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. I just cooked a big ole pork tenderloin for a church dinner tomorrow…if there is any left I’m gonna be making this! Will also be good to take to a sick sister who is down with some really bad respiratory stuff. Always enjoy your sharing. My Aunt lives is Madison and every time I am up there one of us says “i wonder where she lives…”

  2. I realize maybe this is a dumb question…but does the finished stew taste like barbecue sauce? I love a BBQ pork sandwich but can’t imagine a stew that tastes like BBQ. I’ve never had the canned meats pictured so I don’t know how BBQ-y they taste. There’s a lot of other stuff going in there so maybe it’s like putting a can of tomato sauce in your vegetable soup, you don’t specifically taste the tomato sauce, just the wonderful combined flavor of everything.

  3. I’m from Alabama and I’ve never heard of canned beef in Brunswick Stew nor beef at all. The stew is made with smoked chicken or pork and bbq sauce added, if unable to smoke the meat, then you can just gently boil the meat . Most people around here just go to their favorite bbq place and buy a pound of barbecued pork to add to their homemade stew.

  4. I hope to make this soon, but I cant seem to find the canned beef or pork in sauce around here: at least not in any local grocers. I’m going to continue looking though, I may have to order it from amazon. ALSO…awhile back, your pretty Mom, posted a potato pancake recipe, and in that post she said she had a roast beef hash recipe, I WOULD LOVE to have that recipe if she would be willing to share. Thanks, Susan

  5. Hi Christy

    I’m curious as to why your family doesn’t eat pork anymore. I’m kind of new to your blog so perhaps you explained the “why” sometime back.

    Your recipes are delicious and so “comfort food” and you are inspiring with all your quotes (and your sense of humor!) and best of all your love for the Lord!

    1. Hey Rebecca! Thank you for being here! I haven’t explained why so you haven’t missed anything. We quit pork almost two years ago as part of our walk. I have never gone into detail here as our hope is to encourage everyone on their individual faith walk as we all strive to follow the perfect example of our Messiah, Jesus. 🙂

  6. This kind of stew is sold in Tennessee where barbeque pork is sold in the summertime too and sometimes as a fundraiser with just the stew. Especially around July 4th. so that stew is good even when the weather’s hot. I believe it was originally made with whatever game meat was on hand.

  7. I couldn’t bring myself to buy the canned beef, but I had plenty of ground beef in the freezer, so I used that. Gracious, this was good. I used one can of the Costco canned chicken. Delicious, especially the next day or two.

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