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One of the pride and joys of Virginia culture, this Brunswick Stew recipe is a Southern classic that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years! My Crock Pot version that includes chicken and pork is an easier and equally delicious take on the original dish. Serve each hearty, flavorful bowl with cornbread, buttermilk biscuits, or a loaf of pumpkin bread.

Overhead shot of two bowls of slow cooker brunswick stew on a table with cornbread

Southern Brunswick Stew

It’s almost apple season here in Central Virginia, which means that one of Madison County’s biggest events is coming up in just a few weeks. The Apple Harvest Festival at Graves Mountain Lodge draws more tourists to our little rural county than any other celebration all year. In addition to apples (and more apples), you are guaranteed to always find a handful of fall staples at the festival: kettle corn, apple butter, and Brunswick Stew! Autumn in the South just wouldn’t be complete without at least one batch of this nourishing and flavorful soup simmering on the stovetop.

What is Brunswick Stew and Where does it come from?

There is a bit of a fight between Virginia and Georgia as to which state created Brunswick Stew; however, as a native Virginian, I’m claiming it as our own! Regardless of where it originated, Brunswick Stew has been around since the early 19th century and there are many, many versions of this supper.

Typically, it’s a tomato-based stew that resembles vegetable soup with added meat — but thicker! Historically a Brunswick Stew recipe included a combination of meats like squirrel, rabbit, and possum, but today we’re not doing that!

Side shot of two bowls of brunswick stew on a rustic table with cornbread

Why is it called Brunswick stew?

Brunswick County, Virginia, and the city of Brunswick, Georgia, both named after the German Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, then home to the House of Hanover which ruled the British throne, claim to have created the original version of this dish — and therefore gave it its name!

What is Brunswick Stew made of?

In Virginia, our Brunswick Stew favors chicken as the primary meat. In Georgia, they tend towards pork and beef. My favorite has always been a combination of both chicken and pork, so that’s exactly what we’ve got here! I use either a pork loin roast or a pork tenderloin, whichever is available.

Adding chicken to a crock pot

Taste

Brunswick stew has a very unique taste. At its heart, it’s a chicken and vegetable stew; however, it also has a sweet taste (thanks to the ketchup, bbq sauce, or sugar that’s typically added), as well as a bit of tang from the vinegar. Sweet, salty, savory, and acidic — one pot has it all, and satisfies every craving!

Pouring broth into a crock pot

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pot of slow cooker Brunswick stew recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Chicken: use either boneless, skinless chicken breast or boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this dish. The thigh meat tends to stay juicier during the slow cooking process, but either option is fine.
  • Pork: either a pork tenderloin or a small pork loin roast (that weighs about 1 lb.) works well here.
  • Diced tomatoes: a big can that you don’t need to drain — just dump it all into the pot!
  • Chicken broth: the liquid base for the stew. Use a high-quality store-bought brand or make your own from scratch.
  • Ketchup: gives the stew that sweet flavor that’s a hallmark of the dish.
  • Corn, butter beans (lima beans), onion, and green bell pepper: vegetables that add even more flavor and texture to the stew.
  • Parsley: for savory flavor.
  • Vinegar: I use a simple white vinegar for that bright, acidic tang. Apple cider vinegar is also a good substitute.
  • Worcestershire sauce: a little bit of salty, umami flavor in the background.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Hot sauce: for just a hint of spicy kick in the background. Add more to taste, or leave it out entirely — you choose!
Bowl of shredded chicken

How to Make Brunswick Stew

While a traditional Brunswick Stew recipe requires the meat to be slow smoked over wood chips for hours or roasted in an oven first, this simplified Crock Pot version is so much easier!

  1. Place the meat in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, give everything a stir, and then cover the Crock Pot.
  3. Cook the stew on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken and pork to a cutting board or large bowl. Use two forks to shred the meat, or chop it with a knife. It will be fall-apart tender!
  5. Return the shredded meat to the pot, give it a stir, and ladle the stew into bowls.
Square overhead shot of a bowl of brunswick stew

What to Serve with Brunswick Stew

For a full Southern feast, serve the Brunswick Stew with any of these easy sides:

Hands eating a bowl of Crock Pot Brunswick Stew

Is Brunswick Stew healthy?

Each 1 ½-cup serving of this Brunswick Stew recipe includes approximately 300 calories. It’s full of vegetables and lean protein, making it a satisfying and nourishing meal. The soup includes 27 grams of protein and just 2 grams of fat per serving. It is not a low carb or Keto-friendly option.

Square side shot of two bowls of crock pot brunswick stew on a table

Storage

Leftover stew will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To extend the life of your stew, pack the cooled leftovers in airtight containers or in freezer-safe Ziploc bags and freeze for up to 3 months. I normally freeze in batches of 3-4 cups so that it’s easy to thaw the right amount for a single meal or two.

When ready to enjoy, thaw the frozen stew in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat on the stovetop over low heat, just until warmed through.

