Texas-Style Cowboy Stew Recipe

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This Texas-Style Cowboy Stew Recipe is going to win the hearts of your cowboys – young and old! It’s part chili, part stew, and entirely delicious! This hearty meal packs in SO MUCH flavor without being overly spicy so it’s perfect for the whole family!

A white bowl full of cowboy stew.

Get ready for the perfect comfort food! This old-fashioned cowboy stew recipe has it all!! Smokey bacon, beef, smoked sausage, beans, veggies, and warm spices, all cooked in a savory broth.

This stew is (loosely) based on what the old-time cowboys used to eat on their cattle drives, but I am quite certain they never had a stew as good as this one!

Serve it up with some sweet cornbread and maybe a quick arugula salad and you’re set!

Need more hearty soups and stews? Try my dad’s famous Crockpot Ham and Beans or this incredible Irish Stew!

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • ONE-POT MEAL -I love that this hearty stew comes together all in one pot!
  • RICH FLAVOR – So many flavors from the smokey bacon to the savory broth, and even a bit of spice, this dish has layers and layers of FLAVOR!
  • FEEDS A CROWD – So many flavors from the smokey bacon to the savory broth, and even a bit of spice, this dish has layers and layers of FLAVOR!
  • LEFTOVERS – If you don’t have lots of cowboys to feed, leftovers are fantastic the next day or for up to 4 days!


You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious, easy Cowboy Stew Recipe:

Ingredients needed to make Texas Style Cowboy Stew.


Kielbasa/Sausage: There are so many options here! You can use traditional kielbasa “ropes” like these. Or you can opt for a healthier option like this smoked chicken sausage from Trader Joes. Use what you love!

Bacon: You can use raw bacon (preferred) or if you are in a time crunch, real bacon bits will do. DO NOT use the super crunchy bacon bits in the jar–be sure to use the real bacon bits like these.

Beans: I prefer using pinto beans but use whatever canned beans you like. I give you some additional options in the substitutions block below.

Peas & Corn: Canned or frozen both work just fine. I like using sweet corn if you can find it. You can even use frozen mixed vegetables.


Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the printable recipe card below!

Step 1: In a large pot, cook bacon. Drain excess grease, leaving about a tablespoon in the pot. Then, add onions and ground beef—season with salt/pepper and cayenne pepper (if using).

Bacon and ground beef being browned in a pot.

Step 2: Add remaining ingredients: sliced sausage, beans, Rotel tomatoes, corn, peas, potatoes, and beef broth.

All of the ingredients for the cowboy stew in a big pot.

Step 3: Give everything a big stir and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ingredients for cowboy stew cooking in a large pot.

Step 4: Optional (but HIGHLY recommended!) Stir in dried basil, cinnamon, and smoked paprika. Stir to combine. Ladle into bowls and serve!

A big ladle of Texas style cowboy stew.


  • Taste and adjust! Don’t be afraid to TASTE your cowboy stew and adjust seasonings as needed. Different sausage and bacon brands have varying amounts of sodium, for example. So you may need a little more or a little less salt. Just taste!

  • Think ahead: Prepare a batch of this stew, and freeze half. You’ll be so happy in a few weeks when you have dinner ready to go!

  • Try some toppings! This cowboy stew gives me major chili vibes so why not use some of your favorite chili toppings like sour cream, jalapenos, or some crushed tortilla chips? Need more topping ideas? Check out these 50+ Toppings for Chili!

Confidence Tip

Don’t be afraid to TASTE your food several times as you are making it! Add and adjust seasonings based on YOUR taste! This is the beauty of cooking at home!


  • Reheating: To reheat, add stew to a pan and warm over medium-high heat. Add a splash of beef broth (or even chicken broth) to thin it out a bit.

  • Freezing: This easy cowboy stew freezes up perfectly! Cool stew completely. Add to an airtight freezer-safe container or plastic freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to 4 months. When you are ready to enjoy it, thaw it overnight in the fridge then follow the reheating instructions above.

Additions & Substitutions

  • Meat: Ground turkey and ground chicken also work well in this stew. You can also use small chunks of stew meat as well–just make sure the pieces are small and you give the stew a bit more cook time so they get nice and tender.
  • Veggies: Swap out the Russet potatoes for sweet potatoes. Mix and match the veggies how you like! Green beans, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, or even frozen mixed vegetables are all great additions or swaps!
  • Beans: Black beans, red kidney beans, or even a can of ranch style beans are great swaps for pinto beans.
  • Heat & Flavor: To kick up the heat and flavor, consider adding fresh jalapenos, a can of diced green chile peppers, red pepper flakes, or more cayenne pepper!
  • Toppings: I am sure the cowboys didn’t have this back in the day, but a dollop of sour cream is a MUST on my cowboy stew! See more topping ideas here.


