This is probably the easiest recipe for Instant Pot baby lima beans (butterbeans) that you'll find. Don't let that fool you. The results are amazing!
Baby lima beans (aka butterbeans) are one of my favorite foods in the whole world. And that's not an exaggeration. I've even been known to eat a bowl of these for breakfast. Before the Instant Pot entered my life, making baby lima beans was a 45 minute process that involved simmering on the stove top. But now, with just two minutes of prep, these Instant Pot baby lima beans couldn't be any more simple to make - not to mention incredibly delicious!
The Difference Between Butter Beans and Lima Beans
There seems to be some debate over the difference between butter beans and lima beans. Some people swear they're different beans. Others say that lima beans are a mature butter bean, while butter beans are baby limas. And even some others state that there is no difference at all.
So, is there a difference? The short answer is: No. Butter beans and lima beans are simply different names for the same bean. In the US south and in the UK, they're commonly referred to as butter beans, while going by the name of lima beans in most other areas. So, you say lima bean, I say butter bean (and vice versa). Still not convinced? You can read more about the difference between butter beans and lima beans, along with several other names they go by, here.
Baby Lima Beans vs. Lima Beans
Now that we've established butter beans and lima beans are actually the same thing, what's the difference between baby lima beans and lima beans? Baby lima beans are fresh and green, while regular lima beans (which are more mature), are typically dried and beige. For this recipe, you'll want a bag of fresh frozen baby limas.
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And the Amazing Result...
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Instant Pot Baby Lima Beans
- 28-30 oz. fresh frozen baby lima beans *
- 3 cups water really just enough to cover beans
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. butter can sub vegan butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. salt
- Place beans, water, black pepper, butter, and bay leaf in IP. Lock lid, close vent, and set manual time for 7 minutes on high pressure.
- Once cook time is complete, quick-release the pressure.
- Open lid and add salt. Mix well, then allow to sit for at least 10 minutes on warm setting.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Opinions will vary, but in my experience, if you add the salt before cooking, the skin of the beans will be tougher. It is kind of a rule-of-thumb to always add salt to beans AFTER they are cooked.
- You can use slightly more or less beans. As long as they are covered in water, the cook time will remain the same.
- Bags of frozen lima beans are marked "fresh frozen", as they are fresh beans that have been frozen. You may use either fresh frozen, or fresh lima beans for this recipe. This recipe was not written for dried beans.
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I have fresh butterbeans from the farmers market, much larger than the baby frozen limas. How long should I cook them? Thanks in advance for any advice.
Hi Liga! That's a great question. I've never actually cooked them fresh before. But I would try starting with 15 minutes at high pressure with a QPR. Then, if needed, cook them more in maybe 10 minute intervals. Probably not the best help, but it's what I'd try to figure it out. Good luck! And please let me know how it comes out.
How bout a recipe for dry Lima's ?
Ok, I'll do my best to post one soon!
We bought fresh lima beans and we cooked exactly as the recipe indicated and they turned out perfect! Seriously so good!!!! They were not mushy!
I love these! I used my pressure cooker but I never time it. I just cook till I think they're done. I really like your recipe. I also add ham. Uncured, low sodium. It is actually cured but without nitrates and nitrites. I cut up the ham in big cubes, brown it in the skillet add water then dump that in with the limas and cook them in the pressure cooker. Funny growing up, my grandpa & grandma always called it a pressure cooker. Now it's a hot pot. 🙂
Love these! They are perfectly done, just as they should be.
I'd give this a 5-star rating if I could figure out how!
You just did. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed them!
I thought I was the only person that had lima beans as a favorite food!! I can eat them hot, cold, or lukewarm!
Thanks for the reminder... I have some leftover in the fridge! Glad you enjoyed them.
Why is the cook time listed as 23 minutes but the directions say cook for 7 minutes
That includes time for the pressure cooker to come up to pressure.
I love this recipe, and have already made and eaten multiple batches by myself. Would love a recipe for dry lima beans, as I h=am more likely to have them on hand.
So that’s 2lbs of beans?
I've found that different brands of frozen beans are different sizes. And honestly, it doesn't really matter as long as the beans are covered in water. But yes, it's around 2 pounds of beans.
I have to admit - the Inst pot seems very complex. Your recipe for Lima beans was my second attempt. 5 stars from me. So delicious, so easy!
