This creamy vegan corn chowder is lightly smoky and spicy from chipotle peppers. It's loaded with corn and red potatoes and can be made on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot in no time!
Don't have an Instant Pot? This recipe can also be made on the stovetop.
Other than zucchini corn fritters, this is probably one of my favorite ways to use fresh summer corn. That being said, you can make this recipe with frozen or canned corn too!
- Flavors: Fresh summer sweet corn adds a pop of sweetness that balances out the smoky and spicy chipotle peppers.
- Dairy-free: This vegan corn chowder is still nice and creamy, thanks to coconut cream and a "slurry". For an even creamier and more traditional approach to chowder, blend half of the soup after cooking.
- Make it in the Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker or on the stovetop. I haven't tried this recipe in a crockpot but I imagine it would work.
- This recipe isn't exactly traditional, but it does use a lot of classic corn chowder ingredients like fresh corn, potatoes, and (vegan) butter.
- Corn: I recommend fresh corn for the best flavor, but you can use fresh, frozen, or canned corn depending on the season/availability. One ear usually has ½ cup or ~3 oz corn kernels.
- Potatoes: I prefer red potatoes for chowder, but Yukon gold are also a good option (that's what I used for the photos/video).
- Chipotle peppers: These are canned in adobo sauce. They are just smoked and seasoned jalapeno peppers (yes, it's spicy).
- Coconut cream: This adds extra depth and creaminess to the soup. It is similar to the thick, high-fat part of canned coconut milk. Buy it in cans labeled "coconut cream".
- Vegetable bouillon is my go-to flavor enhancer in vegetarian soups. Use 1 tablespoon bouillon for every 4-5 cups of water in place of vegetable broth.
How to make
The Instant Pot and stove top versions differ slightly. Here is how to make chipotle corn chowder on the stovetop.
Stove top method
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add butter. Once melted, add the diced onion and celery. Saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes (see above).
Add the fresh corn, minced garlic, and jalapeno, sauteing for 1-2 more minutes or until the garlic is golden and aromatic.
Add the chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, vegetable bouillon, smoked paprika, chili powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
Deglaze the pot by adding a splash of water and stirring to remove any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining water and the cubed potatoes.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a rapid simmer (bubbles should be popping consistently but not as dramatically as boiling water). Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Once the potatoes are tender, pour in the coconut cream, stirring to combine.
How to thicken the soup
Creamy corn chowder is usually made with a thickener, such as flour, and high-fat milk, like heavy cream.
There are two main ways to thicken vegan corn chowder.
- Make a slurry: Use 2 tablespoons of flour mixed with 2 tablespoons of the hot corn chowder to form a thick paste, also known as a "slurry". To prevent clumping, add the slurry to the corn chowder while whisking the soup. Simmer the soup for another 4-5 minutes, until thickened.
- Blend the soup: This results in a much smoother soup with a thicker base. Transfer 2-4 cups of chipotle corn chowder to a blender and blend until mostly smooth. Return to the pot and stir to combine with the remaining unblended soup. You can also use an immersion blender.
If the soup isn't thickening to your desired level of creaminess you can repeat the slurry process.
I also add ¼ cup of coconut cream, which is the higher fat part of coconut milk. This adds a rich, lightly sweet flavor and extra depth to the chowder.
To make this recipe gluten-free, just use corn or potato starch in place of flour in the slurry.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers: This soup is best within 4-5 days. Keep refrigerated in a closed container.
- Freezing: Let cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer container or quart-sized mason jar, leaving at least an inch of space at the top of the jar. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Reheating: Simply reheat the chowder in a pot on the stove over medium heat until heated through or reheat single servings in the microwave in 2-3 minutes.
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Vegan Chipotle Corn Chowder
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion diced finely
- 2 stalks celery diced finely
- 16 ounces sweet corn see note #1
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small jalapeno minced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon
- 1-2 chipotle peppers roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 5 cups water
- 1 and ½ pounds red potatoes cubed into 1 inch pieces
- ¼ cup coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons liquid from the cooked soup
- chopped cilantro for serving
- freshly ground pepper to taste
Instant Pot Instructions
- Press the "saute" button on the Instant Pot. Adjust to "normal" (medium heat). Once it reads "hot", add the butter. Add the diced onion and celery to the pot, sauteing until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, garlic, and jalapeno, sauteing for 1-2 minutes more.
- Add the vegetable bouillon. Deglaze the pot by stirring in ¼ cup of water to the bouillon.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients, except for the coconut cream and flour. Lock the Instant Pot lid in place and set the pressure valve to "sealing". Set the time to 12 minutes on "high pressure". It will take ~10 minutes to come to pressure.
- Once the timer is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then release remaining pressure manually.
- Carefully remove the lid. Check potatoes for doneness and taste for salt/seasonings. If the potatoes aren't done, cook on high pressure for another 2 minutes then carefully do a quick pressure release.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to "saute" on "normal". Add the coconut cream. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons hot soup liquid to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the Instant Pot, whisking to combine. Continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the soup is thickened.
Stove Top Instructions
- Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add butter. Once melted, add the diced onion and celery. Saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the fresh corn, minced garlic, and jalapeno, sauteing for 1-2 more minutes or until the garlic is golden and aromatic.
- Add the vegetable bouillon, chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, smoked paprika, chili powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Deglaze the pot by adding a splash of water and stirring to remove any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining water and the cubed potatoes.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a rapid simmer (bubbles should be popping consistently but not as dramatically as boiling water). Simmer uncovered until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are tender, pour in the coconut cream, stirring to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons hot soup liquid to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the Instant Pot, whisking to combine. Continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the soup is thickened.
- Garnish with cilantro and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!
- Corn: Use fresh, frozen, or canned corn. Frozen corn should be thawed before using and canned corn should be drained. If using a fresh corn, you will need ~6 ears. One ear usually has ½ cup corn, or ~3 ounces.
- For a more classic corn chowder texture, blend 2-4 cups of the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender instead of thickening with a slurry.
- This soup is spicy. To make it more mild, omit the jalapeno and use just 1 chipotle pepper and 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce.
- Leftovers: This soup is best within 4-5 days. Keep refrigerated in a closed container. Simply reheat the chowder in a pot on the stove over medium heat until heated through or reheat single servings in the microwave in 2-3 minutes.
- Variation: For a more classic corn chowder without the chipotle seasonings, simply omit the chipotle peppers, chili powder, smoked paprika, and adobo sauce. Adjust other seasonings to taste.
Author's note: This recipe was originally shared September 2018 as an Instant Pot recipe. It was updated in August 2022 to include a stovetop option. The recipe remains mostly the same, with a few minor changes to the method.