RECIPE WEDNESDAY: Brunswick Stew from 1930s recipe

Brunswick stew is a traditional dish that is popular in the South. The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 19th century. The states of Virginia and Georgia both make claims for originating the stew, in addition to claims of a German origin.

parent-teacher-association-making-brunswick-stew-for-school-fund-raising-1942-marion-post-wolcott-library-of-congressParent Teachers Association of Prospect Hill, Caswell County, serving and selling Brunswick stew dinner in Mebane, North Carolina, on opening day of tobacco market to raise money for a new gymnasium for the Prospect Hill consolidated school in Caswell County, Oct. 1940 (Marion Post Wolcott, Library of Congress)

Here is a recipe from 1940s Alabama cookbook.

  • 4th Dressed Hen
  • 4 cups diced Irish Potatoes
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can tiny peas
  • 1 can green lima beans
  • 2 cups tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 bottle catsup
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco Sauce to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil hen until meat falls off the bones. Cut meat into medium pieces. Use the broth that hen was cooked in to cook the raw vegetables. When vegetables are tender, add the hen and other ingredients except corn and cook slowly for 2 or 3 hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Add the corn at the very last as it will make the stew thick and burn easily. Make stew the consistency of a real thick, thick soup and serve over sliced bread.

Mushrooms and bay leaves may be added if you like.

When fresh vegetables are in season, they make the stew better.


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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Wendy Craft

    Husband was from Alabama, he made this always on July 4th, but anytime was good too! Miss it.

    1. Sandra Craft

      I tried making it once, it was OK but nothing like Dad’s.

    2. Wendy Craft

      Sandra Craft same here! Ha!

  2. Wayne Bagwell

    So very similar to “camp stew” which is predominately made close to Montgomery Al.

    1. George Ann Devoe

      We always called it Camp Stew. The Volunteer Fire Dept. in Slapout/Holtville make really good Camp Stew.

    2. Carol McDonald Henry

      I always called it camp stew and I grew up in Montgomery. Brunswick stew was the stuff in a can to me.

  3. Renee Terry Wall

    I grew up on Brunswick stew from Big Bob Gibson’s, Decatur, AL. I’ve tried others but none other compares!

    1. Marilyn Primero
  4. Joe Newton

    Growing up in south Alabama my mother made this several times a year. Her recipe include pork, no small peas, and no store bought sauce. My father told me it was very similar told Hobo Stew (Camp Stew) made during the depression by hobos traveling the country by train.

  5. Donna Marie Knox

    With this cool snap coming in this weekend, i was just thinking of this!

  6. Melanie Keffer

    I’ve made Brunswick Stew twice. The best I have ever had was made in a big outdoor kettle at a country school in the 1960’s. It was their fall fundraiser.

  7. Cindy Markushewski

    I like Brunswick stew, but I like Pozole, which is sort of a Southwestern couisin, even better. But I ❤️ hominy

    1. Stacy Langford

      Do you just eat hominy? I tried it but, mmm, nah. I figure there is something you put in it or, something!

  8. I learned to love it from a roadside BBQ sale in Notasulga that my parents stopped at on the way to Auburn games in the 60s and 70s, then later as a student at AU where the War Eagle Cafeteria made a pretty decent one. Alas, a good one is hard to find north of highway 14, so Birmingham is pretty much a Brunswick Stew desert. My Black Belt relatives call it camp stew but I can’t tell a difference other than camp stew may also include whatever game is available (which I’ve also heard about Brunswick stew).

  9. Letha S Dockery

    Folks around here always cooked it in a huge cast iron pot over an open fire. It included chicken, beef and pork but NEVER any green or bell peppers!

  10. Stacy Langford

    My aunt Ginny perfected it. I miss that lady

  11. Rod Chappelle

    I am wondering what young folks will think is a “dressed hen”. After all any chicken other than a 4 lb. broiler is hard to come by let alone figuring out how to clothe it:-).

  12. Karen Mellema

    Growing in Alabama, we always had this stew several times a year my mother would always put chicken, pork and beef in her stew along with the veggies, and make a sweet BBQ for the sauce and let that simmer all day long..My grandfather who was from New York would come down to visit every summer loved the stew, but hated chicken, He would eat several bowls of my mothers stew, bless his heart we never told him that it had chicken in it.

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