How to Make Fabulous Brunswick Stew in a Slow Cooker

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This fabulous Brunswick stew in a slow cooker is easy, delicious Southern comfort food in a bowl. Everyone RAVES over this!!!
Brunswick Stew
Have you ever made Brunswick stew? If not, you are missing out! Brunswick stew is Southern comfort food like no other.  I’ve been making Brunswick stew for years, as it is one of my family’s favorite things to eat.  If you’ve never made it, you must try this recipe. It is super easy, and your family is sure to love it.

What is Brunswick Stew?

Brunswick Stew is a tomato-based stew most often associated with barbecue. Most versions contain smoked barbecue pork, and some (mine included) also contain chicken. Brunswick Stew almost always contains lima beans (or butter beans), onion, and corn. Some versions contain potatoes and okra. 

What does Brunswick Stew taste like?

Brunswick Stew is a hearty, savory stew that is loaded with flavor. It gets a smoky flavor from the smoked meat(s), liquid smoke, and some barbecue sauce. It gets savory, tangy flavor from tomatoes, vinegar, Worcestershire, and other acidic ingredients. Some people describe Brunswick Stew as “barbecue in a bowl,” and I can agree. It is comfort food at its best.

What meat is used in Brunswick Stew?

Smoked BBQ pork is the key meat in Brunswick stew. You can buy the pork at your favorite BBQ joint and use it to make this stew. This is the easiest way. You can also make your own. My recipe, perfect Boston butt pulled pork in the oven, is super easy and would go great in this stew. You might try Bobby’s Boston Butt on the Big Green Egg if you want to smoke your own BBQ pork at home.

My recipe for Brunswick stew also contains chicken. Sometimes I buy the chicken from a BBQ joint; sometimes I make my own. I simply make this all-white-meat chicken in the oven and season it with a little liquid smoke and jarred BBQ sauce before adding to the stew.

Brunswick Stew

Frozen or canned vegetables in Brunswick stew?

Here is the breakdown for the vegetables that I use, as I use a combination of frozen and canned. Of course, you can use whatever you like; this is just what works best for me.

  • Onion. I use frozen chopped onion that I saute and season is a skillet before adding to the slow cooker.
  • Lima beans. I use canned, as I think they are softer and creamier than frozen. I drain them first (but do not rinse).
  • Corn. I use canned creamed corn. It adds a creamy texture to the stew that you can’t get from niblet corn.
  • Tomatoes. I use canned petite diced tomatoes.
  • Potatoes. I use Simply Potatoes diced with onion (or any brand similar). I steam (to “just cooked”) and season with butter, kosher salt & pepper before adding to the slow cooker. 

BBQ Sauce is a key ingredient. 

BBQ sauce is a key condiment in making Brunswick stew flavorful. My Brunswick Stew includes ingredients for a “homemade BBQ sauce.” It is a mixture of vinegar, Worcestershire, ketchup, liquid smoke, and melted butter. It is a zippy sauce that adds great complexity to the stew. I also add some bottled barbecue sauce to my recipe as well. It adds another layer of barbecue flavor, and it also adds a rich color to the stew. If my stew looks too light, I simply add more barbecue sauce to make it a deeper color. You can add to your own taste, and you can use any barbecue sauce you like. When I buy my meat from my favorite BBQ places, I use the sauce they include with the meat. My favorite store-bought sauces are Bull’s Eye Original (a Cook’s Illustrated taste test winner) and Sticky Fingers.

Season ingredients separately.

As you prep your vegetables to add to the stew, season them as you go.  Dishes taste better when ingredients are seasoned separately before being put together in the slow cooker. Here is how I season my ingredients in layers.

  • Potatoes. Steam and toss with tiny pieces of real butter. Season with kosher salt & pepper.
  • Onions. Saute in a bit of EVOO and butter. Season with kosher salt & pepper during & after cooking.
  • Chicken. Make simple roasted chicken (here is my recipe). Once cooked, season it with a little liquid smoke. Toss it with your favorite BBQ sauce before adding it to the slow cooker.

How to make Brunswick Stew ahead of time.

This stew is perfect to make ahead for a holiday gathering or vacation. It tastes as good or better on day two. Simply make the stew and refrigerate until ready to reheat and serve. NOTE: Pour cooked stew in a shallow container before putting in the fridge. Do not put the slow cooker full of stew in the fridge; this can cause a food safety issue. The stew should be spread out in an even, shallow layer to be able to cool safely.

How to serve Brunswick stew.

Our favorite way to eat Brunswick stew is with cornbread. We love this pimento cheese cornbread. It is made from Krusteaz honey cornbread mix and pimento cheese. We also love traditional Southern buttermilk cornbread. My recipe can be found in this post.  My friend Bobby Hewitt (whose wildly popular Boston butt recipe is here on the blog) makes a fabulous Brunswick stew, and he serves it with Fritos corn chips and shredded sharp cheddar. DELICIOUS!!! However you choose to serve it, one thing remains constant~always have a bottle of hot sauce nearby. Crystal and tobasco are our favorites.


Brunswick Stew


Listen to my Brunswick stew podcast.

