Zesty Butter Beans

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Zesty, creamy, and delicious butter beans can be enjoyed as is stew-style or served over rice or quinoa for a filling meal. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.

A close shot of yellow beans in a bowl.
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🫘 What Are Butter Beans?

Butter beans are legumes with roots in Central and South America. They are more commonly known as lima beans (named after Lima, Peru) and also go by the name sieve beans. They are mild-tasting and creamy and buttery in texture. They are also remarkably versatile and the fresh beans can be served in salads, added to stews, casseroles, dip, you name it.

Top view of a tan ceramic bowl filled with yellow cooked butter beans.
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Our favorite pre-cooked butter beans!

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💛 Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • These butter beans are super quick and easy to make, yet packed with so much flavor and nutrition.
  • This butter bean recipe is creamy and comforting.
  • No need for dried beans or a long cooking time with this recipe.
  • Butter beans make an excellent side dish, a flavorful stew as a main dish, or are also delicious served over rice or quinoa.
  • These are super tasty, with zesty savory notes as well as a smoky flavor and a hint of spice. Rich and flavorful all the way!
  • Much like leftover curry, these butter beans taste even better the next day.
  • Naturally vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.
A silver spoon dipping into a bowl of yellow, creamy beans.

🧂 Ingredients and Substitutes

Oil: A neutral oil like avocado oil or olive oil will work best.

Onion and garlic: Red onion adds an additional zesty punch, but if you only have white or yellow onion, it will work in a pinch. If you do not have fresh garlic cloves, use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead.

Coconut milk: A can of full-fat coconut milk adds a delightful creaminess to these vegan butter beans. While broth is usually used in classic butter beans, I find the coconut milk to really enhance the delightful texture inherent in butter beans. For a non-vegan vegetarian version, you can swap it out for heavy cream instead.

Lemon juice: Lemon juice adds some of the tang and zest to this recipe. While the flavor profile is slightly different, lime juice also tastes delicious and makes a suitable substitution.

Turmeric: Ground turmeric not only adds vibrant color to these beans but also a nice earthiness and anti-inflammatory properties.

Black pepper: Black pepper helps activate the healthful compounds in turmeric, as well as adds a nice warmth and spice.

Smoked Paprika: Smoked paprika adds all the delightful smokiness to these beans. I do not recommend replacing it with any other variety of paprika.

Oregano: Dried oregano leaves add a flavor that pairs well with the other spices and lends a nice herby undertone. If you do not have oregano, while different, thyme works in a pinch for something similar.

Salt: A small touch of salt brings out all the flavors.

Optional garnishes: I like to top off these zesty butter beans with a pinch of red chile flakes and a sprinkle of hemp seeds for added nutrition, texture, and spice. Having said that, it’s positively perfect as is.

Butter beans in a ceramic bowl with a silver spoon.

🥣 How To Make Butter Beans

A pot filled with sauteed red onion.
Butter beans and onions in a pot.
Butter beans, onion and coconut milk in a pot.
A blue spatula dips into a bot of uncooked butter beans and other ingredients.
Spices resting atop of pot of butter beans, coconut milk and onions.
Creamy yellow cooked beans in a saucepan with a blue spatula.
  1. Sauté the onion and garlic in oil until softened.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, then stir until all is well incorporated.
  3. Simmer for a few minutes, until thick and creamy.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
A tan ceramic bowl with cooked beans.

🍽️ Serving Ideas

  • Serve zesty butter beans as the perfect side dish to accompany a protein and some vegetable side dishes.
  • Serve alongside bread like cornbread or biscuits which make the perfect vehicle for dipping into the butter beans.
  • Serve as a hearty stew.
  • Serve curry-style over some rice or quinoa.
A silver spoon resting in a large ceramic bowl filled with vibrant yellow cooked beans.

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

What do butter beans taste like?

Butter beans have a very mild, neutral flavor and are great on taking on the flavors of ingredients they are cooked with.

Are butter beans good for you?

Yes. Butter beans are a rich source of protein, fiber, iron, and folate.

Are cannellini beans the same as butter beans?

While they have some similarities, cannellini beans and butter beans are different beans entirely.

How do I store cooked butter beans?

Cooked butter beans make excellent leftovers. Store butter beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat on the stove until warm throughout.

Close shot of a bowl of cooked beans.

🥘 More Delicious Bean Recipes

Instant Pot Chipotle Peruano Beans

Adzuki Bean Curry

Instant Pot White Bean Soup

Gallo Pinto

Instant Pot Pinto Bean Chili

Black Bean Brownies

Zesty Butter Beans Recipe

Zesty, creamy, and delicious butter beans can be enjoyed as is stew-style or served over rice or quinoa for a filling meal. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
4.94 from 245 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Central American, South American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Kristen Wood

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil I like to use avocado or olive oil
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 13.4-ounce package or can pre-cooked butter beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 13.5-ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice fresh or bottled
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • optional garnishes red chili flakes, hemp seeds

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat, add the oil, onion and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until all has softened and is beginning to turn golden.
  • Add the butter beans, coconut milk, lemon juice, turmeric, pepper, paprika, oregano and salt. Stir well.
  • Let the butter beans simmer, while stirring frequently, until all has thickened a a litte and is nice and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

7/29/23: A few people found this recipe to be “soupy”, which I found surprising as it always comes out nice and creamy for me. I think this must have to do with the brand/quality of the butter beans used in the recipe, so I wanted to offer a tip if you encounter something similar: lightly mash a few of the butter beans when simmering them to release some of the natural starches which will help thicken things up.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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4.94 from 245 votes (220 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




 

35 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Love this recipe – so easy and quick and tasty! I freeze portions to have for lunches at work with a pitta bread. I’ve found a quick blast of the hand blender makes the consistency nice and thick (I use Bold Beans Queen Butter Beans which are big so need some help!).

