Big creamy Butter Beans are the grown up version of lima beans. These beans are super soft, meaty, and excellent after cooking in some chicken broth with ham. This recipe uses canned butter beans, but you can absolutely make them from scratch beforehand because they're an excellent way to use leftover ham.
You'll Love this Southern Butter Beans Recipe!
In the realm of bean side dishes, we don't want to make the same recipes over and over. I present you something new and exciting to serve with cornbread! If butter beans are new to you, welcome to the club. They are creamy, crave-worthy, and made with pantry items that are easy to keep on hand. This is a 15-minute side dish recipe that you will love!
Butter beans are the mature version of lima beans. Lima beans are picked when they're young and tender, but if they're left on the plant, they mature into much larger butter beans. I'm so glad we got that cleared up!
This recipe is technically a Southern dish, but I have seen them canned in the Midwest. If all else fails, order them online, or buy dried ones to cook from scratch, too. They're totally worth it, because they are soft, tender, meaty, and yes, buttery!
If you want to cook them from scratch, start with 1 cup of dried to yield 3 cups of cooked, which is what exactly what you nee for this recipe.
This recipe is essentially 2 cans of beans that swim in a simple chicken stock and ham base. It's great for using leftover ham from my crockpot ham and beans recipe, and is very non-boring when it comes to side dishes!
If you have leftover ham, this is the best way to use up the last cup. Leftover ham can be shredded or diced to use in this recipe. If you don't have leftover ham, use deli ham that you dice yourself.
Butter Bean Recipe Ingredients
- Oil. We just need a small amount of neutral oil (canola, safflower, sunflower or vegetable oil are all neutral and flavorless) to saute the onion.
- Onion. One small onion is about one cup, finely diced, and it brings lots of flavor.
- Ham. This can be 1 cup of leftover shredded ham from a holiday dinner, or 1 cup of diced deli ham. Yes, lunch meat works, as long as it is thick-sliced.
- Butter Beans. We're using 2 cans that have been drained and rinsed. If you want to cook dry butter beans from scratch, use about 1 cup of dried beans to get 3 cups of cooked.
- Chicken Broth. This can be canned, from a paste or powder.
- Garlic Powder. A small amount of garlic powder brings so much flavor here. It's a key component in my green bean casserole for this same reason.
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper. Do not underestimate how much flavor black pepper brings to this. Use plenty when cooking, and then taste and add more to your liking.
How to Cook Butter Beans
- Gather all ingredients, and have a medium sauce pan with a lid ready.
2. In a medium sauce pan or enamel-coated cast iron pot, heat the oil over high medium-heat. Add the onion, and cook (stirring frequently) until just starting to brown around the edges.
3. Add the ham, beans, broth, garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper to the pan. Give everything a good stir.
4. Bring everything to a simmer, reduce heat to LOW, and cover and cook for 15 minutes.
What to Serve with Canned Butter Beans
The best thing to serve with canned butter beans is cornbread! This is how I grew up eating them. Butter beans are great in a broth-based soup, especially if it has ham, and with cornbread on the side.
Butter Bean storage
Store any leftover butter beans in food storage containers for up to 3 days in the fridge. I don’t recommend freezing canned beans, unless they have been cooked into a soup or another dish.
Canned Butter Beans Recipe FAQs
They are the same plant, but they are harvested at different ages! Small green lima beans that you see are young butter beans. When the same beans are left on the vine to grow, they mature into larger, white butter beans.
They are soft creamy beans that taste similar to cannellini beans or other white beans. They are larger and flatter than most white beans, so they take on sauces and simmering liquids effectively.
They're not, but they're both in the white bean family. Speaking of, here are all of my white bean recipes. They have different shapes and slightly different textures.
We love to eat these as a side dish because they're high in protein, iron and zinc. But we also love to eat them because they're delicious and make a great 15-minute side dish that uses leftovers and easy pantry items!
If you’re cooking butter beans from scratch, yes, they need to be rinsed and soaked overnight before cooking. If they’re coming from a can, they do not need to be soaked.
Butter beans belong in any broth soup or any dish with ham! They pair well with salty ingredients. They’re welcome in a soup or stew or even a casserole dish. You can puree them into butter bean hummus, too.
Butter beans are technically carbs because they’re starchy, but they do contain a lot of protein, about 15 grams per cup.
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- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup finely diced onion (about 1 small onion)
- 1 cup (5 ounces) leftover ham, cut into pieces
- 2 15-ounce cans of butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 5-6 grinds of fresh black pepper
- Gather all ingredients for the recipe, and ensure you have a saucepan with a lid.
- In the sauce pan, add the oil and diced onion and saute until translucent. Stir frequently, and keep an eye on it so the edges don't burn. A little golden brown color around the edges is perfect.
- Add the ham, beans, chicken broth, garlic powder and black pepper; stir well. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to LOW, and cover and cook for 15 minutes. Give everything a taste, and add more salt or pepper, according to your preferences. Serve with cornbread.
Oil: A plain, neutral flavorless oil, like canola, safflower, sunflower or vegetable oil are all great.
Ham: One cup of leftover shredded ham or 1 cup of diced deli ham. It can be lunch meat , as long as it is thick-sliced.
Butter Beans: Two drained and rinsed cans of butter beans. Tto cook dry butter beans from scratch, use about 1 cup of dried beans to get 3 cups of cooked.
Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Use plenty; add to your taste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 591mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 16gSugar: 9gProtein: 26g