If you want all the details, tips & tricks on my Brunswick stew, I share them all on this podcast. You can listen on iTunes or your favorite platform, or you can listen here on the podcast page

A short video of my Brunswick stew.

In the video below, I show how to make my version of Brunswick Stew. If you watch to the end, you will get to see my favorite way to eat Brunswick Stew. This is the way most of my generation enjoys it. 


I do hope you will try this fabulous Brunswick Stew! If you do, please leave comments below. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

Brunswick Stew

Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes

Slow cooker brunswick stew~a true crowd pleaer.


  • 3/4 pound cooked, chopped chicken (preferably smoked)
  • 3/4-1 pound smoked Boston butt pork
  • 1 cup diced potatoes (cooked until just tender)*
  • 1 cup diced onion (frozen is fine)
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can lima beans, drained
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 carton Chicken Broth (may not use all)
  • 1-2 cups bottled barbecue sauce
  • 1 TB Liquid Smoke
  • 1 TB Worcestershire
  • 4 TB melted butter (divided into 2 TB each)
  • 2 TB white vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • Tabasco (to taste)
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Place chopped pork and chicken into slow cooker.
  2. In small bowl, mix 2 TB melted butter, white vinegar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire and ketchup. Pour over meat.
  3. Steam diced potatoes (I use Ziploc steam bag) 4 minutes our until just tender. Open bag to release air so that they don't continue to cook.
  4. Sauté onion in 2 TB until tender. Add potatoes; toss with onions.Sprinkle with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper.
  5. Add potatoes and onions to slow cooker.
  6. Add drained lima beans, creamed corn and diced tomatoes.
  7. With large spatula, mix ingredients well.
  8. Add barbecue sauce, stirring into ingredients.
  9. Add chicken broth a cup at a time until stew is desired consistency.
  10. Cook on high 4-5 hours or low 6-7 hours.
  11. Serve with saltines or cornbread, with tobasco on the side.
Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 237Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 36mgSodium 662mgCarbohydrates 33gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 3gSugar 15gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 12g

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  1. This recipe looks amazing. Im confused on the bbq sauce. I’m the ingredients it’s listed twice.

  2. Hi Lis! Sorry about that! I use about 1 TB! I will say that you can use your favorite bottled BBQ sauce with GREAT results also!!! That is what I do mostly, as it is so much easier!!!

  3. In your video you mention lemon juice in your homemade bbq sauce but lemon juice is not listed in the recipe ingredients. How much do you use?

  4. Hi Beve! I just checked and saw the video. You have to sit through a short ad, but it plays right after! Take another look, and let me know if you still dont see it!

  5. I’ve copied your receipe, but the video doesn’t show. There isn’t anything there. Can you give me that link?

  6. Hi Kristy!! If you go to the page of the recipe post, you can copy the URL from the address bar and then paste into an email for your father. Any recipe should reside on a page that has a URL that an be shared! Best to you and your dad!

  7. How do you share a recipe for someone that is not on social media? Basically how can I share the link via email.
    It should be easy, but it seems impossible!
    My father is 82 and wants to make this, but he’s not on Pinterest or Instagram. It would be great if this was easier to access and user friendly.
    Thank you!

  8. TOTALLY AWESOME RECIPE!!!!! I used Pulled BBQ Chicken and Ground Beef. Thank you for sharing!!

  9. Hi David! Your knowledge of Brunswick stew is amazing!!! The beef round is an interesting substitution that sounds great!!! I also LOVE the accompaniment of sweet corn muffins. That is a meal after my own heart!!!! Thanks for sharing all you helpful info!!!!

  10. In the South, there are so many variations of the classic Brunswick Stew that in many cases, it boils down to a particular region or what you grew up eating as to your preferences of the stew’s ingredients (Steak Sauce vs. BBQ Sauce, heavy amounts vs. moderate amounts of vinegar, types of meats used, vegetables, etc.). I’ve tried various Brunswick Stew recipes in the past and found this one to incorporate a lot of the base ingredients used in the majority of those various stew recipes. I made this recipe and found it to be extremely good. I stayed pretty close to the recipe incorporating the two sauces exactly as listed, but due to a lack of certain ingredients on hand and a few picky eaters in our household, I had to sub in a few changes: Used Pan Seared Beef Round Chunks in place of the smoked pork butt, dropped the tabasco sauce as some family members don’t like spicy and subbed a frozen vegetable medley (green beans, corn, peas and carrots) in place of the cream corn and lima beans (again, those picky eaters…). Added the frozen vegetables during the last hour of cooking so they wouldn’t become too soft. Used KC Masterpiece Original BBQ Sauce. Cooked on low for 7 hours and the stew came out delicious, and the chicken and Beef Round Chunks were fork tender. Served with sweet corn muffins. The combination of the BBQ sauce and the liquid smoke gave the stew a wonderful sweet and smoky flavor. Next time hope to have the smoked pork on hand and incorporate it. Definitely a keeper for our household recipe list!

  11. Oh I am so happy you made this recipe, Cindy!!! I know you had top notch BBQ butt since your other half is such an amazing smoke master! XoXo

  12. I made my first ever pot of Brunswick Stew following your recipe to the T! It was delicious and a great way to use up leftover bbq pork butt. Thanks Jamie!

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