Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder


 Gluten-free Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder is thick, creamy, and just spicy enough.

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder #dinner #recipe #soup #chowder #winter |

Howdy all! I hope you had a nice weekend and are staying warm wherever you are. It’s a nippy negative five degrees outside as I type this – aka you couldn’t pay me enough money to step outside my door and into the howling wind, which scared the bejeezus out of me a couple nights ago!

Ben and I watched a particularly haunting episode of 48 hours featuring an insane arsonist this weekend, and the creepy wind shaking the house plus a smoke alarm with a low battery that started beeping in our bedroom at 3am left us both wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. Dunh-dunh-dunnnh! Sorry but what are the odds that we watch a show about a guy who sets fire to people’s houses when he’s mad, then our smoke alarm goes off 5 hours later?

And while we’re on the topic, why do smoke alarms always seem to go off in the middle of the night? That was seriously the fifth time in as many years that that’s happened to us. Riddle me that?!

Anyway, control what you can. Since it’s bitterly cold out there right now I made a big pot of perfectly spicy Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder to warm up with this weekend.

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder #dinner #recipe #soup #chowder #winter |

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder is thick, creamy, cheesy and just slightly spicy with the addition of both shredded Pepper Jack cheese and red chili pepper flakes in the ingredient list. I am NOT a spice lover – I order a “0” on the spice scale at our favorite Thai place in town – but they provide just the right amount of warmth in this recipe. It’s so, so good. Comforting, cozy, and gluten-free, too! The perfect chowder to ladle up then lay down by the fire with.

Plus, there’s bacon!

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder #dinner #recipe #soup #chowder #winter |

Start with the aforementioned bacon. Crisp 8 slices bacon in a big soup pot over medium heat. Transfer the crisped bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then remove all but 1 Tablespoon bacon grease from the pot.

Remember, the easiest way to discard bacon grease is to spoon it into a foil-lined bowl then throw it away once it cools (or save it, if that’s your jam!)

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder #dinner #recipe #soup #chowder #winter |

To the bacon grease add 1 chopped celery rib and 1 large chopped shallot. Season with pepper then saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Next add 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes and 2 cloves minced garlic then saute for 30 more seconds. You can add more or less red chili pepper flakes depending on how spicy you like your food. I found 1/4 teaspoon to be perfect for me.


Next add 1-3/4 cups chicken broth and 2 cups 2% milk. 


Now add 4 cups Southern Style frozen hash browns. I LOVE using frozen hash browns in this chowder recipe, vs cutting up potatoes myself, because, well, it’s as easy as opening a bag. Plus they cook in no time at all.


“Southern Style” simply means “cubed” hash browns, btw, and you don’t need to thaw them before adding to the chowder.


Alrighty, next add TONS of freshly cracked pepper to the chowder then crank the heat to bring it to a boil.

While that’s happening, whisk together 2 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free White Rice Flour for thickening soups and sauces) with 1/4 cup chicken broth in a small bowl until smooth. Once the chowder has come to a boil, drizzle the mixture in and give a big stir to combine, then turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until the chowder has thickened and potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.


Meanwhile, shred the chowder’s namesake cheese – 8oz Pepper Jack. You can hand shred with a box grater or use a food processor with a grating blade to make things go super quick. I would definitely recommend grating fresh vs buying pre-grated cheese, as pre-grated doesn’t melt quite as smooth.

Once the chowder has thickened and the potatoes are tender, remove the pot from the heat then add the cheese about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until smooth before adding the next batch.


Finally, stir in half the bacon and let the chowder sit and thicken for about 5 minutes.


Ladle the chowder into bowls then top with the remaining bacon and sliced fresh green onions. Perfection!

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder #dinner #recipe #soup #chowder #winter |

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder

serves 6


Gluten-free Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder is thick, creamy, and just spicy enough.


