Butter Beans

Butter beans is one of those great dishes that are best when prepared very simply. If you haven’t had them in a while (and especially if you didn’t care for them much as a kid) give them another try. I’m sure they’ll quickly become a family favorite.


Butter Beans
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 – 12
  • 1 pound dry lima beans
  • 2 quarts tap water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup of margarine (1/2 a stick)
  1. [img src=”http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/butterbeans-300×200.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”200″ class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-23255″]Soak the beans overnight in the tap water, or bring them to a boil, cover them and let them soak for an hour in the boiling water. After soaking, simmer the beans for about an hour, or until they are almost tender. Add the salt, pepper and margarine. Simmer the beans for another half hour or so, cooking until they are tender, but not mushy, and the broth is somewhat thickened.


This may be served as a main dish with Hoe Cakes. It can also be served as a side dish with a roasted chicken. This recipe serves 6 as a main dish, or 12 as a side dish. It may be doubled to serve large crowds. This is a traditional southern dish, it is cheap and quite delicious.

These butter beans make a great side dish. If you’re looking for a one pot meal, take a look at this sausage bean skillet recipe or browse through some of the other bean recipes.

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shay - July 18, 2010

Butter beans, hoe cakes and a big spoon of homemade kraut. One of my favorite meals…not as a side dish either. My Mom in central Kentucky used a recipe similar to yours, so very good.

Susan - October 28, 2011

I did not know lima beans were called butter beans. Is that correct.

    roy - November 4, 2011

    no butter beans are bigger and taste different.

    Carol York - November 16, 2011

    Yes, cooked dried lima beans are called butter beans.

      melissa - December 14, 2011

      yes but they also come in different sizes

        doug - April 23, 2012

        in my culture, only large dried lima beans are called butter beans. the medium and small lima beans are called just that. they are used mainly for succotash or a side dish. hey hillbilly – have you ever cooked large fresh lima beans? i haven’t. i’ll bet that they don’t break down in to that buttery goodness like the dried ones.

Lael - April 26, 2012

I use a similar recipe to make butter beans. I serve the beans over rice with Tabasco and pepper vinegar. I love to put thinly sliced mortgage-lifter tomatoes (or other large slicing variety) on top! I wish I had some right now…

John96 - June 13, 2012

Butter Beans are the large bean. Cooked from a dry state, usually with Ham, Sausage or just plain bacon. I use both Bacon cooked crisp and drained and diced smoked ham. I soak one pound of cleaned and inspected beans overnight and rinse them in the morning. place them in a crockpot with the (4) slices of crisp cooked and crumbled bacon and 2 cups of diced smoked ham , a halved and sliced sweet onion, one cleaned and grated grated carrot, 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cover the beans with water approx 2 inches above the beans and cook on high for approx: 6 to 8 hrs. Check beans and if tender in a seperate small skillet make a rue with 2 Tbsp melted butter and a Tbsp of flour. combine and cook over med heat till the rue browns. Add the rue to the beans and stir to mix in. Put lid back on beans and cook for about another hour till the liquid begind to thicken. Make Buttermilk Cornbread from scratch, southern style leaning more toward the cornmeal than flour. When the cornbread is done slice it and place pats of butter inside the bread to melt. I like Fried center cut Pork Chops with, Salt, Garlic and fresh ground black pepper only and Sweet Tea to wash it all down. This is comfort food. My mother and my Grandmother would have also served Fried potatoes, Fried Yellow crook neck squash or Okra and sliced tomatoes with cucumbers with this. Just depends on what you like and how hungry you are.

    Louise Joles - August 8, 2012

    I like your recipe best. I’m from the south and this is how it’s done. The sweet onion add extra flavor.

    reco5256 - November 2, 2012

    this is exactly what my grandmas house smelled like in the summertime…yum :)

WayneJoe - March 12, 2013

Margarine why ?? Use the butter most everything tastes better with butter just like bacon fat compared to veg oil

Ruth Gregory Claxton - May 4, 2015

Either recipe would be good, but who needs all that? Butter beans have that great butter bean taste with only water, salt, pepper and butter. After soaking and rinsing beans, they can be cooked with enough water to have the amount of liquid you want over the beans when they are finished . (Unless you prefer a lot of liquid, no thickening agent will be needed as the beans themselves, as they cook, cause the liquid to thicken somewhat. Add butter (1/2 stick per pound of dried beans that you have cooked), salt and pepper to taste (I use sea salt and lemon pepper), after your beans have cooked the first hour. Then, cover and cook another hour until beans are soft but not mushy. Dining Heaven, Kentucky style, no matter what you choose to accompany the butter beans!

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