Burgoo Recipe - How to Make Kentucky Burgoo | Hank Shaw (2024)

Home | Wild Game | Kentucky Burgoo

4.83 from 17 votes

By Hank Shaw

December 27, 2013 | Updated June 06, 2022


Jump to Recipe

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Burgoo Recipe - How to Make Kentucky Burgoo | Hank Shaw (2)

Every region of the country has its big, burly stew, from gumbo to chili to cioppino. This is burgoo, a Kentucky classic, done with a menagerie of wild game: Pheasant, squirrel and venison.

Burgoo. Um, what? Yeah, I know. When I first heard the name of this stew, years ago when I was living in Virginia, I just chalked it up to one of the many odd names you see in the South. Apparently this word predates the stew, however.

The oldest references to it seem to refer to a thin, nasty-sounding breakfast of hardtack or oats and water cooked into a gruel. The theory is that the name comes from a conflation of bulghur wheat and ragout, but this seems like a stretch to me.

What has carried on since the Civil War, however, is the concept of burgoo as a very thick stew — thick enough to stand your spoon in it. How you get there is more a matter of personal taste.

There are as many versions of burgoo as cooks throughout the Greater Burgoo Diaspora, which is basically Kentucky, southern Illinois and Indiana, as well as parts of Ohio River Valley.

Having eaten dozens of versions of burgoo, and having read scores of recipes, they all seem to have the following in common:

  • At least three meats, typically of different characters, i.e., venison, pheasant and squirrel, or chicken, mutton and pork.
  • Some form of tomato product, whether chopped fresh tomatoes, tomato paste or whatever.
  • Beans, usually lima beans or black-eyed peas
  • Corn and potatoes
Burgoo Recipe - How to Make Kentucky Burgoo | Hank Shaw (3)

Beyond that, go for it. Add some bourbon, or some offal. Maybe some collards, or that groundhogthat’s been sitting in your freezer…

And when you cook this stew, don’t mess around: Make enough for leftovers. A particularly grand burgoo party written up in the New York Times in 1897 included “400 pounds of beef, six dozen chickens, four dozen rabbits, thirty cans of tomatoes, twenty dozen cans of corn, fifteen bushels of potatoes, and five bushels of onions.”

My recipe is a bit more subdued, but it will still get you through a few lunches at work.Make a big ole’ bowl this weekend and you won’t be sad.

4.83 from 17 votes

Kentucky Burgoo

This is one of the best Sunday stews you can make because the leftovers reheat beautifully all week, for either a quick supper or for lunches at work. Don't worry if you don't have squirrel, venison and pheasant. The only true rule in burgoo seems to be that you need at least three different meats, so let your imagination wander: Chicken is obvious, as is pork. But lamb, rabbit, hare, other game birds, duck, muskrat, whatever. It'll all get hammered into submission in this stew regardless.

Save RecipePin RecipePrint Recipe

Course: Soup

Cuisine: American

Servings: 8 people

Author: Hank Shaw

Prep Time: 20 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours hours

Total Time: 3 hours hours 20 minutes minutes


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 squirrels or rabbits, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 to 3 pounds venison, 3 to 4 inches wide, cut into large pieces
  • 3 to 5 pheasant legs/thighs, bone-in
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 quart pheasant or chicken stock
  • 1 quart beef or game stock
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 bag of frozen corn, about a pound
  • 1 bag of frozen lima beans or canned black-eyed peas, about 14 ounces
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce on the side


  • Pour the oil into a large Dutch oven or soup pot and set the heat to medium-high. Working in batches, brown all the meats. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will not brown well. Salt the meat as it cooks. As they brown, move the various meats to a bowl.

  • Add the onions, carrots, celery and green pepper to the pot and turn the heat to high. Cook the vegetables until they are well browned; you might need to add a little more oil to the pot. When the vegetables have browned, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add back the meats, along with the chicken and beef broths and the tomatoes. Stir to combine and add salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours.

  • Fish out the meat pieces. Strip the pheasant and squirrel off the bone. Tear the large pieces of venison into bite-sized pieces. The reason you did not do this right at the start is because venison will stay moister when it cooks in larger pieces. Return all the meat to the pot and return the stew to simmer.

  • Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks about the same size as the meat pieces. Add them to the stew and simmer until they are tender. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mix well and taste for salt. Add more Worcestershire sauce to taste if needed.

  • Finally, add the corn and lima beans. Mix well and cook for at least 10 minutes, or longer if you’d like. Serve with cornbread and a bottle of hot sauce on the side.


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 542mg | Potassium: 1106mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2888IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

Categorized as:
American Recipes, Featured, Pheasant, Grouse, Quail, Recipe, Southern, Wild Game

You May Also Like

American Recipes

Sauerkraut Casserole

An easy-to-make casserole or hotdish, sauerkraut casserole is basically German lasagna: Sauerkraut, venison or beef, noodles and cheese. What’s not to love?

Pasta, Risotto, Gnocchi

Venison Risotto

Yes, you can make risotto with red meat. This venison risotto is a riff of a beef risotto dish from northern Italy. It’s essentially a venison rice porridge, loose and rich. Serve it in a bowl.

American Recipes

Tater Tot Hotdish

A classic Minnesota tater tot hotdish with options to make the mushroom soup from scratch. This is a venison hotdish, but any meat works.


Wild Rice Salad

A fresh and bright wild rice salad recipe that mimics Crisp and Green’s “wild child” salad. I use grouse, wild rice and dried wild berries.

About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

Read More About Me

Burgoo Recipe - How to Make Kentucky Burgoo | Hank Shaw (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terence Hammes MD

Last Updated:

Views: 5948

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terence Hammes MD

Birthday: 1992-04-11

Address: Suite 408 9446 Mercy Mews, West Roxie, CT 04904

Phone: +50312511349175

Job: Product Consulting Liaison

Hobby: Jogging, Motor sports, Nordic skating, Jigsaw puzzles, Bird watching, Nordic skating, Sculpting

Introduction: My name is Terence Hammes MD, I am a inexpensive, energetic, jolly, faithful, cheerful, proud, rich person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.