This dairy-free chicken corn chowder recipe is packed with veggies, protein, and a secret ingredient to make it extra creamy (yet completely dairy-free).
Does anyone else see the word chowder and immediately bring out their inner 65-year-old Italian Boston man? "This is the best damn corn chowdah you'll evah eat!"
Although, apparently in New England, it's only considered 'chowdah' if it has clams.
Unlike the traditional ingredients of milk, cream, and butter, this recipe is completely dairy-free, but when you taste it, you won't even be able to tell.
The ingredients in our chowder include olive oil, chicken breasts, yellow onion, any color of bell pepper, carrots, garlic, corn (either fresh or frozen, but thawed), fresh thyme sprigs, chicken or vegetable broth, cashew cream, lime juice, salt & pepper and chives for garnishing.
Although potatoes are often used, the corn really shines without them. It has just the right amount of starchiness that gets released as it cooks. When combined with the dairy-free cream, it thickens beautifully without the need for any additional thickening agent such as flour.
Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this dairy-free chicken corn chowder using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- Make it vegan - omit the chicken and use any white beans instead. Just drain, rinse, and add them at the end.
- No carrots? - use celery instead or extra bell pepper instead.
- No fresh thyme? - use a couple of shakes of dried thyme.
- No lime juice? - lemon juice also works.
- No cashew cream? - use full-fat canned coconut milk.
- Other proteins - bacon or salmon bites.
For this recipe, you'll need a chef knife, cutting board, and dutch oven. To blend part of the soup, you can either use an immersion blender or a high-powered blender (which you'll also need to make the cashew cream).
Let cool completely before placing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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Dairy-Free Chicken Corn Chowder
For the chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-1½ pounds chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
- kosher salt and black pepper
For the chowder
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced any color
- 2 small carrots, peeled and diced or 1 large
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 small ears of corn, kernels removed about 2 ¾ cups
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
- ½ cup cashew cream or substitute
- squeeze fresh lime juice
- salt & pepper, to taste
- chives for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Once hot, cook the chicken for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and set it aside.
- In the same pot, add the onion, bell pepper, carrots, garlic, and salt until the onion is translucent and the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the corn kernels, thyme sprigs, and broth and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Remove the thyme stems (the leaves will have mostly fallen off and infused into the soup) and either using an immersion blender or a regular blender, only blend half of the soup so it has some texture.
- Add the cooked chicken pieces back into the soup along with the cashew cream, add more salt and pepper to taste as needed, and a squeeze of lime juice. Garnish with chives before serving.