Sweet corn, creamy potatoes and a delightfully seasoned broth make for the best - and easiest - Corn Chowder I've ever made. With just 30 minutes of active cooking time, you can have a sumptuous, end of summer supper that's fit for company but easy enough for a weeknight meal.
If you're someone who likes to purchase pre-packaged spice blends from Trader Joe's, I'm right there with you. This yummy (and simple) recipe for corn chowder uses two of my current favorites - Vegan Chicken-less Salt and Everything But the Elote. If you've been on the fence about trying them, I'm here to sing their praises.
Originally Posted May 30, 2020 - Updated August 20, 2021
Table of Contents
Vegan Chicken-less Seasoning Salt
I’m sure you’re already familiar with Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. (If you’re not, get on that train. It’s awesome for spicing up your lox, pouring into plain yogurt for a savory dip, putting on your popcorn for a bit of interest, really just about anything you’d want the “Everything” bagel flavor on. In fact, Trader Joe's customers voted it as their number one favorite product in 2019. That should tell you something.)
Every time I see a new spice blend in TJ’s, I know I have to try it. Even when the product I’m buying is called Vegan Chicken-less Seasoning Salt. Never in my wildest dreams would I have dreamt up this product, but damn am I glad that someone else did.
Apparently chicken salt is all the rage in Australia, originally meant to help home cooks make a better roast chicken by basically creating a seasoning salt that mimics the flavors of bouillon. Made with warming spices like onion and garlic powder, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, as well as sea salt and celery seed, this little fella packs a big punch and is both vegan and kosher to boot.
Our first application of this magical substance was on popcorn. It was delicious. We then tried it on french fries. Guess what? Also delicious. Want to eat that packet of ramen without all the MSG? Simply sub in a few teaspoons of this bad boy and you won’t be disappointed.
We’ve put it in our breakfast potatoes. We’ve sauteed our cauliflower in it. And y’all? This seasoning powder just won’t quit. For just $1.99, it is the stuff of dreams.
Everything But the Elote Seasoning Blend
On the same fateful day where I first found the Vegan Chicken-less Seasoning Salt, another TJ’s gem caught my eye. I have four words for you: Everything But The Elote.
If you are obsessed with the delight that is Mexican street corn (a.k.a. elote) and can happily house cob after cob of the stuff while abandoning all “ladylike” eating etiquette, slathering your face and hands in oil and corn juice and getting kernels stuck in your teeth while slurping our way down the rows of kernels, then a.) I see you, and b.) this little jar is for you.
A delightful combination of all the flavors you’d find on elote including chile pepper, Parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, cumin, dried cilantro, sea salt, as well as thoughtful additions like cane sugar and corn flour to evince the same flavor as corn itself, it is worth every penny of the $2.49 it costs.
I’ve used it on popcorn, to flavor up my cornbread, to make compound butter to put on said cornbread, to flavor chicken tenders and corn pancakes, and most recently, to make corn chowder. This stuff is delicious.
About This Recipe
In case you need another reason to try these seasoning blends out, I have a recipe for corn chowder that I made using both, and it was bangin'. Joe went back for THIRDS. It is packed full of summer flavors and is tasty enough to make this hot, humid weather feel worth it.
If you haven't tried it yet, using seasoning blends is an excellent time saving shortcut for weeknight cooking. Rather than having to bust out 10 different spice jars and measure each one separately, the blends already have all the flavors without the hassle.
This amazing chowder is also extra cheap to make if you make it during corn season. I was able to procure all 8 ears for a mere $2 at my Farmer's Market, which isn't uncommon in July and August when all the corn is ready for harvest.
I'm also a big fan of using as much of my food as possible. Simmering the corn cobs in water is a fast and easy way to make a homemade corn broth that adds a ton of flavor to your soup. Let the stovetop do the heavy lifting while you prep your other ingredients, and you'll be rewarded with a deeply summery tasting soup without almost any extra hassle.
Tip: I use the same dutch oven that I'm going to make the chowder in to cut back on my dish doing. When the cobs are spent, remove them with tongs, dump the stock into another vessel, and give the pot a quick wipe to prevent the water splattering from the bacon fat.
Bacon and corn make excellent bedfellows, and bacon is one of my pantry must-haves. It adds a ton of savory depth to everything it touches, but doesn't cost a ton of money. I love the Kirkland brand thick cut bacon because it is under $4 per pound, but is comparable to brands that cost twice as much.
Not only is the Kirkland bacon nice and meaty, it also happens to come from European pork. Since Europe tends to have better laws concerning livestock welfare and other farming practices - including a ban on the use of ractopamene - I'm more comfortable keeping European bacon in my diet in small quantities.
Oh, and don't forget about the beauty of bacon fat, either. Keep a jar by your stove to catch any drippings, then use the fat to add flavor to everything from cornbread to scrambled eggs. YUM!
If you are a vegetarian, not to worry. Simply omit the bacon and swap in some umami-rich cremini mushrooms instead. Cut into small pieces and sauté in some olive oil until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are nicely browned. Continue with the recipe as written.
While I used heavy cream for this recipe because I love the consistency it gives to corn chowder, you can easily swap in coconut cream for a vegan version. Just note that the final product will have a faint hint of coconut flavor, which doesn't bother me one bit. NOTE: For vegan, you'll also need to omit the Everything But The Elote seasoning. Replace with an equivalent amount of the Chicken-less Salt mix, or use some taco seasoning instead.
How to Make This Recipe
Shuck corn, removing all hairs. Remove kernels with a sharp knife (Note: a bundt pan comes in really handy to stabilize the ear while you use the knife, and the pan catches all the good stuff!) Set kernels aside for later.
