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How Long Is Clam Chowder Good For?

From fridge to freezer, we’re dishing up the lowdown on how to keep your clam chowder fresh and ready for when you’re craving it.

Clam chowder: this creamy and tasty soup, chock-full of sea-fresh clams and chunky potatoes, is the perfect pick-me-up for hot summer days, or whenever you fancy a bit of a seafood kick.

Its combo of clams, veggies, and cream makes for a dish that’s not just yummy but also good for you.

But even though clam chowder is a hit, you might not always finish off the whole pot at once (I know, I’ve tried!). So you’ve got to ask—how long can clam chowder stay fresh? Does it get even tastier over time, or does it lose its punch once it cools down?

And when we talk about keeping clam chowder for later, what’s the best way to store it? Can it chill in the fridge, or can it handle being frozen? If you’ve got these kinds of questions popping into your head, this article’s got all the answers you need.

How Long Clam Chowder Lasts

How long clam chowder lasts depends on how you store it.

Generally, if you leave clam chowder out, it will only stay good for 1 to 2 hours. When refrigerated, it can last for 3 to 4 days. And if you freeze it, it will maintain its quality for about 3 to 4 months.

Left Out: 1–2 Hours

If you leave clam chowder at room temperature, it can last for about 2 hours. However, on hot days when it’s 90°F (32°C) or higher, clam chowder only stays good for about 1 hour.1United States Department of Agriculture (2023, March 24). What is the “2 Hour Rule” with leaving food out? AskUSDA. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-is-the-2-Hour-Rule-with-leaving-food-out

Refrigerated: 3–4 Days

If you keep clam chowder in the fridge, at a temperature of 40°F (4.4°C) or below, and store it in a jar, food container, or the original bottle or carton in case you bought it from the store, it will last for about 3 to 4 days.2U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2021, September 20). Cold Food Storage Chart. FoodSafety.gov. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts

Frozen: 3–4 Months

Technically speaking, you can keep frozen clam chowder for as long as you want because freezing pauses the growth of bacteria.3U.S. Department of Agriculture (2013, June 15). Freezing and Food Safety. Food Safety & Inspection Service. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/freezing-and-food-safety With that being said, it is best to eat it within 3 to 4 months to enjoy it at its freshest and highest quality.

Keeping Clam Chowder Fresh

Clam chowder tastes its best when it’s piping hot and thick with chunks of clams.

If you’re not planning to slurp up your chowder right away, you need to know how to store it so it stays tasty and doesn’t turn bad on you.

Here’s the scoop:

Storing Clam Chowder in the Fridge

First off, pour your clam chowder into a clean, sealable container. Glass jars work well, but if you don’t have any on hand, any food storage container with a tight lid will do. Then pop it into the fridge.

Try to finish up the clam chowder within 3-4 days. The cold in the fridge slows down the bacteria that make food spoil, but it can’t stop it entirely.

Freezing Clam Chowder

If you’ve cooked a big pot of clam chowder and can’t finish it within a few days, or you want to save some for later, then freezing is your best bet. You’ll need a clean, tightly lidded container that can handle the cold of the freezer.

Leave about an inch of space at the top of the container because the chowder will expand when it freezes. This could take a few hours. When you’re ready to dig in, move the frozen clam chowder to the fridge about a day in advance.

And that’s all there is to it—clam chowder is pretty easy to store and it’s a joy to have some ready for those hot afternoons or when your belly’s rumbling.

A little care in storage ensures each bowl is as delicious as the first one, so don’t skip these steps!

How to Tell If Your Clam Chowder Has Gone Bad

Stumbled upon a lost container of clam chowder tucked away in the back of your fridge?

Or are you just unsure if it’s still good to eat? Like any soup, clam chowder can turn nasty if it’s been left untouched for too long, and trust me, eating spoiled clam chowder is not an experience you want.

Here are some signs that your clam chowder might have gone bad:

  • Time: If your clam chowder’s been sitting out for more than 1-2 hours or lurking in the fridge for more than 3-4 days, it’s safer to toss it, even if it seems okay. The bacteria that make us sick don’t alter how our food looks, tastes, or feels.4Jarvie, M. (2015, October 22). Food spoilage and food pathogens, what’s the difference? MSU Extension. Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/food_spoilage_and_food_pathogens_whats_the_difference
  • Smell: Fresh clam chowder has a rich, inviting aroma. If you open your container and it smells weird or unpleasant, it’s time to say goodbye to your chowder.
  • Color: Good clam chowder usually has a creamy, appetizing color. If it’s turned darker or looks unusual, better to play it safe and chuck it.
  • Texture: Clam chowder should be thick and creamy with chunks of clams and veggies. If it’s slimy or overly thick, your chowder might be past its best.
  • Taste: This should be your final test. If your clam chowder passes the other checks but tastes off or sour, it’s time to bid it farewell.

Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! It’s always smarter to play safe. Clam chowder is easy to make, so why take risks?

Just cook up a new pot and enjoy the rich, satisfying flavors of this classic comfort food.

Wrapping It All Up

And that’s the lowdown, home cooks!

This is your ultimate guide to not just enjoying this creamy, satisfying chowder, but also ensuring it stays as fresh as the day you made it, for every single serving.

Bear in mind, whether you’re storing your clam chowder in the fridge or the freezer, keeping it fresh for those hot days is a cinch if you stick to the simple storage steps we’ve shared.

And remember, if your clam chowder seems a bit off—whether in smell, color, texture, or taste—it’s always safer to toss it out.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.