Kentucky Burgoo: A Deer Camp Recipe

kentucky burgoo: A Deer Camp Recipe
Kentucky burgoo over a campfire. Ken McBroom

Kentucky Burgoo A Deer Camp Tradition

What is Kentucky Burgoo

The origins of Kentucky burgoo are varied. I ran across the recipe years ago when looking for a good recipe to cook over the fire at deer camp. Kentucky burgoo is the perfect recipe to cook over a campfire and has become a seasonal tradition at bowhunters camp each year. Kentucky burgoo is a mixture of vegetables and at least 3 meats. The meats should be of three different types like Rabbit, squirrel and deer. To me this is the secret to the taste. You can use chicken and beef stew meat or whatever meat you have on hand but as a rule I always try to have at least one wild game meat in the pot.

Enjoy the harvest


  • Vegetable oil to brown the meat
  • 1 pound of venison chunked
  • 2 rabbits or squirrels, wild hog makes a great addition if you have it
  • 1 chicken or pheasant baked in the dutch oven then shredded
  • Large onion chopped
  • 1 small to medium garlic bulb minced
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • Okra. If that’s your thing
  • 2 large potatoes chunked
  • 2 15oz cans of yellow corn
  • 2 15oz cans of Black-eyed peas
  • 1 46oz can of tomato juice, homemade is the best
  • Salt & Pepper I like lots of black pepper
  • 2 quarts of broth either chicken, beef or homemade or a combination
  • 1 bottle of dark beer

kentucky burgoo juice canned and ready for the pot
Canned burgoo juice ready for the pot. Ken McBroom
  1. With the oil in a large pot, cast iron if cooking over the campfire, brown all of the venison. As for the other meats you can either cut them up and toss them into the burgoo to simmer for a few hours then remove the meat from the bone or you can cook them separately, remove the meat, then add it to the pot. I prefer cooking the chicken and squirrel in a pot separate. Baked chicken in a dutch oven is delicious. You can cook the whole chicken in a dutch oven on the fire while preparing the burgoo. Same with the squirrels I like to boil them and retain some of the broth to add to the Kentucky burgoo. You can also boil the chicken then remove the meat and retain the broth. the homemade broth really adds to the burgoo.
  2. Set all the meat aside and put a little oil back in the pot and scrape the bottom to get all the brown crumbs from the browning of the meat. This adds lots of flavor. Also, getting it loose now will keep it from burning as the Kentucky burgoo cooks over the fire. Add all your vegetables and cook until translucent just a few minutes. You can add all the vegetables in the pot to just boil in the burgoo but simmering them this way brings out all the flavors especially the garlic that you want to add for just a minute before the vegetables are done. This melding of the flavors only intensifies it for the finished dish and it does make a difference.
  3. Once your veggies are browned and the garlic has roasted and filled the camp with the smell that deer camps are famous for I like to pour one bottle of dark beer in and let it simmer for a few seconds. Then add the meat and broth to your pot. The recipe says 2 quarts of broth but like anything else in camp just wing it and add what’s needed to get you Kentucky burgoo perfect. Some like it thick and some like their burgoo thin like a soup and being a cook and not a chef I say fix it however you like it.
  4. While the burgoo is heating back up peel your potatoes and add those to the pot. Now it is starting to look like a meal. Throw in the corn and black-eyed peas and kick back with one of those cold dark beers and enjoy an old country song or a friendly conversation with fellow hunters and let the fire do its thing. The Kentucky burgoo is ready as soon as the potatoes are soft. Serve with a slice of Jalapeno cornbread on the side . You did cook my Jalapeno Dutch oven cornbread while you waited for the burgoo to cook. Right?
  5. This Kentucky burgoo recipe is the perfect deer camp grub that will feed a few hunters for a couple days. It’s easy to make and fun as well. You can actually can some jars of what I call Kentucky burgoo juice and it is ready to add to the pot making it even quicker to make. I enjoy cooking so when I make this recipe I usually take the entire day to hang out in camp and do a few camp chores keeping the fire stoked and the ingredients cooking.

Read my Bowhunting Journal that started the Kentucky burgoo tradition

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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