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Many visitors to Eastern North Carolina Coast are pleasantly surprised when they discover the joy of Brunswick Stew for the first time. This time-honored coastal dish is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This week we give you the ultimate Brunswick Stew recipe to wow friends and family alike.

A little coincidence

As many of you might be wondering, Ocean Isle Beach, NC is located in Brunswick County. Of course, this begs the question, Is Brunswick Stew named after our local county? The short answer is, sadly, no. So what are the origins of this delicious dish? Like any great legend or story, there are competing claims. After all, everyone wants to lay claim to this delightful dish. And so the story begins.

The Legend of Brunswick County, Virginia.

Our first story of the origin of Brunswick stew begins sometime in 1828 during, of all things, a hunting trip. The legend states Dr. Creed Haskins and his personal chef, Jimmy Mathews, were hunting squirrel. The squirrel was then cleaned and simmered with onions, stale bread, and some butter. The rest is, as they say, history. To this day Brunswick County, Virginia claims to be the birthplace of Brunswick Stew. However, the folks in Brunswick, Georgia have a different version of events.

The Story of Brunswick Georgia.

If you’re from Brunswick Georgia, there’s a very special day on the calendar, July 2, 1898, which they claim is the birthday of Brunswick Stew. They’re so serious about their conviction that the town even claims to have the original stewpot now enshrined at the local farmer’s market. Now one very big difference is in the Georgia version the original recipe contains chicken as the main meat.

Who created Brunswick stew is up to debate, but what isn’t up for debate is that whoever invented the stew, it has been an enduring and important part of southern cuisine that is as enjoyable today as it was the day it was invented in either Georgia or Virginia. But what exactly is in the modern day version? Let’s get to making this great dish.

Brunswick Stew Recipe

Credit: Dishing Up Virginia


1 large (4–5 pound) boiler chicken

1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered

3 carrots, unpeeled and quartered

3 celery stalks, quartered

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed

1 small bunch fresh Italian parsley

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon sea salt


4–6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

3 pounds new potatoes, quartered2 medium onions, chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste6 cups crushed tomatoes, stewed or canned

2 cups prepared lima beans

2 cups corn kernels

1 tablespoon sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon ground red pepper4 tablespoons butter


1. Cook the chicken by placing it in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns and sea salt. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow boil and cook until the chicken is tender and the meat is falling off the bone, 45 to 90 minutes.

2. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board to cool; do not discard the broth. Debone the chicken and shred or chop the meat. Strain the broth; cool, and skim off the fat.

3. Make the stew. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, in a
large stockpot over high heat until cooked. Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken broth to the stockpot. (If you don’t have
4 full cups, use additional chicken or vegetable stock, or water to make up the difference) Add the potatoes and onion, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the reserved chicken. Reduce to a simmer and add the tomatoes, lima beans, corn, sugar, salt, black pepper and red pepper. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth or water if needed, but stew should be thick.

5. Remove the stew from the heat. Stir in the butter until it melts and serve immediately.

Yields 8-12 serving

Well, you’ve heard the legends, you have the recipe, now all you need is a fantastic place to stay here on Ocean Isle Beach. Need help finding the perfect vacation rental? Give one of our reservationists a call today at 800-727-9222 or click the button below to see our entire inventory.

Do you have a favorite Brunswick Stew recipe? Leave a comment below.

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