Brunswick stew

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Brunswick stew
Brunswick stew.jpg
Brunswick stew made with chicken
Type Stew
Place of origin United States
Main ingredients Tomatoes, lima beans or butter beans, corn, okra, other vegetables, meat
Cookbook: Brunswick stew  Media: Brunswick stew

Brunswick stew is a traditional dish, popular in the American 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.


Recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly, but it is usually a tomato-based stew, containing various types of lima beans/butter beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Claims of authenticity call for squirrel, rabbit[1] or opossum meat, but chicken is most commonly used in modern versions.[2] Some versions have a distinctly smoky taste. Eastern North Carolina Brunswick Stew has potatoes, which thickens it considerably. Eastern Virginia Brunswick Stew tends to be thinner, with more tomato flavor and less smoky flavor.

The stew essentially resembles a very thick vegetable soup with meat. The key distinguishing factor between soup and Brunswick stew is the consistency. Brunswick stew must be thick; otherwise, it would be vegetable soup with meat added. Most variations have more meat and vegetables than liquid.

The main differences between the Georgia and Virginia versions have been the types of meat used. Tradition favors squirrel in early versions of both. The Virginia version tends to favor chicken as the primary meat, along with rabbit. The Georgia version tends to favor pork and beef. As there is no "official" recipe for Brunswick stew, it is possible to find chicken, pork, beef, and other types of meat included in the same recipe. North Carolina natives have been known for their unique concoction, similarly thick and tomato based, using chicken-breast chunks and pulled Eastern North Carolina–style barbecue (pork) as the meat.[3]

Squirrel Brunswick stew instructions are found in James Beard's American Cookery.[4]

Debate on origins[edit]

The original Brunswick Stewpot in front of the Farmers Market pavilion (on F Street where it meets Bay Street) in Brunswick, Georgia

Brunswick County, Virginia, and the town of Brunswick, Georgia, both claim to be the origin of the stew.[5]

A plaque on an old iron pot in Brunswick, Georgia, says the first Brunswick stew was made in it on July 2, 1898, on nearby St. Simons Island.[5] A competing story claims a Virginia state legislator's chef invented the recipe in 1828 on a hunting expedition.[6][7]

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, in her Cross Creek Cookery (1942), wrote that the stew, said to have been one of Queen Victoria's favorites, may have come from the original Brunswick: Braunschweig, Germany.[8]

In areas where Brunswick stew is prepared and sold at fundraising, it is made in large iron pots over open flame or gas. The stew is usually allowed to simmer and cook for long periods of time. This may be attributed to the older tradition of putting game meats into the stew, which might require a longer cooking time to ensure that the meats were tender.


Mrs. Fearnow's is a popular brand of canned Brunswick stew. In the 1920s, Lillie Pearl Fearnow began making her stew on Hope Farm in Virginia.[9]

See also[edit]

List of stews


  1. ^ Clayton, B. (1987). The Complete Book of Soups and Stews. Simon & Schuster. p. 373. ISBN 978-0-671-43864-7. Retrieved January 12, 2017. 
  2. ^ Harris, Ann Pringle (24 October 1993). "FARE OF THE COUNTRY; Who Invented Brunswick Stew? Hush Up and Eat.". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "Bob Garner's Guide to North Carolina Barbecue". p. 35. 
  4. ^ James Beard (28 February 2009). James Beard's American Cookery. Little, Brown. pp. –. ISBN 978-0-316-06981-6. 
  5. ^ a b Tennis, Joe (1 September 2007). Beach to Bluegrass: Places to Brake on Virginia's Longest Road. The Overmountain Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-57072-323-0. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Brunswick County, Virginia website". 
  7. ^ "Brunswick Stew". New Georgia Encyclopedia. 
  8. ^ Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan (20 March 1996). Cross Creek Cookery. Simon and Schuster. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-684-81878-8. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  9. ^ Mrs. Fearnow's Brunswick Stew official website Archived March 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]