Now, I’ll admit I grew up calling these large limas or dried limas and called their smaller green to cream colored fresh counter parts butter beans (like these). And I’m not alone. I surveyed y’all on Facebook and saw that quite a few follow my naming nomenclature, while others were the opposite. Many of you call these large dried beans butter beans. And with more than 1,000 replies at last check, y’all are pretty passionate about what you call ’em.
Here’s what I know for sure… Call them whatever you will. Just don’t call me late to supper when these babies are on the menu.
My recipe for cooking them is simple, straightforward, and only calls for a handful of ingredients, but it’s the method that really matters. Let’s jump in…
Now, my mom taught me that with all dried beans, they need to be soaked before cooking – whether using the overnight or the quick soak method. Now, since I know she’s reading this (Hi, Mom!), I’ll fall short of saying she’s wrong, but I will say that we now know better. Yep, modern science and testing have revealed that soaking beans really doesn’t do much other than cut down on the cook time (which isn’t a huge difference anyway).
Since it’s how I learned to cook, I’m a strong proponent of the philosophy that the way your mom or grandma did it is the right way. So if you want to soak your beans, by gosh you need to soak those beans. But the truth is that if you don’t have time to soak, (or just don’t want to) you’re going to come out with some super delicious beans either way.
Now for me, these large dried limas should be swimming in a thick, rich broth that’s super creamy. It’s the way mom made them and after a few tests, the trick to getting them that way is super simple. You have to stir them.
You see those beans right above here? Those beans were cooked using the exact same method and ingredients, but I only stirred them twice. The result is mainly whole beans and a relatively thin, clear broth.
Now these down here below were stirred quite a bit more. The stirring broke some of the beans up and the starch from those beans thickened the broth and made for a hearty, thick sauce to coat the beans. This is how Mom made them.
Either way is delicious, it’s just all in how you like them.
Now while some recipes calls for onion, garlic, even carrots, Mom made her beans with just water, smoked meat, salt, and pepper. Often she would also include a pinch of ground ginger as many claim it helps with the uh… um, “after effects” of eating a bowl full of beans, but there’s no scientific evidence of that being true.
Outside of the beans themselves, most of the flavor comes from the salt and the smoked meat. I keep ham hocks frozen for this because I think they add the most flavor to dishes like this, but a ham bone, smoked turkey wings, smoked pork neck bones, or even smoked sausage can be used to get that smoky flavor.
Regardless of what you call them and whether you stir them or not, these beans are a hearty, delicious side (or even main dish) that’s perfect alongside some piping hot cornbread. In my family, beans like this have always been served with some raw onion. I’ve heard others say they add mayonnaise or even ketchup to them. No matter what goes with them, I know you’re going to love them! Y’all enjoy!
Southern Lima Beans (Butter Beans)
- 1 pound large dried lima beans
- 1 large smoked ham hock*
- 9 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Rinse the beans and check for any foreign particles.
- Add the beans to a large pot or dutch oven. Add the ham hock, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil, and cook for about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover tightly and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender to your liking. Add water to keep the beans just covered. Stir less frequently to allow the beans to stay intact, or stir more often to create a thick, rich broth. Be sure to see the blog post for details. Add the pepper and additional salt to taste. If desired, remove the hock, shred the meat, and return it to the pot.
Slow Cooker Method:
- Place beans, water, ham hock, salt and pepper in a 6 quart slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 5 hours (or low for 7 to 8 hours) or until the beans are tender to your liking. Stir well and adjust seasoning to your taste. If needed, add hot water to the beans to keep them covered as to not drop the temperature as they cook. If desired, remove the hock, shred the meat, and return it to the slow cooker.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
Not enough flavor for my taste buds. I used the crockpot receipt and 9 cups of water was too much. We like our butter beans in a gravy like sauce. I believe 6 cups of would suffice. I added a bay leaf and a little ham concentrate to give it more flavor.
Ham concentrate is a great idea to add flavor. I use it often in other recipes.
I am Guilty of being a Salt addict! SO I substituted 2 cans of ckn broth for water.i also Love Ham Hocks, but discovered Ham Shanks and think they have a little less fat but just the right amount. And more meat. Thank you for your recipe. I hope you don’t mind the tweaks .
I don’t mind at all! Thanks for sharing your variations!
Making these now…my in-laws would make navy bean soup, bake the leftovers and eat on bread with raw onion and mayo! One of my favorite sandwiches and lots of black pepper! I use lima beans and or navy beans.
Hope they turned out great for you!
Great recipe! However, the linked “science article” missed the entire reason beans must be soaked overnight and rinsed. Beans contain an anti-nutrient called lignins. It is a protein that interferes with nutrient absorption. Soaking and rinsing greatly reduce harmful lignins. Pressure cooking also greatly reduce lignins.
Thanks, Barry! Glad you enjoyed it! I’m not a food scientist, but I play one on tv… Of course, I’m just kidding. There’s so much info out there, I just want to be sure I’m not misrepresenting the facts and I’m always willing to learn. Do you know if this is the case with all beans? My understanding is that while it is labelled an anti-nutrient, lignin is also a source of dietary insoluble fiber. Did you know strawberries are super high in lignin?
I am going to try this. I love a good pot of beans and ham. I usually use navy or white beans. I also add onion and carrots. My mom also taught me to soak overnight or quick soak if necessary.
Hope you’ll enjoy these!
Wonderful recipe, Stacey! Just like my mom and grandma make/made them! I’ve never tried making large limas and ham myself, but today it’s cool and rainy and I have a hankering. Can’t wait till dinner time! (Maybe I’ll stir up some cornbread or biscuits, too.)
Sure hope you enjoy them!
Can I cook the bean in instant pot?
Absolutely! Though you’ll need a different amount of water, I’d guess. I don’t have tons of experience with the Instant Pot. This might be helpful: https://bakemesomesugar.com/instant-pot-butter-beans/
I really appreciate all these recipes that I am discovering how to cook and making my family happy. Thank you for all the easy recipes that you post. I really enjoy making all these recipes. Please keep them coming so that I can be a pro just like you.
So glad to hear you’re getting some good use out of the recipes, Jeanette!
Southern Lima Bean Soup (Butter Beans)
Can baby lima beans be used ?
Sure! The dried baby limas should work, though the cook time might be shorter.
Could you give me a recommendation on a good brand of dry lima beans? Thanks
I typically buy Dixie Lily or Camellia brand.
Recipe worked great as written, only changes I made: I soaked the beans overnight, added a diced onion for flavor, used about 6 oz country ham pieces as I had on hand (next time may add more for more flavor), and used 8 cups water to start, after 1 hr cooking added additional 2 cups water, and I also added pepper and garlic powder at the start, but no salt – personal preference. After about 1.5 hours cooking after the initial 20 min boil they were ready, very tender and perfectly cooked and flavored. A great recipe, I used the larger white variety of lima/butter beans.
So glad you enjoyed these, David!
Gary Lynn Bailey
love large lima beans…which are not as easy to find in the store as they used to be.
i usually use left over ham from the holidays. take it out of the freezer as needed.
do it as you have here except i do saute a little onion before i add the beans. and somewhere in the simmering process add a tab of butter. they are called butter beans after all. good stuff.
Hope you enjoy them!
Search Cajun grocery, louisiana.
Comfort food from my childhood and I’m 85. My only additions are onions and bay leaves. I prefer a thick broth so I mash most of the beans. This next addition came in later years, thanks to the Magic Pan restaurant – add a little dry sherry to the bowl.
Thanks for the sherry tip, Clara!
I cooked “big lima beans” yesterday and they looked just like your last pan shown. So delicious with fried ham, turnip greens and cornbread!
LindY G G Sherrod
This is how my Mama cooked them and so do I. Pure comfort food, fry some cornbread and you got the best meal ever.
Agreed! Thanks, Lindy!
Cooked these dried lima beans for 9 hours trying to get them soft, they are still hard as a rock. I have too throw them out !!!!!!!
There’s definitely something wrong there. Typically, when beans won’t soften it means the beans are too old, your water is too hard, or there was some kind of acidic ingredient added to the recipe. Any chance it could be one of those?
Recipe was very simple. Followed every step which calls for 9 cups of water that you definitely don’t need. Unless of course if you want your Lima beans swimming.
Hey, Paula! Did you soak your beans before hand?
I love most variety of dried beans if ever water is needed to be added be sure it’s boiling water if not the beans will tend to be a bit hard
This is a great and tasty lama bean recipe I’ve made it more than once and I’m making it now as we speak
I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one, Kevin!
Thank you for this! My mom passed away in October, and while cleaning out her home I found a bag of dry large lima beans. I said to my husband that I’ve never done these myself, but remember them from my childhood. I wasn’t sure how, but now I do-thanks to you!
Love your site and your stories! Thank you <3
Thank you, Bobbie! I’m so sorry to hear about your mom.
I’ve started cooking them now. I put country ham pieces in them. I hope that will be enough salt. You said add pepper. I’m doing that now..They are in slow cooker.
Hope they turned out great for you! You can always add more salt if necessary.
Sounds good. I’m making them now
Hope they turn out great for you!
Thank you Stacey. I threw my bag away and could not remember. After soaking beans… I forgot how long to cook, thank you. Very good article, photos, and recipe. I was going to ask what tge secret ingredient is to avoid gas from beans and you said yiur mom said ginger. I am allergic to ginger so no on that but i thought it was baking soda. I am not sure so i won’t use that either but i will use a ham bone!!! Thank you!
I’m just not sure of a sure-fire way to eliminate it.
Mine turned out excellent. I used smoked turkey wings!!! Very tasty!!!
Yum! Those turkey wings work perfectly!
I make my beans almost like you do and I always soak my beans as my mom taught me to. I like to add a bag of frozen vegetables at the end. Cornbread with Lima Beans is a must!!
One thing about butter beans you don’t boil them hard you just let it come a rolling boil them let them boil, add more water each time they boil down. Them at the end once there done and you soup is thick add a 1/2 butter. Which is one stick. Just remember don’t boil your beans hard. You will have plump bean and hood pot Liquor.
I’m soaking my beans tonight
However I’m using chicken stock instead of water and will watch my salt
Can’t wait I love butter beans
Sure hope you’ll enjoy them!
Wayyyyy too much water! My beans turned to mush. Really upset over this recipe.
Oh I am so sorry this happened! Did you soak your beans first? Maybe they were cooked too long? About how long did you cook them?
The beans can be old. I have had this happen. Not sure why but this is the correct methodology.
Not being familiar with Southern Lima Beans, I followed your recipe to the letter, and was rewarded with a great pairing to tonight’s pot roast. Thank you!
Thank you so much!
It’s chilly in Philly today. So what better to make for dinner than some butter beans. These are exactly how I cook mine and for some reason was looking for a recipe. After coming across yours I instantly knew not to mess with perfection lol delicious tender and flavorful was the turn out. Enjoy your day!
Thanks and have a great day!
I had been looking for a great butter bean recipe for quite some time, since my usual canned go to was unavailable due to supply chain shortages; this one is just super. I will use slightly less water next time, maybe 8 cups and am going to try half chicken broth next time. It’s delicious and much better than the canned!
Thank you so much Glen!
I love your Recipe it is the same one I have used for years. For the people who are getting to much liquid what I do when this is starting to happen is I put a very clean towel on top of the slow cooker and then put the lid back on. This keeps the drips from forming on the lid and going back into the pot. I use this for a lot of things in the crockpot . Hope this helps someone.
Thanks for the wonderful “hack” Bessie!
Hi Stacey, My Mom used to cook butter beans until they were well done. Cook the water down so the broth was kind of thick. Then she added condensed milk to make more broth. They were great!!
This sounds amazing!
Great recipe! I added thyme for a bit more flavor. Thank you for the recipe!
I have never made (or even ate) homemade butter beans before, but yours look a lot like the ones we used to buy years ago in a can. I don’t remember the brand name now, since I was a kid when Mom used to buy them. I don’t think I ever bought them as an adult, and I’m almost 60. 🙂 Anyway, my mom said she thought they were in a molasses sauce? Would that be right? I don’t even know what to use molasses for except molasses cookies. Lol. So I’m not sure if it would taste good in these beans or not. Yours look perfect to me though. And I am betting they taste so much better than canned. Thank you so much for the recipe. If you think molasses would be good in this recipe, could you let me know how to add it, and if I’d have to add anything else, like brown sugar or something? Thank you so much!! Can’t wait to taste these… and they sound heavenly with corn bread!
Hey, Patti! I’ve heard of putting molasses in beans like this that are baked, but can’t say that I remember hearing of folks putting it in ones made like this. I’ll keep my ears open and let you know if I do, though.
Love your recipies. I have a hack I learned from my Aunt Opal. If Y’all don’t like ginger to help eliminate the after effects of enjoying a bowl of beans for supper , you can add a splash of 7-up Soda to the pot of beans while cooking.
I’ve not heard that one. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Stacey. I did this in the Instant Pot, slow cook, and high heat. It tastes delicious but it still has a lot of water. I’ll have to drain them. Any suggestions?
I don’t have tons of instant pot experience but probably just reduce the initial amount of water added!
My grandma made Lima bean in a slow cooker for all day it seamed . I am going to try your recipe in my slow cooker but I was wondering if I could Use chicken broth and half water?? Along with the other ingredients?
I have used chicken broth for my beans, boiling potatoes, some pastas depending on what I’m making and rice. It makes these so much more tasty 😋😊
The half water and half chicken broth should work fine!
I live in New Jersey and I’m making Lima beans as I write this at 1:08am with smoked turkey legs and homemade biscuits,yes i make homemade biscuits,i let my beans soak for about an hour then i boil the smoked turkey legs for a couple of hours,when there done I take them out and let them cool off so I can shred them,then I’ll add my lima beans to the smoked turkey leg water,I usually add more hot water,I’ll bring the lima beans to a boil then I’ll turn the flame down a bit,when the lima beans are just about done I’ll add a stick of butter and add the shredded smoked turkey legs,then I’ll put my homemade biscuits in the oven,it’s really a great tasting meal,I learned this recipe from my mom when I was growing up…
This sounds amazing!
Stacey, Have you heard this song about butter beans? Here’s the link. Enjoy!
Ha! That’s great!
I love these beans but since they take soooo long to cook I don’t add the Honey Baked ham bone until the last hour of cooking. It’s probably not right but I also add diced carrots and celery in the last hour, it’s just the way I like them.
All that matters is that YOU like them!
These have been added to my rotation. They are perfect exactly as written. Thank you for your wonderful recipes. Everyone I have tried has been fantastic!
I love, love, love this page!!
I’m so glad!
Regarding a statement about soaking the beans…
I’m sorry to say but modern science has shown that boiling beans for 2 to 3 minutes and then soaking them overnight reduces the long chain sugar molecules which can cause gas and bloating.
Your mother was right.
I cited a few sources as well. There are arguments on both sides of the fence. Regardless, you can certainly cook them without them being soaked.
Stacy I’m cooking your butter beans recipe today. Strolling through your recipes and got to your picture and saw you were a man!!! I too am a man but I love too cook. My wife and friends like my cooking. I guess I must be pretty good. Added a pinahiling of onion and garlic powder and a stick of butter to the recipe. Slow cooking. Should be interesting!!!! Doing a pot of greens also !!!
Sounds like a solid meal to me. Hope it turns out well for you!
Susan Mulledy DeFrank
Loved reading through your recipe with the back story of your Mom cooking them. I’ve never actually had a recipe, My Mom and my Grandmother both made great Butter Beans, exactly as you have written it. I’ve been making them for the past fifty years and I can close my eyes and see both my Mom and my Grandmother enjoying them along with me. Thanks for the memories.
I love it when a post can bring back memories like that! Thanks for sharing!
Great….now I want some “fat butter beans”! I use both chicken broth and ham hocks for mine, cooking the hocks some first. Reading this makes me realize I probably need to cool that liquid before adding the beans. My mom soaked all dried beans overnight, but I learned quickly not to soak theses or black eye peas.. add the cornbread and we are happy campers!
Cooking the broth with the hocks first is a great way to add more smoky flavor.
I love these beans anyway they are cooked.
One problem my husband DOES NOT.
My mom made them like yours does, so that is how I make them.
The comment about freezing the cornbread with them, now that is smart thinking.
Have a blessed day.🌹
Thanks, Faye! You, too!
Fresh butter beans from your garden are a completely different food from dried Lima beans. Both are delicious, but not the same. The fresh beans are delicate, require very little cooking time, and do not need aggressive seasoning – a few slices of bacon or fatback, a small ham chunk, even just a half stick of butter, salt snd pepper is all it takes.
Dried limas are a hearty one-dish meal. This recipe covers the basics, but I do an enriched version. Make the ham stock ahead to produce a rich, highly seasoned broth for the dried (unsoaked) beans. I start with a base of canned or homemade chicken Stock, add ham hock or bone, smoked bacon, chopped onion, minced garlic, dried herbs (like thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, marjoram), and pepper. When stock has cooked 2 or 3 hours, let it cool, skim off excess fat, then strain into a large pot. Shred ham pieces and set aside. Add beans, bring to boil and cook at low boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour or until tender, but not falling apart. Gently stir in reserved ham shreds. Taste and adjust seasoning, add hot pepper flakes if desired, snd serve in bowls with some of the broth. The cooked beans can be held for a few hours if desired. Just reheat gently on medium before serving. Don’t stir vigorously or you’ll destroy the structure. Serve with hot cornbread or a hearty rustic yeast bread for sopping the juice. (Make ahead ti:: prepare the stock a day or two ahead snd store in refrigerator after straining, reserving ham shreds in a separate container. Reheat the stock before continuing with recipe.)
While they both are lima beans, they sure do produce different dishes, don’t they? Your version sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the links Stacey! I have pintos in my pantry and keep putting off cooking them because I forget to soak them. But now I don’t have to! I have a Texas recipe for dried butter beans that’s good but I’m going to try yours. 🙂
You’re so welcome! Hope you enjoy this version.
Good Afternoon Stacey:
Getting hungry just reading recipe LOL. Had a girlfriend from Alabama and she learned from her mom to make lima beans with chicken wings. They were awesome. No real recipe.. soaked beans overnight, added water, chopped onions, salt, pepper, a “pile of chicken wings”… viola! Cook till done. Just love those down to earth recipes…just get it done. Was wondering if you ever heard of that one?
I have ham and a ham bone from Honey Baked Ham in freezer. Just happen to have a big ol’ bag of lima beans sitting on my kitchen counter. Hmmmm….. 🙂 I see this meal in my future.
Also, have you ever made this in the Instant Pot? Am guessing about 25 minutes or so? Less water if soaked overnight?
Thanks for all your wonderful recipes, each one is like a warm hug. Enjoy your recipes and writing immensely.
I have certainly heard of cooking them with smoked turkey wings but can’t say I have ever heard of cooking them with chicken wings. Did she use raw chicken wings?
My mom uses the instant pot to cook lima beans all the time but I have never done this. Her’s are always delicious! Maybe someone can chime in with a recipe for us.
WOW… smoked turkey wings..this is getting better and better! LOL I do a goodly amount of cooking of using smoked turkey wings. Now I have another reason to do more. Will be looking forward to that Instant Pot Lima Bean Recipe!
Stacey, would we be able to get your Mom’s Instant Pot recipe? If you say it’s good… that about seals the deal.
Let me see if I can get her to write it down for us…
That would be fantastic! No doubt there are many others that would love getting those yummy beans into the Instant Pot.
This is exactly how I’ve done mine for 50-odd years. And boy some of those years have been odd!
The only dried bean that I cook in a non-standard way is pinto beans. Dallas water is super hard, and every once in a while you can cook beans til the cows come home and they stay hard as a rock. An old chuckwagon cook gave me a tip to help with that. Put your beans on with enough water to cover them, put like 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. baking soda in them, and get them to a good rolling boil for about five minutes.
Drain, rinse real good, and do it all over again. I do like 2 to 3 waters this way, especially if the water smells really chlorinated. The last time rinse the daylights out of them and cook them as usual from there.
I have never had a problem with the beans staying hard with this method, and I tend to not be a “soak them overnight” kinda gal. It does take a few minutes but I do beans on lazy days anyhow.
Happy new year to all the Southern Bite family!
Hi Jane: Duhhh…about soaking and rinsing…should have read yours. 🙂 prior to dashing off my comment. Am guessing that the double rinse would also work for us here in Las Vegas, we have super hard and chlorinated water also. I do however use the filtered water from our fridge. And that does help. I think you also saved the hard bean issue with the baking soda. That has happened a couple times to me also.
Now I would also like to make these little gems in the Instant Pot versus Slow Cooker. Looking for a recipe on that one too.
Thanks for including your bits and tips of information, just love sharing. Have a super day.
Love hearing about those tried and true methods! Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!
Oh my god. Cream in lima beans. Butter in lima beans. I grew up on Louisiana cooking and have never heard of that. No wonder so many people are dying of heart attacks, obesity, and diabetes. Oh well. Still I respect the original simple recipe for these beans. It’s what I have always done.
