It’s almost time for me to head home for the holidays, which means it’s almost time for SHRIMP CORN CHOWDER. This creamy, dreamy, spicy (or not spicy) as you like Shrimp Corn Chowder recipe is easy to make and comforting to eat. If your family devours it with the same gusto ours does, it will warm and fill you in the best possible way.
This easy Shrimp Corn Chowder recipe was inspired by the corn crab chowder that my grammy serves at Christmas Eve dinner. At our Christmas Eve feast, we have one major rule: do not, under any circumstances, have more than one bowl of the chowder. If you do, you are sure to ruin your appetite for the delicious dishes to come.
Fact: no one keeps this rule, because it’s impossible. Every year, we each give ourselves a reasonable ladleful and savor it as slowly as we can, then everyone coyly side-eyes each other, waiting to see who will break first and go back for a second helping so that everyone else can follow suit.
Maybe it’s our recent cold snap, but I’ve been craving this comforting chowder more than usual this year. I’ll gladly sacrifice my pride for the second-helpings chowder cause!
Like Grammy’s recipe, this Shrimp Corn Chowder is luxuriously rich and creamy, absolutely loaded with seafood (no wimpy chowder here!), and tastes decadent enough to serve at a special holiday meal. Unlike her recipe, however, it’s wholesome and easy enough to prepare on an average weeknight.
Believe me, I adore my grammy’s corn chowder and its unapologetic quantities of butter and cream; it’s just not something I can eat every week…which is why I break the rule and have two bowls on Christmas Eve. This Shrimp Corn Chowder, however, is a different tale.
The Key to Lightening Up Shrimp Corn Chowder
To create a thick, rich chowder base that didn’t rely on heavy cream, I started by making a roux with flour, a touch of butter, and nonfat milk (for a step-by-step visual, check out the video at the bottom of the post), then added a can of cream-style corn.
The creamed corn gives the shrimp corn chowder body and a light, subtle sweetness that’s beautifully balanced by a kick of cayenne pepper. For good measure, I added a splash of half-and-half at the end, but honestly, the Shrimp Corn Chowder hardly needs it.
If you’d like a spicy corn chowder, you can up the amount of cayenne, or do what my family does and pass a bottle of hot sauce around the table so that each person can doctor it to his or her preference.
To hasten the prep time for the Shrimp Corn Chowder, and make it more affordable for everyday enjoyment, I replaced the lump crab meat in my grammy’s recipe with frozen shrimp. Frozen shrimp is a go-to in many of my healthy shrimp recipes, including Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa, Garlic Shrimp Pasta, and Healthy Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles.
When combined with other flavors as it is here, the shrimp tastes fresh, not at all “fishy,” and is a total timesaver. In fact, the shrimp cooks right in the pot along with the rest of the chowder in fewer than three minutes.
Although this Shrimp Corn Chowder recipe is fit enough for a weeknight meal, in keeping with a soup’s first mission to comfort (and to stay in good graces with Grammy), I did make one other addition: a topping of salty, crispy bacon.
The bacon’s smoky flavor and crunch is divine combined with the juicy pink shrimp. I’m confident that my grammy would approve, and that you and your family will too!
What to Serve with Shrimp Corn Chowder
- Bread. For the ultimate dipping potential, serve this chowder with a tasty loaf from your local bakery or this Crock Pot Bread.
- Salad. A light, fresh salad like Anytime Arugula Salad would pair nicely with this rich soup.
- Tater Tots. A side of homemade Tater Tots would be a delicious and hearty side.
Other Warm and Comforting Chowders
Shrimp Corn Chowder
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 small green onions thinly sliced, with white and green parts divided
- 2 stalks celery diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 2/3 cups nonfat milk
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels about 3 ears if using fresh
- 1 can cream-style corn (15 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper plus additional to taste
- 1 pound frozen peeled & deveined shrimp any size you like, thawed
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
- Hot sauce optional for serving
- Cook the bacon in a dutch oven or large, deep saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Lightly pat dry and set aside for serving. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat.
- Add the butter to the pot and let it melt. Set aside 1/4 cup of the sliced green onion tops for serving, then add the rest of the green onions. Add the celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender, about 3 minutes, then stir in the garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle the flour over the top of the onion mixture, then cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk, a few splashes at a time at first, stirring out any lumps. Stream in the rest of the milk, then add the corn kernels, cream-style corn, and cayenne. Stir and bring to a gentle boil. Let bubble until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and continue cooking just until the shrimp are done, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, then stir in the thyme and half-and-half. Serve hot, sprinkled with reserved bacon, green onion tops, and a dash or two of hot sauce as desired.
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