Growing up in Virginia, Brunswick stew was definitely a part of the dinner table on more than one occasion.

From the famous Mrs. Fearnow’s “yellow can” (made in VA!) to local church & school Brunswick stew sales around town (it’s a tradition to make huge cauldrons of the stew for fundraising) – Brunswick stew is just about as Virginia as can be IMO!


Wellllll, technicallyyyyyy there is a debate of whether it originated in Brunswick County, VA or Brunswick, GA if we want to go there.

But who’s into technicalities anyway? 😉

Now if you’ve never heard of or had Brunswick stew, I’ll highlight the important facts for you:

  • tomato-based stew w/ beans (lima or butter), corn, okra, other veggies and meat
  • resembles thick veggie soup w/ meat, what makes it a stew is the consistency (thick! more meat/veg than liquid)
  • Virginia version uses chicken and sometimes rabbit as primary meat vs. Georgia where pork and beef are favored along with squirrel
  • the stew is usually allowed to cook for long periods of time (vs. soup)

My version tonight featured chicken.  Let’s face it, I’m not really in the market for cooking up a squirrel on a Tuesday night… just sayin 😉  But to each their own!

CookinFanatic Brunswick Stew

  • 2 (approx. 1lb) whole, skinless chicken legs
  • 2.5 cups reserved cooking water (from chicken)
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 2 red potatoes (medium size), peeled & diced
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups frozen lima beans
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tblsp sugar
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

I started with the whole chicken legs, which I picked up at Whole Foods and are usually a pretty great price (apparently I’m the only dark meat eater in Richmond?)

I placed them into boiling water and let cook for about 10 minutes until they were done.

Then I removed the chicken from the pot and removed the meat from the bone, shredding into small pieces.

Save the cooking liquid!!!

I added the diced onion to the hot pan along with 1 tsp olive oil, letting them soften for 5 minutes.  Then added the shredded chicken plus some sea salt & black pepper.

I let this cook over medium for another minute or two before adding the lima beans and corn.

Then in went 2.5 cups of the reserved chicken broth plus the tomato sauce.

And the spices:  poultry seasoning, oregano, more salt and pepper.

And surprise…. sugar!!

I let this come up to a boil and then turned down to a simmer, covered. 

Since I had the time this afternoon, I let this cook for about 2 hours before adding the potatoes.  Stirring occasionally.

**If you want to take a shortcut and don’t have the time to let this cook that long, then go ahead and keep at a boil and add your potatoes now! 😀 **

After about 2 hours you will have the most tender fall apart stew.  At this point, add your diced potatoes and let simmer away for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are very very tender. 

The trick is that you want all the ingredients to kind of become one (at least I think so) which is why the longer cooking time is ideal.

However the shortcut route will still achieve great flavor, just a little different consistency I think.

Bam.  Loved it. 😛

And yes, you got that right…. I actually ate real food tonight (see ya never bread w/ cream cheese!)

That’s a celebration in itself now isn’t it?

One that I’m very thankful for since this morning I was not feeling so hot again.  Another trip to the doctor and lots of rest later, seems like things are looking up finally!  Hoping I can shake this thing once and for all 😛

Tell me, have you ever had Brunswick stew????


  1. Good call on substituting chicken! Looks nice & comforting – yum!

  2. SO glad to hear you’re feeling better. I have heard of brunswick stew but never had any idea what it was! I love how thick it is- I’m a bigger fan of thicker stews/soups vs. the thinner variety.

  3. MMmmm. I’m currently simmering myself some red beans & rice…but this looks sooo good too! Lovelovelovelovelove those skinless chicken thighs. I’m definitely team dark meat 🙂

    Glad you are feeling better lady!!! <3

  4. I’m a Brunswick stew snob. Growing up I only called this type of stew Granddaddy stew because my grandfather always made it. He used both beef and chicken (with butterbeans, corn, potaotes, and tomato juice). He cooked it outdoors in an iron cauldron for many hours over an open fire. He constantly stirred it with a forked and debaked dogwood branch. What delicious memories.
    Many years later my future husband tried to get me to eat Mrs. Fearnow’s. Could not do it. I attempt to make Granddaddy Stew on my stove these days. I come close, but it’s not quite the same.

    Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories!

  5. First time I had brunswick stew was at the brunswick festival. Had different versions and a friend gave me a family recipe too. I agree about dark meat at whole foods, so much cheaper than the white meat! This looks so hearty!

  6. Oh this would be so yummy with rabbit! I can’t wait to make it, although I’ll use chicken as well 😉

  7. Squirrel? Bunny rabbit? I would probably stick to chicken, too. 🙂 It looks delicious – I’ve never heard of it! I’m a big fan of stews….maybe it’s all in my head, but they seem to fill me up more than soups.

    I’m SO glad you are feeling better, girl. Hope you get some rest and here’s to the (hopefully rapidly approaching) weekend!!

  8. oh wow did this bring back memories, my mom and grandmother used to make this to sneak lima beans into my meal! i loved it! definitely reminds me of when I was younger 🙂

  9. LOVE Brunswick stew, though I’ve never made it myself! Thanks for the awesome recipe! However, I am the only one in this house that will actually eat it. But, good news – I can freeze & also share the wealth with my parents who love it too!

  10. George FearnowNo Gravatar

    We sold the business in 1999, and I retired after 30 years of making Brunswick Stew. My Grandmother, my mother & father, and my aunt & uncle made the stew from about 1929. Comment on history. Brunswick stew origin lies with the spices used. Williamsburg was most likely the start of Brunswick Stew but Brunswick County, VA and Brunswick, Georgia will protest that.
    Recipe suggestions: 1.) Use white shoe-peg corn 2.) Use a whole chicken to get the best broth. 3.) Save the lesser fatty pieces of skin to be minced and added back in. 4.) Use salt & sugar in equal amounts but maybe less if you use sea salt. 5.) Use red pepper & black pepper. 6.) Use whole tomatoes but crush and dice in a 50/50 mix. 7.) Use russet potatoes (thickness increases directly by stirring). 8.)Onions & carrots should minced. 9.) Okra can be used but it can be bitter sometimes. 9.) Oregano & poultry seasoning were never in Brunswick Stew of colonial times. 10.) Yes – The original recipe calls for squirrel or wild game.

  11. Pingback: Brunswick Stew | CookinFanatic

  12. Sarah AuffertNo Gravatar

    I am so excited. I was born and raised in Fredericksburg VA…I miss so much eating the brunswick stew from iron kettles. We alway had at least 6 cans of Mrs Fearnow’s on the shelf. I am now in West Texas, and they say brunswick what!! I am going to make this..freeze it and guard it with my life…It is a comfort food for me, making the seasonal change real. To see post from a member of the Fearnow family makes it all that much more phenominal!!

    • CookinfanaticNo Gravatar

      so great to hear that you love this stew as much as I do, hope you enjoy the recipe! 🙂

    • David WikleNo Gravatar

      You made me smile….

      I remember my neighbors boys tending a kettle hung on a tripod over a fire all day long making a batch. And then on another occasion, watching my God-Father stir the gigantic wood fired, purpose built stew cauldron at our Civic Association club house using a (clean and appropriate) canoe paddle. The local Volunteer Rescue Squad also made it as a fund raiser.

      Can’t belive how sad people were when FDBS disappeared from the stores after Bost bought the brand/product. It would have been nice if they had communicated to people that they were going to bring it back. Now I am finding it again in Richmond area Martins, Kroger and Walmarts. I’ve also found it in a Chantilly Va Walmart.

      After the trauma of going without for so long…. I have to fight the urge to buy all that I find on those shelves. ‘Jeez I’m pathetic!!!

  13. Miles DeagleNo Gravatar

    I’ll have to try this, I live only a couple of miles from where Mrs Fearnow’s was made. Always look forward to my next bowl or two. 🙂

  14. LeAnn P WeaverNo Gravatar

    I grew up in Mechanicsville and knew the Fearnows – one in high school. We always had Brunswick stew on July 4th made in large pots at the Mech Rec Center. It is a favorite of mine and I make it myself now for my son who loves it.

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