How to Make Scouse, the Traditional Liverpool Stew

Updated on October 5, 2017
freshly made pot of Scouse (thanks Elaine!)
freshly made pot of Scouse (thanks Elaine!)

Scouse is a beef or lamb stew traditionally associated with the people of Liverpool, who have come to be known as "Scousers" over the years.

The recipe for Scouse is pretty broad. In other words, there is no definitive recipe because it was made up from leftovers and whatever was in season at the time.

Warm and filling, Scouse was originally brought to Liverpool by Northern European sailors. The original name of what was once a lamb stew was "lobskause" or "labskause," which over the years has been shortened and Anglicised to just "Scouse."

The city of Liverpool is situated at the mouth of the River Mersey as it meets the Irish sea in North West England. It was a small fishing port up until the late 17th century when it experienced rapid growth thanks to the expansion of the British empire into the trade colonies of North America and the West Indies.

By the 18th century, Liverpool traded goods via the docks with the whole world, and became a popular stopping port for sailors from Norway, Germany, Holland and Belgium. It was probably those sailors who brought Lobskause to the city.

Lamb in olden times was a much cheaper alternative to beef, so Scouse stew was originally made from lamb with beef becoming a later addition.

The City of Liverpool
The City of Liverpool

Ingredients for Scouse

  • Stewing beef (any cut)
  • Lamb – lamb breast if possible but chops can be used too - remove the bones once it is cooked.
  • Onions, chopped
  • Carrot, chopped, diced or sliced
  • Potatoes – quartered
  • Cabbage – diced, maybe a quarter cabbage, not too much.
  • Water or stock
  • Worcester sauce - optional
  • Any other seasonal root veg you have in and want to use up – turnip, swede etc

Notice I haven’t put amounts in? That is because it all depends on what you have. Use 3lbs of vegetables to every 1lb of meat, roughly. Mix and match because you are supposed to be using up leftovers from the traditional Sunday roast, plus seasonal vegetables.

Scouse could feed the poor, and feed them well, especially in the cold winter months.

Nowadays lamb is so expensive it is outside of many of our budgets and so may be omitted.

Cooking method for Scouse

  1. Put a little vegetable oil in the base of a large saucepan, and place on low heat.
  2. Add the onions, and gently fry until clear.
  3. Then add the cubed meat, and brown all over.
  4. Add the rest of the vegetables, and stir till they are braised.
  5. Add cold water to cover meat, bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer with lid on for about 2 hours.
  6. Season to taste if plain water is used. Stock already has seasoning but taste as you go along and add as necessary.
  7. After two hours, add the potatoes, bring back to boil, reduce heat and simmer for a further 2 hours. As the potato cooks some will break up and naturally thicken the dish.

At the end of cooking time you should have a potful of something that looks like the photo above (especially cooked for me by my Scouser friend). It tastes divine!

Scouse can be refrigerated for two or three days and can feed a cast of thousands cheaply. It can also be frozen, although the texture will change as potatoes don’t take to freezing too well.

It is best served with pickled cabbage and crusty bread and butter.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image 5 months ago

        If you were to poor to put in meat it was called blind scouse (cos you could not see any meat)

      • profile image

        d farrell 3 years ago

        i am a scouser and have been cooking scouse for years' your description is spot on. Its what me mam told me well done great. scouse is divine

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 5 years ago from UK

        Yeah some people seem to think it should have a definitive amount of ingredients, but of course it can't, considering it's history.

      • profile image

        Alwyn 5 years ago

        This is probably the most authentic recipe. I hate it when scouse recipes are over complicated by people.

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

        I love Liverpudlians, they are so friendly and so much fun! Enjoy your scouse!

      • Escape2Paradise profile image

        Escape2Paradise 6 years ago from Bangkok Thailand

        I will be able to eat this scouse everyday when I move to Liverpool hehe can't wait!! Thanks for sharing a great content vote up!!!

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

        It's not only really easy to make, its cheap too as everything is done in one pot, and the heat under it is also low (except when bringing to boil), and that one pot can last several days!

      • johncimble profile image

        johncimble 6 years ago from Bangkok

        great hub! this look so easy for me i think!! i was there in Liverpool before but i didn't have a chance to try it :( gutted!

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

        Elaine says it does, and she is a cook and a Scouser.Maybe originally there was no meat in it because some Scousers couldn't afford meat, I don't know, but thanks for commenting :)

      • profile image

        Jon - Liverpool 7 years ago

        That's not scouse! Scouse doesn't have meat in it!

      • mysterylady 89 profile image

        mysterylady 89 7 years ago from Florida

        Buying a ready-made jar sounds like the way to go. I'll have to look for it. Thanks!

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 7 years ago from UK might have some pointers, but most people I know just buy a ready-made jar of pickled cabbage :)

      • mysterylady 89 profile image

        mysterylady 89 7 years ago from Florida

        I always love it when you share a recipe! This stew would be great on a cold day. How do you pickle cabbage?

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

        @lyndre - what are you like? Good point however, steal the ingredients that makes it even cheaper!

        Merlin, add dumplings into this recipe! As you say, leave out the pickled cabbage, stew with dumplings and potatoes is to die for!

      • lyndre profile image

        lyndre 7 years ago from Scotland

        The first to do when cooking scouse is steal 1lb of stewing beef.:lol:

      • Merlin Fraser profile image

        Merlin Fraser 7 years ago from Cotswold Hills

        Sounds good, especially when the wether is cold like it is, need something that sticks to the ribs !!!

        My mother always cooked the stew and potatoes seperately, but there again we always had dumplings as well....

        If you're not into dumplings then cooking the potatoes in the stew saves a saucepan.

        Like the doorsteps of fresh bread and butter idea as well but I'm not sure about the pickled cabbage, boiled as a veg to go with the stew perhaps !

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

        It's delicious with bread - I think white rice would be too much with all the potatoes too!

      • Ingenira profile image

        Ingenira 7 years ago

        Hmmm.... yummy, it'd be nice to have it with bread or white rice.

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

        I think what makes scouse different from other stews is the serving of it with pickled cabbage or onions. Must be a throwback to the days when sailors had to pickle veggies to keep them edible on long voyages.

      • thebluestar profile image

        Annette Donaldson 7 years ago from Northern Ireland

        Although now living in Ireland I was born in Southport, and remember fondly being fed scouse. I too in turn have made many a scouse dinner for my family. Filling, and delicious with crusty bread as you say. We used a cob cut into slices and thickly buttered. It warmed the cockles of my heart to read your article and made me think longingly for home. Hmm must put another pot of scouse on.