With simple ingredients, these pan-fried butter beans are delicious and satisfying with a creamy texture perfect with a side of crusty bread or a side of seasonal vegetables.
I am on a real bean kick these days. Throwing them into salads, whipping them up into dips, doing side-by-side comparisons (navy vs. great norther, pinto vs. black beans, lima vs. edamame), and working them into meal planning. Butter beans have been so fun to experiment with. This legum turns out to be so versatile. So simple and delicious this recipe has become my go-to butter bean recipe. With a buttery texture, these creamy beans are a healthy comfort food that can be served as a main dish or a great side.
Easy Sauteed Butter Beans
This butter bean recipe is simple, easy, and can be whipped up with pantry staples- perfect for those nights you come home and have no idea what to make. This recipe is not your southern butter bean recipe with bacon or ham hocks.
Our household is trying to eat on the healthy side and I love extracting as much flavor out of the vegetables rather than relying on animal fat. Starting with slowly sauteed onions, white wine, and fresh herbs brings plenty of flavor to the party while keeping the butter beans the star of the show.
Butter vs. Lima beans
Butter beans and lima beans are actually one and the same. There’s no difference between lima beans and butter beans, though sometimes they’re sold at different stages of maturity.
The younger green-hued beans are often called green baby limas and are more tender than their larger counterparts more often labeled butter beans. Despite that, all varieties come from the same plant. Whether you call them lima beans or butter beans is often the result of your own geographical traditions.
Where to find Butter beans in the Grocery Store:
You can find dry and canned butter beans in the section with the canned vegetables and beans. While lima and butter beans are really the same kind of bean- the labeling can be confusing and different between stores and brands.
For this recipe, you are looking for the larger white "butter bean" not the smaller green ones which are usually labeled "lima beans" but not always. Let the color and size be your guide.
While this recipe is for the larger white butter bean- you can cook the small green lima beans with the same cooking process. The texture and flavor of the small variety are sliced differently but also delicious.
For more information about the differences between lima beans and butter beans full post about phaseolus lunatus.
How to cook dried butter beans:
As part of meal prep for the week, I often make a batch of beans on Sundays but if you don't have dried butter beans prepared just use canned butter beans. Here is how to cook dried butter beans.
To prepare dried butter beans, start by sorting through them to remove any debris or damaged beans. Rinse them thoroughly under cold running water to eliminate any dirt. Next, soak the beans using either the overnight or quick soaking method. Cover them with water, and let them soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
After soaking, drain and rinse the beans, then transfer them to a large pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches and season with salt or other desired seasonings. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot.
Allow the beans to cook for about 1 to 1.5 hours, tasting them periodically to check for doneness. Once they are tender and creamy, drain them in a colander. You can now incorporate the cooked butter beans into all kinds of recipes.
How to Sauteed Butter Beans
To prepare this flavorful butter bean dish, start by heating some olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat.
Next, sauté finely chopped onions until they turn translucent, which should take about 3-4 minutes. Then, add minced garlic and a touch of red pepper flakes, continuing to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant. Sprinkle half of the salt over the onions and garlic and give it a good stir.
Now, it's time to deglaze the pan by pouring in some white wine, making sure to scrape up any delicious browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Let the wine simmer for 2-3 minutes until it reduces slightly.
Next, introduce the rinsed and drained butter beans to the skillet, and pour in some water, lemon juice, and the remaining salt. Stir everything together and bring it to a gentle simmer.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the beans simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes, allowing them to become tender and the flavors to meld together. Be sure to give it an occasional gentle stir to prevent sticking.
To finish off the dish, top the butter beans with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. For an extra touch of freshness and flavor, you can garnish with some chopped fresh parsley, oregano, or basil. Enjoy your deliciously prepared butter beans!
Tip Tricks and Alterations
- Cooked the onions as long as you can- you can cook as quickly as 8-9 minutes but if you have a little more time saute the onions a little longer. Cooking them for up to 25-30 minutes with extra maximum amount of flavor.
- You can swap out the white wine for vegetable broth or chicken broth.
- Spice it up- for some color and a little spicy top the cooked butter with smoked paprika or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Make crispy butter beans- Top the butter beans with toasted bread crumby
- Add extra veggies- Add sliced bell pepper or fresh green beans at the end of cooking for a couple of minutes until slightly softened.
What to serve with Sauteed Butter Beans
Serve with roasted Brussels sprouts and crusty bread for a full meal. These simple butter beans also work well for fish or chicken. They pair well with so many dishes that I like to double the recipe. The leftovers are great for meal prep. Store the butter beans in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
- roasted cauliflower with tahini and dates
- za'atar fries
- slow cooker chicken marbella
- rosemary roasted carrots
- garlic braised chicken
- homemade tomato sauce over pasta
- salmon with cajun honey butter
If you’ve tried this Butter Beans recipe or any other recipe on BalancingBowls, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see more tasty meals and anything else I’m up to.
Easy Butter Beans (simply sauteed)
- 2 cans or ½ lb dried butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon salt divided - ½ with onions, ½ with the wine
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes adjust to your spice preference
- ⅓ cup white wine
- ⅔ cup water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley or bails for garnish optional
- In a large skillet or frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the finely chopped onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes until it becomes translucent.
- Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Sprinkle half of the salt (½ teaspoon) over the onions and garlic and stir to combine.
- Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Allow the wine to simmer for 2-3 minutes until it reduces slightly.
- Add the rinsed and drained butter beans to the skillet.
- Pour in the water, lemon juice, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the beans simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until they become tender and the flavors meld together.
- Occasionally stir gently to prevent sticking.
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or basil, if desired.