Instant Pot Chicken and Corn Chowder

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This Instant Pot Chicken and Corn Chowder recipe makes a hearty soup in minutes in your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. It uses no flour and no heavy cream, but is rich, creamy, and comforting.

chicken chowder in a white bowl, topped by cheese and sour cream

Soups are the champions of one pot meals. And even better if made in the Instant Pot where you can turn it on, walk away, and come back to a hearty soup ready to go. Creamy with tender bites of potato and topped with crispy bacon, few bowls offer as much cozy comfort as chowder. This version is fairly classic, but has two bonus features. First, it includes crunchy sweet corn and tender chicken for more flavor. Second, it gets a creamy base without the use of flour or heavy cream. The result is hearty and flavorful without being heavy. 

Blending a small amount of the soup is the simple trick for making a cream-free soup that is creamy. Simply use an immersion blender to blend some of the soup right in the bowl or remove some of the soup and transfer it to a standing blender to blend until smooth. This also makes this soup work well in the Instant Pot. Adding flour to a soup cooked in the Instant Pot could cause the burn notice, but there’s no fear of that here!

I often use this trick to add creamy texture to other soups as well, like Moroccan Lentil Soup and Three Bean Taco Soup.

sauteeing vegetables in an instant pot

How to Make Instant Pot Chowder

  1. Saute bacon – Start by cooking bacon using the saute function in the instant pot. (Chop the bacon first so that it easily fits.) Transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 
  2. Saute aromatics – In the remaining bacon fat, cook onions, carrots, and celery with dried spices like chili powder, garlic powder, and ground thyme. 
  3. Add liquids and potatoes – Add stock and potatoes. Be sure to scrape up browned bits on the bottom of the Instant Pot bowl to avoid the burn notice. 
  4. Cook – Close, lock, and seal the lid. Cook on manual / high pressure for 5 minutes. When the time is up, quick release the pressure. 
  5. Blend – After the soup is done, blend some of the liquids and potatoes until very smooth. You can do this using an immersion blender right in the bowl of the Instant Pot and just blend until it’s as smooth as you’d like, or by transferring about 2 cups of the soup to a standing blender. Stir the blended portion back into the soup.
  6. Add corn and chicken – Stir in the milk, corn, and chicken until warm. 
  7. Add toppings and enjoy!

Creamy Soup without Cream

As I’ve mentioned, the real magic of this soup is that you can blend some of the potatoes and stock together to create a creamy base. You can adjust the amount you blend to make it more or less creamy. You can even blend the entire base of the soup so that it’s completely creamy with no chunks of potato.

cutting corn kernels off the cob

Ingredient Notes

  • Russet Potatoes – Russets have extra starch and help to thicken the soup, but Yukon Gold potatoes, red potatoes, or any variety of baby potatoes will also work. Keep in mind that if you use red potatoes or baby potatoes with the peels on, the peels will darken the base of the soup when you blend them.
  • Dried Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, and Thyme – When my recipe testers made this recipe, many suggested adding something to give it “kick”, and I completely agreed! A few dried spices just help to bring out the flavor of the finished soup. Chili powder will give it a hint of spice. 
  • Chopped Onions, Carrots, and Celery – The foundation for the flavors of the soup. Keep an eye out for a pre-chopped mixture of these (called mirepoix) which saves tons of time. I buy pre-chopped mirepoix at Trader Joe’s.
  • Bacon – Classic for topping chowder, but saute the vegetables in the bacon fat to build flavor.
  • Chicken or Vegetable Stock – Either will work.
  • Milk – This gives the soup a small amount of creamy flavor, but most of the creamy texture comes from blending part of the soup, so feel free to use a substitute. Dairy-free milks work well, but you can also just use an extra cup of stock in its place.
  • Corn Kernels – If corn is in season, fresh corn will give this the most flavor. There’s no need to cook it first. Frozen works well any time of year, but defrost it before adding it. If you’re a big corn fan, be sure to check out my Corn Fritters recipe too.
  • Shredded Chicken – This is a great way to use rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken from another meal. 

Toppings for Chowder

Let’s be honest, while chowder is great on its own, the toppings are really where it’s at. Here are a few favorites.

  • Bacon
  • Sour Cream
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Chopped Chives or Green Onions
  • Jalapenos
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips
  • Pumpkin seeds / Pepitas
  • Hot Sauce

Variations

  • Make it dairy-free – Use extra stock or your favorite non-dairy milk in place of regular milk in the soup and use your favorite non-dairy yogurt on top. You can skip the cheese and it will still be delicious!
  • Add vegetables – Have some zucchini or bell peppers that need to be used up? They are great additions to this chowder either in addition to or in place of the potatoes.
  • Use sweet potatoes – For a unique twist on a classic chowder, try it with sweet potatoes instead of Russet or Yukon Gold. 
  • Make it spicy – Want to add some kick? Saute chopped jalapenos with the onion, carrots, and celery. Or try adding a pinch of red pepper flakes with the dried herbs. 

I can’t wait to hear what you think of this Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder! 

ladling instant pot chicken chowder into a white bowl

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4.75 from 4 votes

Instant Pot Chicken and Corn Chowder Recipe

To give Instant Pot Chicken and Corn Chowder a rich, creamy base without cream, blend about some of the finished soup until smooth. This recipe is naturally gluten-free and can be made with your favorite milk alternative for a dairy-free version.
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker
  • Immersion Blender

Ingredients 

  • 4 strips Bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup diced Onions
  • 1 cup diced Carrots
  • 1 cup diced Celery
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 large or 2 small)
  • 2 cups Corn Kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 3 cups Cooked Shredded Chicken (from about 1 pound of cooked boneless skinless chicken breast or rotisserie chicken)
  • Cheddar Cheese, for serving
  • Sour Cream, for serving
  • Chives or Green Onions, chopped, for serving

Instructions 

  • Turn on the Instant Pot’s saute function to Normal / Medium.
  • Add chopped bacon and saute until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • In remaining bacon fat in the Instant Pot, saute the onions, carrots, celery, chili powder, garlic powder, thyme, and salt for 4 minutes to get them started cooking.
  • Turn off the saute function.
  • Slowly pour stock into the Instant Pot, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the potatoes and corn.
  • Close and lock the lid.
  • Set the pressure valve to Sealing.
  • Cook on manual / high pressure for 5 minutes.
  • Manually release any remaining pressure.
  • Use an immersion blender to blend about half of the soup right in the Instant Pot. The more you blend, the creamier and thicker the soup base will be. (Alternatively you can remove 2 cups of the stock (including potatoes and corn) and blend it in a standing blender until smooth. Stir the blended portion back into the soup.)
  • Stir the milk and chicken into the chowder and let it sit for a minute or two to warm up.
  • Taste chowder and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Serve chowder with cheese, sour cream, chives, and bacon on top.

Notes

Optional Step to Start with Raw Chicken – If you don’t have pre-cooked, shredded chicken, you can cook the chicken right in the soup. Add 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts along with the potatoes. Cook as directed. Remove and shred the chicken before blending the soup. You might need to add some extra salt and pepper to the soup at the end.
Printable Recipe Card – If you are making this meal ahead for yourself or someone else, cook as directed and allow to cool completely. Transfer to a freezer safe container. (Store the cooked bacon in a separate freezer-safe bag or container.) Freeze for up to 4 months. Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
chicken chowder freezer label

Nutrition

Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1639mg | Potassium: 1485mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 5828IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00
Calories: 533
Keyword: Chicken Recipe, gluten free, instant pot soup, one pot recipe
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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