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A pride and joy of Virginia culture, Brunswick Stew is a Southern classic that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years! The chicken and tomato-based dish is full of corn, potatoes and beans for a hearty, satisfying and delicious meal. Serve a warm bowl with a side of cornbread for an easy dinner that the whole family will love!

Chicken brunswick stew in a white bowl with a side of cornbread

How to Make Brunswick Stew | 1-Minute Video

​​​​​​​Brunswick Stew with Chicken

Autumn in the South just wouldn’t be complete without at least one batch of this flavorful Brunswick Stew recipe simmering on the stovetop. While some versions of the dish include a combination of chicken, pork, and even small game meat like squirrel or rabbit, this Chicken Brunswick Stew takes advantage of the ease of a store-bought rotisserie chicken to get dinner on the table quickly.

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 — Brunswick County, Virginia and the city of Brunswick, Georgia both claim it as their own. As a native Virginian, I grew up on this cozy dish and it’s a recipe that continues to make our state proud! 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! Old-fashioned Brunswick Stew included a combination of meats like squirrel, rabbit, and possum, but today we’re certainly not doing that!

Ingredients in this Easy Brunswick Stew Recipe

In Virginia, our Brunswick Stew favors chicken as the primary meat, while Georgians tend to prefer pork and beef. This easy Brunswick Stew recipe includes the meat from a rotisserie chicken, as well as bacon, potatoes, onion, lima beans, okra (if you like), tomatoes and corn. The broth has a slightly sweet, slightly sour taste (thanks to the brown sugar and vinegar), while the Worcestershire sauce gives it a great depth of flavor. You’re going to love this classic dish!

Chicken Brunswick Stew in a white bowl with cornbread on the side

How to make Brunswick Stew

While an old-fashioned Brunswick Stew recipe requires the meat to be slow smoked over wood chips for hours or roasted in an oven first, this simplified stovetop version is so much easier!

Step 1: Fry Bacon and Onion

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon until it’s almost crisp. Add the onion and cook for a few more minutes, until it starts to soften. You know the recipe is off to a good start when the first two ingredients are bacon and onion. Your kitchen will smell amazing!

Bacon and onion in a white dutch oven

Step 2: Add Chicken Broth and Potatoes

Stir in the chicken broth and diced potatoes, then bring the broth to a boil and cook until the potatoes are beginning to soften (about 10 minutes).

Process shot of making brunswick stew in a white dutch oven

Step 3: Add Remaining Ingredients

Reduce the heat to low, stir in the remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.

Wooden spoon stirring together ingredients for brunswick stew

How to Thicken the Stew

Brunswick Stew should be very thick. If it looks like the stew is too thin, just remove the cover and simmer a bit longer until it reaches the desired consistency. If you need to thin the stew, stir in additional broth or water, as necessary.

Step 4: Serve

Season the stew with salt and pepper, and then ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Ladle full of Brunswick Stew

What to Serve with Brunswick Stew

Here are a few sides that go well with Brunswick Stew:

Overhead shot of a bowl of brunswick stew with chicken

How long does Brunswick Stew last?

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.

Recipe Variations

  • Some recipes include potatoes, while others do not. You can omit the potatoes if you prefer.
  • Instead of a rotisserie chicken, use about 4 cups of cooked, diced chicken that you boil at home or that you have leftover from another meal.
  • Okra can be a controversial vegetable, so leave it out of the stew if you don’t care for it.
  • If they’re available, you can use butter beans instead of the lima beans.
  • Brunswick Stew typically has a sweet-and-sour flavor to the broth, which you can achieve by stirring in ketchup or BBQ sauce instead of the brown sugar. I use 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, which gives the broth a slightly sweet taste, without being too overpowering. For a less-sweet broth, reduce the brown sugar to 1 tablespoon. You can always add more at the end, to taste. Like more tang? Add an extra splash of vinegar.
  • Brunswick Stew in the Crock Pot: if you’d like to prepare your stew in the slow cooker, try this recipe.
  • How much stew per person? This recipe yields about 16 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 at least 8-10 people.
Front shot of a bowl of brunswick stew with a piece of cornbread on the side

More stew recipes that you might enjoy:

Chicken brunswick stew in a white bowl with a side of cornbread

Virginia Brunswick Stew

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 16 cups
Calories 133 kcal
A pride and joy of Virginia culture, Brunswick Stew is a Southern classic that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 slices (about 5 ⅓ oz) thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (about 3 lbs.), meat removed and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen lima beans
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 more minutes. Add chicken broth and potatoes; bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low. Stir in the tomato paste. Add chicken, diced tomatoes, corn, lima beans, okra (if using), brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir well.
  • Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The stew should be very thick. To thicken the stew, simmer uncovered. To thin, add more broth or water. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve!

Video

Notes

  • Some recipes include potatoes, while others do not. You can omit the potatoes if you prefer.
  • Instead of a rotisserie chicken, use about 4 cups of cooked, diced chicken that you boil at home or that you have leftover from another meal.
  • Okra can be a controversial vegetable, so leave it out of the stew if you don’t care for it.
  • If they’re available, you can use butter beans instead of the lima beans.
  • Brunswick Stew typically has a sweet-and-sour flavor to the broth, which you can achieve by stirring in ketchup or BBQ sauce instead of the brown sugar. I use 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, which gives the broth a slightly sweet taste, without being too overpowering. For an even less sweet broth, reduce the brown sugar to 1 tablespoon. You can always add more at the end, to taste. Like more tang? Add an extra splash of vinegar.
  • Brunswick Stew in the Crock Pot: if you’d like to prepare your stew in the slow cooker, try this recipe.
  • How much stew per person? This recipe yields about 16 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 133kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 6gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 259mgPotassium: 441mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 88IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: Brunswick Stew, chicken brunswick stew
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
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!

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Comments

  1. I grew up in VA Beach and our Brunswick stew was different. Of course, the recipe had been in our family for 200 yrs by the 1950’s. It had squirrel, rabbit, and chicken but no bacon. We were potato farmers so that was always included. Otherwise, the recipes were extremely similar.

    1. Hi, Gail! Yes — the really old recipes definitely used squirrel, rabbit, possum, etc. — whatever was available! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! I love okra and all the veggies in here. This is one of my all time favorites now. The sweetness from the brown sugar makes it for me. i served it with Cheesy Jalapeno Corn Bread!