Hobo Stew Recipe: How to Make a Hearty Meal on a Budget

Hobo Stew Recipe: How to Make a Hearty Meal on a Budget

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

Hobo stew is an easy and versatile recipe that is perfect for camping, tailgating, or a quick and easy meal at home. With only a few ingredients, you can create a delicious and hearty stew that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters in your family. The great thing about hobo stew is that you can use different meats and vegetables, add different seasonings, and make it to suit your family’s tastes.

Hobo Stew Recipe Cover Image

One of the best things about this hobo stew recipe is that it is a one-pot meal, which means less cleanup for you. You can throw all of your ingredients into a pot and let it simmer until everything is cooked to perfection. Plus, hobo stew is a budget-friendly meal that won’t break the bank. You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand, which makes it a great way to use up leftovers or odds and ends in your pantry.

Whether you’re cooking over a campfire or on your stovetop at home, hobo stew is a delicious and easy meal that everyone will love. So why not give it a try and see for yourself how easy and delicious it can be?

History of Hobo Stew

Hobo stew is a type of stew that originated in the early 1900s during the Great Depression era. It was a staple in the Hobo camps of the time, where food was not easy to come by. The general idea was that each person would bring whatever food they had or could gather and threw it into the pot to create a stew. This way, they could make the best of what they had available and stretch their food supplies a little further.

The term “hobo” refers to a person who is homeless and often travels from place to place looking for work. During the Great Depression, many people lost their jobs and homes, and they had to resort to traveling by hopping on trains and living in makeshift camps. Hobo stew was a way for these people to share a meal and make the most of their limited resources.

There are different variations of hobo stew, depending on the ingredients available. The stew typically includes meat, vegetables, and sometimes beans or potatoes. The ingredients are cooked together in a large pot, and the result is a hearty and filling meal that can feed many people.

Over time, hobo stew has become a popular camping and outdoor meal, as it is easy to prepare and can be made with whatever ingredients are on hand. In some areas, it is also known as “Mulligan stew” or “community stew,” and it is still enjoyed by people who appreciate its simplicity and history.

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

Hobo stew is a type of stew that has a rich history and has been enjoyed by many people over the years. Its origins in the Great Depression era make it a symbol of resilience and resourcefulness, and its popularity as a camping and outdoor meal shows that it still has a place in modern times.

Ingredients for Hobo Stew

When it comes to making a delicious and hearty Hobo Stew, there are a few essential ingredients that you will need. In this section, we will discuss the main ingredients and optional additions that you can use to make your Hobo Stew even more flavorful.

Main Ingredients

Here are the main ingredients that you will need to make a basic Hobo Stew:

Ground beef1 pound
Onion1 medium
Potatoes3-4 medium
Canned beans1 can
Beef broth2 cups
Canned tomatoes1 can

Ground beef is the star of the show when it comes to Hobo Stew. You can use any type of ground beef, but we recommend using lean ground beef to keep the stew from becoming too greasy. Onion is another essential ingredient that adds flavor and depth to the stew.

Potatoes are a must-have as they provide a hearty and filling base to the stew. Canned beans, such as kidney beans or black beans, add protein and texture to the stew. Beef broth and canned tomatoes are used to create a flavorful broth that ties all the ingredients together.

Optional Additions

While the main ingredients are enough to make a delicious Hobo Stew, you can also add some optional ingredients to enhance the flavor. Here are a few ideas:

  • Carrots: Add some sliced or diced carrots to the stew for some extra sweetness and nutrition.
Hobo Stew Recipe celery is a main ingredient
  • Celery: Chop up some celery and add it to the stew for some added crunch and flavor.
  • Corn: Add some canned or frozen corn to the stew for some extra texture and sweetness.
  • Spices: Experiment with different spices such as garlic powder, chili powder, or paprika to add some depth and complexity to the stew.

Hobo Stew is a versatile and budget-friendly dish that can be customized to your liking. With these main ingredients and optional additions, you can create a delicious and hearty meal that is perfect for any occasion.

Cooking Method

Making hobo stew is easy and straightforward. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make this delicious and filling meal:

  1. Start by prepping your ingredients. Peel and chop your potatoes into small cubes, dice your onions, and chop your vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat up a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a little oil, then add your ground beef. Season with salt and black pepper and sear the beef cubes on at least two sides.
  3. Once the beef is browned, add your diced onions. Add more oil if needed.
  4. Toss in your diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and diced potatoes.
  5. Add your vegetables, such as carrots and celery, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pour in your beef broth or stock. You can also use tomato juice or V-8 juice for extra flavor.
  7. Cover the pot and let the stew simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded together.
  8. Serve hot with some crusty bread or crackers on the side.

Overall, making hobo stew is a simple and satisfying way to feed a crowd. It’s a versatile recipe that can be customized to your liking, so feel free to experiment with different ingredients and seasonings.

Serving Suggestions

Hobo stew is a versatile and filling dish that can be enjoyed in many ways. Here are a few serving suggestions to help you get the most out of your hobo stew:

  • Bread: A slice of crusty bread or a warm cornbread muffin is perfect for sopping up the delicious broth. You can also try serving the stew in a bread bowl for a fun and unique presentation.
  • Rice, Quinoa, or Mashed Potatoes: For a heartier meal, serve the stew over rice, quinoa, or mashed potatoes. The starch will help balance out the flavors and add a comforting element to the dish.
  • Salad or Steamed Vegetables: A fresh salad or steamed vegetables on the side can provide a refreshing contrast to the stew’s richness. Try serving the stew with a simple green salad dressed with a tangy vinaigrette or a side of steamed broccoli or green beans.
  • Cheese: For an extra indulgent touch, sprinkle some grated cheese over the top of the stew just before serving. Cheddar, Parmesan, or even crumbled feta would all be delicious choices.
Hobo Stew Recipe tabasco sauce
  • Hot Sauce: If you like a little heat, try adding a few dashes of hot sauce to your bowl of stew. Sriracha, Tabasco, or your favorite hot sauce will all work well.

Storage and Reheating

Hobo stew is a great recipe to make in advance and store for later. Here are some tips for storing and reheating hobo stew:


  • Allow the stew to cool down before storing it.
  • Store the stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • For longer storage, freeze the stew in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.


  • Thaw frozen stew in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Reheat the stew on the stove in a pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until it is heated through.
  • If the stew is too thick, add a little bit of water or broth to thin it out.
  • Alternatively, the stew can be reheated in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until heated through.

It’s important to note that each time the stew is reheated, it loses some of its flavor and texture. To maintain the best quality, it’s recommended to only reheat the stew once.

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy hobo stew for days to come, whether you’re at home or on the go.

Nutritional Information

Hobo stew is a hearty dish that can be made in different ways depending on the ingredients used. However, most hobo stew recipes contain a combination of meat, vegetables, and broth. In this section, we will take a closer look at the nutritional information of hobo stew and what it can offer.


The calorie content of hobo stew can vary depending on the recipe and the serving size. According to Recipe of Health, a serving of hobo stew made with ground beef, vegetables, and broth can contain around 234 calories. However, this can change depending on the ingredients and proportions used.


Hobo stew is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. The ground beef used in most hobo stew recipes is a rich source of protein. Additionally, the vegetables used in the stew can also contribute to the protein content. For example, one cup of chopped carrots contains around 1.2 grams of protein, while one cup of chopped celery contains around 0.8 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Hobo stew can also be a good source of vitamins and minerals. The vegetables used in the stew can provide a range of nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. For example, one cup of chopped carrots contains around 428% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and around 13% of the daily recommended value of potassium. The beef used in the stew can also be a source of iron, which is important for healthy blood cells.


One thing to keep in mind when making hobo stew is the sodium content. Broth is a common ingredient in hobo stew recipes, and it can be high in sodium. Additionally, some recipes call for canned vegetables, which can also contain added sodium. It’s important to be mindful of the sodium content and look for low-sodium options when possible.

Variations of Hobo Stew

Hobo stew is a versatile dish that can be made with a variety of ingredients based on what’s available or personal preference. Here are some popular variations of hobo stew:

Meat Variations

Hobo stew can be made with different types of meat, including:

  • Ground beef: A popular choice for hobo stew, ground beef is easy to find and budget-friendly.
Hobo Stew Recipe beef stew meat is one protein option
  • Beef stew meat: For a heartier stew, use beef stew meat instead of ground beef.
  • Chicken: For a lighter stew, use chicken instead of beef.
  • Pork: Pork adds a unique flavor to hobo stew and pairs well with vegetables like carrots and potatoes.

