Our Family’s Chicken Stew Recipe


I am going to start this post off by asking a favor of you all.  
Please make this chicken stew.

Its that good. Its so good that it actually bothers me to think that some of you might only look at the photos, read the tutorial, and never make it. Its so good that if I could, I would seriously arrange a time and place for all of us to meet up under a tent somewhere in the middle of the country just to serve you this chicken stew. Its just……..its…..well folks, its just so good!

My mother got this recipe out of a 1974 issue of Good Housekeeping. There was a photograph of a little old lady next to the title and Mama said “She just looked like her food would be really good”. Since then, I cannot even begin to tell you how often we make it. Everyone in my family makes this and loves it. My in laws are coming in from Georgia this weekend for the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddler’s Convention as they do every year and this stew is always a request for their first meal. Tonight I’m serving it with Dixie Cornbread.

This stew refrigerates well, freezes well, and can easily feed a crowd simply by adding more potatoes. I always try to make a double batch and my family happily eats it whenever they need a quick meal all week long!

Once you make this a time or two, you’ll have no more need of the recipe. It will be ingrained on your heart, your taste buds, and your stomach.


You’ll need: Potatoes, A chicken, Crushed tomatoes, corn, and onion! You’ll also need a bit of salt, pepper, sugar, and margarine. Exact sizes and quantities are at the bottom of the page.
Cover chicken with water and cook over medium heat until done. When chicken is done, remove from broth and set aside to cool a bit. Reserve broth.
If you prefer to use boneless skinless breasts for this, just add some chicken bouillon cubes to your water to make sure your broth is rich enough.

Peel and dice potatoes. Also peel and dice your onion.
Add potatoes to broth.
Add diced onion as well. Cook these until your potatoes are tender.
Cook until potatoes are tender. Remove about a coffee cup’s worth of potatoes.
Like this.
With a fork, mash those potatoes in the cup. We are going to add this back to the stew and it will thicken it. You can also just use a bit of instant mashed potatoes here if you want, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. (I truly believe soup thickening is about all they are good for….except for when I make this crust out of them for our Taco casserole…….but that is a recipe for another day)
Place back in pot.
Add can of tomatoes. Now you can use any type you want here. I tend to used crushed because my husband (who I have oft mentioned was dropped on his head as a child) doesn’t like to actually bite into a piece of a tomato in his stew. However, I prefer diced if I’m going with canned. Nothing though, NOTHING is better than home grown tomatoes from my freezer if I have them!
Add corn. I often use frozen corn if you prefer that.

Add salt…

And pepper.
and sugar. I know sugar sounds a bit odd in a stew, trust me on this.
Simmer slowly with lid off for about forty five minutes.

Just before serving, stir in margarine.
These photos were taken with my old camera, the final was taken with the new camera!
Now, I did this tutorial how I make my stew. The following recipe is my mothers. You may find that hers does things slightly differently (she doesn’t cook her onion with her potatoes), but it makes absolutely no difference in the outcome!

*This has been our family’s favorite stew since my mother got the recipe in 1974. No one has to use the recipe anymore because we have all made it so much.

Chicken Stew
  • 1 chicken
  • 2 lg onions, chopped
  • 7 cups water
  • 4 cups canned tomatoes
  • 6 med.potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups frozen or canned whole kernel corn
  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  1. Cook chicken until done in water. Remove chicken from broth and discard skin. Separate meat from bones and shred meat.
  2. Dip off as much fat from the broth as possible.
  3. Simmer potatoes in 1 cup of broth in covered saucepan until done, do not drain. Mash potatoes slightly, keeping them lumpy.
  4. Add corn, onions, tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper to broth.
  5. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add potatoes and chicken and simmer slowly with lid off for at least 45 minutes.
  7. Right before serving, stir in butter and let it melt. Best if made a day ahead and reheated to serve.

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  1. Rebecca Lowman says

    I use the same recipe every year I have to google your blog every time. Im from South Carolina but my husband and I are stationed in Texas, and tomorrow is actually going to be a cold day here. Making my first pot of the season freezing some and saving it for him when he comes home from deployment. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe!

