Butter Beans vs Lima Beans: How Do They Compare

You’re not the first to question what distinguishes creamy lima beans from smooth staple butter beans.

They are, in fact, the same legume, with the only variation being the maturity level at which they are harvested.

Simply stated, butter beans are the parents, while the younger, greener-hued beans are the lima children. Regardless, they are from the same plant.

What matters is how you prepare and consume them, not what you name them! So, let’s look at the tiny variations that might arise according to the maturity of the beans.

Difference Between Butter Beans and Lima Beans

The major distinction between butter beans and lima beans is their maturity level; both originate from the same plant. Lima beans, on the other hand, are picked before they are completely developed, and butter beans are harvested after they are fully matured.

As a result, the Phaseolus lunatus has two names. Lima, Peru’s capital, inspired the phrase “lima bean.” Butter beans, on the other hand, were most likely called after the creamy mouthfeel of, you guessed it, butter.

Whatever you call them and whatever stage of maturation you discover them in, know that you can tell them apart by their somewhat distinct texture, size, and color, so let’s go through each one.

As the name implies, butter beans have a buttery, creamy texture. Lima beans have a mealy, starchy texture that some people equate to undercooked fava beans.

Butter beans are considerably bigger in size because they are mature. Lima beans look to be somewhat smaller than regular beans.

Butter beans have a flat, kidney-shaped form. Lima beans, on the other hand, are similar to kidney beans but more rounder than flat.

Butter beans are often white or light yellow in appearance, while lima beans are pale green.

Butter beans are often bought in supermarkets, either canned or dried. They are also sometimes available fresh. Lima beans are available canned and fresh.

Butter Beans vs. Lima Beans Comparison Table

Category Butter Beans Lima Beans
Type of legume Phaseolus lunatus Phaseolus lunatus
Name origin Named after the creamy consistency of butter Named after Lima, the capital city of Peru
Level of maturity Mature Ripe
Texture Creamy and buttery Starchy and meal-like
Size Bigger Smaller
Shape Flat and kidney-shaped More rounded, but still kidney-shaped
Color White or pale yellow Pale green
How are they sold Fresh, dry, and canned Fresh and canned

Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?

Because butter beans and lima beans have comparable nutritional profiles, they are both equally healthful.

That being stated, consider the following health advantages that these beans may provide:

  • Long-lasting fullness: Butter beans and lima beans include both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps enhance fullness and lower the risk of overeating.
  • Protein is essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy muscles and body tissues. It also serves as a source of energy. Legumes are an excellent meal for vegans, vegetarians, and individuals who prefer plant-based meals but struggle to obtain enough protein from them.
  • Excellent for diabetes: Lima beans and butter beans have low glycemic profiles, which measure how much a food elevates blood sugar levels. They also have a high fiber content, which may help manage blood sugar levels by delaying the absorption of sugar into the body. Lima beans and butter beans may help diabetics maintain their blood sugar levels. One research found that eating beans on a daily basis was connected with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Soluble fiber decreases blood pressure and cholesterol, which reduces the chance of developing heart disease. Furthermore, beans are high in antioxidants, which protect your body from inflammation and oxidative stress and promote a strong and healthy heart.

Butter Beans vs Lima Beans: Nutritional Profile

Category (1 cup) Butter Beans Lima Beans
Calories 216 216
Carbs 39g 39g
Fat 0.7g 0.7g
Trans fat 0g 0g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.3g 0.3g
Monounsaturated fat 0.1g 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Sodium 3.8mg 3.8mg
Potassium 955mg 955mg
Protein 15g 15g
Fiber 13g 13g
Sugar 5.5g 5.5g
Vitamins & Minerals
Calcium 2.5% 2.5%
Iron 25% 25%

Can I Substitute Butter Beans for Lima Beans and Vice Versa?

Because they are members of the same legume family, you may use butter beans for lima beans.

We discussed before that butter beans are the more mature beans with a richer and butterier texture. Lima beans, on the other hand, are green, starchy, and somewhat smaller.

During the substitute, their color and mouthfeel may be the two things that stick out the most. Aside than that, they are identical.

If you don’t have lima beans, you may substitute cannellini or navy beans, which are soft and creamy enough to compensate for the buttery texture.

In terms of taste and texture, fava beans are extremely similar to lima beans. If you don’t have fava beans, you may use kidney beans instead. They are also quite flexible and work well in soups, stews, and salads.

If you only have canned beans and the recipe asks for dry beans, skip the cooking phase, drain and rinse the beans, and then add them five minutes before the end of the cooking time. Also, since canned beans are already salty, you may need to reduce the salt in the recipe.