Why is it called Texas Cowboy Stew?

This stew dates back to the cowboy era of the 1800’s when men were on cattle drives for days and weeks at a time!

To keep up their energy for their 12-18 work days, they needed something hearty! So Cowboy Stew was born! It’s a savory mixture of meat, beans, potatoes, veggies, and spices…basically whatever the chuckwagon cook could come up with!

“Texas-style” just refers to the bold, smokey flavors Texas is known for! And the fact many of the cattle drives in the 1800’s originated in Texas.

History buffs: Read more about cowboy cooking and see what was in true, authentic cowboy stew!

Can I make this Texas cowboy stew in the crock pot?

Yes! Prepare the recipe to Step 3 (brown beef/bacon/onions). Then, transfer to your crock pot and add all remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

What can you serve with cowboy stew?

You can’t be a cowboy without some cornbread! Try my Sweet Cornbread recipe here. This garlic bread is also perfect for dunking into your stew. And of course, a crisp, simple salad is always great.

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Texas style cowboy stew in a white bowl with a spoon.


Check out all of my kitchen essentials in my Amazon store!

Large Pot or Dutch Oven

Potato Masher: For getting your meat broken up nice and fine!

Measuring Spoons


I hope you love this Cowboy Stew! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Texas-style Cowboy stew recipe.

Texas-Style Cowboy Stew

Casey Rooney
This Texas Cowboy Stew Recipe is going to win the hearts of your cowboys – young and old! It's part chili, part stew, and entirely delicious! This hearty meal packs in SO MUCH flavor without being overly spicy so it's perfect for the whole family!
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 814 kcal


  • 4 slices raw bacon, chopped into small pieces can substitute 1/2 cup real bacon bits
  • 2 tbsp olive oil optional, see Note 1
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more to taste) can sub chili powder
  • 2 12 oz. packages smoked kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4" inch slices
  • 2 16 oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 10 oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (such as Rotel) drain one can, leave juices in the other can
  • 1 15 oz. can whole-kernel corn can also use about a cup of frozen corn
  • 1 15 oz. can sweet peas can also use about a cup of frozen peas
  • 2 cups Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into small chunks about 1 1/2-2 large potatoes, Yukon golds work too
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon optional, see Note 2
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika optional, see Note 2


  • Cook Bacon: In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat, add bacon pieces. Cook 4-5 minutes until the pieces are just crisp. Remove all but about one tablespoon of the bacon drippings and discard–keep bacon pieces and remaining bacon grease in the pan…this makes for a great first layer of flavor!
    If you are using pre-cooked bacon bits, warm olive oil in the pan. Then add onion and bacon bits and cook until onion is slightly soft (3-4 minutes), then move to Step 3.
  • Cook Onions: To the cooked bacon bits, add onion. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until onions begin to soften.
  • Add Beef: To the pan, add ground beef, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Pro Tip: Use a potato masher to break up the meat when it's about halfway cooked–it gets it broken up nice and fine!
    Note: If there is an excessive amount of grease, feel free to drain some of it off. I like using lean ground beef to avoid this 🙂
  • Add & Simmer: When beef is cooked through, add sliced Kielbasa, beans, diced tomatoes, corn, peas, diced potatoes, and beef broth. Mix well. Bring to a boil then turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered for about 40 minutes, stirring every so often.
  • Finishing Touches: Turn off the heat and add basil, ground cinnamon (optional), and smoked paprika (optional). Stir well. Ladle into bowls and serve right away!


Note 1: If you are cooking your bacon from raw, there is no olive oil needed–your will have bacon grease! If you are using precooked bacon pieces/bits, then you will need a bit of olive oil.
Note 2: The ground cinnamon and smoked paprika are optional (but HIGHLY recommended!!) …you can’t taste these spices in the stew outright. However–both spices bring a warm smoky depth to the dish that will leave people wondering what made it SO GOOD!!
Crockpot Instructions: Prepare the recipe to Step 3 (brown beef/bacon/onions). Then, transfer to your crock pot and add all remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator
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Calories: 814kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 53gFat: 50gSaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 170mgSodium: 2338mgPotassium: 453mgFiber: 5.8gSugar: 7gCalcium: 162mgIron: 5mg
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4.88 from 8 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I love a big batch stew and this one was so flavorful. I served half and froze the rest for another day which is the best kind of meal prep for our busy household! Delicious recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    I love stews with a lot of bold flavors and this one definitely fits the bill. My entire family enjoyed it and I’ll definitely be making it again soon!