My mother use to make these for lunch when we came home from school at lunch time. We ate them with bread and butter and it was my favorite lunch . I’ve never made mine as good as hers but I’m going to try some of these suggestions. Thanks for the recipe and all the comments!
Such sweet memories, Jane! Thanks for sharing!
And ya can’t call it butter if it’s margarine no matter who manufactures it…LOL
Ha! No argument here. 🙂
Marilyn E Thomson
Hello Stacey – how can I make this soup using canned beans?
Hmmm… This recipe is really more about cooking beans from dry. Canned beans would be the same as the result from cooking these.
My grandmother put dumplings in her dried butter beans! Made them creamy. We loved them!
One of my favorite meals is butterbeans and cornbread! Yours look amazing! I think your recipe is similar to the one I was taught by my grandmother.
Thank you, Debby!
As a child growing up, we had these dried large beans and a thick liquid with them. After we had eaten them for awhile, my mother would put them into a baking dish (with some, but not all of the liquid) and add some home canned tomato chunks to the beans. She added a small diced onion to the banking dish. A small amount of dark brown sugar was added too. Strips of bacon were laid on top of the casserole dish and baked in the oven. That baked bean dish was heavenly!
I laughed when someone blogged the beans were called Johnson ears; biggity beans, mule ears….great stories. That is what is so interesting about your website…..the bloggers post wonderful life time stories!
That sounds absolutely delicious, Virginia! Thanks for sharing!!
I have a question. Is there anything wrong when your butter beans split upon soaking or Cooking? This is the 1st time this has happened.
While they might not look as pretty, they’re perfectly fine. Sometimes that happens when the inside of the bean hydrates faster than the skin and they split. Some say soaking in salted water helps this, but I’ve not tested it, per se.
Stacey, this is a question rather than a comment. My mother use to serve these beans with a jelly. I can taste it now as I type but cannot remember the type of jelly. Do you or any of your readers have any idea what jelly goes with this meal?
Hi Abby! I’ve heard of serving them with ketchup, but I’m not sure I’ve heard of jelly. Maybe someone else will chime in and help us out!
Beng from the Caribbean we love butter beans in our oxtails made similar to beef stew. I have dried and cans in my kitchen. If I make them southern style I use smoked Turkey legs, wings or necks for my meat so delicious. Thanks for sharing
Love, Love Butter Beans but alas none in my family likes them. But I have a neighbor who’s also crazy about them. The only difference is that last year when I reached for the 2 pack ham hocks it was close to $8. WOW. So I’m standing there with another women who picks up a pkg of smoked neck bones, half the price, and said I started using these and while it takes more time to shred the flavor is great and much more meat that the hocks. So bought them and they were everything she said. Learned to cook the bones the day before, cool overnight and cook beans in the water from the meat and pick the bones the next day. Yep, more time consuming but so much meat I was blown away. That’s all I use now.
Thanks for the great tips!
I had a taste for Lime Beans, so I decided to try this recipe. This was my very first time cooking lime beans. I cooked the beans in a Crockpot on high, the beans and smoked turkey was cooked within 3 hours. In addition, I had to drain 4 cups of liquid from the finished dish. I was well pleased with the outcome. Next time I will reduce the water to 4.5 cups instead of 9. My family absolutely love it. I forgot to take a photo, we devoured the dish immediately.
So glad to hear y’all enjoyed them!
My mother passed away a week ago and this was one of my favorite dishes she made. She used chopped ham steak and a little onion. Should I sauté those first or how would I add those in?
Yes, I think I’d sauté them to start, then add the water and ham hock. Enjoy!
Hannah Esther Stephens
Can this be done in a pressure cooker? If so do you know what the time adjustments would be?
I’ve not done that, but it should work. I would keep the measurements the same and cook them on high pressure for about 30 minutes followed by a 15 to 20 minute natural pressure release. Just be sure not to overfill your pressure cooker.
I’ve done them in the Instant Pot with a ham bone and they were awesome! The pressure releases the marrow in the bone by cracking it open, making the beans even more flavorful!
I like to cook and bake, but for butter beans I just purchase a can of Hanover’s Butter beans, add 1 tbls.. butter and 1 tbls. catsup….yum. I am a widow and do not want to cook up a whole pot of beans ! I have them with corn muffins and fruit for lunch .
I totally understand that! I can’t say I’ve ever tried Hanovers, but sounds like I should!
My Mom made these for dinner frequently and I loved them! But she added a tomato sauce near the end of cooking. Unfortunately her recipe passed with her. Once she said the tomato sauce was just tomato soup! Any ideas? I also think she added garlic…because she added garlic to everything!
I don’t have anything quite like that, but it sounds amazing! Were they sweet at all?
Oh forgot the rice! Add leftover rice when you add beans.
This is going to sound crazy but I promise it is very good! The ketchup comment reminded me of it lol. Sauté an onion with salt and pepper. Add a large can of diced tomatoes and half can of water. Let simmer a few minutes. Add one package of Ball Park franks (sliced in bite size circles) and leftover Lima beans. Cook until heated through. Completely changes it up! One of our favorites as kids to eat next day for lunch ????
I’d certainly give it a try! Thanks for sharing, Brandi!!
This is how I make them as well I use smoked turkey necks so delish. Do you have any idea how to cook them in pressure cooker /air fryer? It does both just change the lids. Thanks ahead of time…
Thanks, Brandy! Unfortunately I don’t have much pressure cooker experience, but I bet someone else does and might be able to jump on and answer that for you.
I call them white limas and green limas – I grew up all over the south – Thanks for all the post – I enjoyed reading all – I did soak mine for a few hours today but probably never will again LOL- Usually add a ham hock but do not have one today so adding leftover frozen ham and jalapeño sausage link-should be ok!! Can’t wait!!!
Sounds great! Hope they turned out great for you!
I cooked these beans all day in a show cooker but there’s still so much liquid it’s more like bean soup. Any suggestions?
Cooking them in a slow cooker doesn’t allow for much evaporation so they will certainly have more liquid. You can always ladle some out.
I GREW UP DURING WW11. IN THE NETHERLANDS.THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR WE LIVED ON 400 CALORIES PER DAY. MY FATHER GOT A BASKET OF LIMA BEANS FROM A BULB GROWER AND MY MOM WOULD ADD A HANDFUL OF BEANS TO A PAN OF WATER WITH SUGAR BEETS, CABBAGE, CARROTS AND YES, EVEN SOME TULIP BULBS. NOT VERY GOOD TASTING. BUT THEY KEPT US ALIVE! I NOW FEEL SO FORTUNATE I CAN COOK THE BEANS WITH WHATEVER I HAVE IN MY KITCHEN.
What a remarkable story!
It is! We really take a lot for granted these days.
I used pork jowl instead of hock and added acv. They were absolutely delicious. I made a huge batch and froze the rest and it’s just as good reheated, maybe better.
You’ve got my mouth watering! Glad they turned out great for you!
I usually like these over white rice with pepper vinegar splashed all over it. The thick broth mixes with the rice to make a stew.
Sounds delicious to me!
I make a soup out of dried beans either large or small (and I do soak) and always with a good cottage ham. I cut the ham in half to get the most flavor and also add lots of chopped onion. The cottage ham makes this recipe. The meat comes out super tender and silky.
That sounds delicious!!
My favorite meal growing up, butter beans, fried chicken and my mamas biscuits. I loved the butter beans so much that when I had my tonsils out at age 30 it was all they could get me to eat.
Ha! They’re a favorite of mine, too!
And reducing cooking time means you don’t heat up your kitchen in the summer, then using more energy (AC) to cool things down. It does seem Texas needs to learn a bit about energy.
Can you actually stir the beans too much? The reason I ask is because I was trying to get the liquid broth around my beans but it seems that the broth solidified too much. I like the broth to be where you can actually drink it. I tried to keep the water level over the beans at the right level while cooking. How can I make sure I have the liquid broth and not with the mashed potatoe texture?
Yes. Stirring them too much with break the beans up and kinda turn them into mush.
Thats what I was thinking also. Perhaps I just stirred a little too much but you know another thing is that every time I soak the beans overnight , my broth turns out very nice, not mushy. I tried his method of not soaking the beans overnight and thats where I ran into trouble but I think it was because maybe I stirred a little too much. Thank you for your input !
We like to make bean salad with butter fat beans. We just used canned butter fat beans oil and vinegar salt and pepper and minced garlic. I cannot find nor have been able to find for over a year canned butter fat beans. If anyone knows where I can find them, please let me know. I live in New Hampshire.
Chareou Caprice Condelee
Love the website!! New commer!!
Welcome! Thanks so much!
You’re recipe is the way I was taught to cook dried lima beans and ham, however I throw in one or two Bay leaves. My brother-in-law always called the large limas “choke beans”! I have a pot on the stove right now. Going to make a pone of cornbread to go with it. Yum!
Sounds like the perfect supper to me!
My mom taught me to cook dried limas and I soak them because of tradition. I also serve them in a bowl topped with chopped fresh tomatoes, onions and red wine vinegar. A homemade hot biscuit makes this a full and hearty meal.
I am glad some of the old ways aren’t forgotten.
Sounds great, Pam!
I used to soak mine because my mom did.. however I love this method. Excellent recipe! I added about 1/4 cup of evaporated milk and 4Tof butter near the end!
Glad you’ve enjoyed it, Dawn! The evap milk and butter sound like perfect additions!
Barbara A Stein
No need to soak overnight?
Actually, no. Be sure to read the post. I mention it several times.
Stacey, soaked my beans overnight and there were tons of bean “skins”. I guess they help thicken the soup? Was I supposed to cull through them and remove them before cooking? (It would have been about 1/2 of the bean volume! Just wondering…
Hi Ella! I don’t normally soak my beans, so I’ve not had that problem much. I think it’s a matter of preference. You can take them off, but the the beans will essentially cook to mush. Lots of folks like that, others, not so much.
Add cream of mushroom soup delicious
I’ll have to try that! Sounds great! Thanks for sharing.
If you do use a slow cooker does the stirring rule still apply? I’ve done these both ways–on the stove and in the crock and one time they turned out not creamy or flavorful, and I think it was the crock method. But I can’t remember. Ask your mom. Otherwise this is my go-to comfort food. I’ve loved lima beans since I was a kid and my mom never understood it. I finally had to learn to make these after having them in a soul food restaurant in Amarillo. Unforgettable.
I think you’d definitely want to take that top off and stir occasionally to get them creamy. You’d just have to take into account that taking the top off will extend the cook time a bit.
