On busy weeknights, a can of butter beans is our secret weapon. We love these canned beans because they're hearty and protein-packed, but also soft and creamy: A perfect blank canvas for tons of quick dinner recipes!
Butter beans are fairly large and packed with protein, which makes them feel hearty and filling (they're perfect for Meatless Mondays and vegan or vegetarian diets!) These versatile beans have a buttery, tender texture that makes them perfect in stews, soups, pastas...you name it!
We've rounded up some of our favorite butter bean recipes in this handy recipe collection: It'll have you falling head over heels for these humble legumes in no time.
- Where to Buy Butter Beans
- Our Favorite Butter Bean Recipes
- 20 Minute Pesto Butter Beans
- Pizza Baked Butter Beans
- Smashed Butter Bean Avocado Toast
- Brothy Weeknight Butter Beans
- Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Kale (With Video!)
- Creamy Butter Bean Stew
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Easy Side Dishes to Serve With Butter Beans
- 💬 Comments & Reviews
Where to Buy Butter Beans
You can typically find canned butter beans in the canned foods aisle of major grocery stores (they'll be next to the other canned beans, like black beans, chick peas, etc.)
Look for butter beans with low or reduced salt if possible: This lets YOU control the seasoning so you have full control over the final taste and flavor!
The Best Canned Butter Beans
Many major grocery chains have their own store brands of butter beans; there are also several national brands with canned butter beans available. A few of our favorite butter bean brands:
Drain and Rinse Beans Before Use
For best results, we recommend draining your butter beans before cooking with them (you can tip the can into a colander or mesh strainer, or use a specialty can strainer). Once the canning liquid has drained away, give the beans a rinse with some cold water to wash away any leftover canning liquid.
Fun Fact: Draining and rinsing reduces sodium in canned beans! A peer-reviewed 2011 study of 5 bean varieties found that draining and rinsing canned beans reduces sodium by an average of 41%; an America's Test Kitchen lab test found draining and rinsing reduced sodium by an average of 23% in the 4 bean varieties they tested.
Our Favorite Butter Bean Recipes
We don't really like to play favorites with our recipes. But if we had to choose JUST ONE DISH as the MVP of this recipe collection, it would be these easy brothy weeknight butter beans. This recipe is endlessly customizable, pairs well with a loaf of crusty bread, and is ready in 15 minutes. Keep it vegan/vegetarian, or add your favorite fish or meat for extra protein.
The possibilities for butter beans recipes are endless: Keep scrolling for more of our favorite ways to use this pantry staple!
20 Minute Pesto Butter Beans
These cozy pesto beans are perfect for summer! Make them on the stovetop in just a few minutes with your favorite pesto. Stir in some seasonal vegetables (corn, tomatoes, zucchini, you name it!) for extra flavor.
Pizza Baked Butter Beans
This recipe is cozy, hearty, and has basically NO prep time! Grab a jar of your favorite pizza sauce, throw it together with some butter beans in a big baking dish, cover with mozzarella and your favorite pizza toppings, and bake until the cheese bubbles. Serve with plenty of bread!
Smashed Butter Bean Avocado Toast
Mash a can of drained butter beans with some avocado and lemon for this easy toast, then top with plenty of fresh chives and some black pepper! Great as a quick breakfast or a side dish for soups and more! Add your favorite toppings (we love extra ingredients like red pepper flakes, cheese, honey, or crispy bacon).
Brothy Weeknight Butter Beans
This cozy butter beans recipe is perfect for busy weeknights, and it's a great blank canvas for any veggies you have on hand! Sauté garlic cloves and shallot in olive oil, then add veggies, chicken or vegetable broth, a squeeze of lemon juice, and plenty of fresh herbs (we love fresh parsley, basil, and chives!) Serve with rice, noodles, or bread.
Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Kale (With Video!)
This hearty soup is one of our favorite winter recipes! Italian sausage, cheese tortellini, and plenty of kale get swirled into a bright, flavorful lemon broth with a can of creamy butter beans. Includes a not-so-secret ingredient - half a teaspoon of fish sauce - that takes this soup from good to GREAT.
Creamy Butter Bean Stew
This creamy kale and butter bean soup is perfect for fall and winter! Start by cooking some garlic and onion, then simmer a few cans of butter beans in some veggie broth and heavy cream. Paprika, balsamic vinegar, and plenty of parmesan add a ton of flavor to this hearty soup!
Photo Credit: Midwest Foodie
Frequently Asked Questions
Butter beans are quite mild, and don't have a TON of flavor on their own: They taste like a creamier version of other white beans, like chick peas/garbanzo beans or cannellini beans. (That mild flavor is what makes them a perfect blank canvas to absorb so many different flavors and work with a variety of recipes!) Butter beans are also surprisingly soft, with a rich, creamy, buttery center: You can easily smash them into a smooth mixture using just a fork.
Sort of! In the United States, we often use these terms interchangeably, and the preferred name varies by region. Butter beans and lima beans are both members of the Phaseolus lunatus plant species (source). However, Lima beans and butter beans may be packaged at varying levels of maturity: Canned beans labeled "lima beans" are often a slightly smaller size with a light green color (this is because they're harvested earlier, making them a "younger" bean), while "butter beans" (also called large limas or gigante beans) are typically bigger, with a creamy white color and a softer texture.
You can substitute white beans (like Cannellini Beans, cooked white lima beans, or Great Northern Beans) for the butter beans for any of the recipes in this collection. You can also use Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas), green lima beans, or even black beans in a pinch, although they won't have quite the same creamy, cozy texture.
You can absolutely use dried butter beans if you prefer! If you'd like to use dried butter beans in any of these recipes, start by cooking the beans on their own first (don't just swap dried beans for the canned beans!). Once your butter beans are cooked, you can proceed with the recipe instructions as written. Learn more: How to cook beans.
We hope you loved this collection of easy recipes that use a can of butter beans! If you have any questions, just drop a comment below. For more recipes, check out our full collection of quick and easy weeknight meals.
Easy Side Dishes to Serve With Butter Beans
We love using a can of hearty, creamy butter beans as the base for a meal. But sometimes, you need a lil' something extra to take it over the top! Here are a few of our favorite side dishes to serve with these butter bean recipes: