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"More Bounce To The Ounce" Southern Lima Beans {Recipe}

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This southern butter beans recipe is the perfect comfort food for a chilly autumn evening. The beans are cooked with a smoked turkey leg and a variety of seasonings to give them a rich flavor.

This recipe is a much-elevated version of your traditional Southern-style lima beans or butter beans depending on where you're from. These beans have that comforting smoky flavor and creamy texture. You can fully expect to have comfort foods like a big pot of butter beans on Southern tables during the cooler fall seasons.

The lima beans are slowly simmered in a smoked turkey leg-based broth, drained, and then sauteed quickly in a smoke-infused butter for a double dose of smoke flavor.

These beans require few ingredients but have amazing flavor and have become one of my favorite bean recipes. Time is the critical technique for getting that deep, rich flavor so go for longer cook time.

lima beans in green bowl topped with pickled red onions

Beats and Eats Pairing

I'm a beans guy. I love all kinds of beans in addition to butter beans. But beans can be boring and unimpressive if not cooked properly. You gotta give them real love! Smoked butter is that thing, that deep don't stop the love. It gives this lima beans recipe a bit more bounce to the ounce.

Southern Lima Beans Ingredient Notes

  • Dry butter beans - get the large size ones not the smaller green baby lima beans
  • Smoked Turkey Legs - any smoked meat protein works such as ham hocks, turkey wings, salt pork or ham bone.
  • Paprika - go for smoked sweet version
  • Salt - I prefer kosher or sea salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Bay Leaf
  • Butter - go with unsalted. There is enough salt in the smoked meat as well as the included kosher salt already mentioned
  • Much Water - you'll need enough to cover the beans by ½ inch

How To Make The Best Lima Bean Recipe w/ Smoked Butter (Step by Step)

  1. Soak the dried beans overnight or use quick method by bring beans to a boil in a large pot of water and then allow to sit off-heat in the water for an hour.
  2. Brown the smoked turkey legs in a large saucepan or dutch oven on medium heat. Add water, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the beans, bay leaves, salt and pepper into the pot and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Beans should be tender, but not mushy.
  4. Drain the beans keeping the wet beans in the pot.
  5. While the beans are cooking prepare the butter. Chop the meat off the remaining turkey leg. Melt a stick of butter in a skillet then add the chunks of smoked turkey to the skillet and cook on a low simmer.
  6. Remove the chunks of turkey then pour the smoke-infused butter into the pot of beans. Mix well stirring heavily. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and about a teaspoon of cider vinegar.
  7. Serve tender beans with green onions and/or pickled red onions.
lima beans in large pot

Cooking Notes and Considerations for Southern Lima Beans

For even more flavor in the smoked butter, add garlic cloves and fresh thyme leaves during cooking. Additional seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper are great flavor adds.

Lima beans are also called butter beans depending on where you're from and where you buy them. Just be sure to buy the larger lime beans. Avoid the green smaller baby limas. The larger the surface area the more smoked butter.

Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beans by at least a quarter inch.

I like using smoked turkey legs - fewer bones and easy to carve. But if you don't have them available to you any smoked meat will do. Turkey parts like wings and tails are great alternatives. Smoked pork like neckbones or ham hocks.

Time is key to this dish. Allow the beans to simmer slowly. If you have time make a broth first with just the smoked turkey and the seasonings and then add the beans after the flavors have come together. Chicken broth can also be added for more flavor. Similarly, with the butter, allow it to simmer slowly with the remaining smoked meat.

Don't overcook the butter beans. You want them cooked fully, but don't cook to the point of the beans disintegrating or breaking down. You want the whole, fully intact for the smoked butter sauce saute step.

Most Southern favorites include bacon. This is especially true of most side dishes. To keep it real Southern you can use bacon fat instead of or in conjunction with the smoked turkey fat.

Serve these Southern lima beans on the dinner table with other Southern-based recipes like collard greensbraised turnipshot water cornbread, fried okra, and fried chicken.

Pair it with a main course item like pork chops, grilled fish, or any of these popular soul food meat dishes.

Southern Lima Beans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are butter beans the same as lima beans?

Yes, they are just two different names for the same bean. In the South they are butter beans, however in most other parts of the country and world, they are called lima beans.

Can You Cook Lima Beans Without Soaking?

You can I guess, but I don't recommend it. Soaking the beans reduces their cook time tremendously.

Will this lima beans recipe work with frozen or canned beans?

Yes but not to the same extent from a flavor perspective. There is just not enough time to get that deep smoky flavor. However, the beans are still high-quality great tasting. The smoked butter is amazing and is a great finishing sauce.

Are Lima Beans Keto?

Unfortunately like most beans, though they are healthy and nutritious, they do not meet keto requirements. Lima beans are quite high in carbohydrates which rules them out as being keto-friendly. Soy and green beans are really your only options for keto-friendly legumes.

Can I Cook These In A Crockpot?

I'm not much of a crockpot guy or slow cooker, but yes the slow slowwwwww cook is good for just about any type of beans.

Similar Beans Based Recipes

Ham and White Beans

Pinto Beans and Brisket

Red Beans and Rice

Vegan Cranberry Beans

Cuban Black Beans

BBQ Baked Beans

Butter Bean Salad

Lima Bean and Cabbage Salad

Navy Beans and Ham

Make This Recipe

We hope you’ll give this southern butter beans recipe a try. It’s quintessential Southern cuisine - simple, comforting, and super flavorful.

If you do make it, be sure to let us know how you liked it in the comments below. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.

lima beans in green bowl topped with pickled red onions

Southern Lima Beans

Smoky Southern lima beans slowly simmered, drained, and sauteed in smoked butter sauce.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Soul Food, southern
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 448kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry lima beans
  • 3 medium Smoked Turkey Legs or any other smoked meat protein
  • ½ tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • Water enough to cover the beans by ½ inch

Instructions

  • Soak the lima beans overnight or use quick method by bring beans to a boil in a pot of water and then allow to sit off-heat in the water for an hour.
  • Brown the smoked turkey legs in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add water, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Place the beans, bay leaves, salt and pepper into the pot and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Beans should be tender, but not mushy.
  • Drain the beans keeping the wet beans in the pot.
  • While the beans are cooking prepare the butter. Chop the meat off the remaining turkey leg. Melt a stick of butter in a skillet then add the chunks of smoked turkey to the skillet and cook on a low simmer.
  • Remove the chunks of turkey then pour the smoke-infused butter into the pot of beans. Mix well stirring heavily. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and about a teaspoon of cider vinegar.
  • Serve with green onions and/or pickled red onions.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

For even more flavor in the smoked butter, add garlic cloves and fresh thyme leaves during cooking.
Lima beans are also called butter beans depending on where you're from and where you buy them. Just be sure to buy the larger cream-colored ones. Avoid the green smaller "baby" lima beans. The larger the surface area the more smoked butter.
Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beans by at least a quarter inch.
I like using smoked turkey legs - fewer bones and easy to carve. But if you don't have them available to you any smoked meat will do. Turkey parts like wings and tails are great alternatives. Smoked pork like neckbones or ham hocks.
Time is key to this dish. Allow the beans to simmer slowly. If you have time make a broth first with just the smoked turkey and the seasonings and then add the beans after the flavors have come together. Similarly, with the butter, allow it to simmer slowly with the remaining smoked meat.
Don't overcook the butter beans. You want them cooked fully, but don't cook to the point of the beans disintegrating or breaking down. You want the whole, fully intact for the smoked butter sauce saute step.
Serve these Southern lima beans with other Southern-based recipes like collard greens, braised turnips, hot water cornbread, and fried chicken.

Nutrition

Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 392mg | Potassium: 1347mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 181IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 7mg
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