If you cannot see the word chowder without excitedly pronouncing it “Chowdah!” out loud, then you’re probably going to be a willing member of my Instant Pot Corn Chowder fan club. This soup recipe’s got everything! Yes, it’s thick. Yes, it’s rich. Yes, it’s gluten-free. And yes, it contains sweet, fresh summer corn (right off the cob), potatoes, heavy cream, and *gasp* bacon. A meal unto itself, this Corn Chowder is a warm, welcome break from the summer corn norm.
I know what you’re thinking: “Aren’t you the woman who swears off mayonnaise in summer because the thought of creamy potato salad sitting out in the sun makes you want to cry…or worse?”
Yes, reader. I am that woman. But I am also a woman who wants – nay, needs – to experience summer vegetables in all their glory, at the height of the season. I am also a woman with an Instant Pot and central air. Also, this soup has bacon in it and every season is bacon season.
I get it. Not everyone goes in for a rich, hearty soup unless they’re curled up in front of a fire, in flannel, while it’s snowing outside. But if you are a corn person (shockingly, there are people who aren’t…or so I’ve heard) then every single time you go to the grocery store or the farmers market in the summer, you’re like “Oooh! Corn!” and grab 6-8 ears just to have on hand. Because all too quickly after Labor Day, it just won’t be there, and your heart will be broken, and not even Pumpkin Spice can fill that cob-shaped void.
So, if you, too, feel this way about corn, then I know you have also typewriter-ed enough ears and picked enough cornsilk out of your teeth that you’re ready for…more corn. And it’s not like you’re not eating corn warm anyway. Otherwise, how’s all that butter supposed to melt and dribble in between all the kernels?
I say, embrace the warmth; embrace the creaminess; embrace cooking it in an Instant Pot so your kitchen isn’t sweltering. And if you’re still averse to warm soup in warm weather, well, hurricane season starts before corn season ends nowadays so just wait for the rain to come and drop the temperature a little.
Instant pot corn chowder ingredients
- Bacon: thick-cut bacon will yield both more flavor and better texture as a garnish. Highly recommend.
- Mirepoix: onions, carrots, and celery. Carrots and celery aren’t traditional, but they add both depth and more nutrition.
- Garlic: a couple cloves, smashed then minced.
- Fresh Corn: fresh corn cut from the cobs is a must! There is no better time than peak corn season to make corn chowder, so make it the very very best it can be with corn sliced from the cobs.
- Red potatoes: or yukon gold potatoes, or any new potato that you love. Russets are also acceptable, but the skins aren’t awesome. If you use russets, peel them first.
- Seasoning: kosher or sea salt, cracked black pepper, fresh thyme, and a bay leaf. Substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme for fresh as needed.
- Cornstarch: this our thickening agent for the instant pot version. Flour is traditional, but it doesn’t quite work here. Arrowroot is also acceptable and can be substituted one-for-one.
- Heavy Cream: not half-and-half, which will yield a thinner broth.
How to make corn chowder in the instant pot
Hearty, creamy Instant Pot Corn Chowder will have you falling in love with sweet corn all over again this summer. An Instant Pot preparation might not be faster than the traditional route, but it’s summer, so you won’t be cranking up the AC and singing “it’s getting hot in here” for all the neighbors to see and hear (okay, fine, we all know we’re all still singing). Always start by cooking your bacon (a) because your kitchen will smell like bacon, and (b) so you can cook your mirepoix in the rendered fat. Garnish with bacon and chives after you’ve ladled it into bowls for the whole family, otherwise you’re at risk of standing over your Instant Pot slurping it all up yourself right out of the ladle.
- Press the Saute button, allow the pot to heat up, then add chopped bacon and saute until golden brown. Remove half, and set aside for garnish.
- Add mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) and minced garlic, toss to coat in the bacon fat, and sautee for 2 minutes.
- Turn off the Saute feature, then add the remaining ingredients: fresh corn kernels, potatoes, salt, pepper, and three cups of cold filtered water. Give everything a good stir, then top with a bay leaf and a sprig of fresh thyme.
- Cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes; perform a quick release when the timer goes off.
- Turn on the Saute feature one more time, then pour in heavy cream cream and a bit of cornstarch slurry. Give the chowder another stir, then simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the broth is thick.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with the reserved bacon and chopped chives.
Can I use frozen corn?
Please don’t. I beg of you. Fresh, sweet summer corn is kind of the point. Plus, corn is going to take on moisture when thawing and it won’t have the crispness it needs to hold up to cooking in the Instant Pot. You still want it to add a bit of texture.
Can I freeze corn chowder?
As long as you follow the recipe and use heavy cream, yes, you can absolutely freeze corn chowder. Lighter dairy products (ie. half and half or milk) don’t hold up in the freezer as well as full-fat heavy cream and have a tendency to separate upon thawing. Store up to 2 months in an airtight container.
What to serve with corn chowder
This is a complete, hearty meal all on its own, but if you can’t get over having “just soup” for dinner, then you can’t go wrong with rounding it out with summer vegetables. Serve with a simple tossed salad or a quick and complementary side dish like green beans with bacon or tomato salad.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Chop bacon with kitchen shears! It makes the job so much easier.
- When cutting your corn off the cob, hold the ear standing on its end and always use a sharp knife to gently slice away the kernels from the cob in a downward motion. Aim for about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the kernel.
- Always reserve both dairy and thickening agents for after you’ve pressure cooked a recipe in the Instant Pot.
- Carrots and celery aren’t traditionally found in most corn chowder recipes – skip them if you’re a purist. Keep them for extra flavor and nutritional variety.
More recipes for using summer corn
- Roasted Corn Salsa
- Sweet Corn Soup
- Zucchini and Corn Pasta
- Grilled Corn Salad with Peppers and Basil
- Grilled Zucchini and Corn Salad
Did you make this recipe for Instant Pot Corn Chowder? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced to ½”
- 2 medium carrots, diced to ½”
- 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ears corn, kernels sliced from cobs, about 4 heaping cups
- 1 lb red potatoes, diced to 1”
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, or ½ tsp dried
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 tbsp cornstarch, or arrowroot powder
- 1 tbsp water
- ¾ c heavy cream
- Chopped chives, for garnish
- Press the Saute function, check that the time is set to at least 15 minutes, and allow the inner pot to heat up. Add the chopped bacon and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7-8 minutes. Remove half the bacon using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; toss to coat in the bacon fat and sautee for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent scalding.
- Press the Cancel button to turn off the Saute function. Add the corn kernels, potatoes, 3 cups water, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then top with the thyme sprig and bay leaf.
- Secure the lid and ensure the pressure valve is set to sealing. Press the Pressure Cook Button, adjust to High Pressure, and set the time for 10 minutes. It will take approximately 20 minutes for the pot to come to pressure. Once the timer goes off, do a quick release for the pressure. All the pressure to release until the float valve has dropped completely.
- Open the pot and remove the bay leaf and thyme stem using tongs.
- Whisk the cornstarch and 1 tbsp water in a small bowl until smooth. Pour the cornstarch slurry and heavy cream into the pot. Press the Saute function once more, and simmer until the soup is thick, stirring occasionally, 5-10 minutes. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Sautee function.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls, then garnish with the reserved bacon and chopped chives.
- In the fridge: in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stove over medium high heat, or in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in-between.
- In the freezer: in an airtight container for up to 2 months.