  2. Brenda says

    Christy, our family loves chicken stew and we make this all the time. You may already know this but thought I would share this tip for anyone who doesn’t. In place of peeling potatoes, I have used frozen cubed hash browns and we cannot tell the difference. For anyone who has arthritis in their hands….frozen cubed hash browns will do the trick. The same for onions. To make it really fast…I keep shredded chicken in my freezer (from when chicken breast are on sale) and that with the frozen hash browns…you can have chicken stew very fast!!! I think I need to go make some now!!!

  3. Mrs. Darlene Young says

    I made this today and it is SO GOOD ! My husband loves it. I’m from the north and didn’t know about chicken stew, but our daughter-in-law, a Pastor’s wife, asked me to make some for our churches’ hayride. I am so glad that I decided to try this one. I don’t think I’ll look any further, although I know there are other milk based recipes. ☺

  4. Lynda says

    Holy smokes! My house smelled like a little bit of heaven! I made this tonight because my two daughters were sick of the same ole thing…This stuff is absolute delciousness!! I’ve never heard of your site Christy, but I have to tell you I’ve already subscribed and have spent the last hour just browsing at recipes. I’m a single mom who’s recently returned to school for my nurse practitioner certificate, so I’m definitely on a tight budget. Your recipes are so simple, economical which makes them elegant! Love what you’re doing with Compassion and helping children. Can’t wait to try the country chowder and pumpkin crumble recipes!
    Blessings to you, an excited northerner!

    • says

      Welcome to Southern Plate Lynda!!! I am so glad you found me and are enjoying the recipes! Congratulations on going back to school…how exciting for you and your family!! I hope you will come by often for a visit and I look forward to getting to know you!

  5. Beth Bailey says

    Amazing recipe! I grilled my chicken and used buillion for the broth. Awesome and can’t wait to eat it again tomorrow! My daughter even wants to take it to school for lunch! Yummo! Reminds me of the chicken stew the volunteer fire department used to make and sell when I was a kid!

  6. says

    I made this a few weeks ago and hubby and I loved it, but “picky” kids did not :( They think it was the tomato. I’m thinking about making it again without the tomato and wondered if you have tried it that way and what the outcome was. I really need something that is both good for us and economical and would love to make this work without the tomato :)

    • Cheree Johnson says

      I make chicken stew in the crockpot often! I cook my chicken in the crockpot overnight, sometimes I use a mix of breast & thighs, sometimes a whole chicken. I season it when I put it in. In the morning take the chicken out of the broth and debone if necessary and shred.

      To the chicken broth, add a can of tomato paste, 1-2 diced onions, 1-2 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes, (I use 2 cans) 6-8 cubed potatoes, (skin on or off, whichever you prefer), & add your shredded chicken back in. I add a little salt & lots of pepper. If it can cook all day, I cook it on low, if not I cook it on high, it’s usually done in about 3-4 hours, check your potatoes, when they’re done, add 2 cans of drained corn and it’ll be ready in few minutes. I’ve never added sugar to mine but will try it next time. If you don’t have enough broth, just add some water or broth.

  7. Teri Jean says

    This looks amazing!! I was looking for a chicken soup/stew recipe I could cook in my Polish pottery in the oven – I will adapt this recipe and let you know how it turns out!! Would love your thoughts on how to do that, though – any ideas, anyone? Other than adding the smashed potatoes at the very end of the somewhat slow cooking time (probably 40 min @ 375, then down to 300 for about 90 min).

