Instant Pot Seafood Chowder is the ultimate seafood-lovers meal. Packed with whitefish, baby shrimp, crab meat, scallops and fresh lobster meat, this creamy chowder is delicious anytime of the year. It's a versatile chowder that can be made with your favorite seafood or as the recipe is written.
Whether you call it seafood chowder or fish chowder, there is no doubt this recipe was made for seafood lovers everywhere. It's silky cream-based broth is seasoned with Old Bay, thyme, garlic and onions. Added to the broth are an array of fresh vegetables- corn, carrots, celery and potatoes,. And it's chock full of seafood with shrimp, crab meat, scallops, whitefish and lobster being the stars of this recipe.
While Instant Pot seafood chowder has a long list of ingredients, don't let that deter you. Most of these are simple, pantry staple ingredients. And the steps to making chowder are easy- there are no tricky methods to getting it right. It's practically a dump and start soup perfect for any pressure cooker skill level.
The great thing about Instant Pot seafood chowder is you can use a variety of crustaceans, finned fish, and mollusks. So if you don't have or don't like something I use here, simply replace it with something you do love.
As written, this recipe works in a 6, 8 or 10 quart pressure cooker. For 3 quart pressure cookers, you'll need to reduce the amount of servings.
It yields about 4 quarts of chowder. A serving of soup is generally 2 cups, meaning 8 people can enjoy this delicious seafood chowder as a full dinner and even more as an appetizer or side.
Chowder is a thick soup or stew made of seafood or corn. It's traditionally made with a base of potatoes, onions, and milk or heavy cream. New England clam chowder is an ever-popular creamy chowder packed with fresh clams, bacon and potatoes. Meanwhile, the non-traditional red version called Manhattan clam chowder is a thin tomato based chowder made without any milk or cream (and chowder gurus will insist this is not a real chowder!). But to each their own...
Ingredients and Substitutions
The main ingredients in this Instant Pot seafood chowder are:
- Carrots, celery, onion and garlic: all sauteed in butter to form a delicious broth base
- Vegetable broth: use seafood stock or chicken broth as an alternative.
- Heavy cream: for a lighter version, whole milk can be used but the chowder will be a little less rich and creamy. Do not put whole milk under pressure, and instead add it at the end with the shrimp and crab.
- Clam juice: adds a nice seafood taste. Substitute with white wine or an extra cup of broth.
- Potatoes: waxy potatoes, like baby creamer potatoes, are best because they stay together in hot soups.
- Thyme and parsley: I use dried but fresh can be used if you triple the amount.
- Old Bay seasoning: if you really enjoy this seasoning, you can use up to 1 teaspoon.
- Scallops: frozen work best so that they don't overcook. Use large bay scallops cut into pieces or whole small scallops.
- Whitefish: I usually use tilapia but salmon, cod, and haddock are great options too. Use frozen so that it doesn't overcook and cut it into chunks before adding to the pot. Most of the fish will flake apart as it's cooked.
- Lobster meat: if you can't find lobster meat, throw in some clams or mussels, or extra shrimp, crab or fish.
- Shrimp: I use cooked baby shrimp so they can be put in at the end just to warm. Since uncooked shrimp take only a minute or two to pressure cook, this keeps them from overcooking.
- Crab meat: make sure it's cooked, picked through, and in pieces. Always check for pieces of shells before adding to the pressure cooker. Like the shrimp, the crab is put in just at the end to warm.
Feel free to use a different amount of each fish. Just make sure to keep the total quantity the same (3 pounds) so that you still end up with a hearty and chunky chowder.
Step By Step Instructions
STEP 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute on normal (or high) for 3 minutes. Melt the butter and saute the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic stirring often.
STEP 2: Pour in the vegetable broth and deglaze the bottom of the pan to ensure there are no pieces of stuck food. Add the heavy cream, clam juice, potatoes, frozen fish, frozen scallops, lobster chunks, thyme, parsley, Old Bay seasoning, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Do not stir.
*Heavy cream can go under pressure without curdling because it has a high fat content, which prevents it from doing so.
STEP 3: Close and seal the pressure cooker lid. Set to pressure cook/manual on high for 5 minutes. Complete a controlled quick release of the pressure when finished.
*To do a controlled quick release, lightly press or turn the pressure release valve so that the steam comes out slowly rather than at full force. You can stop for a few seconds and restart this manual pressure releasing method if liquid starts to spray out. A controlled quick release prevents hot frothy liquid from exploding all over your kitchen. You should not do a natural release to avoid overcooking the fish.
STEP 4: Remove the pressure cooker lid and stir in the baby shrimp and crab meat. Stir thoroughly and serve with oyster crackers, fresh herbs, and a dash of red pepper flakes if desired.
Store uneaten fish chowder in the fridge for up to 5 days. I don't suggest freezing it, as the texture of the heavy cream will change.
- Make sure to do a controlled quick release to avoid frothy liquid from spraying out of the valve.
- If changing the type of seafood used, make sure to use the same total quantity so you still get a hearty, chunky chowder.
- If you'd like the broth thicker, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and mix with ¼ cup of flour. Set the finished chowder to saute for 2 minutes. Mix in the butter and flour paste and stir continuously until it begins to boil. Let boil for 2 minutes to thicken.
Instant Pot Seafood Chowder
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 4 celery stalks chopped
- 1 cup onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup clam juice
- 1 lb potatoes peeled and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 3 teaspoon fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley or 3 teaspoon fresh
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ lb frozen scallops
- ½ lb frozen tilapia chopped into chunks
- ½ lb lobster meat chopped into pieces
- 1 lb baby shrimp cooked, peeled and tail off
- ½ lb crab meat cooked and shelled
- Set the Instant Pot to saute on normal (or high) for 3 minutes. Melt the butter and saute the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic stirring often.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and deglaze the bottom of the pan to ensure there are no pieces of stuck food. Add the heavy cream, clam juice, potatoes, frozen fish, frozen scallops, lobster chunks, thyme, parsley, Old Bay seasoning, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Do not stir.
- Close and seal the pressure cooker lid. Set to pressure cook/manual on high for 5 minutes. Complete a controlled quick release of the pressure when finished.
- Remove the lid and stir in the baby shrimp and crab meat. Stir thoroughly and serve with oyster crackers, fresh herbs, and a dash of red pepper flakes if desired.