Booyah {a fall stew tradition of the Upper Midwest}

Booyah (or booya) is a fall stew tradition of the Upper Midwest, cooked outdoors in giant kettles to feed the masses. This recipe is downsized for the stovetop, a rich and flavorful soup you’ll crave every booyah season!

a big pot of booyah stew

Have you ever eaten a bowl full of Booyah? Have you ever been to a Booyah? That’s right. This fun-to-say word is both a soup and an event, mostly making their appearances in northern and northeastern Wisconsin, parts of Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

I had no clue about this booyah tradition until a just few years ago when friends of ours invited us to theirs. The invitation read “You’re invited to the Booyah!”, and it talked about eating booyah.

We didn’t know what we were in for. But how could we not be curious?

Of course, we had to accept.

You’re gonna love this rich and flavorful Booyah recipe I’m sharing with you today, scaled down in quantity from traditional mega-batch recipes made in giant kettles to feed the masses. Yes, this one can be enjoyed wherever you live, from your very own kitchen.

But…if you’re ever invited to a Booyah, please promise me you’ll go!

Here’s another favorite recipe, perfect for fall: This ultra tender, flavorful Beer Can Chicken just can’t be beat!

CLICK HERE to save recipe to Pinterest!

a giant kettle of booyah at the Booyah!

Booyah – a fall stew tradition

Booyah is a rich and flavorful soup, absolutely delicious, made in huge batches in “booyah kettles”. The photo above shows the kettle owned by our friends, Jason and Dianna. They were the ones who introduced us to this tradition of the Upper Midwest.

It was Dianna’s idea to open up their home and backyard to this Booyah tradition 6 years ago. When her dad heard about it, he jumped in with an offer to help. Growing up in South St. Paul, attending these events at various churches and local festivals was a regular part of life for Dianna’s family.

This Booyah is now an annual fall event for their family and friends. The actual date is dictated by the availability of Dianna’s brother’s cover band the Lid Twisters, who provide live entertainment all evening long. Each year they tweak the recipe just a bit and lengthen the invite list, currently at over 100 guests.

Jason and Dianna set up a tent in their backyard with seating and long tables to hold all the side dishes and desserts brought by guests. Friends and neighbors catch up on all the latest while kids run and play. It’s a beautiful fall scene.

Booyah recipe

When I asked Dianna to share a little bit about how they prepare this stew, she referred to a spreadsheet that her dad has created, listing ingredients and timing. Isn’t that awesome? It goes something like this:

  • The day before, pre-cook all on-the-bone meats (to include short ribs, chicken, and oxtails – plus soup bones for extra flavor). Save liquid for broth the next day. Remove all bones and discard.
  • The day of, at 4:00 am, light the fire outside under the 20-gallon booyah kettle and add the broth, dried beans, onions, parsley, cubed pork and beef, pork brisket, crushed fresh garlic, and plenty of flavorful dried herbs and spices.
  • 6:00 am, add the meats that were cooked and de-boned the day before.
  • Noon, add the rutabagas.
  • 2:00 pm, add the cabbage, carrots, celery, green peppers, and potatoes.
  • 3:00 pm, add the canned peas, corn, green beans, and whole tomatoes.
  • 5:00 pm, soup’s on! Or should I say booyah’s on?!

Hosting a Booyah is no small ordeal. A great deal of time and energy is involved to pull the event off, not to mention massive quantities of ingredients.

Hosting a Booyah takes commitment!

I have to retell the story that Dianna told me, about the one year when she got up at 4:00 am, lit the fire, and added the broth and other ingredients to the pot. Tired, she went back to bed. She completely missed the 6:00 addition of meats, and what was in the pot ended up burning. Dianna called her dad in a panic, and they decided to proceed as normal, hoping the burned ingredients would just give the stew some extra flavor.

It all turned out alright.

But the following year, and every year since, Dianna says that her dad shows up at their house by 3:30 am, just to make sure everything goes according to the spreadsheet. ;)

Cook's Country Eats Local cookbook

A smaller Booyah recipe

The majority of us will never buy a 20-gallon booyah kettle and spend a couple days preparing this kind of feast for our family and friends. That’s where this downsized recipe I’m sharing with you comes in ultra handy.

The recipe is from the new Cook’s Country Eats Local cookbook. If you know about Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen, then you know that this recipe has been tried, and tried again, until it reached ultimate perfection.

Cook's Country Eats Local cookbook

This cookbook features 150 recipes from around the country, arranged by region. There are many recipes I’ve heard of, but even more that I have not. I’m especially looking forward to trying Fudgy Tar Heel Pie and King Ranch Casserole!

Besides the variety of interesting recipes, I really like that each one is accompanied by a “why this recipe works” section, explaining the reasons for using certain methods and ingredients. Most recipes also include other tidbits of info, such as additional history about the recipe, variations on the recipe, or helpful hints and photos.

a big pot of booyah stew

This recipe, even though it was scaled down from a full-fledged booyah recipe, still requires quite a bit of hands-on work, plus a good amount of time (essential for full flavor and tender meats).

But I promise you, it’s absolutely worth it.

a big pot of booyah stew

The broth is heavenly, super flavorful with a gorgeous silken quality from the gelatin of the beef bones.  And there are chunks of tender meats and vegetables in every single spoonful. The stew is rich and hearty.

If you’re looking for a new fall tradition, maxed out in homemade warmth and comfort, this booyah recipe has my vote.

Like this fall stew recipe? Pin it!

a big pot of booyah stew

And a few more stews to keep you cozy this fall and winter, recipes from my friends: Lemon Chicken Stew from FoodieCrush, Sancocho (Peurto Rican Beef Stew) from The Noshery, and Guinness Beef Stew from She Wears Many Hats.



Booyah is a fall stew tradition of the Upper Midwest, cooked outdoors in giant kettles to feed the masses. This recipe is downsized for the stovetop, giving you a rich and flavorful soup that you'll crave whenever booyah season rolls around.

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes


  • 2-1/2 lbs. bone-in, English-style short ribs, trimmed, meat and bones separated (I used bone-in beef chuck short ribs)
  • 2-1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 2 ribs celery, minced
  • 8 c. low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 c. shredded green cabbage
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz. rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Pat beef and chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown beef on all sides, about 10 minutes; transfer to plate. Cook chicken until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to plate. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin.
  2. Pour off all but 1-1/2 teaspoons fat from pot. Add onions and celery and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Add beef, beef bones, and chicken, and bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until chicken registers 175° F, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces, discarding bones. Cover chicken and refrigerate. Continue to simmer stew until beef is tender, about 1-1/4 hours longer. Transfer beef to plate. When cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces, discarding fat. Remove beef bones and bay leaves. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer; discard solids. Allow liquid to settle, about 5 minutes, then skim off fat and return liquid to pot.
  4. Add shredded beef, cabbage, tomatoes, rutabaga, 1-1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rutabaga is translucent around edges, about 15 minutes. Stir in potatoes and carrots and cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add chicken and peas, and simmer until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.


adapted slightly from Cook's Country Eats Local

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 556Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 201mgSodium: 485mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 49g

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a big pot of booyah stew

Disclosure:  I was given a copy of Cook’s Country Eats Local for my review. I was not compensated to write this post. Originally published in September 2015. Some photographs updated September 2018.

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