Alabama Camp Stew (a.k.a Brunswick Stew)

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 Hearty and delicious, this easy old-fashioned Alabama camp stew recipe (a.k.a Brunswick stew) is made with canned meat, diced tomatoes, beans, corn, and onion. It will fill you up and keep you and your family grinnin’ like a possum eating a sweet tater!



If you happen to live anywhere near Alabama and go to the grocery store to get the ingredients for this, chances are the cashier will ask if you’re making camp stew. Mama remembers having camp stew as a child around campfires, at family gatherings, and even in the school lunchroom. This recipe is as old as the hills and is often known as Brunswick stew outside of my stomping grounds.

So, why is it called camp stew? The name came from it being so easy to make while camping since it can be made entirely out of canned goods. Yep, to make my Alabama camp stew recipe you’ll need canned meat, canned tomatoes, canned corn, canned beans… and chopped onion. The instructions are as simple as adding everything to a stockpot, letting all the flavors simmer and mingle together for an hour, and serving. My kind of recipe!

The many variations of camp stew

This is my easy camp stew recipe, but there are so many ways to make it your own. Some people add potatoes, some leave out the onion and opt only for canned goods, and others add Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce. Add more corn, less corn, lima beans instead of butter beans, etc. This is easily modified so go with your favorites. I would try to keep the meat the same, though, because a lot of the flavor comes from that sauce.

This is one of the most delicious and flavorful stews to ever touch a spoon. My friend Jyl has a firm policy in her family that she always doubles the recipe because folks can’t help but come back for seconds, thirds, and often fourths. The recipe below will serve about 6 people.

Make it how you like but I suggest trying it this way first because you’ll likely be hooked from the get-go and the first bite will tell you exactly why this stew is so famous in sweet ol’ Alabama.

If you love this stew you are going to love some of my other recipes like BBQ Joint Stew, Traditional Beef Stew Recipe (Without Tomatoes)Our Family’s Southern Chicken Stew Recipe, and Easy Chicken Stew Recipe.

Alabama Camp Stew (Brunswick Stew) Ingredients

Recipe Ingredients

  • Canned pork in BBQ sauce
  • Canned beef in BBQ sauce 
  • Canned chicken breast
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Butter beans or lima beans
  • Canned corn kernels
  • Onion

Helpful Kitchen Tools

How To Make Alabama Camp Stew

First, let’s do the prep work. Peel and dice your onion, then open all of your cans but don’t drain them.

Toss it all into your stockpot (or a Dutch oven, whatever’s handy), liquid and all.

You shouldn’t need salt or pepper unless you just really want to add it. But I suggest tasting it first. 

Put all of this in a pot over medium heat and stir often until it comes to a boil.

Then reduce heat and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes to an hour. 

Cooking camp stew on a campfire

If you are cooking this over a fire, just stoke the fire, put the ingredients in the pot, stir it a lot, and try your best not to let the bottom scorch. Eat it when you grow tired of messing with it.

Dump all ingredients in a pot, stir, and simmer for an hour.

Enjoy your delicious camp stew! 

If you are making my Bags To Dishes meals, this is a great addition. Simply leave out the onion and the entire recipe is shelf stable.


  • Store leftover stew in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  • You can also freeze the stew for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating as above.

Recipe Variations

As mentioned above, there are many ways to make this camp stew recipe your own:

  • Add different vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery, frozen peas, or green beans.
  • Use different canned beans: black beans, kidney beans, or cannellini beans.
  • Use only canned pork or only canned beef. Alternatively, you can make your own with shredded beef and barbecue sauce or pulled pork. As for the chicken, you can use shredded rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken breast.

Recipe FAQs

The main difference is that Brunswick stew or camp stew is made with beef, chicken, and pork, not just beef like a beef stew.

What goes with Brunswick stew?

If you’re not making campfire stew, serve your Brunswick stew with cornbreadjalapeño cornbread muffins, Dutch oven bread, buttermilk biscuits, or homemade dinner rolls

How do you thicken Brunswick stew?

You shouldn’t need to thicken this stew, but the best way to thicken any stew is with a cornstarch slurry. Mix together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (or flour) with 2 tablespoons of cool water and add it to the stew. Wait a minute and repeat as necessary.

Is Brunswick stew a Southern thing?

Yep, Brunswick stew is a Southern staple.