I had fresh butter beans from the farmer’s market. Followed this process, no bay leaf though, and added some beef stock. Cooked for the 7 minutes and they were perfect! I too eat these for breakfast!
Amazing! Tastes like I have been slaving away for hours on these beans, but so quick and simple to make. I really love the flavor of the bay leaf too!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
Well sorry, vegans/vegetarians- I want to add some smoked pork to them.. how much do you have to alter the recipe? I looked up another recipe, but it was for stove top directions, though- it called for chopped onion and minced garlic, I think...
Hey Mark. What I would recommend is this. Cook your pork first (probably for 20 minutes at high pressure) to create a broth, then release the pressure. Add the beans and then cook for 7 minutes at high pressure. Unfortunately, since the beans have such a short cook time, cooking them together probably won't yield the best result because the meat won't have time to release their goodness.
I'm telling you though... I grew up eating them with pork (and still love it that way), but this method with butter and bay leaf is really great too! I think I may actually prefer it this way now. Maybe give it a shot?!
Adding salt to beans softens the skins and makes them less likely to break. This is contrary to what our grandmothers taught us, but new experiments have proven it to be a myth. You can also add salt when cooking dried beans.
I've actually tested it for myself before writing this article. So I respectfully disagree. But hey, whatever works for each of us in our own kitchens is just fine!
Thanks for the rating and feedback!
I made these last weekend and they were so good. I added bacon grease to mine because I am a southern girl and not a vegan (not that there's anything wrong with that). I also added salt at the beginning and they turned out great!
This was my very first Instant Pot recipe this morning. I love lima beans and thought I'd try something easy. They taste really good, but are a bit more mushy than i would have liked (i used to eat them from a can and love that they keep a slight firmness). I will try again but i wonder if i put too much water?
I soaked them all night and cooked them on high pressure for 7 mins. I had 1.5 cups of dry beans when i started.
Thanks for your help!
This recipe was not meant for dry beans. It was written for fresh or frozen green baby limas.
Laura Ann Gaskins
Amazing! Tastes just like my mother in laws from the garden!
I made this with soaked lima beans (soaked overnight) and according to your suggestions in a comment above, tried 15 minutes. They were still a little firm so I added another 7 minutes and they were perfect! Love this recipe and can't believe there is no onion: makes it such a simple and tasty recipe from what I usually have to do on the stove top.
Thanks Kate, glad you enjoyed it!
How do these taste v southern style (bacon or ham in them, etc)
Pretty different. These have a lighter, fresher taste. They're still surprisingly flavorful though.
I am cooking for a big gathering and wanted to double. I guess that would be ok as long as water doesn't go past the fill line and it would be for the same amount of time??
I would just barely cover the beans. You may not need to double the liquid.
Great recipe, I used it as a base to get the texture of the limas right, added ham to make it a meal, but it's an awesome snack.
Also respectfully, salting beans doesn't make them tough, but other factors can. The scientist in me abhors anecdotal evidence and I wouldn't want anyone believing an old wives tale is true in the face of facts. My duty is done. 😊
I am a member of Cooks Illustrated but I realize that everyone isn't; I think the Kitchn is reputable enough. They do reference the corresponding Cooks article.
Thanks for the comment and checking out our recipe. However, I respectfully disagree about the beans 🙂
Made these for a family Easter event this weekend. I doubled the recipe and they were perfect!
Great recipe & soooooo easy. Thanks
Edie M. Streetman
Thanks so much for the recipe. However, on the nutritional info it doesn't say how large a serving is.
I apologize for the delayed response. You can find serving size information in the top of the recipe card, near the cook time and calorie count. This recipe makes roughly 10 servings.
I have some speckled butter beans (one of my favorites) I bought from a local produce market and have a new instant Pot. I am anxious to try this recipe out. I will let you know how they turn out.
This recipe is written for fresh or frozen beans, not dried beans. So I'm not sure that it would work with this method.
good recipe, i used vegetable broth and added garlic.
Entire family loved them from my 92 year-old dad to my husband. Thank you.
Great taste added onion,ham,garlic turned out a bit mushy ddd
This is so delicious! Made it twice as written and loved it. Trying tonight substituting butter and salt with Better than Bullion ham flavor, as it made my dried pintos quite tasty!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Does the salt rule include bullion? I love beans cooked with Better than Bullion ham flavor!
These Lima beans were easy to make and taste delicious! I am so glad to have found this recipe!