I freeze leftover beans in a zip lock bag. Take out and put in saucepan and add a little water. Warm slowly without stirring.
Great tip! Thanks for sharing!!!
Was always wondering if beans could be frozen after cooking. Thanks for the info.
Thanks for sharing, I did not know stirring would thicken the juice. I like the thicker juice. My husbands favorite meal over rice. I have used raw bacon in them while cooking
Yeah, it breaks up some of the beans and the starch causes them to thicken up. Hope you’ll enjoy them!!
Y’all must be from South East Texas equine successful in the way I fix this dish that I learned from my mom and my grandma and yes I do put ketchup on it Yum
Dying to try making this. My dad made this all the time when I was growing up. My question is…should I add butter, I remember my dad adding butter to the pot before it cooked all day
I think you can certainly add some butter if you wish.
I add chopped onion when cooking. Then when they’re cooked I add Bisquik dumplins to them. Just mix, drop by teaspoon (they swell), let them cook for a bit, turn each one over, cook the other side, and add one with your bowl of beans and some fresh raw chopped onion!
I love the idea of adding dumplings to this! Thanks for sharing, Karen!
Can this dish be frozen? Thank you, I am 76 and just learned how to make my Butter beans thick. Just stir them, how easy is that! Who says you can’t teach an old “dog” new tricks.
Hey, Dorothy! Unfortunately, I’ve not tried freezing them, so I can’t say for sure.
absolutely beans can be frozen. We dish them up in boy-snack sized portions to tide people over from football practice to suppertime. They reheat well in the microwave.
I always make a large bag at one time. I can eat for a couple days and then freeze small portions for later. Usually I add cornbread to the bag also. Always comes out just as good.
Thanks for sharing, Patt!
I must jump in about the name of these beans! I am from the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Growing up, we called them and still do, Biggety Beans. Why, Because they are big and we would know exactly what kind of butter bean we would be eating for supper. We always ate them over a bed of white rice with chopped onions and cornbread. YUM! YUM! Ya’ll this is good eat’n!
Thanks for sharing, Joy!
Stacey, this recipe does not call for soaking the beans overnight. Should I soak the dried beans overnight?
No, there’s no need. I talk about it above in the post. Be sure to check it out.
I would like to say something about this soaking controversy. Whether you soak your beans (any kind of bean) or not, really all depends on your elevation above sea level. If you live in south-east Texas, as I do, there is absolutely no reason in the world to soak a bean. If you live in some mountainous region that is way above sea level, you better soak them are they will never get done. I think the deciding elevation is 1400 feet above sea level, but not sure about that. Some point in between just means less soaking time. Hope this helps.
I’ve honestly never considered that. Thanks for sharing, Jeff!
You mean like at 5280 ft where I live? Sometimes they still don’t get properly done. And I got mine at Rancho Gordo and probably paid a fortune for shipping, but don’t care now,
just should have ordered more than a pound!
I absolutely love lima beans but I have never eaten them in tomatoes. Did you grow up eating them that way, & would you tell me how they are fixed plz?
Yep. Oddly, any form of lima bean seems to have fallen through some kind of COVID crack here in the southwest too. On a different note, based on a recent article in Bon Appetit mag, I made a pot of pintos last month without soaking for the first time ever. What it said made sense: if you want your beans to taste like water go ahead and soak them. If you want them to taste like the ingredients in your broth just start them from dry so they can soak all that stuff up. Those beans were good!
I totally agree! And if folks do decide to soak them, I recommend cooking them in the soaking liquid. They’ll have better flavor.
Having a heck of a time finding dried limas/butter beans here in Central Oregon since this covid thing.
But when I can get my hands on some, there is nothing better than a simple preporation like yours to bring out all the lucious flavor these beans have to offer.
Thanks, PattiAnn! I couldn’t agree more! Hope you can get your hands on some soon!
Chareou Caprice Condelee
@Patty I live here in Perris,CA I will send you 2-3 bags of the butter beans if you really need them, no problem, no charge I love to eat too send PO BOX # and they are there!! I saw this post cause I don’t go on recipe blogs and I was looking for a recipe, so no problem my name is Chareou Condelee and I live at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, phone # XXXXXXXXXXX give me a call I can pick them up at our neighborhood Stater Bros store, going to get a bag tomorrow !!! lol for Valentine’s Day dinner!!
Have a Nice Day!!
Happy Valentines Day!!
Sandra B. Mull
I usually use chicken broth for half the liquid, which is different from how my Mama and Grandmama cooked them. I sometimes add a chopped sweet onion and a pinch of thyme. But dried limas are a perfect meal anyway you prepare them as long as you don’t omit the fatty, pork seasoning.
Sounds great and I’m always a fan of adding more flavor when you can!
If they are green, we called them Lima beans, dried, they are butter beans. The baby butter beans are my favorites.
It’s so interesting how folks seem to be one way or the other.
I soak the dried beans overnight in a large pot. I rinse the beans in the morning and then use my crockpot! Delicious!
My mom almost always does hers in the slow cooker now.
Do they still come out creamy or do you have to stir, even in the crock pot?
I think they need a little stirring in the crock pot, too.
I find that soaking these beans overnight makes them fall apart more. So I don’t soak them and they are intact for the most part. Some still fall apart but I like them that way; it makes thicker juice. We eat them with cornbread, onion and chow chow. That’s all I need with them unless I have have some fresh green tomatoes to fry. Now that is a good southern meal!
