I am making clam chowder and the recipe calls for black pepper, salt, parsley and red pepper (1/2 t). SHould I use ground cayanne pepper or red pepper flakes?

  • Are you talking Manhattan clam chowder (tomato broth) or New England clam chowder (cream base)? @Stephen's answer below assumes New England but notes both; based on your ingredients, I assume Manhattan; therefore I suggest red pepper flakes. For me, 1/2 tsp cayenne will make your soup very hot, unless you're making a very large quantity... and I like spice! But perhaps not enough...
    – hoc_age
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


Most recipes I've seen for clam chowder suggest adding salt and black (or white) pepper to taste before serving along with a sprinkling of chopped/minced parsley leaves (either in with the clams or as a garnish). A touch of white pepper in cream-based dishes can be a wonderful addition.

I have never seen a recipe for clam chowder that includes cayenne pepper or pepper flakes - I would think the heat in either choice would work against the delicate flavors of the clam and cream (and even if you were making the Manhattan version with tomatoes, that dish is typically briny and savory - not what I'd call spicy).

Is it possible that the recipe could be referring to paprika? If that's the case, a little bit of mild paprika used as a garnish on top when you serve the clam chowder should be fine, but remember that a little of that can go a long way in a delicately flavored dish.

  • Half a teaspoon of either in a decent sized pot isn't really enough to make it spicy, just a little warmth.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 14:35
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    @Jefromi - Maybe I have a delicate palate, but 1/2 tsp of cayenne sounds like a lot! Even for a large pot, especially for chowder. Perhaps for chili... but I'd start with 1/8 tsp and creep up from there...
    – hoc_age
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 17:05
  • @hoc_age Okay, I guess I'm from Texas - in a big pot of soup I think I can't really even taste 1/4 tsp, especially if it's something creamy.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 18:11
  • @Jefromi -- and perhaps I'm a wimp!
    – hoc_age
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 18:38

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