Cowboy Stew

Cowboy Stew

This recipe holds true to its authentic roots.

Our modern-day version of the original chuck wagon Authentic Cowboy Stew stays true to its authentic cowboy roots with some additions and variations.

Cowboy Stew
Hope you enjoyed our article about chuck wagons, son of a gun stew, and cookie, the camp cook!

Authentic cowboy stew probably would have been cubed beef chunks coated in flour, paprika, chili powder, and salt, then seared until light brown in salt pork drippings. This would have been added to a cast iron pot and filled with just enough water to cover along with onion, herbs, spices, salt, pepper to taste, potatoes, and other root vegetables that Cookie might have had on hand along with a grain such as barley or rice; then boiled and simmered to make a thick broth. Perhaps some scraps from a previous meal and cooked beans would have been added to feed a large group of trail hands. Then the hungry men would line up and fill their large tin cups to the brim topping the stew off with leftover sourdough biscuits or crumbled sourdough cornbread. 

chuck wagon
Chuck Wagon

The chuckwagon has been replaced by food trucks, online delivery, restaurants, and modern-day kitchens.

modern kitchen
Modern Kitchens

Modern-Day Version Cowboy Stew

So what is cowboy stew made of? Cowboy stew ingredients for our modern-day version consists of salt pork, cubed beef, flour, paprika, salt, corn kernels from fresh corn on the cob, fresh carrots, garlic, yellow onion, bell pepper or jalapeno pepper, celery, chili powder,
sugar, cider vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, potatoes, and diced tomatoes or beef bouillon.

This original cowboy stew recipe is well worth the time spent in preparation. I think you will agree it is rib-sticking good!

Read about the science of cooking here.

Texas Lifestyle, Design & Decor, Rustic Decor read here.

Recipe Ingredients, Instructions

No time to cook? Try our super easy recipes here!

Cowboy Stew

Cowboy Stew

Our modern-day version of the original chuck wagon Cowboy Stew stays true to its authentic cowboy roots with some additions and…
5 from 30 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 235 kcal


  • 1 skillet
  • 1 large dutch oven or heavy stockpot
  • 1 medium bowl


  • 1 small chunk salt pork approximately ¼ lb, cut into small pieces.
  • 1 – 2 pounds cubed beef 2 pounds for heartier, meatier stew
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tbsp. mild to medium paprika
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup corn kernels from fresh corn on the cob about two medium corns
  • 1 cup sliced fresh carrots
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 seeded bell pepper or two-seeded jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery with leafy tops, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. mild or medium chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Cider vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 medium potatoes, diced
  • 4 – 6 cups water depending on how thick you want your stew
  • 2 – 4, 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes depending on how thick you want your stew**
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *Oil, butter, or other fat can be substituted for salt pork if desired.
  • **You can omit the tomatoes and substitute beef bouillon if desired for a thicker gravy-like stew.
  • ***2, 16 oz cans Ranch-style beans can be added if desired, along with any pre-cooked leftovers, near the end of the cook cycle, for heartier fare.


  • Cook salt pork until fat is expelled (add more fat if needed).
  • Combine flour, paprika, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Coat beef cubes with the flour mixture and sear to light golden brown in fat.
  • Transfer to a very large dutch oven or heavy stockpot if needed.
  • Lightly sear onion, celery, pepper, and garlic in remaining fat.
  • Add any remaining fat along with corn, carrots, onions, celery, bell pepper or jalapeno, and garlic to the cooking pot.
  • Add seasonings; sugar, chili powder, water, vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, canned tomatoes, or bouillon (as desired) and stir well.
  • Bring to a boil; stir frequently. Add potatoes; cover and cook until potatoes are almost tender.
  • Add additional pre-cooked leftovers or beans if desired and cook an additional 15 -20 minutes on medium simmer stirring frequently as not to burn.
  • Low may be used; alternatively, for a longer period of time.
  • I make several variations of this recipe depending on what I have on hand and the desired outcome.
  • Less meat with the addition of beans and tomatoes pair well with the spicier version.
  • The amount of liquids may need to be altered as well during the cooking process. Serve with homemade cornbread or bread of choice.


Serving: 8ozCalories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 20gTrans Fat: 20gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 508mgPotassium: 623mgFiber: 3g
Keyword american beef stew, authentic cowboy stew, chuck steak stew, chuck wagon recipe, chuck wagon stew, chuckwagon stew, cowboy, cowboy stew, modern cowboy stew, original cowboy stew, recipe, rib sticking stew, son of a gun stew, texas beef stew, texas cowboy soup, texas cowboy stew, texas cowboy stew recipe, trail hand stewed beef
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as a courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

In Conclusion, Traditional Cowboy Stew

This traditional cowboy stew is authentic and tasty. Now that you know how to make cowboy stew you can cook it for a crowd or just your own buckaroos, you will love it and so will they!

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What is Cowboy Stew? 

A trail hand’s favorite meal rivaled only by breaded fried steak and gravy was Cowboy Stew, popularly called ‘son of a gun’ stew among other more colorful names.

Kay Keeton, Ed.

Editor in Chief, Kay Keeton - Texas Lifestyle Expert. Kay is a designer turned author, marketer, storyteller, and influencer. A sixth-generation Texan, Kay is both an authority as well as being passionate about sharing her home state of Texas's diverse culture and lifestyle. Kay is a content writer and editor of content for various local and national online publications.

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