  2. 5 stars
    Lovely recipe which I will definitely make again.

    As others have said mine was rather soupy so I needed two jars of queen butterbeans.

    Always happy to have extra for further meals so no problem.

    Thank you.

  3. 5 stars
    Hello! Thanks for the delicious recipe. It came out very nicely. I used canellini beans because that’s what I had. The spices plus lemon juice and coconut milk are a perfect balance. I added sliced roasted fennel bulbs to the mix (needed using) and served over quinoa. Thanks again!

  4. 5 stars
    Maybe the best butterbeans I have ever had, and I live in the South. Mine were a little soupy, but a second can of butterbeans easily fixed that.

  5. 5 stars
    This is a 10/10. lazy, tasty dinner. Will definitely run thinner with store brand beans!!! But what great opportunity to use some crusty bread to soak up the goodness. Canned coconut milk, not the coconut milk in a carton for drinks by the almond milk.

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious! Made this as a meal prep for lunch and can confirm it freezes/defrosts/reheats very well. For me it made 2 portions (as a main meal) and I scooped it onto some garlic naans. Lovely warmth to the dish and I just LOVE butterbeans. Thanks for sharing – will make again!

  7. 5 stars
    This dish is so good! The beans are so creamy and flavorful, and the spices give them a nice zesty kick. I also love that this recipe is so easy to make, it’s definitely a weeknight keeper!

  8. 5 stars
    I love a bit of heat and these Zesty Butter Beans are my new favorite! Will be making this again as my holiday side dish!

  9. 5 stars
    I adore butter beans! Sometimes they’re harder to find so I swap out cannellini beans but nothing compares to the smooth and creamy texture of butter beans. This recipe is a gem for making a vegetarian dish taste so good even my meat loving husband enjoys them!

  10. 5 stars
    Wow – I really wish my mother had found this recipe when I was a kid. Totally new respect for butter beans now! Love the kick of the spices. Made it for my teens yesterday and they didn’t even complain!

  11. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner and love it! So easy for a night when you don’t feel like cooking a lot but want a flavorful and nutritional meal.

  12. 5 stars
    It’s a good recipe. The sauce will take longer than 5 minutes to thicken. I let mine cook till it was the right consistency.

  13. These are fantastic! Since some people thought it was soupy and I was concerned about calories, I only used about half the can of coconut milk. But wow! Thanks!

  14. I’m looking at the calories in a can of full-fat coconut milk, a can of beans, two tablespoons of olive oil and an onion. I don’t think the calorie math on this recipe can be correct. Milk: 668, beans: 419, oil: 238, onion: 46 = 1371 calories / 4 servings = 343 per serving

    I’m not trying to correct your math. I just want to be sure I am using coconut milk. NOT coconut cream, NOT coconut water. The recipe looks right, but the calorie count makes me think something is off. I’m making it tonight with coconut milk and trying it over oatmeal! Really looking forward to this dish.

    1. Hi, Mel! Thank you for letting me know. I don’t actually calculate these myself. The recipe card I use (and nearly every food blog you will find) automatically calculates the nutritional information based upon the ingredients and amounts I input. Unfortunately, once in a while, it can be inaccurate. I will try to fix this, and will keep this in mind when sharing recipes with coconut milk! And yes, coconut milk is correct. I hope you enjoy the recipe and I appreciate you stopping by.:)

  15. 5 stars
    I am eating these right now over wild rice and really like the flavor. I did add cornstarch because they were soupy. Will surely make again!

  16. 5 stars
    Slap your mama good!!! All the reviews don’t lie. I used 3 cans of butter beans. They were pre seasoned and when i drained and rinsed them, it didn’t seem like there were many there. .I will definitely make again with just regular canned butter beans. Thanks for this recipe.

  17. 5 stars
    yummy!!!! I thought it was very saucy so I added another can of beans. This would be great for a meatless meal!!

  18. 5 stars
    I served these as part of a meal for my sons girlfriend and her parents. They are vegan and I was a bit lost at what to make them as we are big meat eaters.
    I made a chicken stew for the meat eaters and then these beans for the vegan guests, I served it all with rice and some asparagus.
    They went down well. Thank you 🙂

  19. 5 stars
    These are incredibly flavorful, creamy, and just plain delicious! I’ll be making these a ton. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. 5 stars
    These buttery beans were such a fun side dish! My family enjoyed this with our BBQ dinner.

  21. 5 stars
    Served these buttered beans over dinner last night and everyone liked them! This recipe is a great way to end the Lenten season. Worth saving!

  22. 5 stars
    So these are definitely the best butter beans I’ve ever had. We always have canned beans but they are never this special! Just delicious. Thank you!

  23. 5 stars
    This seems similar to what my grandma made ages ago and I forgot how much I love butter beans. I wanted to try this because of the coconut milk and loved the flavor of that ingredient. Great recipe.

  24. 5 stars
    I forgot how much I love butter beans! I’m a vegetarian so I’m always looking for new ways to eat beans. These were so good!

  25. 5 stars
    These beans are amazing! I had a can to use up and found this recipe and OMG I had no idea beans could be so good! Amazing!