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How to make the Best Kentucky Burgoo and the History of Burgoo


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Of all the foods Kentucky is known for, Burgoo has to be one of the best. Burgoo is nearly synonymous with Kentucky. Both Keeneland Racetrack and Churchill Downs are famous for their Burgoo. Anderson County Kentucky has a Burgoo Festival and Owensboro is know for its Burgoo tradition in local church fundraisers and the famous Moonlite Bar-B-Q Restaurant. If you’ve lived in Kentucky and have never had Burgoo, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! Burgoo is delicious! It’s not quite a stew and not quite a soup, but it is always tasty. I have a Burgoo recipe that is simple and as good as you can get anywhere. I think it’s the best burgoo recipe in Kentucky!

But how did Burgoo become so connected to Kentucky? There is a history there and I’m going to explain the history of Burgoo and where Burgoo came from. I hope you enjoy this cooking and history lesson!

Burgoo is the quintessential soup/stew of Kentucky. Louisiana may have gumbo and New England may have clam chowder (I love them both) but in Kentucky we have Burgoo! The name is a mystery, but the heritage is that of a frontier soup made from local game and vegetables. It became a common one-pot meal for soldiers on the frontier and the culinary tradition was refined during the Civil War and finally at political rallies and other gatherings and community events all across Kentucky.

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There is no definitive burgoo recipe, but this one is amazing and easy to make. Enjoy!

Authentic Kentucky Burgoo Recipe
1 – 1 ½ pounds of lean beef.
1 – 1 ½ pounds of chicken thigh meat.
1 ½ pound bag of small red potatoes
1 large onion
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 carrots
6 oz. (or 1 cup) frozen corn
6 oz. (or 1 cup) frozen green beans
6 oz. (or 1 cup) frozen lima beans
2 cans (14 oz. each) low sodium beef broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomato
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 T lemon juice
2 T apple cider vinegar
¼ t each cayenne pepper, white pepper, thyme
1 ½ T Worcestershire sauce
½ T Tabasco sauce (I like the smoked chipotle version)
2 bay leaves
2 t black pepper
1 t salt (check level toward the end of the cook)
2 T ketchup
1 t Accent (MSG)

Cube the beef and brown it in the pot. Bake the chicken thighs at 350 for 1 hour. After the beef is well browned, add diced onions and cook for a couple of minutes before adding both cans of beef broth and the potatoes (cut in to quarters). Let this cook for one hour then add all the remaining ingredients in no particular order. Remove meat from chicken and add to the pot as well. Cook thoroughly while stirring frequently to be sure the pan doesn’t scorch. If the burgoo becomes too dry, just add a little water. Cook until a wooden spoon stands in the pot and the beef chunks can be easily broken up with a spoon.
Other optional ingredients commonly found in burgoo recipes:
Mutton, pork, or turkey
½ cup red wine instead of vinegar
Black-eyed peas
Beef base or Chicken base


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