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Southern butter lima beans in a bowl with cornbread

Creamy Butter Beans Recipe

This Creamy Butter Beans Recipe uses dried lima beans and is served Southern-style, cooked in turkey, ham, or salt pork. Pair this old-fashioned dish with classic buttermilk cornbread.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword classic butter beans, Southern butter beans, Southern lima beans
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 10 sevings
Calories 167kcal


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves Minced.
  • 5-6 cups chicken broth Use enough to fully cover the beans.
  • 1 pound bag dried lima beans Rinsed
  • 1 smoked turkey leg About 1 pound to 1 1/2 pounds, fully cooked, You can find turkey legs and wings at most grocers. See notes for substitutions.
  • 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Fill a Dutch oven or soup pot with water (enough to cover the lima beans) and place it on the stove to boil. Once the water has boiled, remove it from the heat and add the lima beans. Allow the beans to soak for 1 hour.
  • Place a Dutch oven or soup pot on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
  • When hot, add the onions and garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant.
  • Add in the chicken broth, lima beans, smoked turkey, Creole seasoning, and bay leaf. Stir.
  • Place the lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 1 1/2-3 hours until the beans are soft. You can test if they are done by grabbing one bean out of the pot and mashing it with a spoon or fork.
  • Open up the pot and remove the bay leaf and smoked turkey. If you like meat in your beans, use 2 forks and shred the turkey and return it to the pot. Taste repeatedly and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  • Cool before serving. I like to use a slotted spoon to serve.


  • Not soaking the beans in advance will likely add a couple of hours to your cook time.
  • Rinse the beans first to remove any surface dirt.
  • Decide how you like your beans. Do you like them firm, soft, or mushy? Check in on the beans frequently while they cook. They will typically need anywhere from 1 1/2 hours – 3 hours depending on your texture preference. I like to cook mine for 2 hours. I like for them to be soft, but not mushy.
  • You can of course still use ham hocks, a leftover ham bone, salt pork, country ham, or even bacon. If you are planning to use bacon I recommend that you cook the bacon first and omit the olive oil used in this recipe. Cook the onions in the bacon fat.
  • You can double the recipe and use the same amount of smoked turkey or opt for one slightly larger. The cook time will remain the same. 
  • You can substitute Creole seasoning for whatever flavor or spice blend you like.
  • Fresh beans will need to be shelled. You get about 2 cups of shelled beans for every pound of unshelled beans. Split the bean pod open, pluck the bean out of the shell, and discard the shell. Butter beans should never be eaten raw because they contain high levels of cyanide in their raw form.
  • Frozen lima beans are usually pre-cooked and don’t require any soaking or initial preparation. Defrost before using.
  • Canned beans don't take long to cook. You may want to cook your smoked turkey in broth for a couple of hours separately, and then add the canned beans to that pot.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 3g