Creamy Southern Lima Beans

Southern lima beans are creamy without cream. The secret? Strategic stirring and starting with dried beans. Make this beloved side dish recipe for big holiday meals, or keep it simple with just a slice of cornbread.

Creamy Southern Lima Beans in a Bowl Next to Another Bowl of Beans and a Plate of Corn Bread

Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

These creamy Southern lima beans are delicious and very flavorful! This is an easy recipe to make with simple ingredients: dried lima beans, onion, smoked turkey wings, and spices. Creamy lima beans are a great comfort food side dish for holidays, potlucks, and dinners during the cool seasons.

Lima Beans Vs. Butter Beans

Are butter beans and lima beans the same thing? Some may say there is a difference in flavor, but butter beans and lima beans are considered the same type of legume. The only difference is their size! Butter beans are larger in size. 

I prefer dry legumes instead of purchasing canned or frozen products. If you choose a frozen option, they may take less time to cook because they are precooked. This may affect flavor as well when seasoning the dish to your liking. These are some of my favorite to purchase.

Creamy Southern Lima Beans in Two Bowls Next to Bowl with Green Beans and a Plate with Cornbread

Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

To Soak or Not to Soak

Soaking the lima beans before cooking can help by decreasing the cooking time and making them easier to digest. Some beans can also have a better texture and tend to not burst during the cooking process if you soak. With lima beans, I have noticed they still cook tender if you skip soaking. Soaking limas can sometimes break down the beans, resulting in lots of small broken pieces.

If you prefer to soak your lima beans, place them in a large bowl of water for at least 4 to 8 hours. When ready to cook, drain off the water and follow the cooking directions below, shortening the simmering time as needed. 

Simple Tip!

Buy dried beans at a store with a good turnover. Old beans can cook unevenly or stay tough, even after hours of cooking.

The No-Cream Secret to Creamy Lima Beans

The art of creamy lima beans involves stirring. Yep, that’s it! Just stir them a bit more while they cook. This helps some of the beans to break and release starches, which then make the liquid thicker and creamier. 

If you want to make sure they are still intact, you can add cornstarch to the broth instead. In a small bowl mix together about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water until well blended. Then, add this mixture to the pot right at the end of cooking as the pot simmers and stir until the bean liquid thickens. 

Creamy Southern Lima Beans in a Bowl Next to a Pot with More

Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

Add Smoked Meat for Flavor

I use smoked turkey wings in this recipe because it’s a healthier option without lacking taste. If you like to eat pork, bacon and smoked ham hocks or neck bones are good alternatives. Or try smoked turkey necks. 

For a meatier dish, add smoked sausage! Before cooking the beans, dice the sausage (and bacon, if using). Brown in the pot using medium heat. Then, just follow the rest of the steps as directed in the recipe. 

Vegetarian Options

If you don’t eat meat, try using 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid aminos as a replacement for the smokiness. The umami-rich liquid aminos will give the lima beans  a meaty deep flavor. And don’t forget to use a vegetable broth or stock base instead of the poultry flavored ones!  


  • Adjust and increase the garlic and onion powder to your liking for a more garlicky and onion flavor. 
  • You want to avoid making this too salty. Don’t add additional salt until the beans have finished cooking because the smoke meat and stock will add their own saltiness. 
  • If you don’t have broth or stock on hand, you can use water. You may have to add more salt if you use water. 
Creamy Southern Lima Beans in a Bowl

Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

How to Serve

Make this a complete holiday meal with some of these delicious sides! 

How to Transport and Reheat 

Refrigerate the cooled lima beans in a tightly covered Tupperware container or glass storage bowl with a lid. Glass is good because you can reheat the beans in a microwave when ready to serve. 

If you have a slow cooker, you can reheat the lima beans in the slow cooker and keep the temperature on warm. 

Creamy Southern Lima Beans in a Bowl with Another Bowl of Beans and a Plate of Corn Bread in the Background

Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

More Southern Sides

Creamy Southern Lima Beans

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 pound dry large lima beans

  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 smoked turkey wings

  • 8 cups chicken stock (preferably unsalted or low-sodium)

  • Additional salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pick over the dry beans:

    Pick over the beans, removing any dirt or debris. Rinse the beans in a colander; drain.

    Lima Beans in a Colander for Southern Lima Beans Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

  2. Cook the beans:

    Place the beans, onion, garlic cloves, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, bay leaf, and turkey wings in a large Dutch oven or pot. 

    Add the stock. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 

    Once it starts to boil, decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid. 

    Simmer for up to 2 hours or until the beans are tender to your liking. Make sure to stir the mixture a few times while cooking for a creamier sauce.

    Simple Tip!

    When checking on the beans for doneness, always check at least a few beans. Sometimes the beans in a batch don’t cook exactly at the same rate.

    Lima Beans, Turkey Wings, Onions, Garlic, and Bay Leaf in Pot for Creamy Lima Beans Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

    Chicken Stock Added to Pot of Ingredients

    Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

  3. Pick the meat from the turkey wings: 

    Using tongs, remove the turkey wings and let them cool until you can comfortably handle them. Remove the cooked meat from the bones using a fork and shred; discard the skin. Place the meat back in the pot.

    Remove the bay leaf; discard.

    Bowl of Shredded Turkey for Creamy Southern Lima Beans Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

  4. Season and serve:

    Taste the beans and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

    Serve warm.

    Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below! 

    Creamy Southern Lima Beans in a Pot

    Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

    Creamy Southern Lima Beans in a Bowl

    Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
255 Calories
8g Fat
27g Carbs
19g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 255
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 32mg 11%
Sodium 916mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 4mg 18%
Calcium 42mg 3%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 716mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.