Southern Butter Bean Recipe (Best Lima Beans)
Classic Southern Butter Beans – This tried-and-true Butter Beans with Bacon Recipe makes tender, flavorful lima beans that are perfect to serve as a side with your favorite southern dishes.
Lima Beans vs Butter Beans: What is the Difference?
Nothing! That’s right, the butter beans vs lima beans mystery are that there is no mystery at all. In fact, there is absolutely no difference between lima and butter beans… Because they are the same bean.
Known as Lima Beans, Butter Beans, or Butterbeans, depending on where you are, these delicious and protein-rich legumes are simply lovely by any name. Not only are there several different names for butter beans, but there are also nearly endless ways that they can be prepared and incorporated into dishes. Sauteed, added to stews, included in salads – you butter believe lima beans are as versatile as they are tasty!
This classic Butter Beans with bacon recipe is made in the Southern-style with a simple vegetable trinity (that’s carrots, celery, and onion, y’all). These classic ingredients work together to make the beans perfectly silky with still a bit of bite, and so deeply flavorful.
The sweet earthiness from the beans, smoky bacon goodness, and luscious texture make this a fabulous side to compliment just about any savory main dish. I promise your dinner table will feel extra cozy and homey when you include a pot of homemade lima beans!
Ingredients You Need
There are less than a dozen basic ingredients needed to make this lima beans recipe. All of them should be easy to source from your local grocery store, beans included. If you have a bulk section you might find them there, otherwise, they are likely found around other bagged dried beans.
- Dried butter beans – aka dried lima beans
- Thick-cut bacon – uncooked and diced
- Onions – diced
- Carrots – sliced
- Celery – sliced
- Garlic – minced
- Seasonings – dried thyme, dried rosemary, bay leaves
- Chicken base – or bouillon
Plus water to soak the beans, and more water to make the stock.
How to Make Southern Butter Beans
First, soak the beans: Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Soak them for 12-24 hours.
Pro Tip: If you are in a hurry, most bags of beans have a “speed-soak” method listed on the package.
When the beans have soaked and you are ready to cook, set a large 6-8 quart saucepot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until brown, about 3-5 minutes. Then add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Sauté for 5 minutes to soften the veggies.
Drain the beans and pour them into the pot.
Now add in the chicken base and water. Stir well.
PS – You can use chicken or vegetable broth instead, but the chicken base gives the beans a more robust flavor.
Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the butter beans with bacon are soft and silky.
Get the Complete Printable Southern Butter Beans (Lima Beans) Recipe Below. Enjoy!
Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.
What to Serve with Southern-Style Lima Beans
Tender, savory butter beans are a classic side dish to serve with comfort foods.
Really love pork? Enjoy bacon-tastic lime beans alongside Coca-Cola Baked Ham, Baked Ham with Honey Mustard & Apples, Grilled Pork Chops with Carolina Southern Sauce, or a platter of Slow Cooker Smoked Pulled Pork.
They’re also delicious as a side with other Southern favorites, like Steak Fingers with Country Gravy, Nashville Hot Chicken, or Burnt Ends Brisket.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yep! Just be sure to check your bouillon (or base) to make sure there’s no sneaky hidden gluten in there.
This is a super easy dish to adapt to strictly plant-based ingredients. Simply omit the bacon, add in a couple of tablespoons of plant-based butter, and use a vegetable base instead of chicken.
Absolutely you can make ahead these Southern butter beans! In fact, they tend to taste even more flavorful the next day. Let the beans cool completely after cooking, and keep them in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to reheat and serve.
Store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They also freeze well! Once they have cooled, transfer the lima beans to a sealed freezer-safe zipper bag or container, and keep them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Let them defrost overnight before reheating on the stovetop or in the microwave. You might need to add a splash of water or stock to get them back to the right saucy consistency.
Looking for More Classic Side Dish Recipes?
- Perfect Southern Collard Greens
- Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- Best Crockpot Green Bean Casserole
- Cheesy Southern Squash Casserole
- Best Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Sweet Corn by Taste of Home
Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, protein, cholesterol, and fiber percentages.
Southern Butter Beans Recipe (Best Lima Beans)
- 1 pound dried butter beans lima beans
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon diced
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons chicken base bouillon or vegetable base
- 4 cups water
- Soak the beans: Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 12-24 hours. If you are in a hurry, most bags of beans have a “speed-soak” method listed on the package.
- Set a large 6-8 quart sauce pot over medium heat. Add the bacon. Stir and brown for 3-5 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Sauté for 5 minutes to soften.
- Drain the beans. Then pour the beans into the pot. Add in the chicken base and water. Stir well.
- Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the butter beans are soft.
- Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.
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This is a good recipe, but I think the seasoning overwhelms that beans. I used 1/4 onion and 1/2 carrot (shredded), cut the seasoning in half, and it still overwhelmed. I think the choice complimentary herbs and vegies are great, but will further cut the seasoning to 1/4 of what the original recipe in order to let the beans be the intended star.
Awesome! Threw in a coupla jalapeños that were laying around doing nothing.
I cannot wait to try this! My grandmother used to make a dish like this and it brings back those warm fuzzies. Thanks!
I NEVER comment on or review recipes, but this was absolutely phenomenal. I was so pleasantly surprised at how much flavor you were able to pack in! The seasoning was totally on point. These will definitely be in the dinner rotation now. I let the beans simmer just under an hour because I like them more on the softer side, but I did everything else exactly as stated. Excellent recipe!
Loved this recipe! Totally great flavor.
I made this recipe ahead and it was even better the next day! So delicious and full of flavor. Thanks for sharing another great recipe.
This totally exceeded my expectations! Can’t wait to make again!
I wasnt that much into lima beans, but this is the only recipe that I will eat some lima beans in! thank you for sharing
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I wanted to add a safety step. Please look at all beans you need to soak for small pebbles, rocks and beans that don’t look like the others. Those are usually bad. I wouldn’t want to break a tooth or swallow a rock. Looks like a fantastic recipe. As a Southerner, this is a recipe we use. Happy cooking!
If I want to use a crock-pot, what would be my cooking time?
Hi Albert, 2 hrs on high, 4 on low. Check for doneness after that. Every time you lift the lid of a slow cooker, you have to add 15 extra minutes to cooking time. This won’t count if your recipe says to take kid off to add ingredients. The time is already “baked” into your recipe! :-)
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Such an amazing side dish! This is so good! Thanks for the recipe!
Comfort southern food at its finest. I just love this butter bean recipe, and the bacon is such an awesome addition. Tastes even better the next day!
I’m not usually a fan of lima beans, but I am a sucker for anything that is southern is flavor, so this recipe is something that I LOVE!