Booyah Stew – Culinary Hill

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Hearty comfort food at its Midwestern best, this Booyah Stew is a chicken and beef stew is a fan-favorite that deserves the starring role as part of your potluck or tailgate menu.

Booyah stew in a Dutch oven.

In the upper Midwest, especially in prime Packer territory of Northeast Wisconsin, it’s common to find a giant kettles of piping hot, velvety booyah simmering over an open fire on chilly fall days. “Green Bay Booyah” or Booyah Soup is a staple at community at booyah fundraisers, as part of tailgate menus, and beyond.

But now that I’ve perfected a homemade stew recipe inspired by that beloved booyah, you can live anywhere in the world and still savor this comfort food dinner idea.

While the exact origin story of Booyah Stew is hazy, the dish seems to have roots in Belgium. Its name, though, likely comes from the French word bouillon, for “broth;” the way it’s pronounced is very similar to “booyah.”

As far as the Wisconsin connection goes, back in 1906, a Green Bay teacher, Andrew Rentmeester, wanted to raise money for his school and came up with the idea of serving the Belgian dish, bouillon, at the event. He gathered up beef and chickens from the neighbors for the hearty stew. The news reporter who was covering the event scribbled down “booyah” instead of bouillon, and since then, the state (and beyond) has been graced with one of the heartiest stews possible.

Sometimes booyah is spelled booya, bouja, boulyaw, or bouyou, but no matter what, it’s a protein-rich, vegetable-packed stew made with chicken, beef, or pork and carrots, peas, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, and more. It’s one of a handful of regional recipes that are made with what’s on hand, like Mulligan stew, gumbo, or burgoo.

Admittedly, this Booyah recipe is a labor of love. But the chicken and short rib beef broth (sounds wild; tastes wildly delicious!) makes this comfort food recipe unlike any other chicken stew or beef stew you’ve spooned.

So grab your biggest pot and get to work! No live fire required. My twist on classic Booyah Stew recipe is made right on the stove, and I pared it down to feed a family (with enough for leftovers) instead of a whole town.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for booyah stew.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Bone-in short ribs and chicken thighs: The bones lend a thick, luscious consistency to the homemade broth. After cooking the beef, be sure to remove any extraneous cartilage before shredding; leaving that in can make some bites too chewy to consume.
  • Chicken broth: You’ll need 8 cups of chicken broth, which is about 4 small cans or 2 large cartons of store-bought. You have my full permission to snag some at the supermarket, since you’ll be stoking the flavor with more umami from chicken thighs and short ribs as part of the process for this Booyah Stew. But if you’re really feeling ambitious, feel free to start with Homemade Chicken Broth.
  • Rutabaga: Not a fan of this root vegetable? Leave it out and add an extra potato. Or, add any other vegetables you want like celery stalks, green beans, and corn.
  • Lemon wedges: These are optional, but highly recommended; squeeze on just prior to serving for a welcome burst of acidity and brightness. If you have any fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro floating around, feel free to toss those on as a garnish as well.

Step-by-step instructions

To make the broth:

  1. Pat beef and chicken dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or large stockpot (at least 5 ½ quarts), heat olive oil until just smoking. Add beef and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot and set aside. 
Short ribs being cooked in a Dutch oven.
  1. Add the chicken to the pot and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot set aside. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin. Do not drain fat from pot.
Chicken thighs being cooked in a Dutch oven.
  1. In the same pot, reheat rendered fat over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and celery, and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Celery and onion cooking in a Dutch oven.
  1. Stir in broth and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add back short ribs and chicken, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Chicken thighs being removed from Booyah stew in a Dutch oven.
  1. Remove chicken from pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard bones. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Cover and refrigerate chicken.
Chicken thigh remnants on a baking sheet after meat has been removed.
  1. Continue cooking the stew until the beef is tender, about 75 to 90 minutes longer. Remove beef from pot. When beef is cool enough to handle, remove and discard fat, bones, and any inedible connective tissue. 
Short rib remnants on a baking sheet after meat has been picked off of bones.
  1. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids.
Booyah stew being strained over a clear bowl.
  1. Allow liquid to settle, about 5 minutes, then skim off fat and return liquid to pot (expect 1-2 cups of fat).
Fat being skimmed off of the top of a brown bowl of liquid.

