7 Best Substitute For Lima Beans

Lima Beans Substitute

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are a staple ingredient in many kitchens. Their creamy texture, slightly sweet flavor, and impressive nutritional profile have cemented their place in a variety of dishes. However, not everyone has access to them or enjoys their taste. This comprehensive guide is here to alleviate those concerns, outlining the seven best substitutes for lima beans that maintain the integrity of your dishes while introducing new flavors and textures.

Our selection of lima bean alternatives takes into account not only the flavor profile but also the texture, size, and nutritional content. Each option has been chosen for its ability to seamlessly blend into recipes, adding to the culinary experience while preserving the nutritional benefits. Whether you’re aiming for a similar taste or want a change of pace, there’s an option for every palate and dietary requirement.

We start with the most similar substitute, butter beans, and venture into more unique alternatives like edamame and even green peas. By understanding their characteristics and how they fit into various recipes, you can confidently navigate your way through any culinary creation, even when lima beans are off the menu.

Quick Glance at Lima Bean Substitutes

  1. Butter Beans
  2. Cannellini Beans
  3. Great Northern Beans
  4. Navy Beans
  5. Chickpeas
  6. Edamame
  7. Green Peas

Understanding Lima Beans

As we prepare to explore the wide world of bean substitutes, it’s fitting to first turn our gaze toward the protagonist of our story: the lima bean.

Lima beans, often affectionately termed “butter beans,” come with a unique set of characteristics that have cemented their place in a range of recipes. Their creamy texture and delicate, slightly sweet flavor make them versatile and user-friendly. Additionally, these beans pack a nutritional punch, offering an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, and vital minerals like potassium, iron, and manganese.

Though they often take center stage in casseroles and stews, lima beans can also play a stellar supporting role in salads and side dishes. Whether you’re lacking this particular bean or seeking a novel twist to your dish, knowing which alternatives can deliver similar characteristics is key.

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Lima Beans Substitutes Overview

There are a variety of reasons you might need a substitute for lima beans. Maybe you’ve run out, maybe you have dietary restrictions, or maybe you’re simply looking for a change of pace. Whatever the reason, choosing a substitute requires an understanding of a few critical factors.

You’ll need to consider the flavor profile, texture, and size of the bean. Substitutes should also retain a similar nutritional profile and cook in a comparable amount of time to ensure the integrity of the dish. Now, let’s take a closer look at each substitute, exploring their similarities and differences to lima beans, and how to best use them in your cooking adventures.

Butter Beans

Butter beans and lima beans are often used interchangeably, leading to a bit of confusion. Despite their commonalities, they do present subtle differences.

Butter beans, bearing a similar visual appearance to lima beans, typically grow larger and, as their name suggests, offer a more buttery flavor. Both share a creamy texture, making butter beans an almost seamless substitute for lima beans.

Table: Nutritional Comparison

NutrientButter BeansLima Beans
Protein7.2 g7.8 g
Fiber6.2 g7 g
Iron2.2 mg2.4 mg

As seen in the table above, their nutritional profiles are quite similar, making butter beans a fantastic alternative when seeking to maintain the dietary benefits of your dish.

The butter bean’s slightly richer flavor can lend an extra depth to recipes, particularly those where beans are the star, like succotash or a hearty bean salad. Simply substitute them in a 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for lima beans.

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, hail from Italy and bring a distinct, slightly nutty flavor to the table. These beans are larger than lima beans, but their mild flavor and creamy texture make them a solid stand-in.

Table: Nutritional Comparison

NutrientCannellini BeansLima Beans
Protein7.5 g7.8 g
Fiber6.2 g7 g
Iron2.5 mg2.4 mg

In a face-off of nutritional content, as depicted in the table, both beans offer similar benefits. Cannellini beans tend to excel in Italian dishes, such as minestrone soup or pasta e fagioli. You could also use them as a protein boost in salads or mashed as a delicious and nutritious dip.

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Great Northern Beans

Great Northern beans might not share the lima bean’s green hue, but they don’t fall short when it comes to their culinary use. These beans are white, medium-sized, and offer a mild flavor that pairs well with many ingredients.

