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

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. I’m not sure why, but I have a mental block mixing 3 types of meats together. This looks delicious, though. I’ll try it using one or the other.

    1. This is one of those recipes that it is kind hard to wrap your head around and imagine what it is going to taste like with so many flavors going on, but they do blend beautifully into an end product that will make taste buds VERY happy 😉

    2. I have gone back several times and looked at the recipe and for the life of me I know I missing something, but I don’t see where the recipe calls for 3 meats. I just see beef and chicken. But can see where some folks are substituting pork for the beef, but still calls for 2 meats not 2.

      1. The orginal recipe called for beef, pork, and chicken. I made a note in the photo under the recipe ingredients that we now use double beef because we don’t eat pork anymore. 🙂 when I get to a computer I’ll also put a little note in the recipe card. Thank you for the great feedback! Hope you have a great weekend!

  2. I make this all the time. Don’t worry about substitutes!! Add what you family likes and it will be fine. I add a lot of mustard to mine because I grew up in Columbus Georgia and their barbecue was mustard based. Make it like you like it!! I don’t do canned meats so I buy a Boston Butt and always make this when we get to the end of it. I also throw in some left over chopped chicken I keep in the freezer for such meals like this. Christy is right. Be brave and experiment!! Love all your post Christy. My family is from South Alabama so many of your recipes are mine also. Love the South!!! My bonus daughter says she loves the South because we proudly do as we darn well want to!!

  3. Looks delicious! It was a family tradition for us to have Brunswick stew every Christmas Eve but took my sweet Mama a couple of days to make it. Looking forward to trying this easier version.
    Hope I can find the Castlebury barbecue. Last time I looked, couldn’t find it.
    Thank you for the great recipes, Christy. Watched you on QVC, and you were wonderful! You
    made us Alabamians proud!

  4. Hi Christy, I love your site, your blogs, your emails. I especially love your daily religious inspirations and thoughts.
    I was wondering though can you use regular canned meat instead of bar b q and maybe just add a little bar b q sauce and some ketchup instead? I’m really not a big fan of heavy bar b q sauce.
    Have a great blessed day, love ya, Ken from Michigan.

        1. It really depends on how low carb she wants to go. To some people low carb is under 100 carbs per day. To some people it is under 20, still others consider it to be low carb if it is under 200. So can this be made low carb? Absolutely. By some definitions it already is. By other definitions it will never be. 🙂

          P.S. Marilyn, I came home from the grocery store to the TREAT of your comments on various posts. I have not enjoyed reading through my comments this much in a long time. Thank you for the gift of your company this evening. You are a delight!

    1. The beans, corn and sugars in the canned BBQ meats will cause this soup to be very high in carbs. However, the carbs from the beans are complex and are good carbs. The corn is more of a simple carb, but you wouldn’t be eating that much. The sugar carbs are the worst. This could be tweaked by using fresh meat and a homemade low carb BBQ sauce. There are lots of online recipes for this. Hope this helps. Remember, eating healthy takes a little more time to prepare, but the benefits are worth it.

      1. I wish I could use words like “healthy” as a food blogger but nowadays someone will object even if you use that to describe a salad. This is a great stew and I wouldn’t deem it, as a whole, to be unhealthy. However, that depends on your diet, state of health, and several other factors. Fruit is considered unhealthy to some, as are carrots, potatoes, meat, and to some even fresh veggies. So it is important to use your own judgement. If you are looking for a homemade version of this, our family’s chicken stew recipe is often referred to as Brunswick stew by others as well. 🙂

        1. I am an insulin dependent diabetic. I would not hesitate to make/eat this stew! Simply county the carbs from the back of each can, divide it by the number of servings, and you have your carb count. My “healthier than thou” son in law (I love him to death, bless his heart!) was watching me make a pineapple upside down cake, and he bout had a coronary when I melted a stick of butter and added a cup of brown sugar to the bottom of the pan. Went on and on about how unhealthy all the fat and sugar I was using was. Finally got tired of listening to him harp about it and told him, “son, unless you are planning on being a pure d ole hog and eating the entire cake by yourself, a serving has ABOUT a half teaspoon butter and maybe a teaspoon of brown sugar. Now go away and let me finish supper, and come back and tell me how good it was after dessert!” People tend to look more at the total amount of carbs, fat, sugar, etc, in a recipe, instead of looking at what’s in an actual serving! Love everything you do, girl!

  5. This looks wonderful, but I have a probably “crazy” question. Did you mean 10 cans of 12 oz canned chicken, or 10 or 12 oz canned chicken. The first item says 3 – 14 oz cans diced tomatoes. This last item looks like 10 cans. I am sure this sounds really strange, but thanks for your help.

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