It came out fabulous, I put a ham bone in there also to add flavor and wow wee!!, it was great!!!!!
So delish and easy to make. My family loves beans. Being originally from NOLA, we do eat a lot of beans. Keep the recipes coming!!!!!!
These are almost as good as Grandma used to make!
I love baby lima beans. My mother used to cook them with okra and I always loved them that way but she always cooked them on the stove too. If I wanted to add okra and make them in the IP do you think that would work, without making the okra too mushy. I want the okra to be tender but not necessarily mushy.
Thanks for your help 🙂
Hmm.. I think the fresh okra would be soft, but not overly mushy. Frozen okra on the other hand would definitely turn to mush. One thing that might help is if you defrosted the baby limas (if they're frozen). That way, the pot will come up to pressure more quickly, thereby reducing the amount of time you cook the okra. Hope this helps!
I very rarely rate anything, I had to take a moment to say I have been making Lima beans for 30 years, they are my husbands favorite. These are by far the best beans I’ve ever made, thank you for sharing the recipe!
What temp do you cook them on and for how long?
Hi H.L. This recipe is written for the Instant Pot. In step one of the recipe card you'll see the time, and instead of a temp you select a pressure level: "Lock lid, close vent, and set manual time for 7 minutes on high pressure."
Great recipe. My husband is on a low sodium diet, so I left the salt out and added it at the end just like the recipe called for, but only to my serving. I have grown up on beans, being a good ole southern girl, so I added just a little extra seasonings, but just as written this recipe is great. Also, since my husband is limited on sodium, I was thankful that there was no salt meat in the recipe to start with. Secret trick for adding it if trying to control sodium in someone else's food is to buy the real bacon pieces in the salad section of the grocery store and just top your beans with them. What a great dish! I wish I had a low sodium cornbread recipe to cooks with these beans!
This is a WONDERFUL way to prepare limas! I just used this recipe for the second time, and my seven year old is so excited over the prospect of enjoying these yummy beans again. 🙂 Thank you so much!
This recipe is amazing! I only remember having dry tasteless lima beans as a kid. I bought frozen lima beans when there was a shortage of frozen vegetables during the last year. I finally tried them with this recipe and they are sooo good! Thanks for the recipe. I'll be making these over and over again.
Made this recipe about six weeks ago adding chicken broth cubes to water. My family ate the whole pot like they had never eaten anything like it. Using this again tonight. Cheers
These were amazing! I have been attempting to cook fresh frozen baby limas for years and we never liked the texture. These were perfect!
Best way that we’ve ever had fresh frozen baby Limas!
How do I adjust this recipe to cook 10 oz. package of frozen lima beans in a mini-instant pot?
The cook time will remain the same. Use half of the other ingredients.
This recipe is delicious! I have made it multiple times. I'm from the south and grew up eating butter beans from my grandmother's garden. Never have been able to duplicate hers, but this one is so close, without the meat of course. Looking back, she prepared hers in a pressure cooker on the stove. that's why I never could arrive at the same tenderness while simmering in a regular pot! I'm so glad I found this recipe!
I have made this many times over the years! Sometimes I will sauté chopped small link sausage in my instant pot before adding the limas. It’s a quick weeknight meal that I serve over rice. Bread and butter pickles on the side. My family loves it!
Perfect Lima beans every time. Best recipe ever!
Baby limas are our favorite. Its the closest thing to a vegetable I can get my daughter to eat. The pressure pot works great for a really quick way. I also like to bake them in the oven at the same time as my meat. I add a chopped onion to the pot for extra flavor. Thank you for the recipe. I used it for Thanksgiving and will again tomorrow for Christmas dinner.
Delicious lima beans. Definitely a keeper recipe. Came out perfectly even though I put salt in the pot with all the other ingredients (my mistake.)
I love limas cooked the old southern way with ham hocks. However, these were absolutely delish!! Will make again and again. Thank you!
This was very good! (If I was a fan of lima beans, I'd probably say great. LOL) Mine did come out a bit mushy... and just now I realized when rechecking the time, I cooked mine for 8 minutes instead of 7. Hah! Mystery solved. Thank you very much for this!
I found some homemade chicken broth that I had made. It was all the way in the back of the freezer so I knew I needed to use it soon. When it thawed out, yep, I used it in place of the water. YUM! YUM!
Cooked for 8 minutes and we're undercooked. I'll try 10 minutes next time.