Place the naked cobs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and leave to cook while you complete other prep.
In a medium dutch oven, render bacon, cut into small pieces until beginning to brown slightly. (Note: Scissors are awesome for getting even bacon pieces without dirtying a cutting board)
Depending on how fatty your bacon is, you may need to drain some of the fat off or add in some olive oil to supplement it. In all, you’ll want about 3 tablespoon fat when you’re done.
NOTE: Save your bacon fat if you need to drain it from your chowder. Keep a lidded mason jar by your stove to keep your bacon renderings in; it saves for 6 months at room temp and can add so much flavor to your cooking. Use it to cook your eggs, pan fry your toast, or add bacon flavor to just about anything you can think of!
Add in garlic, jalapeño (if using), yellow onion, and red bell pepper. Sauté until onion and pepper are beginning to soften.
Add in russet potatoes and corn. Stir around and coat them in the fat, sautéing them just a little for color.
Add in corn broth, Vegan Chicken-less Seasoning Salt, Everything But The Elote Seasoning Salt, and bay leaves. Simmer until potatoes are just fork tender. Remove from heat.
Stir in heavy cream and, if using, shredded pepper jack cheese (optional, helps to thicken soup). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Use a potato masher, immersion blender, or regular blender to purée up to half of the chowder, depending on the thickness you prefer.
Scoop into bowls and top with your choice of additions. I recommend using some fresh basil or cilantro for a bit of brightness, a little hot sauce, and some toasted breadcrumbs (bonus points if they are made from cornbread) or tortilla chips for texture. ENJOY! And then go back for seconds. You know you want to.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! Simply swap in some chopped cremini, button, oyster or shiitake mushrooms for the bacon. Sauté them in some olive oil until they are browned and the liquid is evaporated, then proceed with the recipe as written.
Also substitute unsweetened canned coconut cream for the heavy cream, and use more of the Chicken-less Salt or some taco seasoning in place of the Everything But The Elote (which has parmesan cheese).
To help thicken the soup without the addition of cheese, mash a few of the potatoes at the end of simmering.
Absolutely! My easy corn chowder recipe should last in the fridge for up to a week.
Since this soup has a creamy base, I don't recommend that you freeze it. If you'd like more soup ideas that ARE for freezing, check out this post.
By all means, YES! If corn isn't in season, I actually recommend going the frozen route. Just note that you won't have the cobs to make a broth from, so you'll need to swap in an equal amount of vegetable or bone broth.
NOTE: I keep "Better Than Bouillon" on hand for these situations. Costco sells enormous 16oz jars of all three flavors for $7.49 each; for reference, that's 76 cups (or 19 quarts) worth of broth!! I can't beat 10 cents per cup buying canned or boxed broth at the store, plus I love not having so much to recycle at the end.
Other Yummy Recipes
If you tried this recipe for my Easy Corn Chowder with Trader Joe's Vegan Chicken-less Salt and Everything But The Elote Seasoning, please be sure to rate and review it below!
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Easy Corn Chowder With Trader Joe's Chicken-less Salt and Everything But The Elote Seasoning
- 8 ears corn cobs reserved for broth
- 8 slices thick cut bacon chopped
- oil of choice if needed
- 5-7 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 jalapeño chopped finely
- 3 russet potatoes peeled and chopped
- 6 C corn broth (from cobs and water)
- 3 teaspoon TJ's Vegan Chicken-less Seasoning Salt
- 2 teaspoon TJ's Everything But the Elote Seasoning Salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 C heavy cream
- Shuck corn, removing all hairs. Remove kernels with a sharp knife (Note: a bundt pan comes in really handy to stabilize the ear while you use the knife, and the pan catches all the good stuff!) Set kernels aside for later.Place the naked cobs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and leave to cook while you complete other prep.
- In a medium dutch oven, render bacon, cut into small pieces until beginning to brown slightly. (Note: Scissors are awesome for getting even bacon pieces without dirtying a cutting board)Depending on how fatty your bacon is, you may need to drain some of the fat off (SAVE IT if you do. Keep a lidded mason jar by your stove to catch all that good stuff. Trust me. It saves for 6 months at room temp and can add so much flavor to your cooking) or add in some olive oil to supplement it. In all, you’ll want about 3 tablespoon fat when you’re done.
- Add in garlic, jalapeño, yellow onion, and red bell pepper.Sauté until onion and pepper are beginning to soften.
- Add in russet potatoes and corn.Stir around and coat them in the fat, sautéing them just a little for color.
- Add in corn broth, Vegan Chicken-less Seasoning Salt, Everything But The Elote Seasoning Salt, and bay leaves.Simmer until potatoes are just fork tender. Remove from heat.Use a potato masher, immersion blender, or regular blender to purée up to half of the chowder, depending on the thickness you prefer.
- Stir in heavy cream and, if using, shredded pepper jack cheese (optional, helps to thicken soup).Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Scoop into bowls and top with your choice of toppings. We added the following: fresh basil chiffonade, Cholula, Sriracha, and cornbread bread crumbs. ENJOY!
- To make vegetarian: Simply swap in some chopped cremini, button, oyster or shiitake mushrooms for the bacon. Sauté them in some olive oil until they are browned and the liquid is evaporated, then proceed with the recipe as written.
- For vegan: Also substitute unsweetened canned coconut cream for the heavy cream, and use more of the Chicken-less Salt or some taco seasoning in place of the Everything But The Elote (which has parmesan cheese).
- To help thicken the soup without cheese, mash a few of the potatoes at the end of simmering.