Does Red Lobster Clam Chowder Have Bacon?

Make Red Lobster Clam Chowder at home with this easy recipe. It tastes so close to the Red Lobster’s version. You can make our copycat recipe to enjoy whenever you have a craving.

Red Lobster’s signature New England clam chowder is a beloved starter for many customers. The creamy, hearty soup features tender clams swimming in a rich, savory broth. But with its salty, smoky flavor, you may find yourself wondering – does Red Lobster’s clam chowder contain bacon?

As a hearty soup lover and Red Lobster fan, I decided to do some digging to find out if this classic chowder contains everyone’s favorite pork product Keep reading to learn the answer and get the full scoop on Red Lobster’s famous soup

An Overview of Red Lobster’s New England Clam Chowder

Red Lobster offers their New England clam chowder in cup and bowl sizes. The creamy soup features chunks of tender clams and potatoes in a warm, velvety broth. Traditional New England clam chowder gets its rich flavor from cream, butter, and clam juice.

Red Lobster’s version also contains celery onion, and their signature blend of seasonings. Their soup features a robust depth of flavor with subtle smoky and salty notes. Cheddar Bay biscuits served alongside provide the perfect vehicle for sopping up every last drop.

The Origin and Evolution of Clam Chowder

To understand if bacon belongs in clam chowder, it helps to know the history of this classic soup. Clam chowder originated with early settlers in New England as a hearty, filling meal. The first versions contained simple ingredients like clams, onions, salt pork, and ship biscuits.

Over time, recipes evolved to include potatoes, cream, and butter. Regional variations emerged, like the tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder. But the creamy New England-style remains the most popular.

Bacon does not play a major role in traditional clam chowder recipes. Purists believe the flavor and saltiness should come from clams, not pork. But modern riffs have introduced bacon to chowder for a smoky twist.

Breaking Down Red Lobster’s Clam Chowder Ingredients

So what’s in Red Lobster’s famous soup? A look at the New England Clam Chowder description on their website reveals these ingredients:

  • Cream
  • Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Clams
  • Red Lobster seasoning blend

Critically absent from that list? Bacon.

A few other key facts point to a bacon-free chowder:

  • The soup is described as “creamy,” not smoky.
  • There’s no mention of bacon flavor in the description.
  • No bacon bits are pictured in menu photos.

So while the soup may have a salty, smoky aroma, traditional bacon does not seem to be an actual ingredient.

Achieving Smoky, Salted Flavor Without Bacon

You may be wondering how Red Lobster gives their New England clam chowder so much deep, smoky character without using bacon. There are a few potential secrets behind their iconic flavor:

Smoked Clams

Many clam chowder recipes call for chopped clam meat. But Red Lobster likely uses whole clams in their shell. Steam-cooking clams in their shell infuses the broth with concentrated clam essence. Seeking out smoked clams could lend even more smoky depth.

Smoked Salt

Bacon isn’t the only way to impart smoky flavor. Smoked salts like alderwood or hickory salt add a toasted, bacon-like taste without meat. A touch of these specialty salts brings smoky umami.

Sauteed Aromatics

Caramelized onions and celery have naturally sweet, earthy flavors. Sauteeing the soup’s aromatics builds a rich, complex base.

Seafood Stock

Rather than water, clam juice or seafood stock provides savory depth. Shellfish stock made with shrimp shells or fish bones can offer subtle smoke and seasoning.


Some chefs add lardons – small diced pieces of smoked pork – for flavor instead of big chunks of bacon. Lardons subtly season the broth without overwhelming it.

Why Red Lobster Likely Avoids Bacon

With so many ways to achieve smoky flavor, Red Lobster likely skips adding actual bacon to their New England clam chowder. Here are some potential reasons:

  • Cost – Bacon is an expensive ingredient. Leaving it out keeps overhead lower.
  • Health – Bacon adds saturated fat and sodium. Keeping the soup lighter broadens appeal.
  • Flavor Distraction – The rich clam flavor should take center stage. Bacon could overpower the chowder.
  • Consistency – Bacon crumbles can overcook and get chewy. Finely chopped lardons blend in better.
  • Regional Authenticity – Bacon isn’t integral to traditional clam chowder. Leaving it out satisfies purists.