You may also enjoy these sensational stew recipes:

Lentil Stew

Ground Beef Stew

Easy Chicken Stew Recipe

Traditional Beef Stew Recipe (Without Tomatoes)

Our Family’s Southern Chicken Stew Recipe

Smoked Sausage and Beef Stew in the Crockpot

Alabama Camp Stew

Hearty and delicious, this easy old-fashioned Alabama camp stew recipe (a.k.a Brunswick stew) is made with canned meat, diced tomatoes, beans, corn, and onion.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: stew
Servings: 6
Calories: 205kcal


  • 3 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can whole kernel corn
  • 1 14-ounce can butter beans, baby lima, or lima beans
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 10-ounce cans beef or pork bbq in sauce
  • 1 10/12-ounce can chicken breast


  • Dump all contents into a medium-sized stockpot, including the liquid in all of the cans.
    3 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, 1 14-ounce can whole kernel corn, 1 14-ounce can butter beans, baby lima, or lima beans, 1 chopped onion, 2 10-ounce cans beef or pork bbq in sauce, 1 10/12-ounce can chicken breast
  • Place over medium heat, stirring often, and bring just to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes to an hour.


Calories: 205kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


Never be afraid to try something new. 

Remember, amateurs built the ark. 

Professionals built the Titanic.

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  1. Castlebury has brought back their BBQ Pork and BBQ Beef?! I’m too excited! Someone bought them years ago and they stopped producing these. I also add soy sauce, Wooster, lemon and a few other things I will keep secret. Love Camp Stew.

    1. Christy, you misspelled Castleberry’s and I followed suit even though I didn’t think the spelling looked right. Shame on me!

      1. I am a Castleberry and all most of my mail comes misspelled! It doesn’t bother us too bad! 🙂

        I’m from North Carolina and our version is called Brunswick Stew, but almost always contains green beans too. I can’t wait to try this. I’m always looking for something easy! Love your blog Christy!

        1. This is not Brunswick stew. I grew up eating Brunswick stew in Virginia and have made it a few times. This is close, but not it. This looks very good. I plan to make it on a camp out this weekend.

      1. I never use cand meats to make camp stew it don’t tast the same. Here is my recipe i only use chicken and pork FROM THE freezer Department. You will need Worcestershire sauce in about a half cup of barbecue sauce. Corn, green beans, onions, puree potatoes or small chopped potatoes you can use any kind of vegetables you want I have never used Green beans. Salt and pepper. Easy to freeze for a rainy day.

        1. Thank you Carol. I don’t do canned meat either, the texture is something I do not care for, especially canned chicken. Will try but use fresh meat plus your suggested woostershire and BBQ sauce addition.

  2. A neighbor gave me this recipe over 25 years ago and I make it about once a month in fall and winter. I use creamed corn and the corn “milk” acts a mild thickener. I also freeze leftover rotisserie chicken, bbq pork or beef, etc and throw it in. We like potatoes and carrots in ours, too. I put in 1/2 cup of any brand BBQ sauce, 2 T vinegar and 2 T sugar. Put it all in the slow cooker on low 8-10 hours. Everyone loves this!

  3. This is also called 7 can stew…in the South..this is very good on a cold all ingredients in crock pot and great to have ready after work..

  4. Never seen the beef and pork in cans, but it looks great. I have seen dried onions which if you were making a bags to dinners set up, a small jar or plastic sealed container of onion flakes would work just fine.

    1. I have made this stew many times and always used Castleberry’s but stopped making it when they discontinued the BBQ in the van due to some health scare. I have not been able to find it. Where do you get yours? Thanks.

    2. 5 stars
      I tried this and loved it. Today the roads are bad and I had “most” of the ingredients. So I had a Christy “ whatever cranks your tractor” moment and just started putting stuff in. I’ll bet it will be edible but probably not close to the original recipe.

    3. 5 stars
      You are right about Castleberry’s being almost impossible to find. We substituted Loyd’s Pork in BBQ sauce (found in the section near the refrigerated mashed potatoes) and then the same for Beef brisket (used half the tub for brisket, whole tub for pork). It cooked up great! Also substituted and used 2 cans (instead of 3) of tomatoes and 28 oz can (instead of 14 oz) “Southern Seasoned” butter beans in place of the lima beans. Also added a ham hock, 12 oz can cubed potatoes, Worchestershire sauce, a little hot sauce, packet of ranch dressing and packet of Good Seasoning brand garlic/herb seasoning and a can or two of water. Made this over a campfire. Hubs said it tasted like gourmet Brunswick Stew!! Added shredded cheese to the top when serving in bowls.

  5. You have inspired me. However, I don’t like to mix meats, so I will try it with one of the three. I usually do whatever you say =) I’m sure I will have another opportunity in the next post…

        1. I’m a good ole Bama girl living in New Hampshire and sharing my southern cooking with all these Yankees and keeping my southern ways of eating alive!

    1. 5 stars
      It’s one meal that gets so many compliments… I serve with cornbread.
      It’s truly a comfort food for me.

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