This campfire favorite is a hearty stew packed with meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Alabama Camp Stew is a classic southern recipe with both pulled pork and chicken as well as notable ingredients such as lima beans, corn, and tomatoes. No fire is needed for this recipe that comes together quickly in your Instant Pot.
What is Alabama Camp Stew?
This familiar southern favorite was a common stew made in my household growing up, though I never knew it was inherently southern. Also known as Brunswick Stew, Alabama Camp Stew gets its name because it’s an easy meal to make over an open fire with mostly canned ingredients.
Alabama Campe Stew is a barbecue and tomato-based soup loaded with meat, potatoes, and vegetables.
I’ve made this southern stew with a couple of adaptations so it can easily be prepared, quickly, in the Instant Pot. There isn’t one universal recipe for this hearty soup though, which leaves plenty of room to add your own favorite ingredients.
Ingredients in Alabama Camp Stew
Alabama camp stew is often made with leftover pulled pork, however, it isn’t necessary to have leftovers. Cooking the pork first in the Instant Pot will allow you to easily make your own pulled pork.
- Beef Broth: using beef broth brings out the flavor of the pork shoulder, however, any type of broth will work, especially since this recipe also includes chicken.
- Pork Shoulder: this meat is the delicious shining ingredient in the stew that adds so much delicious hearty flavor.
- Dry Rub (homemade or store-bought): since this recipe doesn’t use leftover pulled pork you need to make a dry rub to coat the pork during the cooking process. You can use a store-bought version or you can make your own using the recipe below.
- Liquid Smoke: thought this stew isn’t made over an open campfire and also since we’re not using leftover pulled pork you can still get that same smokey flavor by adding some liquid smoke to the stew.
- Diced Onions: onions always enhance the flavor of any slow-cooked stew and in the case of the Instant Pot the do as well.
- Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Thighs: part of what makes this stew so hearty is the combination of both pork and chicken. There are tons of meat in this soup!
- Russet Potatoes: also adding to the heartiness are the potatoes. Adding some sliced potatoes to the soup bulks it up even more and balances the other flavors.
- Lima Beans: almost as key as the pulled pork is the lima beans. The flat kidney-shaped beans bring flavor and color to the mix.
- Crushed Tomatoes: the crushed tomatoes are the base of this stew and where the tomato broth comes from. It’s the perfect base for a variety of ingredients.
- Tomato Paste: the tomato paste enhances the flavor, but also thickens the stew just a bit.
- Barbecue Sauce (or Tomato Sauce): I recommend using barbecue sauce for a smokey rich taste, but tomato sauce will work as well. The barbecue sauce really provides that campfire taste though.
- Salt: you don’t need a ton of salt, however, I think the saltier the better when it comes to Alabama Camp Stew. If you’d like a saltier flavor add more to the entire batch after it’s finished cooking.
- Worcestershire Sauce: this English sauce is a southern staple so adding it to the mixture is almost a must.
- Corn: this starchy vegetable is equally important and adds to the overall bulk.
- Hot Sauce (optional): some like it hot so if you’re one who does then add some hot sauce after you’ve turned off the Instant Pot.
How to Make Alabama Camp Stew
- Prepare the Pulled Pork: Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry. Rub with salt and pepper, a dry rub, or make your own dry rub. Place the pork, beef broth, salt, pepper, and liquid smoke into the Instant Pot. Put the lid on and set the valve to sealing. Press the MANUAL cook and set the time to 60 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
- Make the Stew: Add the diced onions, chicken, potatoes, lima beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, barbecue sauce (or tomato sauce), and Worcestershire sauce. Return the lid and set the valve to sealing and set the time to 25 minutes. Allow the pressure to again release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
- Stir in the corn.
- Shred the Meat: Use tongs to remove the pork shoulder and chicken and shred using two forks. Return to the pot and stir to mix in.
How to Make Dry Rub for Pork Shoulder
I prefer to make my own dry rub for pork and one of my favorites is the flavorful version I use when making oven-baked ribs. To make a quick dry rub mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, a pinch of cayenne and cumin.
What to Serve with Alabama Camp Stew?
This stew is so hearty you really don’t need a side dish, however, delicious bread to mop up the leftovers is perfect.
- Southern Cornbread
- Crusty Bread with Butter
- Dinner Rolls
- Side Salad
Other Ingredients to Add
There’s no single way to prepare this delicious stew. If there’s something you don’t like you can easily leave it out or add something else in. Below are some tasty options that will work perfectly in this soup.
- Fresh Okra
- Bell Pepper
- Sweet Potatoes
- Butternut Squash
Can I make this stew in the slow cooker?
Yes! To make this stew in the slow cooker, follow the same steps below but cook the pork on the slow cooker low setting for 6 hours. Then add the onions, chicken, potatoes, lima beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, barbecue sauce, and salt. Continue to cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. Remove the meat and shred it using a fork. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, corn, and hot sauce.
What is the best meat for Alabama Camp Stew?
Traditionally this stew is made with pulled pork and chicken. You can easily use one or the other though the taste will change.
Can I use pre-made pulled pork?
Yes. Using pre-made pulled pork will cut the cooking time of the recipe in half. If using this version of meat then skip the steps for making the pulled pork and begin with making the stew.
Can I freeze this stew?
Yes. To freeze this stew place it in a zip-top bag or place it in a freezer-safe air-tight container and store it in the fridge for 3 to 6 months. Make sure to let the stew cool completely before sealing and then placing it in the freezer.
How to store this stew
This recipe makes a large batch, which will keep for up to 5 days if kept in an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze half of the stew for leftovers later.
- Instant Pot
- Measuring Cups and Spoon
- Mixing Bowls
- Cutting Board
- 1 lb Pork Shoulder butt or roast will work too
- 1/4 cup Dry Rub or sprinkle with salt and pepper
- 1 cup Beef Broth
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- 1/2 cup Diced Onions
- 1 lb Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Thighs
- 1 lb Russet Potatoes cubed
- 1½ cups Frozen Lima Beans
- 1 14-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 cup Barbecue Sauce or 8 ounces of Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 cup Frozen Corn
- 1 teaspoon Hot Sauce
Make the Pulled Pork
- Rinse the pork shoulder in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Prepare the dry rub using the recipe in the notes, or use a store-bought version and rub the pork all over. Alternatively, you can just sprinkle the pork shoulder with salt and pepper.
- Place the pork into the Instant Pot and add the beef broth, salt, pepper, and liquid smoke. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing. Press the MANUAL cook option and set the time to 60 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
Cook the Stew
- Remove the Instant Pot lid and add the diced onions, chicken, potatoes, lima beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, barbecue sauce (or tomato sauce), and Worcestershire sauce.
- Return the lid and set the valve to sealing and set the time to 25 minutes. Allow the pressure to again release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
- Stir in the corn and hot sauce (if using).
Shred the Meat
- Use some tongs to remove the pork shoulder and chicken. Shred the meats using two forks and return the shredded meat to the Instant Pot. Stir the stew to mix all the ingredients together before servings.