Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

How do I know about Brunswick Stew Virginia Style? Back in the ’70s, we went on one of the very few family vacations that didn’t include dogs (My Dad raised Goldens and showed extensively), probably to try to instill some sort of family bonding combined with patriotic zeal to renew our faith in Family, God, and Country.

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

Worst trip ever. Seriously. It was 1976, the bicentennial and it was DC in August. And it was a whirlwind of activities, tours and walking in the ungodly heat. Dad remained steadfastly optimistic, goal driven and determined we all have fun whether we liked it or not. That might have gone over better if he had ever let us stop at a restroom. Seriously, it was enlightening and we did learn a lot, but for me? The best part was the food!

About Brunswick Stew Virginia Style:

We traveled all over the area & one thing my parents never did was cater to the taste of children or skimp in any way on the restaurants. No “kids” menu for us. It was an eye-opener. Fresh lobster pulled from the sea. Regional specialties. And the quaint taverns and period food. Which leads me, after this long ramble, to Brunswick Stew Virginia Style.

My first taste of this style of Brunswick Stew (I think!) was the Chowning Tavern‘s Brunswick Stew, and their recipe is in the Williamsburg Cookbook Mom picked up. Once we were home, bedraggled & somewhat defeated, Mom made Brunswick Stew and several other recipes from the book. (I have to stop to give a shout out to this Teriyaki Steak that became a huge family fave and I still make to this day.) I remember we liked the Brunswick Stew but weren’t thrilled about it, so I thought I’d do a bit of research.

What I found was I know a little about BS (I guess I better spell out Brunswick Stew from now on!) but I know much less than I thought I did though, after skimming through Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition. Wowsa! It’s kind of an amazing read. The Colonial or Virginia Brunswick Stew is a whole different animal than the barbecue joint type Georgia Brunswick Stew I make, even though they look quite a bit alike and share a lot of the same ingredients.

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style for Meal Prep or not.

Brunswick Stew for Meal Prep or not.

Making Brunswick Stew Virginia Style:

My Brunswick Stew Virginia Style is a bit of a departure from the Chownings Tavern Brunswick Stew. I wanted to make it as a part of my Meal Prep Plan and use already cooked chicken. This is a great recipe for the Meal Prep Chicken, leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken. In my Meal Prep Chicken posts, I basically made up a lot of chicken (which can be made in the Instant Pot or can be baked) and used it as the basis for five full meals. This Brunswick Chicken was the last meal of the week and it’s a great one to have for meal prep because it can be made ahead, divided into servings and frozen.

I did quite a bit of comparing of recipes and methods for Virginia Style Brunswick Stew and that led me a post by Apple of my Eye. Her recipe, combined with a few touches from Chownings and one or two of my own makes this an easy and very doable recipe to get on the table. No cauldrons involved or hours of cooking!

You’ll start out with a little bacon and onion sauteed together for that down-home flavor, then the rest of the ingredients are basically dumped in at the right time and simmered together. Easy peasy! But when you taste your Brunswick Stew Virginia Style, you’ll swear it had been simmering away for hours. If you don’t want to start out with cooked chicken, add your chicken in with your chicken broth and cook it along with the tomatoes and potatoes. You’ll need about a pound of chicken breast.

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

Brunswick Stew – Virginia Style

Money Saving Tips for Brunswick Stew Virginia Style:

Just about any recipe that calls for cooked chicken, as long as that chicken has been bought on sale, is going to be frugal. Know the highs and lows for chicken in your area and pick it up on sale. In my town, chicken breast runs from 99 cents a pound at a low and up to $4.99 or more at a high. That’s a $7.00 difference for two pounds! If it’s in a large family pack, break it down and freeze in amounts your family can use. I used breast, but thighs would be great in this recipe, too.

Follow that same strategy for bacon, but plan on buying your bacon during holiday sales when it is almost always at a rock bottom low. You may find it advertised in a bundle with eggs and/or hash browns. Compare the pricing. Since bacon hardly takes any room, it’s an ideal freezer item. I usually keep some just for recipes, take it out and slice off what I need, then toss it back in the freezer.

I used frozen limas and canned corn in this recipe, but any will do, canned, frozen or even leftover, and this is a great recipe to think of if you’ve made corn on the cob and have an extra ear or two. It’s never as good just reheated the next day, but you won’t know the difference in a stew like this. If you want to use canned, frozen or fresh veggies it’s up to you. Buy them, though, in the late summer to fall when they’re at a low, especially if it’s a pantry staple like canned veggies. If you use coupons, frozen or canned vegetables can be picked up for pennies.

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style


Brunswick Stew – Virginia Style

A simple down-home recipe for Brunswick Stew.

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 3 cups chicken broth or juices from cooked chicken combined with broth to make three cups
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1″ dice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups frozen Lima beans
  • 1 can corn, drained or 1 can creamed corn (I use creamed corn)
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken (about a pound raw chicken breast; see note at bottom of page if starting with raw chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • lots black pepper, about a 1/2 teaspoon or more
  • a dash or two of hot sauce or vinegar, optional


Add bacon to a big pot or Dutch oven, turn heat on and cook until it softens and renders. Add onion, then broth, tomatoes (undrained), potatoes, sugar and Lima beans.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are cooked and very soft, about 30 to 35 minutes. Add the corn, drained or creamed corn (it makes the stew thicker) and chicken and cook at a low simmer until the chicken has softened and begins to break down and the stew is very thick, watching it closely at the end so it doesn’t scorch. Timing will vary, about 10 minutes.

