Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

Brunswick Stew – Colonial Virginia Style

How do I know about Brunswick Stew? Back in the 70’s, we went on one of very few family vacations, probably to try to instill some sort of family bonding combined with a patriotic zeal to renew our faith in God and Country.

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style
Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

just a little bit of rambling

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.

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.

Brunswick Stew for Meal Prep or not.
Brunswick Stew for Meal Prep or not.

good to know stuff about brunswick stew

I’m no expert but I know a little about BS. Hmm, maybe I better spell it out from now on. 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.

My first taste of Brunswick Stew 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 including this Teriyaki Steak. The Colonial or Virginia Brunswick Stew is a whole different animal than the barbecue joint type Georgia Brunswick Stew I make.

Brunswick Stew Virginia Style
Brunswick Stew Virginia Style

cost saving tips for brunswick stew

My Virginia Brunswick Stew is a bit of a departure, too, from Chownings because I wanted to make it with already cooked chicken. A little searching led to a post by Apple of my Eye and I adapted her recipe just a little. This is a great recipe to use if you have meal prep chicken, leftover or rotisserie chicken.

When making Brunswick Stew, be sure to watch the sales & know the sale best sale prices in your area for chicken. 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! Frozen and canned veggies are usually cheapest in the fall, use coupons and sale prices to pick them 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


  • 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)
  • 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 eat 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 or biscuits.


Brunswick Stew makes a great dinner and freezes well.

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


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

Virginia Style Brunswick Stew - down home hearty stick to your ribs, but healthy stew! There's nothing like slow cooked flavor!


25 thoughts on “Brunswick Stew – Colonial Virginia Style”

  1. 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!

    1. 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…

    2. 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!!

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

  2. 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!

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

  3. 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

    1. Absolutely. I’ll take yours, lol!! Hope you’re back home and settled in snug and sound. 🙂

  4. 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.

    1. 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!!

  5. 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!

    1. 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!!

  6. 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! 😉

    1. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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

    1. Gloria, that is so cool! You should get her recipe down and a photo with her and her pot! On a much smaller scale, I have a big old cast iron pot we used to use a lot when my son was in Scouts. I should drag it out and make this over a campfire some day. 🙂

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