14 Delicious Ways to Use Lima Beans

Let’s be honest: Lima beans are not the most well-loved variety of bean available. They’re nutritious powerhouses though, filled with a healthy fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. And when cooked just right, they can taste amazing. It’s time to give lima beans a second chance.

First Things First: Don’t Eat Them Raw

Lima beans should never be eaten raw. They contain a compound called linamarin, which converts into hydrogen cyanide when consumed. It’s a defense system the lima bean plant developed to avoid being eaten.

Luckily, cooking allows the poison to escape as a gas. Merely boil raw lima beans for ten minutes or more. For safety, drain the cooking water, don’t reuse it.

Get Them Fresh If You Can

Fresh lima beans are something of a treat. You’ll only spot them in season at farmers’ markets or well-stocked grocery stores. When shopping, look for ones that are dark green and glossy. They should be free of bruising or blemishes, wrinkling or yellowing.

Spend extra time inspecting shelled ones for signs of mold or decay, since they are extremely perishable.

Store fresh lima beans whole, in their pods, in the refrigerator crisper where they’ll stay fresh for up to two days. For the most flavor, use fresh lima beans already shelled the same day you purchase them.

When cooking, fresh beans have some advantages. First of all, the skin of fresh beans is both tender and sturdy which helps them avoid common cooking issues like bursting or broken skins. Secondly, and probably obviously, they cook reasonably quickly. You’ll spend just 20 – 30 minutes preparing them.

It's time to give lima beans a second chance. Learn about how to choose and store lima beans, and try some of these tasty ways to use them!

Dried, Frozen, or Canned Lima Beans

Because of the short season for buying fresh, most lima beans are bought canned, frozen, or dried.

While dried beans are the most economical, the canned and frozen versions offer convenience. Plus, they have approximately the same nutritional value as frozen or freshly cooked beans, minus some B vitamins lost during canning.

When purchasing frozen lima beans, shake the package and listen carefully. Avoid containers with clumps of beans, an indication that they could have thawed and then refrozen. Frozen beans do not need to be thawed before cooking, which is a huge time-saver.

What dried beans lack in convenience they make up for in texture. Dried lima beans are light and buttery compared with other dried white beans. Look for them alongside the other prepackaged dried beans or inside the bulk section of grocery stores. These budget-friendly legumes can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place for up to six months.

Lima Bean Recipe Inspiration

Baked Lima Beans & Vegetables Recipe - Care2

Baked Lima Beans & Veggies from Veggies Don’t Bite

Are you ready to get in the kitchen? Even if you’ve written off lima beans as one food you never want to eat again, it’s time to try revisit them. I found fourteen flavorful lima bean recipes that are filled with healthy, whole-food ingredients to help get you inspired. With so many delicious options available, you’re bound to find a lima bean recipe you’ll actually want to make.

Lima bean recipes to try:

  1. Italian-Spiced Lima Beans
  2. Greek Style Baked Lima Beans
  3. Mediterranean Baked Lima Beans
  4. Okra & Lima Bean Marsala
  5. Smoky Sweet Braised Giant Lima Beans
  6. Lima Bean Gravy Over Polenta
  7. Southern Lima Beans
  8. Greek Stewed Lima Beans
  9. Smoky Spicy Lima Beans
  10. Lima Bean & Butternut Squash Succotash
  11. Lemony Lima Bean & Zucchini Salad
  12. Basil Lima Bean Hummus
  13. Herbed Pea & Lima Bean Salad
  14. Lima Beans with Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Are there any lima bean lovers out there? Do you have a favorite cooking method or recipe I didn’t mention? Let’s talk all things lima in the comments!

Related on Care2:

Lima bean images via Thinkstock. Recipe photo by Amy Katz, used with permission.


Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago


Hannah A
Hannah A1 months ago

thank you for posting

Ingrid A
Past Member 1 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thank you for posting

Ruth S
Ruth S5 months ago


Cindy S
Past Member 10 months ago


William C
William C10 months ago

Thank you.

Janet B
Janet B10 months ago


JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris10 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

Cathy B
Cathy B10 months ago

Thank you.