This vintage shipwreck stew recipe is a super easy, comforting, ground beef stew your whole family will love! Not only does it have a fun name the kids will love, but it’s nutrition packed while still being delicious! Who doesn’t love that?
This recipe is from my Grandma’s recipe box. She found the recipe in an old church cookbook. It’s an oldie but really a goodie!
There’s nothing like a big pot of stew to feed a hungry family. It’s great because busy families don’t always get to sit down at once to eat. Because of sports, dance classes, and tutors, families sometimes have to eat in shifts.
The great things about stew are it tastes delicious from the first time you serve a bowl to the last bowl you scoop up! In fact, it’s the kind of dish that actually tastes better the day after it’s made.
If your family loves stew as much as mine, I hope you’ll try my pork stew and cowboy stew next! Both of these recipes have been viral on Pinterest for years!
Let’s make this stew!
Why Is It Called Shipwreck Stew?
There is no consensus on where the name came from. Many people believe the name comes from its appearance. It’s a bit of a jumble and looks like a “shipwreck”.
Others believe, because of the simple humble ingredients, it’s named after the survivors of an actual shipwreck who put together the recipe with whatever they could get their hands on.
Shipwreck Stew Ingredients
- Oil: Use a neutral flavor oil such as canola or safflower.
- Ground Beef: I use 8o/20 ground beef. The fat content adds a lot of flavor to the stew and creates a more tender beef. This is also delicious and made with ground turkey.
- Italian Seasoning: My favorite brand is McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian seasoning.
- Onion: I use a yellow onion. It adds the best combo of astringency and sweet flavors. White onions are often more pungent, but can also work in this recipe if you like that stronger onion flavor.
- Red Kidney Beans & Pinto Beans: I love the convenience of canned beans. They add great body and nutrition to the stew. Be sure to rinse and drain well before adding to the stew
- Kernel Corn: Canned corn is perfect in this recipe. No need to drain the corn. Add both cans and all the liquid in the cans.
- Diced Tomatoes: My favorite is petite dice but any plain diced canned tomato will do. No need to drain these either. Add both cans with all the liquid in the cans.
- Condensed Tomato Soup: This soup help creates a deeply delicious flavored gravy. It’s added as an ingredient. You don’t prepare it with water as the can instructs.
- Russet Potatoes: Russet potatoes are my favorite choice here. They’re creamy and delicious and since they’re a starchy variety, they contribute to thickening the delicious gravy in this stew.
- Sauteing Veggies – You’ll want to sauté your veggies in the pan drippings where you cooked your ground beef. Sautéing veggies is important to coax out all those sweeter characteristics. Plus, it adds so much incredible flavor to your shipwreck stew. Here’s an article explaining all the science.
Storing + Freezing + Make Ahead
- How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge? Store any leftovers in an airtight container, in your fridge for up to four days.
- It may thicken a little as it sits in the fridge so you may need to thin it out with a little water when you reheat it.
- Can You Freeze This? Yes, but the potatoes can become mush in freezing temps, so you may want to leave those out — you can always add canned potatoes to this when it’s time to serve!
- If you do freeze it without potatoes, you can let it sit in your freezer for up to three months.
- To thaw, let it sit in the fridge overnight. Then add your potatoes and reheat!
- Make-Ahead Tips: This does require just a little chopping due to the onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Luckily, that can all be done ahead of time except for the potatoes. Almost everything else comes out of the freezer or a can. Super convenient.
- You could always go the freezer route with your shipwreck stew. Sometimes I like to freeze this in single-serve portions. It’s great to pull out for a quick meal.
- Food Safety: Here’s an article about stew storing tips.
This is a one-pot meal but I love to serve something to dunk into the delicious gravy and sop it up!
My favorites are homemade crescent rolls, Bisquick biscuits, Olive Garden breadsticks, or beer bread. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
- Shipwreck stew without potatoes: This is an easy variation to make if you’d like to reduce the carbs in this recipe. Just substitute with chopped cauliflower. The gravy won’t be quite as thick but it will still have all the layers of flavor.
- Cheesy shipwreck stew: Make a cheesy version of this stew! You can make it one of two ways. The first way is to stir in 1-2 cups of your favorite cheese at the end of its simmer and just let it melt before serving.
- Or the second way is just to top each individual serving with a generous handful of cheese! I like sharp cheddar or pepper jack.
More Delicious Stew Recipes
- Classic Beef Stew
- Brunswick Stew
- Chicken Stew
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Instant Pot Beef Stew
- Guinness Beef Stew
- 1 tablespoon, more if needed vegetable oil
- 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
- 1/2--1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, cubed
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 can (15.5-16 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (15.5-16 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans (15 ounce) each whole kernel corn, liquid included
- 2 cans (14.5 ounce) each diced tomatoes, liquid included
- 1 can (10.75 ounce) condensed tomato soup
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- In a large soup pot, heat the vegetable oil (1 tablespoon). Add the ground beef (2 pounds), seasoned salt (2 teaspoons), black pepper (1/2--1 teaspoon), and Italian seasonings (2 teaspoons), then cook and crumble the beef over medium-high heat, until there is no longer any pink.
- Transfer cooked beef to a paper towel lined plate. Drain and discard all but 2 tablespoon of the pan of grease from pan. If you don't have 2 tablespoons in the pan, add the difference with vegetable oil.
- Add the onion (1), carrots (2 cups), and celery (4 stalks) to the pot and saute, over medium heat until the vegetables are tender.
- Return the cooked beef back to pot.
- Add red kidney beans (1 can), pinto beans (1 can), whole kernel corn (2 cans), diced tomatoes (2 cans), tomato soup (1 can), and russet potatoes (2 pounds). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat immediately, and simmer, slightly covered, until potatoes are fork tender, about 30-40 minutes.
Fans Also Made:
- Sauteing Veggies – You’ll want to sauté your veggies in the pan drippings where you cooked your ground beef. Sautéing veggies is important to coax out all those sweeter characteristics. Plus, it adds so much incredible flavor to your stew. Here’s an article explaining all the science.
Reshia Gregory says
I can’t wait to try this! Does it freeze well?
Yes, if you do freeze it without potatoes, you can let it sit in your freezer for up to three months.
I’d like to make this for a friend who has celiac disease, and canned tomato soup contains wheat. What could I substitute for the soup?
Hi, Margaret. I found this homemade condensed tomato soup. It’s so easy to make and doesn’t have gluten. Enjoy!
Perfect this season! I love this stew 🙂
I totally agree. Thank you, Anne! Enjoy 🙂
Looks good going to try thank you
Lisa Ward says
Can this be made in a slow cooker?
Yes, cook for 7-8 hours.
Jon M says
To cook in a slow cooker would one still brown the ground beef?
Can I substitute red potatoes?