Table: Nutritional Comparison

NutrientGreat Northern BeansLima Beans
Protein7.4 g7.8 g
Fiber6.2 g7 g
Iron2.2 mg2.4 mg

They’re nutritionally similar to lima beans, as seen in the above table, and their firm texture holds up well during cooking, making them a good fit for soups, stews, and casseroles. Also, their subtle flavor allows them to absorb the flavors of the dish, further enhancing its taste.

Navy Beans

Navy beans, named for their staple status in the U.S. Navy, are small, white beans known for their mild flavor and soft texture. Their size makes them a suitable substitute for baby lima beans in particular.

Table: Nutritional Comparison

NutrientNavy BeansLima Beans
Protein7.5 g7.8 g
Fiber9.6 g7 g
Iron2.4 mg2.4 mg

Navy beans even outstrip lima beans in dietary fiber content, as the table above illustrates. They’re a great choice for baked beans and any dish where you’d like the beans to melt into the background, like creamy soups or purees.


Moving away from lima beans’ direct relatives, we venture into the realm of chickpeas, or garbanzo beans. While their unique flavor doesn’t perfectly mimic that of lima beans, their firm texture and high protein content make them a worthy contender.

Table: Nutritional Comparison

NutrientChickpeasLima Beans
Protein7.3 g7.8 g
Fiber6.4 g7 g
Iron2.4 mg2.4 mg

Despite the difference in flavor, chickpeas offer a similar nutritional profile to lima beans, as shown in the table. They can easily take the center stage in recipes like hummus, falafel, or a vibrant chickpea curry. You might also toss them into salads for a protein boost.


Edamame, or young soybeans, present a rather different option. They’re harvested before they mature, giving them a fresh flavor and vibrant green color reminiscent of lima beans. The texture, though a bit firmer, is close enough to make them a solid stand-in.

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Table: Nutritional Comparison

NutrientEdamameLima Beans
Protein11 g7.8 g
Fiber5 g7 g
Iron1.8 mg2.4 mg

As the table above demonstrates, edamame is a nutritional powerhouse, particularly when it comes to protein. Try them in stir-fries, salads, or even simply steamed as a healthy snack.

Green Peas

Finally, we arrive at an alternative that’s not even a bean: green peas. While they may not be a perfect match in terms of flavor, their sweet taste, and similar texture make them a worthy substitute in many dishes.

Table: Nutritional Comparison

NutrientGreen PeasLima Beans
Protein5.4 g7.8 g
Fiber5.5 g7 g
Iron1.5 mg2.4 mg

Though they fall slightly short in protein and iron content, as the table shows, green peas are a great source of vitamin C. They’re an excellent addition to pasta dishes, risotto, or even mashed as a refreshing alternative to mashed potatoes.

In the grand scheme of culinary creativity, the absence of one ingredient shouldn’t halt your cooking endeavors. Whether you’re out of lima beans or simply seeking to experiment, there are numerous substitutes out there ready to step up to the plate. Happy cooking!

Conclusion: The Art of Substitution

Having explored the world of lima bean substitutes, you are now well-equipped to navigate your culinary journey with an expanded palette of ingredients. Substitutions are not merely a last resort for when you’re out of a specific ingredient; they also offer an avenue for creativity and innovation in the kitchen.

Each substitute we have discussed presents a unique blend of flavor, texture, and nutritional value. However, the key to using these alternatives is to understand their characteristics and how they fit into your recipe.

  • Butter Beans are your closest match, seamlessly slipping into the place of lima beans.
  • Cannellini Beans offer a distinct, slightly nutty flavor and are a great addition to Italian dishes.
  • Great Northern Beans are your go-to for a firm texture that absorbs flavors well.
  • Navy Beans, with their small size, work well where softer textures are desired, like creamy soups or purees.
  • Chickpeas stand as a nutritional contender, even if their flavor differs slightly.
  • Edamame presents a fresh, vibrant alternative with a bonus of high protein content.
  • Green Peas might seem a little out of left field, but they can deliver in both taste and texture, and bring a welcome dash of color to the plate.

Ultimately, the choice of a substitute depends on your personal preference, dietary needs, and the specific recipe. Don’t be afraid to try different alternatives and see which one works best for you. Cooking is as much a science as it is an art – it’s all about experimenting, tasting, and, most importantly, enjoying the process. Happy culinary adventures!

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