Season heavily with salt and pepper. Add a dash of hot sauce or a little vinegar, if desired. Serve with crackers, cornbread or biscuits.


Brunswick Stew makes a great dinner and freezes well.

This recipe is a part of my Meal Prep Plan. If following that plan, freeze two portions of this stew for lunches.

If you wish to use raw chicken, add about a pound of chicken in with the chicken broth, tomatoes, and potatoes. If chicken is very thick, it can be sliced in half horizontally. When done, pull it out, shred it and return it to the pot.


  • Calories: 364
  • Sugar: 11.6g
  • Sodium: 1003mg
  • Fat: 8.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.8g
  • Fiber: 6.9g
  • Protein: 34.2g

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I’ll be sharing Brunswick Stew Virginia Style at Fiesta Friday #211, hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Antonia @

If you like Brunswick Stew Virginia Style, you might also like:

Easy Brunswick Stew Colonial Virginia Style is a gorgeous melange of flavor. The mix of chicken and veggies has definitely stood the test of time! No cauldrons needed for this recipe! #BrunswickStew #VirginiaBrunswickStew #ColonialBrunswickStew

27 thoughts on “Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

  1. M

    Just wanted to say i was born and raised in colonial VA and left home for Texas over 20 years ago. I live here in the desert now but ill always long for my beautiful home. Thank you for this recipe!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi I was able to take a family vacation where we went through some of that colonial area and I have always been fascinated by it. We did all the cheesy things and ate at some of the Taverns – My Mom did pick up a cookbook and made Brunswick stew from it, but she didn’t make it like this!! I hope you enjoy it and it brings you some comfort now that you are so far from home!


  2. Lovely story about your childhood vacations. Yes, when growing up there was no such thing as “children’s food” in our house… okay, maybe at backyard barbeques there’d be more hot dogs that mostly went to kids, and candy was mostly for kids, but actual meals? Nope, a foreign concept.

    This is a great recipe — although I was kinda hoping squirrel would have made it in there… (hard to find unless you know a hunter, but it’s quite good!)

    Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday!

    • Oh, I remember long trips with my parents in the car with the A/C cramked up and both of them smoking like fiends (Dad with cigars). Me trying to roll down my window surreptitiously… “NO! We are not air conditioning Pennsylvania! Roll that back up!” Choke, keep eyes closed, just hoping for the next rest stop…

    • FrugalHausfrau

      You should see the amount of squirrels and critters going through my yard all the time. I’m tempted to shoot them, lol, they are so destructive to my yard and house. My neighbor has taken to throwing out bread and seed on her drive, and every creature known to man is in my yard. And when she doesn’t give them enough food, they’re all over my gardens! Hate squirrels. Tree rats!! Would love to put them in Brunswick Stew, lol!!

      • FrugalHausfrau

        Oh gosh, my mom smoked in the car, too!! And at the dinner table. Differnt times now, thank goodness!

  3. This is quite a bit different than the Brunswick stew I know, but it looks delicious none the less. It’s a gray day too, the kind of weather that begs for stew!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Carlee, your comment was temporarily lost, but I found it!! Thanks it’s delish. Definitely not the zippy bbq type Brunswick stew, though!

  4. Sounds yummy Mollie (except can I leave out the lima beans??!) –and– your Dad sounds like my kind of vacation guy. I always tried to pack in too much to family vacays! But see! You still recall all the things you did and ate there! Fun post! xox

  5. Family vacations in the 70s, lol! We were like the Griswolds, six kids in a station wagon with dad pulling a Jayco pop up camper that slept 8. THREE WEEK vacations every summer! Anyways, the stew looks great, I adore lima beans.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      So funny! We went through a few station wagons, lol! My brother then got the last one and for this trip, Dad got a “Conversion” van so we could all sleep in it. My Mom threw a holy fit and we ended up staying in motels soy, we were driving like 18 hours at a time…

      I LOVE Limas, too. When I posted this I thought this will be unpopular because no one likes Limas! It makes me happy to know one person will like this!!

  6. This post cracked me up- I grew up in DC and suffered through a couple of steaming hot Williamsburg trips. 😉 Living in Long Island, I am always surprised by how many people travel down there in the summer!
    This stew looks tasty- but I especially love your bento box. Fancy lunch!

    • Oh my gosh, I was a teenager and was always outside in the summer, walking beans, detasseling corn, riding my bike/walking everywhere – and that was in hot, humid Iowa. I was NOT prepared for the heat & humidity in DC. It was like when you walked there was resistance!! Almost like walking in a swimming pooll, I swear!

      I don’t know how you lived there!!

      I love these containers, and I’m going to do a series of food prep recipes and I felt like an upgrade from my glad ware was in order!!

  7. Hey Girl, you’re on my turf in VA…lol! Brunswick stew is a staple when it comes to BBQ. My sister-in-law makes it in a huge cast iron stew pot over open fire. I couldn’t imagine life without Brunswick Stew! Great post… I am a tad biased…lol! 😉

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I keep hearing of parties like that! I would love to live in your neck of the woods, I think! 🙂 And doesn’t everything taste better in cast iron over a fire!

  8. My husband loves brunswick stew, but I’ve never had it. I will have to try this sometime. He will be excited! Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday Mollie!

  9. Brings back memories. My grandma is from South Carolina and she’d cook hers in a huge pot outside. It was so good. She hadn’t made it in years. I will ask her about this

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