These delicious Southern Butter Beans (also called lima beans) are a hearty and flavorful side dish. This recipe utilizes the convenience of frozen butter beans that are simmered to tender perfection with savory bacon, chicken broth, brown sugar, and seasonings.
Although this recipe is considered a side dish, I’ve definitely eaten a bowl of these beans as a meal with skillet cornbread more than once!
Why You’ll Love These Butter Beans
- Easy to prepare. This recipe is easy, straightforward, and uses simple ingredients.
- Versatility. These beans can be served as a side dish or a main dish (with cornbread!) It can easily be adapted to suit your personal taste or dietary preferences.
- Meal prep friendly. This recipe stores and freezes well, making it a great option for meal prep.
- Butter beans (also known as lima beans) – You’ll need a 24-ounce package (or two 12-ounce packages) of frozen butter beans (do not thaw).
- Yellow onion
- Chicken broth – I use low sodium broth to better control the saltiness.
- Brown sugar – Adds a hint of sweetness to the beans.
How to Prepare
- Cook the bacon until crispy. Drain off the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pot.
- Add the onions and cook until soft.
- Add chicken broth, water, frozen beans, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Bring to just a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, or until desired tenderness.
- Make it vegan/vegetarian. Omit the bacon and use olive oil for cooking the onions. Swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
- Spice it up. Add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes.
- Increase the sweetness. Add more brown sugar for added sweetness.
- Make it creamy. Remove about a cup of the beans and mash or puree. Stir them back into the pot for a creamy consistency.
Butter beans and lima beans are the same type of bean. Butter beans are normally larger than baby lima beans and have a richer texture.
Yes, but brown sugar adds a hint of molasses flavor. The flavor will be slightly different but still delicious!
- Refrigerator: Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
- Freezer: Allow to cool and store in a freezer-safe container. Leave about ½ inch of space at the top of the container to allow the beans to expand when frozen. These beans can also be stored in freezer-safe zip-top bags. Press out the air before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Southern Butter Beans
- 4 slices thick cut bacon chopped
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth low sodium
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 (24 ounce) package frozen butter beans (lima beans)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Cook bacon in a 6 quart Dutch oven or pot over medium heat until crispy (about 8 minutes). Drain off fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pot.
- Add onions and cook until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes (stirring frequently).
- Add chicken broth, water, brown sugar, frozen beans, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Increase heat to medium high and bring to just a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until desired tenderness. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
If provided, nutritional info is a courtesy, is not guaranteed and should only be considered as a guideline.