Horizontal overhead image of brunswick stew and cornbread on a light wooden table

Recipe Variations

  • Chicken Brunswick Stew: If you like only chicken in your Brunswick Stew recipe, use a total of 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs and omit the pork.
  • Swap out the chicken or pork and use 1 lb. of cooked ground beef or ground pork, if you like.
  • Some recipes include potatoes, while others do not. You can add peeled, diced russet potatoes if you prefer.
  • Okra and celery are sometimes included in Brunswick Stew. Feel free to throw them into the pot if you like!
  • For a richer, smokier flavor, substitute barbecue sauce for the ketchup. You can also add a dash of liquid smoke — just do so sparingly, as it can have a strong flavor.
  • If you would rather prepare the stew in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, try this recipe.
  • Substitute a bit of cayenne pepper for the hot sauce, if desired.
Overhead shot of hands holding a bowl of brunswick stew

Tips for the Best Brunswick Stew Recipe

  • Use either a pork loin roast or a pork tenderloin. Either option works well. You can even add leftover pulled pork to the stew. If using pulled pork, wait to stir it into the stew towards the end of the cooking time (since it’s already cooked through).
  • How do I thicken Brunswick Stew? This pot uses just 2 cups of broth, so it’s a pretty thick stew (which is how it’s supposed to be). If you want it even thicker, you can reduce the broth to 1 cup (adding more towards the end, as needed); you can add a cornstarch slurry to the Crock Pot at the end (with the pot on high); or you can make a roux using flour and butter, which you then stir into the Crock Pot.
  • How much Brunswick Stew per person? This recipe yields about 15 cups of stew. If you’re serving a crowd, it’s safe to assume about 1 ½ – 2 cups of stew per person as a main dish. This batch will make enough for about 8-10 people.
Overhead shot of crock pot brunswick stew on a table

More Stew Recipes to Try

Square featured image of brunswick stew

Brunswick Stew Recipe {Crock Pot Version!}

5 from 11 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
0 minutes
Total: 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings 15 cups
Calories 301 kcal
One of the pride and joys of Virginia culture, this easy Brunswick Stew recipe is a Southern classic that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years!

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin or pork loin roast
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 3 cups frozen butter beans or lima beans
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley)
  • ¼ cup white vinegar (or sub with apple cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce

Instructions

  • Spray inside of a large slow cooker with cooking spray.
  • Place pork and chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and cover.
  • Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Remove pork and chicken from slow cooker and place in a large bowl or on a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat (or you can chop it with a knife).
  • Return shredded meat to the pot and stir. Ladle into bowls and serve!

Notes

  • Use either a pork loin roast or a pork tenderloin. Either option works well. You can even add leftover pulled pork to the stew. If using pulled pork, wait to stir it into the stew towards the end of the cooking time (since it’s already cooked through).
  • How do I thicken Brunswick Stew? This pot uses just 2 cups of broth, so it’s a pretty thick stew (which is how it’s supposed to be). If you want it even thicker, you can reduce the broth to 1 cup (adding more towards the end, as needed); you can add a cornstarch slurry to the Crock Pot at the end (with the pot on high); or you can make a roux using flour and butter, which you then stir into the Crock Pot.
  • How much Brunswick Stew per person? This recipe yields about 15 cups of stew. If you’re serving a crowd, it’s safe to assume about 1 ½ – 2 cups of stew per person as a main dish. This batch will make enough for about 8-10 people.
  • Chicken Brunswick Stew: If you like only chicken in your Brunswick Stew recipe, use a total of 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs and omit the pork.
  • Swap out the chicken or pork and use 1 lb. of cooked ground beef or ground pork, if you like.
  • Some recipes include potatoes, while others do not. You can add peeled, diced russet potatoes if you prefer.
  • Okra and celery are sometimes included in Brunswick Stew. Feel free to throw them into the pot if you like!
  • For a richer, smokier flavor, substitute barbecue sauce for the ketchup. You can also add a dash of liquid smoke — just do so sparingly, as it can have a strong flavor.
  • If you would rather prepare the stew in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, try this recipe.
  • Substitute a bit of cayenne pepper for the hot sauce, if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 301kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 27gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.6gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 1273mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9g
Keyword: Brunswick Stew, brunswick stew recipe, crock pot brunswick stew
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in September, 2017. The photos were updated in August, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Amazing! I used apple cider vinegar and substituted chili sauce for the ketchup and didn’t use the hot sauce. I can’t wait to share the recipe with my daughter. Delicious and so simple. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Tina! There’s not a thickener (like a roux or cornstarch) in this recipe, so it’s not going to have a thick broth. If you would like to do so, you can thicken it with a cornstarch slurry at the end. Just stir together 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with an equal amount of cold water. Add that to the pot and cook on high until it thickens up, about 15-20 minutes. It typically has a thinner broth, though (more like a vegetable soup’s broth).

    1. Hi, Ashley! I think that would work well. Just start with a little bit, taste, and see how you like it. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there. 🙂

  2. I’ve made this for years with a few differences. Mine is called
    30 minute Brunswick Stew. I use cooked pieces of chicken.. either leftovers, rotisserie, or Perdue cooked chicken and a container of pork barbecue. Most of the other ingredients are the same. Since the meats are already cooked, you just stir everything together in a soup pot or Dutch oven and put your pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
    Quick and delicious!! If you want me recipe, let me know.

  3. I’ve made this for years with a few differences. Mine is called
    30 minute Brunswick Stew. I use cooked pieces of chicken.. either leftovers, rotisserie, or Perdue cooked chicken and a container of pork barbecue. Most of the other ingredients are the same. Since the meats are already cooked, you just stir everything together in a soup pot or Dutch oven and put your pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
    Quick and delicious!! If you want me recipe, let me know.

  4. 5 stars
    I remember my Madison, Va grandmother, Isabel Clore, making this hearty soup, along with her homemade cornbread. I’d quite forgotten about it. I’ll bring out your delicious sounding recipe as the temperature here lowers for my Oklahoma husband and see what he thinks.
    Thanks for all you yummy recipes, Blair. I’ve found so many new and yummy ones on your site!

    1. That’s wonderful, Vickie! I’m glad that you can share a taste of Madison with your husband! Hope he approves. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    What a great recipe! I am older and cook only about once a week and made this for the first time, gluten free (including the cornbread), for a friend. The taste was out of this world. Thank you!!