Summer Corn Chowder {Copycat Panera}

Once in a while when I’m out and about I treat myself to lunch at Panera Bread, and one of my favorite things to order is their Summer Corn Chowder. But as the name implies, it’s an item they have on their summer menu and you can’t always get it at other times of the year. So if I get a craving for this soup during the winter, well then it’s up to me to just make my own summer corn chowder because I think it’s delicious at any time of the year!

The last time I was enjoying this corn chowder at Panera it occurred to me that it was a lot like a potato and corn soup I already make at home. I decided with a bit of tweaking I could turn my recipe into a nice little copycat version of the Panera summer corn chowder – and it worked!

Homemade copycat Panera summer corn chowder

I was going to keep experimenting a little bit but the last time I made my copycat version, hubby declared it was a winner and that it was great just the way it was. “This is delicious”, he said, “stop messing around with it!” Haha

So now that hubby has given it two thumbs up, I’m going to keep things as they are, and that’s the recipe I’m sharing here today. I don’t know exactly how Panera makes their recipe (although they do share their ingredient list which I checked out and used for my ideas). When we did a side-by-side taste test of my soup and the Panera soup, the Panera soup was a bit thicker and hubby and I both agreed the Panera soup had an almost “cheesy” taste even though their published ingredients do not include any cheese. Nevertheless, this copycat is a tasty version with the same type of flavor combination, plus it uses a few shortcuts that make it a simple and frugal homemade meal.

Ingredients for Vegetarian Summer Corn Chowder

This recipe begins by dicing some potatoes (you’ll need about 2 cups). I usually use redskin potatoes and just leave the skins on. I like to cut them nice and small too because the Panera soup is not a very chunky soup.

One little trick this recipe uses is that you boil the potatoes, but then drain the water off, being sure to reserve one cup of the potato cooking water. This water has some of the potato starch in it which can help a bit with thickening the soup.

Homemade copycat Panera summer corn chowder

Once that’s done, you dump the cooked potatoes and the cup of reserved potato cooking water back into the pot. Then it’s just a matter of dumping in the rest of the ingredients. I use a few handy shortcuts too: a can of cream style corn, a can of evaporated milk, and some salsa.

Homemade copycat Panera summer corn chowder

Yes, this is going to be easy! In fact you could probably stop there and you’d have a yummy soup.

But I usually add in some frozen corn kernels too (because hey, it’s corn chowder after all), and then I season it just a bit with some garlic salt and white pepper.

If you want this recipe to be vegan (instead of vegetarian) you could also substitute in 1-1/2 cups of a plant milk (like almond or soy) instead of the evaporated milk.

Homemade copycat Panera summer corn chowder

So I’ve been very happy with this soup that not only goes together fast, it’s a great homemade solution that let’s me enjoy my favorite summer corn chowder any time of the year. And you can make a whole pot of this soup for less money than one bowl of soup at the restaurant. It’s a win-win when you make your own!

Here’s the complete printable recipe:

Summer Corn Chowder {Panera Copycat}

Enjoy this quick and frugal DIY version of summer corn chowder any time of the year!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Copycat, Soup Mix
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Beverly


  • 2 cups Finely Diced Potatoes (I use redskin and leave the skins on)
  • 1 can Cream Style Corn (14.75 oz)
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk (12 oz)
  • 3/4 cup Salsa (I use mild)
  • 1/2 cup Frozen Corn Kernels (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper


  • Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Place on stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat a bit and continue to gently boil until the potatoes are cooked (about 10 to 15 minutes).
  • Drain the potatoes, being sure to reserve one cup of the potato cooking water.
  • Return the cooked potatoes and the one cup of reserved potato cooking water to the pot.
  • Also add to the pot the can of cream style corn, the can of evaporated milk, and the salsa. If you would like a little additional corn in the soup, also add in the 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels (there is no need to thaw them first).
  • Finally, add in the garlic salt and the white pepper and stir to mix everything together.
  • Continue to heat until soup is warm and steaming. Then remove from heat and serve.


For a vegan version of this recipe, substitute 1-1/2 cups of a plant milk (like almond or soy) for the can of evaporated milk.

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  1. Super impressed with this soup! Currently stuck at home and craved corn chowder…this was the easiest soup ever and it takes remarkably like the Panera version!

  2. I followed the directions except I used fresh corn that I cut off the Cobb. However mine separated and I’m not sure why? The flavor was AWESOME!! But I was turned off by the separation:-( Any idea what I did wrong? Any suggestions on how to stop it from happening next time because I WILL make it again?

    1. One thing to try if there is separation is to heat the milk a little bit before adding it to the rest of the mixture. That was a solution for me with a tomato soup recipe where a curdling look was happening so perhaps that could help in this recipe too.

  3. Just made this and it was great. I had to add a little corn starch to thicken it but delicious. Mine is more red and I used lite coconut milk instead of dairy milk. Thanks.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe Sue and that you were able to make a few changes that worked for you!

  4. We added half small onion, some fresh garlic, half a stick of butter, and a dash of chili powder, paprika, and nutmeg and turned out even more flavorful!

    1. Appreciate those spice recommendations!

      I strayed quite a bit from the recipe, too, but the original is probably really close to the chowder from Panera.

      I roasted 2 cobs of corn as well as 1/2 onion, 2 poblano peppers, 1 serrano pepper, and garlic in a cast iron skillet and added the butter and spices you mentioned to my chowder, delicious!

      I replaced the evaporated milk with 3/4 cups Silk protein milk (soy + cashew milk I believe) and 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock, replaced the salsa with 2 roma tomatoes, and added 1/2 tbsp corn starch (probably could have added a full tbsp).

      I looked up the Panera chowder ingredients and ended up adding some nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor and rice vinegar (squeeze of lime would do the trick!). In addition to the chili powder, paprika, and nutmeg, I added pink salt, turmeric, and freshly ground black pepper. I’ll serve with cilantro and lime, and if it’s too spicy, I’ll top with some sour cream.

      I got a little carried away, but the end result is divine!