Cooking With Butter Beans & Lima Beans

The classic approach of placing butter beans or lima beans in a pot with some water and letting them boil is one we are all familiar with, but it is not the only one. There are plenty additional ways to prepare these beans! Some of the more intriguing recipes are highlighted here.

Butter Bean Burgers

If you want to try something new, prepare vegetarian burgers using butter beans! They’re loaded with chopped onion, jalapeño pepper, crackers, egg, cheddar, and garlic powder and are thick and surprisingly tasty. If your butter bean burgers are dry and crumbly, try adding a little potato starch to compensate. It will hold the patties together and keep them moist.

Greek Lima Beans

Limas are cooked in a robust tomato sauce with minced garlic, carrots, onion, chopped tomatoes, and herbs in this Greek beans recipe. What was the end result? A really gastrointestinal-friendly meal! This recipe pairs well with crusty bread and a nice green salad. If you want to add a smoky taste to your dish, roast steak or pork with the lima beans.

Orzo Lima Beans Pasta

You may cook this 30-minute vegetarian orzo if you need a fast yet excellent meal. Orzo is a kind of soft, fluffy pasta. It’s paired with lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon in this recipe, giving the meal a pleasantly zesty taste. Walnuts are also incorporated to provide texture to the meal. Finally, the profusion of veggies in this meal, from kale and spinach to lima beans and parsley, elevates it to the status of superfood.

Butter Bean Tomato Soup

This butter bean tomato soup is full, flavorful, and soothing, and it smells delicious while it cooks. The soup can be made in about 20 minutes, which is excellent if you’re in a hurry and want something substantial and comforting.

The creamy butter beans, celery, onion, garlic, and basil are mixed into the rich tomato sauce. Finally, you’ll get a delectable tomato flavor with a bit of acidity and a salty undertone. Perfect for the cold months!


To summarize, both beans come from the same plant, yet butter beans are bigger, brighter in color, and creamier in texture. Despite being smaller, rounder, and greener, lima beans are just as nutritious!

We hope we’ve encouraged you to try one of our recipes, such as the orzo lima bean pasta, which is ideal for a movie night, or the butter bean tomato soup, which is ideal for a light and nutritious meal!


Is lima bean similar to butter beans?

What Is the Difference Between Butter and Lima Beans? Butter beans and lima beans are identical save for their names and occasionally their color. Their species is Phaseolus lunatus, and the distinction in their names is purely geographical.

What do butter beans taste like?

What Does It Taste Like? Butter beans are smooth, creamy, and have a mild, buttery taste. They keep sauces well and absorb the flavors that are cooked with them. Fresh butter beans have a grassier, more vegetal taste than cooked or dried beans.

What bean is closest to butter beans?

According to thekitchn.com, “Lima beans are more than just related to butter beans, they are the same thing.” According to Food52, “these cream-colored beans are named after the dairy product with a similarly rich consistency: butter” in the Southern United States and the United Kingdom.

What is most similar to butter beans?

Here are our suggestions.
Cannellini beans. These are white kidney beans with a creamy texture comparable to butter beans.
Navy beans are legumes.
Beans from the north.
Borlotti beans are a kind of bean.
Beans in black.
Beans, pinto.

What are butter beans good for?

Butter beans are high in vitamins and minerals, both of which are beneficial to general health. They are high in potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc, as well as calcium and protein. Butter beans may be beneficial to both plant-based eaters and meat eaters.

What bean is closest to lima beans?

The 5 Best Lima Bean Substitutes
1. Fava Beans.
Butter beans, number two.
Great Northern Beans (no. 3).
Edamame Beans (no. 4).
Red Kidney Beans (5th).

What is the best tasting bean?

Top 5 Delicious Beans
Garbanzo beans are legumes. What exactly is this? Advert. Pinto beans. What exactly is this? Kidney beans, please report. Kidney beans have the color and form of a human kidney, thus the name “kidney beans.” It’s a popular cultivar that goes well with rice.
Navy beans are legumes. What exactly is this?

Do you soak butter beans before cooking?

Beyond a brief rinse or thaw, canned or frozen butter beans don’t need any soaking or prior preparation, while dry beans must. Soak the beans overnight (optional): If you want to save time cooking, carefully wash, drain, and pick over the beans for any debris.

How do you eat butter beans?

Make a fast meal out of butter beans. This pantry staple may be eaten whole in salads and casseroles, mashed, or blitzed in soups and other dishes.

What is another name for butter beans?

It turns out that lima beans and butter beans are interchangeable. Both words are used to describe the same species, Phaseolus lunatus.

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