Butter Beans: The Healthy and Versatile Ingredient You Need in Your Kitchen

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Phaseolus lunatus is a legume grown for its edible seeds. It is commonly known as the butter bean or lima bean.

Butter beans are a versatile ingredient in cooking, and you can use them in everything from soups to stews to casseroles.

But how do you cook them? Do you boil them? Do you add salt? Well, yes and no.

In this article, I’ll share the secrets to cooking butter beans so they’re tender and flavorful every time. Plus, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes using butter beans.

How to cook with lima beans

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Butter Beans: The Versatile Southern Classic

Butter beans are a type of lima bean that are large, flat, and creamy white in color. They are a staple in Southern cuisine and are often used in main dishes, such as stews and casseroles. Butter beans are a great source of protein, fiber, and other important nutrients. They have a sweet, smoky flavor that pairs well with pork, turkey, and other meats.

Why are butter beans important in cooking?

Butter beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. They can be cooked in a simple way with just water, salt, and pepper, or they can be added to more complex dishes to add flavor and texture. The method of cooking butter beans is important to ensure that they are tender and flavorful. Slow cooking butter beans with smoked ham or ground pork for hours is a classic Southern method that yields delicious results.

What ingredients go well with butter beans?

Butter beans pair well with a variety of ingredients, including:

  • Pork or ham
  • Turkey
  • Fresh herbs, such as thyme and rosemary
  • Smoked paprika
  • Dried bay leaves
  • Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Hot sauce
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt

Incorporating these ingredients into your butter bean recipes can make a big difference in flavor.

Butter Beans: The Southern Classic Comfort Dish

Butter beans, also known as lima beans, are a classic Southern comfort food that can be enjoyed as a main dish or a side dish. Cooking butter beans from scratch takes a bit of time, but the result is worth the effort. Here’s how to cook butter beans to perfection:

Cook Time: 2-3 hours

To cook butter beans, you’ll need a large pot and the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of dried butter beans
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of butter

Cooking the Beans

  1. Sort through the beans and remove any debris or discolored beans.
  2. Rinse the beans under cold water.
  3. Soak the beans in water for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.
  4. Place the beans in a large pot with 6 cups of water.
  5. Add salt and black pepper to the pot.
  6. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the beans are tender.
  7. Stir in the butter until it’s melted and the beans are creamy.

Total Time: 2-3 hours and 25 minutes

Cooking butter beans from scratch may take some time, but the attraction of this old-fashioned classic comfort dish is undeniable. With just a few simple ingredients and a little bit of time, you can create a creamy and tender dish that’s perfect for any occasion. So, grab a large pot, some dried butter beans, and get cooking!

Why Butter Beans are a Healthy Addition to Your Meals

Butter beans, also known as lima beans, are packed with nutrients that are essential for a healthy diet. Here are some of the benefits of incorporating butter beans into your meals:

  • High in protein: Butter beans are a great source of plant-based protein, making them an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Rich in fiber: Butter beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help regulate digestion and promote a healthy gut.
  • Low in fat: Despite their creamy and buttery taste, butter beans are actually low in fat, making them a great option for those watching their calorie intake.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals: Butter beans are a good source of vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium, which are essential for overall health.


So, there you have it- a guide to using butter beans in cooking. They’re a great way to add some extra protein and fiber to your meals, and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Plus, they’re pretty easy to cook, so don’t be afraid to give them a try!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.