Contrary to what the author says, science does tell us there’s a reason to soak beans. They produce complex sugars we’re not all able to digest, which accounts for bean’s reputations for flatulence. Soaking beans gets rid of many of those complex carbohydrates. And reducing cooking time is not an inconsequential benefit. I do lots of low energy and solar cooking and reduced cooking time matters if you don’t want to use a lot of extra energy.
It’s not just something I’ve made up. Here are a few resources from some well-respected institutions:
Just wanted to say that the culinary world may feel there is no need to soak, but dietary reasons support soaking them. Most seeds contain substances that inhibit adsorption of nutrients and need these substances soaked out of them so that we can better use their nutrients. In nature these substances would be soaked out of the seeds with the spring rains and inhibit the growth of nearby plants, thus giving the seedling a head start. Beans need to be soaked and the soaking water dumped so that we do not ingest these substances and thereby inhibit our ability to absorb their nutrients, especially iron. Not soaking once in a while may not hurt, but over the long term can cause low iron and other deficiencies.
Hi TJ! Do you have a source for this info? I’d like to do some more research and consult a registered dietitian friend of mine for more info. Thanks!
I always soak the night before with a little baking soda, then rinse well the next morning. Maybe my imagination but it seems to reduce the gas the beans can cause. Key word: a little baking soda. One time I used too much and had to throw out the whole pot because it tasted like baking soda! Always use ham hock & a whole onion!
Funny story, and I’m giving away my age here. When I was a little girl visiting my grandparents on their farm in southern Kentucky my granny cooked these beans quite often. My granddaddy called them “Johnson ears”, as in President Lyndon Johnson who had quite large ears. That always made us kids giggle.
That’s hilarious!! Thanks for sharing!
You are so right about the stirring. The creamy broth is the best part of this dish.
They’re just not the same without that thick, creamy broth!
This is my favorite bean. Yes is awesome
with a piece of cornbread and onion. ????????
Sounds so good!
We eat them on cornbread with sliced onion and hard boiled eggs! Yum. That will be our dinner tonight!
My mommy parboiled them because it left a yucky taste if you didn’t. Then she would rinse them and returned to the stove in fresh water and let them cook stirring often and about 20 minutes before serving she added 1(one) stick of parkay margarine. Fry up some taters, make cornbread and mmm mmm that is butter beans. I like them with ham hocks but nothing beats my mommy’s butter beans. After all you can’t called butter beans without the butter, otherwise they are just a lima bean.
It’s so fun to hear about how folks call different foods different names! Thanks for sharing, Lisa!!
my grandmother would also parboil them, then she would pour off the water and add new water to finish cooking them.
I’ve certainly heard of folks doing that.
When I use the Crock Pot or the pressure cooker, when almost done, I dip a cup or two out of the pot and smash them up with a fork. Then put them back into the pot and stir. This helps give them the thick, creamy liquid. Taste wonderful!
Great tip! Thanks for sharing!
Although this recipe sounds wonderful, my favorite way too have them is cooked in butter and a little cream. Then sooon them over buttered homemade bread. ❤️ I have always bought them in a can but tonight thy are soaking all night. I just made home bread today. I would love them with ham hock or baked the Greek way in tomato sauce.
I’ve yet to try them in the tomato sauce, but it’s on my list!
me too. We didn’t have a lot of meat growing up but we did get butter from commodity
Here’s another tip: if you’ve been wondering what do with that terrific Honey-Baked Ham bone from Thanksgiving, a pot of butter beans is the perfect dish to use it, but make it with 2 lbs. of beans.
I have a friend who uses the dripping from honey baked ham for limas, great northern and navy beans. Delicious!
Yum! Great idea!
I tried that but the honey baked makes it too sweet.
You must be from Southeast Texas that’s exactly how I fix those beans that I learned from my mom and my grandma D licious pinto beans fix that Way too are really really good and I do put catchup on them LOL
I’m from Southeast Texas and am drooling over that picture! lol!!!
I grew up in central Texas and butter beans was a favorite of mine. One tip I’ve learned over the years is a stick of unsalted butter and some onion salteed in the butter. Also, leaving out the ham and salt until the beans are tender makes for a much creamier texture. I also follow someone else’s tip of mashing some if they aren’t quite as creamy as I like when done.
Thanks for sharing your tips, Susan!
I’ve made this recipe a couple times now. Great flavors – I love it but can anyone tell me why (the second time) mine had a bitter aftertaste? Maybe I cooked them too long?
Yes. The bitterness is often the result of overcooking. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed them!
Grandma never measured a thing, she earned from her mom, she never learned to read either. She used Lard in her biscuits, pinched off a biscuit size piece, and placed in a bowl with watered down buttermilk to use as her starter.
I’ve used Corn Starch that I mix with water and pour it into my beans to thicken them, no lumps that way.
I do the smashing too but lose a lot of beans so gonna try stirring them more tonight…serving with cornbread like we Texans do😋
Hope you’ll enjoy.
Rhonda Van Winkle
I have always done a meal in a pot. I brown and season pork chops or pork steak in my wok using two slices of bacon cut up and about 3 tablespoons of butter. I moved the batter up to the sides of the rock once it starts to get done. When the meat is seared, I add water, mushrooms and beans and cook until beans are tender.’The broth with seared meat flavor is so good!
Great idea! Thank you for sharing this.
Glad you liked it!