Bowl of Spicy Corn Chowder with Bacon

This easy-to-make corn chowder has only 10 simple ingredients. The result is tasty comfort food the whole family will enjoy!

I HATED corn chowder when I was a kid, but now I love it. What’s changed since then? Well, a lot! But mostly I grew up and realized not all corn chowders are created equal. My mother’s bland version turned me off to corn chowder for many years (sorry, Momin heaven.😢)

It wasn’t until my mother-in-law Helen coaxed me into trying it again that I realized corn chowder had potential. Now I consider it delicious comfort food, perfect for cold winter days.

The recipe I’m sharing today for Spicy Corn Chowder with Bacon is a blend of my mother-in-law’s recipe and one from Epicurious. It goes back so many years that I can’t really say which ingredients are whose. All I know is that this simple chowder has become a family favorite!

Ingredients for Spicy Corn Chowder

A lot of spicy corn chowders have jalapeno pepper — which I’m sure tastes great! But the mild heat in this recipe comes from cayenne pepper and cumin. If you want it spicier, just amp those up.

red pepper and garlic with knife

Aside from that, our version of corn chowder is pretty old-fashioned. We use whole milk and cream-style canned corn — compared to a lot of recipes using heavy cream and frozen or fresh corn. If you opt for fresh or frozen corn, I would suggest adding a bit of cream or half-and-half, since you’ll be losing some of the creaminess.

As a side note — we’ve tried this recipe with both 2% milk and even skim milk — but I will say it’s much better with whole milk. Aside from corn and milk, the other ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Bacon
  • Red pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Potatoes
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Optional: You can up the protein and bulk in this chowder by adding rotisserie or other cooked chicken. We’ve enjoyed it both ways.

Are you ready to get cooking?

Spicy Corn Chowder with Bacon

Course: Soups



This Spicy Corn Chowder with Bacon comes together easily and is perfect for a cold winter day.


  • Bacon, 3-4 strips cut into 1-inch pieces

  • One small yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped fine

  • 1 red pepper, chopped fine

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

  • 4 cups diced potatoes

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin or more to taste

  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or more to taste

  • 2 15-oz cans cream-style corn


  • Using a large stockpot, cook the bacon until crisp. If you wish, drain some of the bacon fat, being sure to reserve some for the next step.
  • Add onion, garlic and red pepper to bacon and drippings and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently — until the onion is translucent and the pepper is soft.
  • Add the milk, chicken broth, potatoes, cumin and cayenne pepper and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Be careful not to let the milk scald.
  • Add corn and heat through. Enjoy!

Just for fun…let’s talk old recipes

Old Recipe Cards

Digging out this corn chowder recipe got me thinking. Do you have an old family recipe box filled with stained handwritten cards and newspaper clippings? What a treasure! I love looking through old recipe boxes and thinking of all the people whose hands touched those cards.

So I thought it would be fun to share five of the most popular recipes of the 1960s (according to and five family recipes I found in my mother-in-law’s old recipe box. I just might try making some of them!

Five Popular Recipes from the 1960s:
1. Lipton Onion Soup Dip
2. Desserts and Salads Encased in Gelatin
3. Meatballs with Grape Jelly
4. Chicken a la King
5. Fondue (This one’s made a comeback!)

Five “Vintage” Recipes from my Mother-in-Law’s Recipe Box:
1. Larson Sauce for Meat Loaf: No quantities listed — but mix very hot ketchup, soy sauce, accent seasoning and horseradish. Pour over meatloaf before cooking.

2. President Kennedy’s Beef Stroganoff: I don’t know the full history behind this one, but it has the typical ingredients like beef, flour, beef stock, sour cream and tomato juice. [Update: I’ve learned this recipe is archived at the President John F. Kennedy Library, so I guess it came straight from the White House.]

3. Dandelion Wine: Start with half a peck of dandelions and pour boiling water over them. Let them stand overnight and then strain. Add sugar and sliced lemon and oranges. Then infuse the “wine” for about 10 days. [Family lore has it that my father-in-law was responsible for this one; I think he had limited success.]

4. Extra-Quick Onion Pie: At first glance I thought this was a quiche, but there are only three eggs compared with a cup of sour cream and a cup of swiss cheese. Add 8 slices of cooked bacon and a can of fried onion rings — all poured into a pie shell and there you have it.

5. Speedy Oatmeal Fudge: Hmmm…this recipe is made with quick oats, peanut butter, sugar, butter, milk and vanilla extract. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fudge recipe with oats. How about you?

That wraps up our short trip back to popular recipes of the 1960s! If you have some memories of your own, please share. And if you make the Spicy Corn Chowder with Bacon, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment or tag me on Instagram @honest_and_simple.

I am not a licensed nutritionist, medical professional or cosmetics expert. The information provided on Honest + Simple is for general informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food + Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease. Before making decisions about your health or other concerns, please consult a qualified professional and do not rely on this website for medical advice.

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