  8. Ashley says

    I make this once a week now for my boyfriend who loves any kind of stew! He enjoyed it so much the first time I made it that he ate the entire batch in 2 days! I had a bowl or 2 myself but he demolished the rest. I was going to freeze the leftovers but there were none. I am making this today and hopefully will have someleft to freeze. It’s just like my Mamaws and that says a lot! Much love from Alabama! Xoxo

  9. Denise says

    I just made this for dinner and I made homemade dumplings with it; it was delicious and was quite filling! I also added mixed vegetables, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes for a little additional seasoning. I am not a big fan of tomatoes (I used canned crushed tomatoes) so I was a little skeptical where I was making it, but it was still quite good and very flavorful. I think that the next time I will make it without the tomatoes and see how that turns out. But it did make a huge pot, and my family loved it. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  10. Peggy says

    Chicken stew is an “Alabama” staple. It is made for fund raisers,family reunions, and any other gathering. Our family wants it for our annual Christmas day meal. They start asking way before the holidays, “Is Papa Gene making chicken stew this year?” However the one thing that makes ours special is the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we eat with it. We make creamy and crunchy and everyone who has ever eaten stew with us soon becomes a fan. Try it, you will like it!!!!

  11. Betty Manley says

    I also would like to know if the tomatoes and corn should be drained. Also, how many boneless skinless chicken breasts should I use? I’m thinking 3-4? This sounds delicious! I can’t wait to make it. Love your website and all of your recipes.

  12. Kim says


    I have tried a number of your recipes and loved EVERY one of them! I made this chicken stew the other night(it is a lot like what my family calls Brunswick Stew) and my father (very picky) absolutely loved it! I can’t wait to pick up your cook books!

  13. Sharon Carson says

    Hi Christy! It’s been a snowy week up here in southern New Jersey, so I just made this stew today; the hubby and I loved it! This is very much like my dear departed mother-in-law’s chicken vegetable soup. She added a can of condensed tomato soup instead of canned tomatoes, but the flavor is very similar and it made me think of her. What sweet memories!
    I have to tell you, Christy, I bought your “Come Home To Supper” book for both myself and for my friend Kim. She told me that her family ( hubby and three kids, ages 12, 9 and 6) told her to thank ‘Mrs. Carson’ for the cookbook! She has made several recipes and her family loved them. So, now I am paying the thanks forward to you. She loved the easy preparation and the fact that you don’t call for a lot of fancy ingredients. I invited her to go on your website, too. Now, if I could just get MY copy of your book back from my mother, I would be in good shape. I had a feeling the day I lent t to her, I wouldn’t get it back anytime soon….sigh! Something tells me I’d better order myself another copy… Have a great rest of the weekend.

  14. Patty says

    Christie, First of all I absolutely LOVE your site! You just can’t go wrong with good ole southern cookig :-) Second, is there ANY way you can use chicken broth instead of the 7 cups of water used to cook the chicken in? Dyin’ to make this

  15. Cassandra says

    I googles something I could make with the ingredients I had, and it brought me here. Made this for my family of picky eaters, and I added cut up sausage. I served it over rice. They all absolutely loved it. The next night they asked if there was enough left to have it again. This time I added elbow noodles to it, and left off the rice. Huge hit! Great recipe. It’s so hard to find something that pleases every one. Thank you so much for posting. This one is definitely going in the recipe book.

  16. Debbie says

    Christy – I made this a couple of weeks ago, with shortcuts of course. I used cubed hashbrowns and chicken broth. I did use the crushed tomatoes but also added a can of RoTele. A new family favorite!! Thank you!

  17. Debbie Moore says

    I was surprised to see this recipe, as my family makes this soup, too. I thought we were the only ones and it was some kind of family concoction. Especially the sugar part. I sometimes use Rotel for the tomato part. Texas influence. Love your cooking! Hungry now. Must go cook!

    • Marie says

      Brian, she did note that the instructions under the photos were her own but the printed recipe was her Mother’s and that there were slight variations. She also noted that there was no difference in the outcome, regardless of which method you used. :)

  18. Lauren says

    So I decided to make this stew last Friday for a coworker who’s recently had surgery, and I wanted to make enough to have some for myself so I doubled the batch, thinking it would be just enough. Man, I was so wrong – I’m not sure how much it actually made, but I think I have gallons of soup still in my freezer. I’ve been eating soup all week! The great thing is that it just keeps getting better as it sits in the fridge. I had shredded five medium-sized chicken breast, used two onion soup mixes for flavoring, as I had no onions, and simmered both cauliflower and potatoes in the soup broth and whipped those to thicken it a bit. While the stew is still a little thicker than I prefer, it is excellent! The thinner broth really complements the brightness of the corn. I also chopped up some carrots and threw them in, because what’s a stew without carrots? Thanks for the recipe, Christy! Lots of love from Alaska!

