As much as I love my Nova Scotia seafood chowder recipe, it can be pretty expensive to make, so that’s where this classic recipe for Maritime fish chowder comes in. There’s really nothing quite like it to warm you up on a chilly day.
Inspired by the flavors of Nova Scotia, fish chowder is the ultimate coastal comfort food—it’s so simple and satisfying. This traditional-style recipe is made with salmon and haddock and has a light buttery broth made with canned evaporated milk.
Made from scratch with no shellfish and no cream, you probably have most of the ingredients to make a pot right now. I have lots of suggestions on how to customize this easy soup listed under the ingredients section and in the recipe notes. I hope you add this classic Maritime favorite to your meal rotation!
💞 Why You’ll Love This Recipe
✔️ It’s made with readily available ingredients.
✔️ It comes together quickly and easily.
✔️ Fish chowder tastes even better on the second and third days!
📋 Ingredients For Maritime Fish Chowder
- Atlantic Salmon—Atlantic salmon is a popular fish native to the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a rich, slightly oily taste and a firm, meaty texture.
- Haddock—Haddock is a white fish found primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a delicate, flaky texture.
- Canned Evaporated Milk—Evaporated milk is a shelf-stable dairy product made by removing about 60% of the water content from regular milk. The result is concentrated slightly thicker milk with a slightly caramelized flavor.
It’s important to note when making substitutions in recipes, the texture and flavor may be slightly different. However, these substitutes are the best options if you are looking to change the original recipe.
- Atlantic Salmon—I live on the East Coast of Canada and am lucky to have access to Atlantic salmon year-round. If you live in the United States or Western Canada, this may not be an option for you. Pacific salmon, such as Sockeye, Coho, or King Salmon, are good substitutes for Atlantic salmon.
- Haddock—Fresh haddock is my preferred white fish for my Maritime fish chowder, however, you can substitute other white fish, such as cod, halibut, or sole.
- Canned Evaporated Milk—You can substitute a combination of whole milk and half-and-half or heavy cream for canned evaporated milk. Alternatively, for a lighter option, you can just use whole milk. You can also use coconut milk for a dairy-free version.
- Water—Substitute chicken stock, seafood stock, or vegetable stock for water if you like.
😋 Flavor Variations
Take this old-fashioned fish chowder to the next level, by adding any of the following that sound good to you when you add the evaporated milk. Use each measurement as a guide and then adjust to suit your own taste:
- ½ cup white wine OR clam juice
- ½ cup chopped fennel bulb OR corn kernels OR cooked crumbled bacon
- ¼ cup dry Sherry OR thinly sliced leeks
- 2 tablespoons capers (drained, not salt-packed) OR fresh dill (chopped) OR fresh parsley (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce OR hot sauce OR Dijon mustard OR lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning OR smoked paprika OR anchovy paste
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander OR dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper OR ground nutmeg
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of this post, or scroll to the bottom of the post, to see the PRINTABLE recipe card with ingredient measurements and complete instructions.
👩🍳 How To Make Maritime Fish Chowder
STEP 1—Melt the butter and a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery, and carrots and cook until soft but not browned.
STEP 2—Add the water and chopped potatoes to the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
STEP 3—Pour the can of evaporated milk into the pot and stir well to combine.
STEP 4—Add the salmon, haddock, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings from the variations list you want to try. Simmer for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Serve Maritime fish chowder hot with a sprinkle of Old Bay and crusty bread or crackers on the side.
🗣 Expert Tips
1. Unless your carrots are super hairy, just leave the peel on.
2. I like to use kitchen scissors to cut my fish into chunks.
3. After you add the evaporated milk, keep the chowder at a simmer, but do not boil! Boiling can cause the evaporated milk to curdle.
📝 Recipe Notes
- If you like a thicker chowder, make a cornstarch slurry with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of cold water shaken in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Add the cornstarch slurry during the last five minutes of cooking.
- To add extra flavor use chicken, vegetable, or seafood stock instead of water.
- Leftover fish chowder can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or microwave, stirring occasionally.
- You can freeze fish chowder, but the texture may change slightly upon thawing due to the dairy content. To freeze, let the chowder cool completely then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Store in the freezer for up to two months. To reheat, defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then gently warm on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring occasionally.
😋 Flavor Variations
Take your Maritime fish chowder to the next level, by adding any of the following that sound good to you when you add the evaporated milk. Use each measurement as a guide and then adjust to suit your own taste:
- ½ cup white wine or clam juice
- ½ cup chopped fennel bulb or corn kernels or cooked crumbled bacon
- ¼ cup dry Sherry or thinly sliced leeks
- 2 tablespoons capers (drained, not salt-packed), fresh dill (chopped), or fresh parsley (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Dijon mustard, or lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, smoked paprika, or anchovy paste
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander or dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground nutmeg
🙋♀️ Recipe FAQ
Fish chowder is a hearty soup made with fish, vegetables, and a creamy base, often including milk, cream, or canned evaporated milk. It typically contains a variety of seasonings and is served hot. It’s particularly popular in coastal regions where fresh fish is abundant.
The best fish for chowder are firm, white-fleshed varieties such as haddock, cod, halibut, or seabass, as they can hold their shape during cooking and provide a rich, meaty texture. Salmon and trout are also often used in traditional chowder recipes.
yes, fish chowder can be frozen and reheated, although the texture may differ slightly after thawing. To freeze, let the chowder cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container, leaving some space for expansion, and freeze for up to three months. To reheat, thaw the chowder overnight in the refrigerator and gently warm it in a saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave, stirring occasionally.
Did you make this Maritime fish chowder? Please rate the recipe and tell me how it went in the comments below. Also, stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see more delicious food and recipes!
Maritime Fish Chowder
- Knife and cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
- Large pot
- Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
- Kitchen scissors optional
- Can opener
- 2 medium carrots, or 1 large
- 2 medium celery stalks
- 1 small onion, or medium
- ¼ cup salted butter
- 5 cups water
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- 12 ounces Atlantic salmon, skinless, deboned
- 12 ounces haddock, skinless, deboned
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspon ground black pepper
- Dice the carrots, celery, and onion. Place the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the diced vegetables and cook until soft but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking chop the potatoes into ½-inch chunks. Add the water and chopped potatoes to the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil with the lid slightly ajar. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes can easily be cut through with a fork.
- While the potatoes are cooking cut the salmon and haddock into bite-size chunks. Add the salmon, haddock, evaporated milk, salt, pepper, and any flavor variations you want to try (see recipe notes) to the pot. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste then serve hot, with crusty bread or crackers on the side.