Lima Beans are a popular, protein-packed legume that shows up in all types of dishes. You may know them by their other names, such as butter beans, sieva beans, or wax beans. In this article, we’re exploring lima bean substitutes that you can use for any dish.
Lima beans were first domesticated in what is now Peru and were popular throughout the Andes region. The beans are now common from Spain to North Carolina. Their broad shape and smooth texture make them a popular ingredient in soups, stews, and other dishes where they can be infused with flavor. Lima beans also have many health benefits. These legumes are high in protein, fiber, and iron, which gives them many health benefits.
Read on to find out some of the best substitutions you can make for lima beans in any recipe or dish.
Substitutes for Lima Beans
1. Fava Beans
Fava beans are a popular substitute for lima beans because they are similar in texture and flavor. You can buy them canned or fresh. Thanks to their smooth shape and indulgent taste, you can use fava beans in all sorts of dishes, from succotash to bean stews.
However, fava beans are a bit more bitter than lima beans, so be prepared for a change in taste or adjust your recipe accordingly. Fava beans are also more challenging to find than lima beans, so they may not be the best substitute if you are struggling with sourcing ingredients.
2. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are named for their distinctive kidney shape. They come in red and white varieties. Kidney beans are prevalent in all kinds of bean dishes, including soups and stews, because of their soft texture and mild flavor.
Kidney beans sometimes take a bit longer to cook, so they work best as a replacement in dishes that involve long, slow cooking times, such as soups and stews.
They also have a more robust, more beany flavor than lima beans. This can be a benefit if you are worried about your dish being too mild, but if you have a picky eater in the house who does not like beans, kidney beans may pose an issue.
Chickpeas are a legume common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Sometimes called garbanzo beans, they work well as a substitute for lima beans because they have a similar mild texture.
If you are cooking for picky eaters who turn their noses up at dishes with strong bean flavors, chickpeas are a good lima bean substitute.
However, when making this substitution, keep in mind that chickpeas have a firmer texture than lima beans, so if you are looking for a stew that melts in your mouth, this is not the substitute to use.
It would be best if you also were careful not to overcook chickpeas as they quickly become bitter.
4. Soy Beans
If you want to use a slightly less traditional legume in place of lima beans, you can use soybeans. Soybeans are popular in part because of their high nutrient content.
In particular, they have a lot of protein, so if you are a vegetarian or a vegan worried about your protein intake, this is a good substitution to make. Soybeans also have a subtle flavor, just like lima beans.
However, some people find the texture of soybeans off-putting, particularly if they still have their skins on. So either buy a variety without their skins or skim off the skins before serving.
5. Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are some of the most popular beans for a reason. Their soft texture and neutral flavor mean that they are an excellent base for many dishes. Like lima beans, cannellini beans also have a mild, neutral flavor that absorbs sauces and soups well.
Cannellini beans are an almost-perfect substitute for lima beans. They go well with many dishes. Like lima beans, cannellini beans are also nutritious and an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.
6. Navy Beans
Navy beans are small, oval-shaped white beans popular in North America. They are used in many dishes because of their mild, creamy texture. If you are planning on making a dip, navy beans are actually a better ingredient than lima beans because they blend more easily.
Since the mid-1800s, these excellent substitutes for butter beans have been a staple in American cuisine. In the US Navy, they became a common ingredient due to their inexpensive cost, long shelf life, and nutritional value. As a result, they gained the nickname navy beans, but they are also known as Boston bean, Yankee bean, and pea bean.
Navy beans have a similar mild flavor to lima beans, so they work well as a replacement in soups and dips. However, be prepared for the fact that navy beans will not hold their shape as well as lima beans.
The mild flavor and smooth texture of navy beans make them ideal for cooking, but they break down quickly. Soups can benefit from their thickening properties, but they will lose their form in salads if you use them.
8. Pinto Beans
When you need one of the most commonly available butter bean (lima beans) substitutes, your best option is pinto beans.
For thousands of years, Mexican and Peruvian farmers have grown pinto beans, which are today primarily consumed in the United States. Refried beans, burritos, and chili are typical recipes where you can add these beans.
Pinto beans, which are named after the Spanish word for “painted,” have a distinctive brown speckled hue when dried. As the beans are cooked, these patterns vanish, turning a rich brown color. Although they have a distinct powdered texture, you can use them in recipes that call for butter beans.
With this list, you no longer have to worry when you can’t get any butter beans for your recipe. Choosing lima bean (butter beans) substitutes is relatively easy as many share the silky texture as their counterpart. However, if you want something closest to its flavor, you might want to try fava beans.
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