Customer Reviews Praise Smoky Flavor

A look at customer reviews shows many agree that Red Lobster’s New England clam chowder has a robust, smoky flavor, even without bacon. Here are some examples:

“This chowder is creamy and packed with clam flavor. There’s a subtle smokiness that adds depth.”

“Their chowder has so much rich flavor, I can see why some people think there could be bacon!”

“This is some of the smokiest, most delicious clam chowder I’ve had. I don’t miss the addition of actual bacon.”

While personal tastes vary, most reviews agree that Red Lobster’s smoke-infused soup satisfies without succumbing to unnecessary bacon.

Should You Add Bacon to Red Lobster’s Chowder?

After investigating, I’m satisfied that Red Lobster’s clam chowder provides plenty of smoky flavor without using bacon as an ingredient. But if you crave a little crunch, you have options:

  • Order a side of bacon to sprinkle on top. Customize to suit your tastes.

  • Add cooked and crumbled bacon from home for a smoky, salty upgrade.

  • Top with oyster crackers instead for lighter crunch without added fat orsalt.

No matter how you enjoy it, you can’t go wrong with this signature soup. Creamy, smoky, and deeply satisfying, it’s no wonder Red Lobster’s clam chowder remains a beloved classic.

However you choose to enjoy it, Red Lobster’s New England clam chowder offers an indulgent escape in a bowl.

does red lobster clam chowder have bacon

Don’t Be Afraid of Using Canned Clams

This recipe calls for canned clams, but don’t let that scare you off. While fresh clams are best for many clam dishes, canned clams are an excellent option for chowder.

Canned clams are packed at the height of freshness, and are available all year. If you don’t live in the Northeast, it will be hard to find fresh, high-quality clams in your area without spending a lot of money.

There are many kinds of canned clams at the store, but not all of them are the same. If you want the best New England clam chowder, buy a good brand of pre-minced clams in juice, like Doxsee.

Also, don’t buy whole clams or baby clams because they won’t taste as good and will be too gritty. Remember to save the juice from the clams to add back into the chowder.

How to Make Red Lobster Clam Chowder

  • Peel and cut potatoes into bite-sized cubes.
  • Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

does red lobster clam chowder have bacon

  • Slowly melt the butter in a soup pot or saucepan that holds 2 quarts.
  • Over medium-low heat, add the diced green onions and cook until the onions are just barely clear.
  • Add flour and stir briskly. The mixture will start to thicken.
  • Add half and half slowly while stirring briskly.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except parsley and stir to combine.

does red lobster clam chowder have bacon

  • Bring mixture to a slow boil. Allow chowder to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Serve garnished with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

does red lobster clam chowder have bacon

FIND OUT Red Lobster Clam Chowder SECRET RECIPE!!!

How do you make red lobster clam chowder?

You can make Red Lobster Clam Chowder at home with this copycat recipe. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water; cook on medium heat until tender. Remove potatoes from heat, drain and set aside. In 2 quart saucepan on medium-low heat, melt butter. Add diced onions and cook until onions are slightly clear in color.

How do you make clam chowder?

Drain clams and add juice to soup. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to a simmer and add potatoes and seasonings; simmer 10 minutes. Add clams and simmer 5-8 minutes. Finish with heavy cream. This is by far my favorite ever recipe for clam chowder. I always replace my salad with a cup of this.

How do you make clam soup with bacon?

Brown the bacon in a large pot. Remove the cooked bacon to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Add chopped onions, cubed potatoes, clam juice, Worcestershire and seasonings. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. When the potatoes are tender, mash some of them to thicken the soup. 4. Add the flour, cream and milk to a blender. 5.

Does clam chowder need oyster crackers?

Oyster crackers. Chowder needs oyster crackers. It simply wouldn’t be a real clam chowder without’em. Combine salt pork and 1/4 cup water in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until water has evaporated and pork has begun to brown and crisp in spots, about 8 minutes. Add butter, onion, and celery.

What does clam chowder taste like?

The flavor of a clam chowder should be delicate and mild, the sweetness of the pork complementing the faint bitterness of the clams, accented by bits of celery and onion that have all but dissolved into the broth, fading completely into the background.

What to eat with clam chowder?

Top each serving with bacon. This homemade clam chowder is hearty enough to be served as a main dish, with a nice salad on the side. If you prefer to have it as a starter, you could follow it with gluten-free crab cakes, oven-fried cod, broiled scallops, smoked salmon pasta and even steak pinwheels. Can you freeze it?

Leave a Comment