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Brunswick Stew -- a Southern favorite

Updated on February 15, 2015
A bowl of Brunswick Stew on a chilly evening is a delight
A bowl of Brunswick Stew on a chilly evening is a delight | Source
4.5 stars from 2 ratings of Brunswick Stew
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Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum located in southeast Virginia. The city was the capital of Colonial Virginia from 1699-1780.

I first discovered Brunswick Stew -- a unique Southern stew -- many years ago when I visited Colonial Williamsburg with a friend. I was living in Norfolk, Va. at the time and she flew down from Michigan to visit me while my husband was deployed. After walking around the historic village, we had lunch at Chowning’s Tavern.

I was intrigued by this stew “made of young fowl and garden vegetables.” This blend of chicken, tomatoes, okra and other vegetables was a tasty delight and a welcome change from heavier beef stews. I wondered how to make it but didn’t have the faintest idea how to go about recreating it.

Shortly after that, my mother-in-law, who lived in Mobile, Alabama, gave me a cookbook of old southern recipes compiled by a local church group. As I thumbed through it, I happened upon a recipe for Brunswick stew. The recipe called for multiple chickens and had measurements and some ingredients I had to adapt to a more modern time. I’ve been making this stew for about 30 years and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. It’s the perfect meal for a cold fall or winter day.

Brunswick Stew

I take two days to make this stew but you can do it in just one. I do it over two days so that I can chill the stew and skim extra fat off the top before I rewarm it for dinner. Whether you do this stew in one day or two, you'll first cook the chicken (I use a crock pot) and then assemble the cooked chicken, its broth and the rest of the ingredients in a stockpot to simmer. It's easy and delicious.

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 3 hours
Ready in: 3 hours 30 min
Yields: makes about 20 cups
Some of the ingredients for Southern Brunswick Stew
Some of the ingredients for Southern Brunswick Stew | Source


  • 3-4 pound chicken, washed, patted dry with giblets removed
  • 16-oz can whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 16-17 oz can lima beans, undrained
  • 16-17 oz can corn, undrained
  • 1 T butter or margerine
  • 1-1/2 T lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 16-oz package frozen okra
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-3 T chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup catsup
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cornstarch about 2 T, (optional)
  • water about 1/4 cup, (optional)


  1. Put chicken in a crockpot and cook on high in 5 cups salted water until chicken is done, about a two and a half hours. While the chicken cooks, get the other ingredients ready.
  2. Dump the chicken broth into a 6-quart (minimum) pot. I set a colander over my large stockpot and then pour everything out from the crockpot into the stockpot. The chicken stays in the colander so it can cool and the liquid ends up in the pot.
  3. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and add it to the broth in the pot. Discard the skin and bones.
  4. Add all of the other ingredients to the pot except the cornstarch and water.
  5. Bring everything to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down and let the stew simmer for about 30 minutes.
Corn muffins or rice are a nice accompaniment to Brunswick Stew
Corn muffins or rice are a nice accompaniment to Brunswick Stew | Source


1. Okra is a natural thickener but I also thicken the stew a bit more. If you decide to do the same, mix about 2 T of cornstarch with 4 T of water to make a thickener. About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve the stew bring it to a boil and then slowly pour some of the cornstarch mixture into the stew, stirring to blend it in. Let simmer a bit longer.

2. I serve Brunswick Stew with corn muffins. This recipe makes a lot but if you needed to stretch it further, you could serve it over cooked rice.

3. This stew freezes well so after my husband and I have had it a couple times, I'll freeze the rest in two-serving portions. On busy nights, all I need to do is pull out a container of frozen Brunswick Stew, reheat it on the stove or in the microwave and dinner is ready in no time.


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    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 2 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks poetryman6969!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Once you add the corn muffins I am there! Looking good. voted up.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks oliversmum. I hope you enjoy the stew and do try the corn muffins. I have a confession about the corn muffins -- they're from a box mix. No doubt you could find a "from scratch" recipe in a book or online but I've used a mix for years and it works for me. Thanks for the votes.

    • oliversmum profile image

      oliversmum 5 years ago from australia

      Danette Watt Hi. Your recipe sounds and looks delicious, and easy to make.

      Love the sound of corn muffins to have with the stew. Have never made them,but will give it a try.

      It is winter here,so this recipe is perfect.

      Thanks for sharing it with us. Voted up and very useful. :):)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks LaThing! It really is tasty and great for fall. Definitely too hot right now!

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      This stew sounds delicious! I must bookmark this for the Fall.... Bit hot here for stew right now :)

      Thanks for this wonderful recipe. Sharing it and voting up..... Wish there was a delicious button!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Have you ever eaten raw okra? It's slimy. Maybe that's what makes it a thickener. Like I said, it freezes well so it would be a good one for you to make too on for those busy days running back and forth between houses. Thanks for the rating.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      That's funny...I thought the meat was lamb. I like the first comment about squirrel, hee hee. Now, that is a real southern dish, LOL.

      I didn't know okra was a natural thickener. Recipe sounds great and simple to make. Ease in the kitchen is a real plus. Rated up (5). :) Thanks for sharing.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Yes, I think you should keep this one for later in the fall when school gets really busy. It definitely is a time-saver just to pull it out of the freezer.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Great recipe. I've never tried Brunswick stew but I think we'd really like it. I like that it freezes well since things can get pretty busy here. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Attikos, Yes, I'm sure this stew, like many others from old cookbooks such as the one my mother in law gave me, was made with all sorts of ingredients that are no longer commonly used.

      Jools99 - Ha! I never even thought about the possibility of okra not being readily available elsewhere. Thanks for reading.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Danette, nothing like a lovely bowl of hot soup on a rainy day, this looks really tasty though I'm not sure how easy it will be for me to lay my hands on okra (we call it 'ladies finger' over here), I might try one of our Indian ethnic stores? When I visited the States I tried corn bread and loved it, the muffins look lovely too!

      Voted up.

    • Attikos profile image

      Attikos 5 years ago from East Cackalacky

      The squirrel is dry joke. No one uses it today. Well, few do, anyway. I mention it because Brunswick stew was originally an old Southern frontier dish that used whatever was on hand. Squirrel was a common ingredient. So were quail, raccoon, dove, and whatever else the boys could bring back when they were sent out for some game.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks bearmom for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

    • bearnmom profile image

      Laura L Scotty 5 years ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

      Thank you for sharing. I like your method of straining the chicken from the broth. Our family always used cheeseclothe to catch the bones and chicken.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Well attikos, if it called for squirrel I would have put it in. Although I've never had squirrel before, my husband used to be a good shot in his younger days and would hunt them.

      @teaches12345 - thanks for the comment. I hope you do try it sometime and that you enjoy it. It isn't nearly as hard to make as it might appear at first glance.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thank for sharing this wonderful recipe. Great first submission! I always thought this stew was made without any meat, don't know why. This is one I would like to try on a rainy or cold winter day.

    • Attikos profile image

      Attikos 5 years ago from East Cackalacky

      Squirrel. You left out the squirrel.