  • 8 strips bacon (1/2lb), chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 large shallot or 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (or more or less)
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (see notes for brand used)
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 4 cups Southern-Style frozen hash browns
  • 8oz freshly shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped


  1. In a small bowl whisk together 2 Tablespoons flour with 1/4 cup chicken broth then set aside.
  2. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat then add chopped bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then remove all but 1 Tablespoon bacon grease from the pot. Add celery and shallots, season with pepper, and then saute until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add minced garlic and red chili pepper flakes then saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  3. Add remaining 1-3/4 cups chicken broth, milk, hash browns, and lots of freshly cracked pepper to the pot then turn heat up to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Slowly drizzle in flour/chicken broth mixture then stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until chowder has thickened and potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat then add shredded cheese about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until completely smooth before adding the next batch. Stir in 1/2 the cooked bacon then serve with remaining chopped bacon, and chopped green onions.


This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder #dinner #recipe #soup #chowder #winter |

Like I said – total comfort food! I love how luscious this chowder is, with creamy potato cubes bobbing in the warm, cheesy broth. Plus, any chowder that passes the spoon test is a winner in my book. Enjoy!

Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder #dinner #recipe #soup #chowder #winter |

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  1. Rainey 12.30.2013

    Oh my goodness, doesn’t that just figure that would happen to you! That’s why I can’t watch scary tv or movies… especially at night when I’m alone in my house. Something crazy always happens that makes me want to pee my pants.

  2. Yum! This sounds so good. Do you think you can freeze it? I’m trying this new thing called being organized and would like to prep some meals in advance.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.31.2013

      I’ve not had much luck with freezing milk-based soups – they always seem to separate when re-heated. Any broth-based soup or chili and stew seem to do well though!

  3. YUM! I have a bunch of potatoes I need to use up, so I think I’ll sub those for the hash browns and give this a try!

  4. I want this now! So cold here, but I don’t have bacon, pepper jack cheese, enough milk or red pepper flakes ha. I need to go to the store later but I’m not ready to brave the outdoors with the toddler and my new years eve list. Oh and I suppose food for the rest of the week!

  5. Abby VZ 12.30.2013

    Oh my goodness! Just over the holiday week I was visiting family in DSM. My dad brought me to South Union Bread Company for lunch. They have a pepper jack potato soup that is ah-mazing! (Plus free bread and dipping sauce bar! Yummy). Definitely worth a visit!

  6. i love chunky chowders. there’s something about having those potatoes in there that makes it feel even more hearty!

  7. L 12.30.2013

    Are the hash browns frozen or thawed when you add them? Thanks!

  8. Emily 12.30.2013

    Making this right now, with whatever cheese ends reside in the lunchmeat drawer.

    What has me scratching my head: while the tip about discarding bacon grease is genius, who DOES such a thing??? Don’t they know the value of that little ramekin of solidified gold in the fridge?????

  9. Ahhhh, there are so many reasons to love this recipe, but the one topping mine is that fact that all that cold air you’re having in Iowa is coming toward me! I’ll be bundling up in Boston, with a bowl of this business :)

    PS – your grease/fat trick is essential. So much easier than hoarding all that grossness in a coffee can under your sink. Not that I used to do that or anything. Ahem.

  10. It is suppose to turn very cold here starting on Tuesday. All I can think about is soup. I love your little trick with the fat. We had a problem with that last night. From now on I am doing this.

  11. Tracy 12.30.2013

    I agree with the alarms ALWAYS going off in the middle of the night! However, this summer ours went off mid-morning and we actually had a carbon monoxide leak. It was scary!!

  12. Emily 12.30.2013

    This looks delish!

    So many of your recipes lately have been hearty (which is great for the cold, blustery winter), however do you have plans to incorporate more light, healthy eats? I’ve always loved your salad, smoothie, and light dish creations.

    Happy New Year!

  13. Elizabeth 12.30.2013

    My smoke alam went off in the middle of the night a few months ago and scared the crap out of me. So I changed the batteries, and it went off again the next night. So, rationally, I threw it out and got a new one. I decided it was possessed and didn’t want it in my house.

  14. Anna S. 12.30.2013

    If I don’t have access to frozen cubed potatoes and just use potatoes, should I parboil them first?

