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For Burgoo as a type of food served in the British Royal Navy, see Porridge.
Kentucky burgoo.jpg
Kentucky burgoo served with mashed potatoes
Alternative names Roadkill soup
Type Stew
Place of origin United States
Region or state Kentucky
Main ingredients Meat (pork, chicken, or mutton)
Cookbook: Burgoo  Media: Burgoo

Burgoo is a spicy stew, similar to Irish or Mulligan stew, often served with cornbread or corn muffins. It is often prepared communally as a social gathering. It is popular as the basis for civic fund-raisers in the American Midwest and South.


Traditional burgoo was made using whatever meats and vegetables were available—typically, venison, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or game birds, and was often associated with autumn and the harvest season. Today, local barbecue restaurants use a specific meat in their recipes, usually pork, chicken, or mutton, which, along with the spices used, creates a flavor unique to each restaurant.

A typical burgoo is a combination of meats: pork, chicken, mutton or beef, often hickory-smoked, but other meats are seen occasionally; and vegetables, such as lima beans, corn, okra, tomatoes, cabbage and potatoes. Typically, since burgoo is a slow-cooked dish, the starch from the added vegetables results in thickening of the stew. However, a thickening agent, such as cornmeal, ground beans, whole wheat, or potato starch can be used when cooked in a non-traditional way. In addition, soup bones can be added for taste and thickening.

The ingredients are combined in order of cooking time required, with meat first, vegetables next, and thickening agents as necessary. A good burgoo is said to be able to have a spoon stand up in it. Cider vinegar, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or chili powder are common condiments.

Regional popularity[edit]

Burgoo making in Kentucky often serves as a social event, in which each attendee brings one or more ingredients. In Kentucky and surrounding states such as Indiana, burgoo is often used for fund-raising for schools. This kind of event has been claimed to have been invented by the family of Ollie Beard, a former Major League Baseball player.[1]

In Brighton, Illinois, a local traditional burgoo is prepared and served annually at the village's summer festival, the Betsy Ann Picnic. Franklin, Illinois identifies as the Burgoo Capital of the World;[citation needed] they have an annual burgoo cookout over July 3 and July 4. Burgoo events are also held in Cass County, Illinois in the towns of Chandlerville[2] and Arenzville.[3] Arenzville claims to be the home of the world's best burgoo.[citation needed]

Multiple cities have claimed to be the burgoo capital of the world such as Franklin, Illinois,[4] Lawrenceburg, Kentucky,[5] and Owensboro, Kentucky.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nemec, Davis (1994). The Beer And Whiskey League: The Illustrated History of the American Association--Baseball's Renegade Major League. Lyons and Burford. p. 178. ISBN 1-59228-188-5. 
  2. ^ "Chandlerville Burgoo, Illinois". Facebook. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Arenzville, IL - Home of the World's Best Burgoo". burgoo.org. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Franklin, Illinois - Franklin History Book - Burgoo". franklinillinois.net. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Canning Homemade. "Kentucky Burgoo - Canning a Crazy Soup!". sbcanning.com. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "Burgoo: A Kentucky Specialty". One Sixty K. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 

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