This Kentucky burgoo recipe is the ultimate stew with a big variety of meats and vegetables simmered low and slow, popular for large gatherings and community events.
We’re cooking up a huge pot of hearty stew in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. Care to join me?
Stew is always satisfying, filled with loads of meats and vegetables, very filling and warming, for both the body and the soul. We’re heading to the American Midwest and a bit south for this particular recipe.
It’s called Burgoo, and I think you’re going to love it!
What is Burgoo?
Burgoo is a stew popular in the American Midwest and south, particularly Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. It’s a hearty mix of meats and vegetables simmered low and slow.
It’s quite similar to other regional stews, Brunswick Stew from the south, Booya of the upper Midwest or U.S. Mulligan Stew.
Traditional burgoo is made with mutton and chicken, and earlier versions included all manner of seasonal meats, like venison, game birds, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, possum and others, hence the nickname “Roadkill Soup” or “Game Meat Stew”. Today you’ll more commonly find a combination of beef, chicken and pork.
Burgoo is popularly served at large community events, fundraisers and fests, like the Burgoo Festival in Utica, Illinois and other places. It is also served at the Kentucky Derby, especially on derby day.
The word “Burgoo” is said to be a mispronunciation of “bird stew” or possibly “barbecue”, though this is uncertain. Regardless, whatever you call it, it’s quite tasty!
Let’s talk about how we make Kentucky burgoo, shall we?
- Oil. Olive oil or vegetable oil for cooking.
- Meats. I use pork shoulder, chuck roast and bone-in chicken. See the Recipe Notes for options and alternatives.
- Vegetables. Onion, carrots, green pepper, jalapeno peppers, celery, okra, garlic, potatoes and corn.
- Stock. Use chicken stock or beef stock, or a combination of both.
- Tomatoes. I used canned crushed tomatoes.
- Extras. BBQ sauce (optional, for a tangier version), hot sauce, bay leaves, lima beans, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt and black pepper.
How to Make Burgoo – the Recipe Method
Brown the Meats. Heat the olive oil in a very large pot (at least 8 quarts) to medium-high heat. Season the pork, chicken and beef with salt and pepper. Sear them in batches in the pot a few minutes per side to brown them. Remove and set aside.
Cook the Vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, peppers, carrots, celery and okra. Cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Simmering the Burgoo. Add the chicken broth or stock, crushed tomatoes, bbq sauce (if using), hot sauce to taste and bay leaves. Return the browned meats to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours to cook the meat and everything through.
Address the Meats. Remove the chicken and pull the meat from the bones. Discard the bones and return the tender meat to the pot. Break apart any larger chunks of meat with forks.
Potatoes and Extras. Add the potatoes, corn, lima beans, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened and cooked through.
Taste and Adjust. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper and hot sauce. Serve with extra hot sauce!
Boom! Done! You’ve just made a big pot of burgoo! Looks wonderful, doesn’t it? Incredibly hearty, very comforting. I love myself a nice bowl of burgoo. Just don’t forget the hot sauce!
This dish is even better the next day!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- The Meats. Mutton is commonly used in traditional burgoo, though it’s harder to find. You’ll mostly find burgoo recipes made with chicken, beef and pork. Any stew meat will work for this recipe, as will seasonal game meats, like squirrel, venison or game birds.
- The Vegetables. You can use many other vegetables to make burgoo. Common additions to what I’ve used include green beans, cabbage and other root vegetables. Use your favorites.
- Seasonings. You’ll note the only seasonings used to make traditional burgoo are salt and pepper. You can easily add in your favorites, like a spicy Cajun seasoning, chili powders or others.
That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my burgoo recipe. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Brunswick Stew
- Booyah (Chunky Midwestern Stew)
- Pollo Guisado (Chicken Stew)
- Caldo de Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup)
- Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Beef Rendang
- Carne Adovada
- See all of my Spicy Stew Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds pork shoulder cut into chunks
- 2 pounds chuck roast or other stew meat, cut into chunks
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces I use legs and thighs
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 large green pepper chopped
- 2-3 jalapeno peppers chopped (optional, for some spice factor)
- 3 carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 1 cup okra chopped (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 8 cups chicken stock or use beef stock
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes canned, or fresh
- 1 cup bbq sauce optional, for a tangier version
- Hot Sauce to taste + more for serving
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large potatoes peeled and diced
- 12 ounces corn canned or fresh
- 12 ounces lima beans canned
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a very large pot (at least 8 quarts) to medium-high heat. Season the pork, beef and chicken with salt and pepper. Sear them in batches in the pot a few minutes per side to brown them. Remove and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, peppers, carrots, celery and okra. Cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, bbq sauce (if using), hot sauce to taste and bay leaves. Return the browned meats to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
- Remove the chicken and pull the meat from the bones. Discard the bones and return the tender meat to the pot. Break apart any larger chunks of meat with forks.
- Add the potatoes, corn, lima beans, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened and cooked through.
- Taste and adjust for salt and pepper and hot sauce. Serve with extra hot sauce!