Brunswick Stew

Hushpuppies, fries and slaw get top billing as sides at barbecue restaurants, and they deserve the praise as menu mainstays. But a hearty Brunswick stew is the one side I’d choose if I could eat anything alongside my smoked, chopped pork.

The stew gets its name from the location of Brunswick, but it’s debated which Brunswick is the home. Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and even regions in Europe claim to be the birthplace of Brunswick stew.

Regardless of the origin, Brunswick stew is almost always made with a tomato base, a meat like chicken or pork, and various small vegetables. When I lived in eastern North Carolina, I developed a taste for stew containing Lima beans, corn and potatoes.

Bob Garner, a noted North Carolina barbecue expert, shared a North Carolina restaurant’s recipe for Brunswick stew in one of his books, aptly titled Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue, and that’s what I used to develop our specific recipe.

This dish starts with leftover chicken I smoke on our kettle grill in the backyard, but you could just as easily use a rotisserie chicken or canned chicken, which shreds easily and beautifully. The chicken and vegetables then marinate in a slow cooker in a base of chicken broth and tomatoes. The final result provides a warm, hearty meal, especially perfect for cold fall and winter nights. It’s a complete meal by itself, but it can be a side to accompany smoked pork or another main dish.

Enjoy, and let us know how you make it your own way!

Brunswick Stew

What You Need:

3-4 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 bag or can baby Lima beans

1 can whole kernel corn

1 can whole tomatoes

1 large potato, diced

1 small to medium onion, diced

4 cups chicken or other broth (more flavorful than water)

1 tablespoon sugar (to cut acidity)

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon hot sauce (We use Texas Pete.)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

What You Do:

1. Once you’ve shredded your chicken and diced your potato and onion, combine all ingredients in a large slow cooker.

2. Cook on high for 4 hours and stir.

3. Keep on high for 2 additional hours or turn to low heat for longer.

4. Serve with cornbread, crackers or other preferred accompaniment.


    • We love a good Brunswick Stew! It is especially nice on a cold day, but it hits the spot just about any time of year. It’s a very adaptable recipe to available ingredients and what the cook and eaters prefer.


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