How to Cook Old-Fashioned Dry Lima Beans

Also referred to as dry butter beans, wax beans and Madagascar beans, dried lima beans have a delicate buttery flavor and soft texture when cooked.
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Also referred to as dry butter beans, wax beans and Madagascar beans, dried lima beans have a delicate buttery flavor and soft texture when cooked. Whether you're making lima beans with bacon or cooking lima bean recipes for a vegetarian, lima beans are an excellent addition to many dishes.


According to the USDA, a 1/2-cup serving of lima beans provides:

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  • 110 calories
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 22 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5 grams of fiber
  • 0 grams of fat

Since raw lima beans contain cyanide compounds that can be fatal when consumed, you should never eat lima beans raw, as advised by Oregon State University Extension Service. Although the process requires a bit of time, cooking old-fashioned dry lima beans is actually quite simple.

Read more: The Side Effects of Beans

Step 1: Sort Dried Lima Beans

Scatter a handful of dried lima beans on a white plate. Examine the beans carefully, tossing any dirty, wrinkled or broken beans. You should also remove any small stones or clumps of dirt you find.

Step 2: Place Sorted Beans in Bowl

Pour the beans into a large bowl. Repeat steps one and two until all beans have been inspected, sorted and poured into the large bowl.


Step 3: Cover in Water

Fill the bowl with cold water until the beans are completely covered. Ideally, use at least three times the amount of beans, as recommended by Michigan State University Extension. For example, if 4 cups of beans are in the bowl, use at least 12 cups of water. If any beans float to the top, remove and discard them.

Step 4: Soak Beans Overnight

Soak the beans overnight. By the next day, you should find that the beans have doubled in size. In fact, most of the water should have been absorbed.


Step 5: Rinse, Drain and Repeat

Rinse and drain the beans at least three times. When you are finished, the water should run clear.

Step 6: Cover With Fresh Water

Pour the beans into a heavy pot or saucepan. Add fresh water to the pot until the beans are covered. Ideally, there will be at least 1 inch of water above the beans.

Step 7: Boil Your Beans

Bring the beans to a boil over medium-high heat. The amount of time it takes to produce a boil depends on the size of the pot you use, the amount of beans you are cooking and the temperature you use to cook them. Watch the pot carefully for a boil.



Step 8: Cook Lima Beans

Reduce the heat to low once the beans have boiled. Cook lima beans by simmering them for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender. During the simmering process, stir the beans regularly to avoid sticking.

Step 9: Remove, Strain and Serve

Remove from heat once the beans are cooked completely. The beans are completely cooked once they can be mashed easily with a fork or your fingers. Strain the water before serving.


Read more: Difference Between White and Red Kidney Beans

Consider These Cooking Tips

Avoid adding salt or acidic ingredients, such as vinegar or tomato juice, to the lima beans while they are cooking. The addition of salt or acid prevents the beans from absorbing water, which could impact their ability to cook properly. If you wish to add these flavorings, do so once the beans have completely cooked.


Soaking the beans before cooking them helps reduce their gas-producing side effects, according to Cleveland Clinic. During the soaking process, the water begins to dissolve the starch inside the beans. Since this starch is responsible for producing gas and indigestion, this simple step can help you feel quite a bit better after enjoying your beans.

Things You'll Need

  • White plate

  • Large bowls

  • Colander

  • Saucepan or heavy pot

  • Spoon




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