Butter Beans (Lima Beans)

Did You Know?

  • Butter beans are also known as lima beans, and are thought to originate from Lima, Peru.
  • Young versions of butter beans are green, while more mature beans turn cream-colored.
  • Draining and rinsing canned beans is a great way to reduce their sodium content and reduce the amount of gas or bloating that bean newbies may experience!

Health Benefits of Butter Beans

Beans aren’t simply good sources of protein for our plant-based friends! Studies have shown that regular consumption of beans is a major predictor of living a longer and healthier life. The higher fiber content in beans also makes them beneficial for improving cardiovascular health, balancing your blood sugar, and providing a slow-burning, long-lasting source of energy and fullness. If you find that eating beans gives you gas, try starting with smaller amounts. Over time our gut microbiome gets used to processing the higher amounts of fiber present in beans, which means less gas and bloating for us!

Butter beans, or lima beans, are no exception to all of these health benefits! Each 1 cup serving of butter beans has 15g of protein while still being relatively low in calories. These tasty legumes are rich in some awesome nutrients, including:

  • Folate: key for heart health, brain functioning, pregnancy, bone health, mood support, and a strong immune system! Folate also lowers homocysteine levels, effectively reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Fiber: indigestible by our bodies, but still a major team player! Fiber keeps your bowel movements regular and feeds the good bacteria in your gut microbiome (which some are calling our second brain!). Fiber also binds to bile acids before they can be turned into cholesterol, then carefully escorts the bile acids out of the body via excretion.
  • Magnesium: necessary for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body! Magnesium contributes to muscle relaxation, mood support, cardiovascular health, energy production, and so much more.
  • Molybdenum: helps your body naturally detoxify by breaking down sulfites and other toxins
  • Manganese: this trace mineral is critical for supporting energy production, antioxidant activity, and keeping free radicals under control
  • Iron: People who are pregnant, lactating, or going through a growth spurt have an increased need for iron. It’s great to be able add more foods to the list of iron-rich options, especially when it’s something as inexpensive and unassuming as butter beans!


You may have noticed that Birch currently has these large cans of butter beans available at shopping times. The size of those cans might be intimidating, but feast your eyes on these recipes and you’ll find plenty of flavorful ways to use them up! It is also possible to freeze beans you don’t plan to use within 5 days of opening the can. Rinse and drain the beans, then place them in a freezer-safe container, cover with water, and freeze.

Photo Credit: Budget Bytes

Butter beans have a mild flavor and smooth, buttery texture that makes them a popular choice for cooks. These beans can be used in so many different dishes! Use them as the protein in a soup or stew, like this recipe for Slow Cooker Butter Bean Minestrone. If you’re looking for something that’s simple to prepare but still has plenty of sophistication, try this recipe for White Beans with Mushrooms and Marinara by Budget Bytes. Hoping for something more casual and kid-friendly? This savory Butter Bean Dip by It’s Not Complicated could be a hit!

Birch Bada Bean Bada Boom

Another fun way to cook up a whole bunch of beans is to make your own crispy snacks similar to the Bada Bean Bada Boom versions at Birch. Butter beans are likely to split when roasted, but they remain delicious! This recipe from Fountain Avenue Kitchen provides a great template for roasting up any beans you’d like. Play with different flavor combinations. Here are some examples to get you started, with measurements based on 28oz of canned beans:

  • Garlic & Onion: 1tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, ½ tsp salt
  • Zesty: juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp cayenne powder, ½ tsp salt
  • Sweet & Spicy: 1 tsp chili powder, ½ tsp cayenne powder (optional), 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 TBSP coconut sugar, ½ tsp salt (optional)
  • Smoky: 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp salt

Lastly, you’ll find the recipe for this refreshing Tomato & White Bean Salad at Birch starting next week! Pairing butter beans with creamy avocado, crunchy snap peas, and lots of flavor makes it sure to please.

Are you curious about other ways that you can work beans into your diet? Or do you not do well with beans and need advice on other ways to support your health? Send your questions to jasmin.conklin@nunm.edu with “Birch Nutrition” in the subject line and I’d be happy to chat!