- Vegetable size. To ensure your soup cooks evenly, make sure you dice your vegetables to be about the same size as the corn kernels (about ¼-inch). The potatoes should be cut into approximately ½-inch cubes.
- Chowder not thickening up? If you're struggling to get the soup as thick as you'd like with just the potatoes, try adding a little cornstarch instead. Make a cornstarch slurry and slowly whisk it into the simmering soup. I recommend starting with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water.
Substitutions and Additions
This gluten-free corn chowder is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. However, here are a few other ways you can customize this soup to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Sweet Corn- While I recommend using fresh or frozen corn, canned corn can also work. You'll need about two 15-ounce cans of sweet corn. Don't forget to drain the liquid before adding to the soup. You can replace half of the corn with a can of creamed corn for an extra thick and creamy corn chowder.
- Russet Potatoes- Although not as starchy as russet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, new potatoes, or even sweet potatoes can be used instead. For a lower carb option, replace some or all of the potato with cauliflower (you will need to thicken with cornstarch if you use all cauliflower).
- Onion- Use 1 tablespoon of onion powder or 3 tablespoons of dried onion flakes in place of fresh onion. Additionally, you can use chopped scallions or shallots for a more mild onion flavor.
- Garlic- One teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to 4 cloves of garlic. For low-FODMAP, use garlic-infused olive oil instead.
- Dried Thyme- I like to use dried thyme, adding it at the beginning so that the broth becomes infused with the flavor. If you prefer to use fresh thyme, you'll need one teaspoon.
- Milk- Try swapping the 1% milk for heavy cream, half and half, whole milk, or skim milk. For a dairy-free option, use your favorite plant-based milk.
- Vegetable Broth- If you're not vegetarian, you can opt for chicken stock instead of vegetable broth. For an extra creamy soup, use all milk or add some cream instead of broth.
- Olive Oil- Any neutral-flavored oil or butter will work in this recipe.
- Bacon- Many corn chowder recipes call for bacon. Since we have to eat a nitrate-free diet in my house, I don't often use bacon. However, if you'd like to use some, fry it up first. Then, use the bacon fat to cook the vegetables instead of using olive oil. Plant-based bacon or turkey bacon can also be used.
- Chicken- Make chicken corn chowder by stirring in cooked shredded chicken towards the end of cooking.
- Cheese- Stir in some freshly grated cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, or gruyere cheese at the end of cooking to make this corn chowder extra creamy and cheesy.
- Zucchini- Diced zucchini would make the perfect addition to this healthy corn chowder recipe. Add it in with the corn and potatoes.
- Bell Pepper- Lots of corn chowder recipes use diced green or red bell pepper along with carrots, celery, and onion.
- Other Vegetables- Mushrooms, green beans, peas, spinach, kale, or butternut squash would make a nice addition to this corn chowder.
- Beans or Lentils- For an extra boost of fiber, add a can of cannellini beans or some cooked brown lentils.
- Jalapeño- Depending on your spice tolerance, a few minced jalapeños would give this soup a nice kick. Add them when sautéing the onion, carrots, and celery.
- Red Pepper Flakes- Another way to add a little heat, red pepper flakes can be added alongside the rest of the spices.
How to Make Dairy-Free and Vegan
Gluten-free corn chowder is easy to make both dairy-free and vegan. All you have to do is use your dairy-free milk of choice in place of the regular milk and you have gluten-free vegan corn chowder.
What to Serve with Corn Chowder
Corn chowder is a tasty, satisfying meal all on its own, but it also pairs well with other foods. Whether you're planning to enjoy this corn chowder as a side dish or as a main dish, here are a few ideas for what to serve with this hearty and delicious soup.
- Roasted Chicken
- Braised Turkey Breast
- Pork Loin
- Grilled Salmon
- Chicken Wings
- Turkey Burgers
- Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Spinach Corn Sandwich
- BLT Bagel Sandwich
- Grilled Cheese
- Crusty Bread, Garlic Bread, or Dinner Rolls
- Garden Salad
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Cheesy Broccoli Bites
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftover gluten-free corn chowder in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- Freezer- Corn chowder can be frozen. However, because of the potatoes and the milk, the texture and consistency of the soup may change a bit. The flavor, on the other hand, should remain the same. To freeze, store in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.
How to Reheat
If your corn chowder is frozen, I recommend placing it in the refrigerator to defrost the day before you need it for the best results.
- Stovetop- Warm the leftover corn chowder over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. The soup should be steaming hot and just barely beginning to simmer.
- Microwave- Place an individual serving of corn chowder in a microwave-safe bowl and reheat on HIGH for one minute. Stir, then continue to heat in 30-second intervals until the chowder is warmed through.
Frequently Asked Questions
I thicken this gluten-free corn chowder naturally using the starch from the cooked russet potatoes. You can also use a cornstarch slurry, make a roux using gluten-free flour, or swap some of the corn kernels for a can of creamed corn.
Of course! I recommend sautéing the vegetables on the stove, then transferring them to the slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the milk, to the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. Then, stir in the milk and crush some of the potatoes against the side of the slow cooker to help thicken the soup.
Yes, definitely. Corn chowder is one dish that gets better over time as the flavors develop and blend together. Reheating instructions are in the "How to Reheat" section above.
More Soup Recipes
Gluten-Free Corn Chowder
- Large stockpot or Dutch oven
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ large yellow onion diced to ¼-inch
- 1 carrot peeled and diced to ¼-inch
- 1 stalk celery diced to ¼-inch
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups 1% milk
- 3 cups sweet corn fresh or frozen
- 2 russet potatoes peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Then, add the garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, and bay leaf, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ large yellow onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 4 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, 1 bay leaf
- Pour in the vegetable broth and milk. Then, add in the corn and diced potatoes, stirring to combine. Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove the bay leaf.2 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups 1% milk, 3 cups sweet corn, 2 russet potatoes
- Once the potatoes are cooked, use the back of a wooden spoon to crush some of the potatoes against the side of the pot. This will release the potato starch, naturally thickening the chowder. Continue stirring and breaking up some of the potatoes until the soup has reached your desired consistency. Remove from heat and serve with crusty bread, crackers, or a side salad.
- If you’re struggling to get the soup as thick as you’d like with just the potatoes, try adding a little cornstarch instead. Make a cornstarch slurry and slowly whisk it into the simmering soup. I recommend starting with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.