Vegetable Variations

Hobo stew can be made with a variety of vegetables, including:

  • Carrots: A classic addition to hobo stew, carrots add sweetness and color.
  • Potatoes: Another classic ingredient, potatoes help thicken the stew and add heartiness.
  • Corn: For a touch of sweetness, add corn to hobo stew.
  • Peas: Peas add a pop of color and nutrition to hobo stew.
  • Green beans: For a bit of crunch, add green beans to hobo stew.

Flavor Variations

Hobo stew can be customized with different flavors, including:

  • Spices: Add spices like garlic, paprika, or cumin for extra flavor.
  • Herbs: Add fresh or dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, or parsley to enhance the flavor of hobo stew.
  • Broth: Swap out the tomato base for chicken or beef broth for a different flavor profile.
  • Beans: Add beans like kidney beans or black beans for extra protein and flavor.

Hobo stew is a versatile and budget-friendly dish that can be customized to fit any taste preference or dietary restriction. With a little creativity, hobo stew can be a delicious and satisfying meal for any occasion.

Final Thoughts on Hobo Stew Recipe

Hobo stew is a simple and delicious recipe that can be easily customized to suit your taste preferences. This stew is perfect for camping, tailgating, or a quick and easy meal at home.

One of the best things about Hobo stew is its versatility. You can use different meats and vegetables, add different seasonings and make it to suit your family. This recipe is so flexible that you can easily adjust it to your dietary restrictions and preferences.

Another great thing about Hobo stew is that it is a budget-friendly meal. You can use inexpensive ingredients like ground beef, canned vegetables, and broth to make a hearty and filling meal.

Overall, Hobo stew is a perfect recipe for anyone who wants a comforting and satisfying meal that is easy to make and can be customized to suit their taste. Give it a try and enjoy the hearty goodness of Hobo stew!

Frequently Asked Questions about Hobo Stew Recipe

What is Hobo Stew made of?

Hobo Stew is a classic dish that is typically made with a variety of vegetables, meat, and sometimes beans, all cooked together in a tomato-based broth. The exact ingredients can vary depending on the recipe and personal preference, but some common vegetables used in Hobo Stew include potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. The meat can be beef, chicken, or even sausage, and some recipes also call for canned beans or corn.

Why is it called Hobo Stew?

The origins of the name “Hobo Stew” are unclear, but the dish has been associated with train-hopping hobos since at least the early 20th century. It’s believed that hobos would gather whatever ingredients they could find or scavenge and cook them together in a pot over an open fire, creating a hearty and filling meal that could sustain them on their travels.

What was Hobo Stew during the Great Depression?

During the Great Depression, Hobo Stew became a popular dish among families who were struggling to make ends meet. It was a way to use up whatever ingredients they had on hand and stretch their food budget as far as possible. Many recipes from this time period included inexpensive ingredients like canned vegetables and beans, and some even used Spam or other canned meats.


What’s the difference between Irish stew and Mulligan stew?

Irish stew is a traditional Irish dish that is made with lamb or mutton, potatoes, onions, and sometimes carrots. It’s typically cooked slowly over low heat for several hours, resulting in a tender and flavorful stew. Mulligan stew, on the other hand, is an American dish that is often made with beef and a variety of vegetables. It’s usually cooked more quickly than Irish stew, and the ingredients can vary depending on the recipe.

How do you make hobo stew in foil packets?

To make this hobo stew recipe in foil packets, start by preparing your ingredients and cutting them into small, bite-sized pieces. Then, lay out a large sheet of aluminum foil and place your ingredients in the center. Fold the foil up around the ingredients to create a packet, making sure to seal the edges tightly. Place the packet on a grill or over an open flame and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked through.

What are some variations of hobo stew with kielbasa?

Kielbasa is a popular ingredient in many hobo stew recipes, adding a smoky, savory flavor to the dish. Some variations of hobo stew with kielbasa include adding ingredients like cabbage, sauerkraut, or even beer to the mix. You can also use different types of kielbasa, like spicy or smoked, to change up the flavor profile.

Tags :