    I love your recipes and can’t wait to make this one! Happy New Year!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.03.2014

      Great question – yes I would parboil them first as the hash browns cook in about 5 minutes!

  15. Love the idea of using hot cheese!

  16. Heather 12.30.2013

    Are you kidding!!!??? I saw this 3 hours ago and HAD to have it for dinner. Only had shredded frozen hash browns and 8 oz block of cheddar, but went ahead with it anyway. DELICIOUS. Thanks for the perfect snow in meal tonight :)

  17. Justin Knight 12.30.2013

    Just the name made my mouth water. Printed and intend to make this very soon. Well, as soon as it gets cooler than 75 degrees here in southern California!

  18. shobelyn 12.30.2013

    This looks really delicious. I can taste the creaminess and I can smell the deliciousness of the bacon. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Renae 12.30.2013

    Looks really good!! Can you tell me what size of food processor you’d recommend? A 3cup one seems small but a 7 cup one seems so big. It will just be used for normal kitchen uses, and maybe pie crust. Thanks!

  20. Carrie 12.30.2013

    It’s 70 and sunny here in Scottsdale. Come on down. But, It gets chilly in the evenings (40’s) so chowder sounds DELISH.

  21. Kelly Mitchem 12.30.2013

    This sounds amazing, I don’t know why I have never thought to do pepper jack as the cheese but I will bet it is divine!
    I can’t wait to try it!

  22. Michelle Ayers 12.31.2013

    I made this last night and it was amazing! Beware of how spicy your pepper jack cheese is though, I bought really spicy cheese, so I didn’t need to add red pepper flakes! Also, THANK YOU for the bacon grease tip, I’m always searching for something disposable to pour the grease in! I have made so many of your recipes, they are all awesome so, thank you for sharing and Happy New Year!

  23. Kim 12.31.2013

    This looks amazing! pinned, printed & hoping to be a way I can get the hubby to eat potato soup! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Whoa girl! That looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it but they may have to wait til February. Diet begins….like now. :(

  25. Anne [A Squared] 12.31.2013

    Love the spicy twist on this soup recipe– my hubby will love it!

  26. Kari 01.01.2014

    I love your blog, delicious recipes and adorable son, but you also have my sympathy for knowing how to throw away bacon grease. All good Southern cooks have a can or dish where we keep our treasured drippings to use as seasoning in many wonderful dishes like collard greens, blackeyed peas and fantastic biscuits.
    We don’t get much cold weather here either, but I will definitely be trying this soup as soon as it drops below 65. :)

  27. Kathleen 01.01.2014

    This was beyond delicious! Even tastier than the picture made it look, if that is possible :)

  28. Sharron 01.02.2014

    I’m with Emily and Kari on not discarding bacon grease [at least not ALL of it]. I use a small super fine stainless-steel mesh strainer [to keep out all those wee brown bits and leave me with pure almost-white bacon grease]. It’s amazing how just a small dollop on hot steamed green beans makes all the difference!

  29. Stephany 01.02.2014

    I have a bunch of leftover ham – can I substitute some of the bacon with ham?

  30. Lisa 01.02.2014

    Delish – loved it!! However, what’s the trick to reheating it? The cheese clumped together pretty badly on night two while reheating it. I want to make sure it doesn’t happen the next time.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.03.2014

      I actually don’t have a ton of luck re-heating milk/cheese based soups (same with freezing them!)

  31. Anikka 01.02.2014

    My fiance loves spicy pepper jack so we’ve learned that letting the cheese “age” in our fridge to near the expiration date (or slightly past it….) makes it spicier. Well this soup made with our aged pepper jack packed some punch! Still good. Next time I’ll use less red pepper and non-aged pepper jack ; )

    Great recipe!

  32. Joanna 01.03.2014

    As soon as I saw this recipe I knew it would be perfect for a cold, wintery day. I made it tonight and it was one of the most hearty, filling soups I’ve had. Absolutely delicious!

