My Momma’s Brunswick Stew

Stew-y Goodness

Growing up, my mother would make Brunswick Stew every Halloween. But, to my childhood self Brunswick Stew was known as Witches Brew and it was a delicious, incomparable concoction my mother created all on her own. One of my favorite meals, I remember it having a salty, sweet, tangy broth, chunks of moist chicken, and a well rounded mix of vegetables and legumes.  Every spoonful was chock-full of goodness. Recently, while browsing The Kitchn I came across a list of quintessential Southern recipes and BAM! Brunswick Stew made the list! I was unaware of the contention surrounding Brunswick Stew. I didn’t even know it was Southern dish! So I did some research, compared recipes, read up on the controversy, and finally called my mom. Because momma always knows best! This is the recipe she recited to me from memory and when Luke and I made it for the first time it was just as good as I remember.

Ingredients (to cook chicken):

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 – 4 lbs
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3-5 carrots (depending on size), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBS salt
  • 8 cups water (approximately)

Ingredients (for stew):

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 5 cups chicken stock + 1 1/2 – 2 lbs shredded chicken (from above)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 16 oz can green lima beans
  • 2 cups corn (we use frozen)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce


  1. Cook chicken: This should be done the night before serving or morning of.* Put whole chicken in a large soup pot and cover entirely with water.  Add onions, celery, carrots, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then immediately simmer over med-low heat for 1/2 hour.  Then cover, remove from heat, and let sit over night or all day (8-12 hours).
  2. Shred Chicken: Remove chicken from the pot and place in a dish.  Strain chicken stock and return to soup pot.  To shred chicken, just start pulling away skin and chunks of meat.  Don’t shred too finely! Aim for 2-3 inch pieces. And make sure to be thorough, cleaning the meat off the bones.  Discard skin and place chicken chunks in a separate dish. Cover chicken with a couple spoonfuls of stock to keep moist. Return the chicken bones to the soup pot with the stock.  Simmer stock with bones for 45 more minutes, reducing by 1-2 cups and boosting the flavor.  Then strain the stock again into a large bowl.
  3. Stew assembly: Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add onions, cooking for 2-4 minutes, then garlic, cooking for 2 minutes more.  Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands or with a spoon as well as the tomato juices in the can.  Then literally add everything else all at once – 5 cups chicken stock you made (should have some still leftover), lima beans, corn, potatoes, ketchup, BBQ sauce, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil, then add shredded chicken and then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.You’ll have so much stew!! 3-4 quarts. Serve with cornbread. Makes ahhhmazing leftovers.

You’ll have so much stew!! 3-4 quarts. Serve with cornbread (see our recipe here!!). Makes ahhhmazing leftovers.

*Note 1: If you’d like, you can source 1 1/2 – 2 lbs shredded chicken elsewhere (for example: supermarket rotisserie chicken) and skip this step entirely.  You’ll also need to source five cups chicken stock.

To print the recipe, click here: Brunswick Stew

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