To make the stew:

  1. To the pot with the broth, add the shredded beef, cabbage, diced tomatoes and juice, rutabaga, potato, and carrots. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. 
Booyah stew in a Dutch oven before being cooked.
  1. Add chicken and peas and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh lemon wedges if desired.
Booyah stew in a Dutch oven.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe will make about 5 quarts (20 cups!) of stew, enough for 10 generous 2-cup servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: The broth can be (and in a perfect world, would be) made a day or two in advance. It’s much easier to scrape excess fat off the top of the broth when it’s chilled.
  • Freezer: Booyah is ideal for freezing because it’s labor-intensive AND makes a giant batch. Make it once and enjoy it again later! Cool and package into freezer-safe containers. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Variations: Some cooks substitute pound for pound beef stew meat instead of short ribs. They are certainly easier to work with, but the final stew will lack some of the richness of classic Booyah. You could also add fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme; I wanted to, but I used a restrained hand to honor the real deal. Nobody is fiddling with sprigs of rosemary in the pre-dawn hours of a Lambeau Field parking lot! But they would definitely be welcome additions.
  • Tailgating menu: Booyah is the maybe the best possible Tailgating food ever created, but for more inspiration, see my full menu of Tailgating recipes including Hot Dog Chili for Chili Dogs, Beer Brats, Baked Beans, Puppy Chow, Cowboy Caviar, Jello Shots, and more.
Booyah stew in a white bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

You suggest skimming the fat in Step 8. How do I skim the fat from broth, exactly?

To remove the fat from the broth, you can spoon it off the top of the broth or use a fat separator. Or, if you have the time, refrigerator the strained broth for 8 hours or overnight (store the beef, chicken, and vegetables covered in the refrigerator). The next day, the fat will have risen to the top and hardened and can be easily removed. Proceed with the stew, adding the shredded beef and vegetables to the broth while reheating it.

Should I wash my raw chicken thighs?

The CDC (and I!) recommend that you never wash chicken, as this can splatter raw chicken juices onto your sink and any nearby surfaces. There’s no need to wash poultry before cooking, but do pat it dry for a solid sear.

What is the best way to shred the chicken and beef?

No special equipment is necessary. Simply place the cooked protein in a clean cutting board, then use two forks (backs facing each other) to pull the meat in separate directions until you have bite-sized pieces. Discard any pieces of gristle, connective tissue, cartilage, or fat.

More Midwestern favorites

Booyah Stew

Hearty comfort food at its midwestern best, this Booyah Stew is a chicken and beef stew that deserves the starring role as part of your potluck or tailgate menu.

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 3 hours

Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Servings 10 servings (2 cups each)

Course Main Course

Cuisine American, Belgian, Wisconsin

Calories 457

To make the broth:

  • Pat beef and chicken dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

  • In a large Dutch oven or large stockpot (at least 5 ½ quarts), heat olive oil until just smoking. Add beef and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot and set aside. 

  • Add the chicken to the pot and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot set aside. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin. Do not drain fat from pot.

  • In the same pot, reheat rendered fat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and celery, and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  • Stir in broth and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add back short ribs and chicken, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 to 30 minutes.

  • Remove chicken from pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard bones. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Cover and refrigerate chicken.

  • Continue cooking the stew until the beef is tender, about 75 to 90 minutes longer. Remove beef from pot. When beef is cool enough to handle, remove and discard fat, bones, and any inedible connective tissue. 

  • Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids. Allow liquid to settle, about 5 minutes, then skim off fat and return liquid to pot (expect 1-2 cups of fat; see note 3).

To make the stew:

  • To the pot with the broth, add the shredded beef, cabbage, diced tomatoes and juice, rutabaga, potato, and carrots. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. 

  • Add chicken and peas and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like ate least 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and sometimes I add more). Serve with fresh lemon wedges if desired.

  1. Bone-in short ribs and chicken thighs: The bones lend a thick, luscious consistency to the homemade broth. After cooking the beef, be sure to remove any extraneous cartilage before shredding; leaving that in can make some bites too chewy to consume.
  2. Chicken broth: You’ll need 8 cups of chicken broth, which is about 4 small cans or 2 large cartons of store-bought. If you’re really feeling ambitious, feel free to start with Homemade Chicken Broth.
  3. Rutabaga: Not a fan of this root vegetable? Leave it out and add an extra potato.
  4. Lemon wedges: These are optional, but highly recommended; squeeze on just prior to serving for a welcome burst of acidity and brightness.
  5. Yield: This recipe will make about 5 quarts (20 cups!) of stew, enough for 10 generous 2-cup servings.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead: The broth can be made a day or two in advance. It’s much easier to scrape excess fat off the top of the broth when it’s chilled.
  8. Freezer: Cool and package into freezer-safe containers. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 457kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 35gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 847mgPotassium: 1098mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 3313IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 71mgIron: 4mg


Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.




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