Instant Pot corn chowder is a lusciously creamy soup filled with tender potatoes, fresh corn, speckles of fresh basil and topped with crispy, smoky bacon. This is a must-make for soup season!
It's the time of the year when summer slowly fades to fall. When the summer produce is still in season while we head into the season of creamy, comforting bowls of hearty soup.
There's no better recipe to sum up all of these things than this creamy corn chowder. Fresh sweet corn, fresh garden basil and smoky bacon are some of my favorite flavors in this Instant pot potato corn chowder.
Instant Pot Corn Chowder (Why It Works)
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Instant Pot does magic to meals, especially soups. It can develop flavor so much faster that on the stove, which leaves you thinking your meals were cooked low and slow for hours, but you actually just hit the pressure cook button 30 minutes before dinner time.
This recipe, like most corn chowder recipes, starts by crisping the bacon into bits, leaving the perfect amount of rendered bacon fat in the bottom of the pot to cook all of the vegetables that turn into the most smooth and creamy soup.
Speaking of creamy, we have a few ingredients to thank for all that creamy texture:
- heavy cream or coconut milk
- cheddar cheese or nutritional yeast
The corn and potatoes blend together to give the soup the thick texture we all think of when we imagine a soup then wee finish with a little cream and cheese because why not? It's almost hard to believe you can create such a lush soup completely dairy-free and vegan if you want.
The simple ingredients you need to make this Instant Pot corn chowder recipe include:
- Thick cut bacon: this develops the flavor right from the start with smokey flavors to cook all the veg.
- Onion celery and bell peppers: the combination of vegetables are cooked in the bacon fat for even more flavor. It's often called a mirepoix in french cooking, meaning a mix of veggies cooked low in some sort of fat.
- Red potatoes: these have a thin red layer of skin that make them perfect for soups. Blending tender potatoes is a great way to create the creamy base of this recipe.
- Corn kernels: this is the star of the show and I highly recommend pulling it of fresh corn cobs. We used this handy little corn prep peeler to remove it quickly.
- Garlic and spices: fresh garlic cloves with salt, paprika and fresh cracked black pepper are delicious in this recipe.
- Broth: chicken broth and vegetable broth both work for this recipe.
- Cheddar cheese: this adds creamy texture and flavor from the fat, but you can omit this or use nutritional yeast for a dairy-free and vegan option.
- Cream: heavy cream or full fat coconut cream for a dairy-free vegan option
- Basil: corn and basil are always in season together so fresh basil is a delicious addition.
How to Make Instant Pot Corn Chowder
These step-by-step pictures show you exactly how to make this recipe. Jump to the recipe card to watch how to make this recipe with me.
- Crisp the bacon: set your electric pressure cooker (aka Instant Pot) to the saute function and add some olive oil. Crisp the bacon for 6-8 minutes then remove it to a paper towel, leaving the rendered bacon grease in the IP.
- Cook the vegetables: Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes then add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until your house has that amazing onion and garlic smell. Add in the corn, diced potatoes, and spices and give it another quick stir.
- Pressure cook: Pour in the vegetable broth then close the lid and make sure the vent is sealed. Pressure cook (manual cook) on high pressure for 10 minutes. When the time is up, carefully quick release the Instant Pot by turning the vent to the venting position to let all the steam out quickly.
- Blend: Scoop half of the soup to a high-speed blender and blend until it's extra smooth. You could also use an immersion blender if you have that handy. Pour the soup back into the Instant Pot and stir.
- Finish: Add the cheese (or nutritional yeast) and heavy cream (or coconut cream) then stir in the chopped basil. Serve with more fresh basil, crisp bacon, extra corn kernels and fresh cracked black pepper.
Prefer to Watch Instead of Read?
Dairy-free: use coconut cream and nutritional yeast in place of heavy cream and cheddar cheese.
Vegan corn chowder: omit the bacon and saute the vegetables in olive oil. Use vegetable broth and the same modifications as above for the cream and cheese.
Gluten-free: this recipe is naturally gluten-free without any changes.
Place the cooled soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm on the stove.
Frequently Asked Questions
Soup is one of my favorite things to make in the Instant Pot. Typically an Instant Pot soup starting by sauting your vegetables or cooking your proteins. Next, add your liquid and pressure cook on high to develop the flavor quickly. Finish the soup by adding in any creams, cheeses or herbs.
Some of our favorite instant Pot soup recipes are Instant Pot taco soup, Instant Pot lasagna soup, Instant Pot Greek lemon chicken soup and the best Instant Pot chicken noodle soup.
A chowder is always thick and creamy, with a base of onion, potatoes and usually bacon. Where soups can be thin and broth-based, chowders are always thick and creamy.
Blend part of the tender potatoes and vegetables at high speed until it's smooth and creamy then pour it back into the soup. This gives it a silky smooth texture without the need of creams or slurries.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. I'd love to hear from you! You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Taco Soup
- The Best Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
- Creamy Instant Pot Lasagna Soup
Instant Pot Corn Chowder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 slices thick cut bacon cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
- 1/4 cup chopped celery (1 stalk)
- 1 red red bell pepper diced
- 1 1/2 lb red potatoes diced
- 5 cups corn kernels (from 4-5 ears of corn)
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or nutritional yeast
- 1 cup heavy cream or full fat canned coconut cream
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- Garnish: basil, bacon, corn kernels, black pepper
- Set the instant pot to saute mode and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When it’s hot, add the sliced bacon and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until crisp, then remove the bacon to a paper towel to top the corn chowder at the end.
- Use the bacon fat to cook the vegetables. Add the yellow onion, celery and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes, until soft and the onion is translucent. Sprinkle in the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add in the corn, diced potatoes, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and stir until combined the press cancel to stop the saute function.
- Pour in the chicken stock or vegetable broth and stir quickly to combine then close the lid, turn the vent to the sealing position and pressure cook (manual cook) on high for 10 minutes. It will take 5-10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure then start counting down. When the time is up, carefully quick release the Instant Pot by turning the vent to the venting position to let all the steam out quickly.
- Carefully transfer half of the soup to a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth. You could also use an immersion blender to blend half of the soup to your desired consistency. If it’s in a blender, pour the soup back into the Instant Pot with the cheese (or nutritional yeast) and heavy cream (or coconut cream). Stir in the chopped basil.
- Serve with more fresh basil, crisp bacon, extra corn kernels and fresh cracked black pepper.
Vegan: omit the bacon and saute the vegetables in olive oil. Use vegetable broth and the same modifications as above for the cream and cheese.
Gluten-free: this recipe is naturally gluten-free without any changes. Storage: Place the cooled soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm on the stove. * Nutrition info is based on using nutritional yeast and coconut cream