Butter Beans Are Everywhere Right Now, Here's How to Cook With Them

On its own, the humble butter bean doesn’t seem that exciting. The taste is incredibly mild (some might even say boring), but this distinct lack of flavor is actually their superpower. Butter beans are talented culinary shapeshifters—they can absorb other flavors well, and their buttery insides bring a nice creamy texture to sauces, soups, and purées, without overpowering the taste. Plus, they’re a powerhouse of plant-based nutrition. So, with all that in mind, it makes sense that they’re having a well-deserved moment in the spotlight right now.

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Why are butter beans so popular?

Butter beans, also called lima beans, are part of the white bean family, alongside cannellini beans, great northern beans, and navy beans. They all have similar properties and can be used interchangeably in recipes. But it’s butter beans, in particular, that seem to have captured social media’s interest at the moment. 

A quick search on TikTok at the time of writing, for example, brings up multiple butter bean recipe videos, some of which boast millions of views. They have titles like “a moment for butter beans, please” and “marry me, butter beans.”

“I used to use chickpeas more, but I feel like they got overused,” speaking about this sudden viral fame, vegan recipe developer Georgie Mullen, who is a big fan of butter beans, told Eater. She added that butter beans “hold their shape better than cannellini beans, but are softer than chickpeas.”

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Beans in general are also spiking in popularity largely for their health benefits. Netflix’s Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, for example, spotlighted their star nutritional quality, as they are a favorite of most of the plant-forward communities featured in the film.

“Beans are an amazing food and they are closely related to longevity in those who eat them regularly,” Anna Herby, DHSc, RD, CDE Nutrition Education Specialist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), told VegNews. This is predominantly to do with their fiber content, but they are also rich in protein, as well as many essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

How to cook with butter beans: 8 vegan recipes

Whether you’re eating more butter beans because you keep seeing them on TikTok on Instagram, or because you want to pack more fiber into your diet, or simply because you have always loved them, we have plenty of delicious vegan butter bean recipe inspiration for you. Grab a can and get cooking.

VegNews.GarlickyButterBeanSoupwithGreens Oliver Barth

1 Vegan Garlicky Butter Bean Soup With Greens

When you’re feeling under the weather, this nourishing, easy-to-make soup will help nurse you back to full health. It’s packed with butter beans, of course, but also onions, garlic, turmeric, and two cups of nutrient-dense dark leafy greens.
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VegNews.WarmButterBeanSaladBryant Terry

2 Vegan Warm Butter Bean Salad

Butter beans bring the creamy texture and nutritional superpowers to this warm salad, and pili pili oil brings the flavor. Add in some smoky roasted peppers, a squeeze of lemon, and some peppery arugula and you’ve got yourself a hearty, healthy, delicious lunchtime dish.
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VegNews.BrothyBeans1Bri Beaudoin

3 Vegan Shortcut Brothy Beans

Infuse butter beans with plenty of flavor in this delicious broth recipe, which packs in shallots, garlic, and herbs, alongside tomato paste and miso. Crusty bread is an absolute must for dipping.
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VegNews.Recipes.2

4 Vegan Copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

You don’t actually have to go to Taco Bell to enjoy one of the chain’s signature menu items. Instead, you can make an extra delicious, extra nutritious version yourself. This recipe calls for pinto beans, but butter beans will work just as well.
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VegNews.AngelHairPasta

5 Vegan Angel Hair Pasta With Lemon, Kale, and Feta

This light, refreshing, aromatic pasta recipe—which calls for cannellini beans but you can certainly use butter beans instead—makes for a great date night dish. To make it extra sophisticated, add a splash of white wine to the sauce.
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VegNews.EasyPumpkinSoupwithBeans

6 Easy, Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Soup With White Beans

Thick, creamy, nutritious soup is the ultimate pick-me-up lunchtime treat—especially when it’s topped with croutons and pumpkin seeds and served with crusty, rustic sourdough bread.
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VegNews.WhiteBeanDipMarie Laforêt

7 Vegan Lemony White Bean Dip

Butter beans are the perfect base for a creamy, wholesome dip. It’s super easy to make, too. Combine them with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cilantro, and black pepper in a food processor, and you’re done.
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VegNews.SmokyBeans

8 Vegan Spanish-Style Smoky White Beans

This recipe calls for northern white beans, but you swap in butter beans if you prefer. It’s a deliciously smoky appetizer, but it would also work well as a breakfast dish because it tastes great on toast.
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For more on vegan cooking, read: