These Southern Lima Beans are cooked from scratch for a meaty, rich flavor. They make for a great side dish any time of the year!
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These Southern Lima Beans are the very definition of classic Southern comfort food. They belong in the same category as smoked meats and a good square of cornbread. Who knew lima beans could taste so good!?
The secret to making tasty lima beans actually has nothing to do with lima beans. The secret is all of the other ingredients that go into the pot along with the beans. Bacon (or ham hocks), onion, celery, carrots, herbs and spices. They all contribute to the overall flavor of the beans.
Southern Lima Beans
These lima beans make for a fantastic, meaty-flavored side dish. If you’re looking to plan a meal, then these would be a great addition to ribs, pulled pork or smoked beef brisket. A half-rack of ribs, a chunk of good cornbread (try grilling it – seriously!) and a bowl of these Southern Lima Beans would make for a pretty fantastic meal if you ask me!
Should you soak lima beans overnight?
Yes and no. This is entirely up to you. Using the method in this recipe, you do not need to soak the beans overnight. Instead, you let them rest in a pot of boiling water for an hour. However, if you want to soak them overnight (12-16 hours), then you can definitely do that – and then you can skip the hour in boiling water. I’ve tried both ways, and they both work well.
These lima beans are actually quite easy to make from scratch. I’ll admit that most of the time I buy canned beans as they’re just easier than buying dried beans. This is one of those recipes where dried beans is the way to go. Plus, there’s something oddly satisfying about starting with a package of dried beans – is that just me!?
Since the lima beans are the highlight of this recipe, you want those beans to simmer away with all of the other ingredients. That’s where the flavor and tender texture comes from. I suspect canned beans would become mushy long before they absorbed all of the flavors in this recipe.
Are Lima Beans the same as Butter Beans?
Yes. Lima beans and butter beans are the same thing. Throughout most of the United States, lima beans are called lima beans. However, in the South, lima beans are often called butter beans or butterbeans. The origin of this term isn’t entirely clear, but I suspect it’s because lima beans are often prepared with butter. Perhaps the origin is because cooked lima beans are creamy white in color and rich in flavor – much like butter. Either way, lima beans and butter beans are the same thing.
Ham Hocks vs. Bacon
Lima beans are often simmered with a leftover ham hock or ham bone for added meaty flavor. If you don’t happen to have a ham hock or bones hanging around, then you can mimic the flavor by adding a few slices of thick-cut bacon. The bacon gets cooked, but not until crispy. Instead, it only gets cooked for a few minutes, so it resembles pieces of ham instead of a crispy slice of bacon. The beans soak in the flavor of that bacon while they simmer, and the resulting taste is fantastic!
How to Store Leftover Lima Beans
Place any leftover lima beans in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, simply microwave or place in a dry skillet over medium heat until hot.
If you’re looking for a great side dish, then put this one on the list. This Southern butter beans recipe would go well alongside summer barbeque or winter comfort food. (We’ve served these alongside smoked turkey in the past – fantastic!) The rich flavor and creamy texture of these lima beans makes for a fantastic side dish. I do hope you enjoy this recipe – cheers!
Did you make a batch of these Southern Lima Beans at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
Southern Lima Beans
- 16 oz. dried lima beans
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon chopped
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 1 cup sliced celery
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp Cajun seasoning
- ¼ tsp crushed red peppers
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Using a large pot or Dutch oven, add beans and enough water to cover beans by ~1-2”. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, remove saucepan from heat, cover and let rest for 1 hour.
- Drain beans and rinse with cold water; let beans rest in colander while you cook the bacon.
- Using the same large saucepan, add the chopped bacon and place over medium-high heat. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.
- Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, Cajun seasoning, crushed red peppers and bay leaves; stir until well combined. Continue sauteing, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 more minutes.
- Add beans, butter, chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 75-90 minutes, or until beans are soft. (Note: Check water level occasionally; if beans are not covered with water, add more water to cover.)
Looking for more tasty side dish recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: