Fresh Butter Beans

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 45m

Serves 4

Butter beans is the southern term for small baby limas, as tender and creamy as the name implies. Limas themselves also come honestly by their appellation, a reference to the capital of Peru, where the beans originated eons ago. They traveled ancient trade routes through Mesoamerica into the Southwest, but like several New World crops, they arrived in the English colonies via Europe, a product of Spanish dissemination.


  • 2 ounces salt pork, diced, or 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 to 2 small dried hot red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 4 cups butter beans or baby limas, fresh or frozen
  • Fresh thyme sprigs, optional


Fry the salt pork in a large saucepan over medium heat until the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and discard it. Add the onion to the drippings, cover and sweat for about 5 minutes, until soft. Pour in 2 cups of water, then add the thyme, chilies and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil uncovered, then add the beans. Cover again and cook over medium-low for 25-30 minutes, until tender. If the beans begin to get dry, add more water to keep them soupy.

Remove the chilies, and serve the beans garnished, if you wish, with thyme sprigs.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Broadway Books. All rights reserved.

RecID 4180

nutrition information per serving

293 calories; 13g total fat; 12mg cholesterol; 506mg sodium; 34g carbohydrates; 8g fiber; 12g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

Sign Up for Newsletters Here

Delicious recipes, easy meal ideas and holiday inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.