  33. Susan 01.04.2014

    Oh, my gosh! Just finished my second bowl of this fabulous, hearty soup! I used pre-diced celery & onion, and pre-packaged finely shredded cheese (which melted just fine) to make it even easier. Thanks so much for this delicious recipe!

  34. Diana 01.05.2014

    I made this last night for dinner and it was outstanding. I love how easy your recipes are to follow, and they always turn out great. Tonight we are making Ben’s beef stew!

  35. Heather 01.06.2014

    Ok, I know this is sacrilege, but if you were to make this vegetarian, would you get the veggies going in oil? Butter?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.06.2014

      No worries! I’d definitely use butter.

      • Heather 01.10.2014

        Made with butter and Vermont White Cheddar and was DELISHHHHHHHHH!

  36. Andrea 01.06.2014

    Made this on Sunday night & the fiancé loved it! It was a tad spicy for me, but delicious nonetheless! Also tastes delicious reheated. Thanks for sharing. I’ve just stumbled onto your website, but have already printed 5 more recipes to try!

  37. Ashleigh 01.07.2014

    It’s been cold for us here in Atlanta (in the teens today) so I made this over the weekend – wow! I forgot to grab bacon at the store but had some andouille chicken sausage that I diced up and threw in there, so yummy. Your recipes never disappoint!

  38. Amelia 01.07.2014

    I made this tonight and it was great !! I did add some ham n only used half the cheese. I will def make this again

  39. erica 01.07.2014

    just made this tonight and it was delicious…instead of bacon i used ham left over from Christmas. instead of bacon fat…a tbsp of butter. also, instead of 2% milk, i used skim – a lighter version, but still rich and creamy nonetheless.

    thanks for the recipe!

  40. Jennifer 01.13.2014

    Just curious, did you use jalapeno in this recipe? I see it in the photos, but didn’t see it in the recipe, and wasn’t sure if I just missed something. If you did want the extra spice, when would you suggest adding the jalapeno? Thanks!

    • Kristin 01.13.2014

      I just used it as a photo prob to show that the chowder is somewhat spicy. It would definitely be good chopped up in here if you wanted more spice!

  41. Jenna 01.25.2014

    This looks amazing! Did you use 8oz of shredded cheese or did you use an entire 8oz block of cheese and shred that which results in more than 8oz once shredded?

    • Kristin 01.29.2014

      It’s 8oz by weight, so I think those are the same thing!

  42. Julie 01.26.2014

    I just made this for dinner tonight and WOW! So good. I love the heat.

  43. Amber 01.28.2014

    I made this last night and it was amazing! I loved the spicy pepper jack cheese with the last bacon and creamy chowder. You are like my cooking guru!

  44. Lizzie 01.28.2014

    Just made this over the weekend to help us survive our record low temperatures. It was really spicy, but really good. Thanks! :)

  45. Kim 01.31.2014

    YUMMMMMMMMMM made this last week! I love it! even pinned it w/my own edits on it, blogging about it next week. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Janet 02.10.2014

    I made this soup and just loved the flavor, however it was really thick, which I know chowder is supposed to be, but this was really, really thick. I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. I kept double-checking the recipe and think I got all the liquid in. When you said 4 cups of hash browns did you do a 32 ounce bag (8 ozs*4) or did you measure out 4 cups. I wasn’t sure if that made a difference. Thanks!

    • Kristin 02.10.2014

      I measured out 4 cups. 32oz by weight would probably measure out to be 6+ cups!

  47. J Gola 02.13.2014

    I made this last night and it was SO good! I added some sweet corn and used a dehydrated carton of hash browns from Costco.

  48. Candi 02.13.2014

    This is my new fav recipe, it was a huge hit at our house. Even my picky eater husband loved it! Thanks for posting!

  49. This sounds totally awesome! I’m going to give it a try when hubs is out of town (he’s diabetic) or for our next church potluck. Who throws away bacon grease? That stuff is liquid gold!!! I also appreciate the way you provide so much information when answering questions in the comments section!! I found you through ZipList via Pinterest!

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