  19. Ione says

    I’m so sorry to be a naysayer, but I made this stew yesterday and didn’t like it. Objectively, it tasted “good” but I just don’t like the taste of tomatoes in things unless they are more masked.
    The recipe makes A LOT. I did not want to waste it. Therefore, today, I sauteed some onions, garlic, chopped red pepper, and andouille chicken sausage. I added oregano and cumin and then some chili powder and topped that off with two cans of great northern white beans. It was quite thick, but I added about a 1/2 cup of beer and it was a delicious chili which I plan to freeze for future meals. I sprinkled the chili with chopped cilantro. It will be great on rice or by itself with some grated cheese.

  20. Kathryn says

    This was delicious!!! Thank you so much!! Im alwas looking for new ideas as I am pregnant and need to keep trying new things or I get sick of the same type of thing over and over. I learned a lot about cooking a whole chicken with this and this has helped expand my cooking repertoire even more. Plus me and my hubby loved it!!!

  21. Wendy Dement Smith says

    OMG, The best recipe ever and I think my grandmother probably got the same recipe years ago because this is how she always made hers. We like serving ours with cheddar cheese and crackers, or a grilled cheese sandwich! oh and a hunk of onion . Im making this when im off this weekend.

  22. Ann whitlow says

    Omg!! I made this and didnt change a thing.it is the best stew I’ve ever made.I love trying new recipes and I love stew best of all.so therefore.I have made several stews, none touches this one….wow!!!! Delicious. ….my two girls whom are picky and my husband loved it as well.its a keeper for sure……they have requested it again four days later after we had this the first time..8>] thats how wonderful it is..yum..thanks a million. I love your site and want your cook books so bad….

  23. Tearah says

    I made this in my crock pot. Cooked on low for 8 hours & it came out fantastic. I used boneless skinless breasts & chicken bone broth I had made a few days prior. Added white & red onion, Yukon & purple potatoes, but followed the rest of the recipe to a T. My daughter made fresh cornbread to go with and we served with warm butter and honey. Big hit!

  24. Cheese with Noodles says

    Christy, I made this recipe a couple of years ago. It just didn’t turn out great. We ate it, but the flavors just didn’t come together. For some reason, two weeks ago I decided to try it again. This time it turned out wonderfully! It made a gallon of stew and it’s just my husband and me, so we ate a LOT of it. I froze some of it and have been heating it up for lunch, finished the last bowl of it today! I made it according to the recipe both times, so I have no idea why I experienced such different results, but I loved it and it’s now on my short list of favorite soups. So glad I decided to give the recipe a second try.

  25. Emily says

    Hi, I live in North Alabama near Athens so I know how crisp and cool these last two morning have been as you mentioned in your last post. Feels like an early winter! This chicken stew tastes like the old fashioned chicken stew we used to cook at my church for a fundraiser. It is delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  26. Cindy Barber says

    Cook Books??!! I thought this was just a food blog. I’ll be here all day on the computer if I’m not careful, so I haven’t read much of your blog. I’ll have to visit my book store. I did “Do me a favor and make this chicken stew.” I can’t make it fast enough. The kids could eat it every day. I think the sugar gives it the unusual flavor that makes it so appealing. My daughter moved out two weeks ago and my son is going to Texas the day after Thanksgiving. I’m going to fill them up with stew. Absolutely no better way to say I love you. Thanks



  28. Yvette says

    Hello Chrissy,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I felt a cold coming on and I wanted to make old-fashion chicken stew, well I googled for a receipe and read yours and decided to make without deviating from your instructions and and may I say it is CHICKEN STEW for the SOUL!! Thank you.


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