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Creamy Butter Beans

Creamy Butter Beans have lots of smoked ham flavor. They’re so thick and creamy and make a fantastic side for any southern meal.

Creamy Butter Beans in blue and white bowl.

This recipe is adapted from Deep South Dish Cookbook and it is phenomenal. Butter beans never tasted so good.

You have to make these beans to see how much flavor they have. And while you’re at it, make a side of cornbread to serve with them. They’re so meaty and delicious, you can serve them over rice for a whole meal.

Butter Beans and ham hock cooking in Dutch oven.

How To Make Creamy Butter Beans

To make thse Butter Beans, start by bringing 1 pound of dried lima beans, covered with water, to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover the pot, and let soak for 1 hour.

Creamy Butter Beans with Ham

While the beans are soaking, you’re going to start to build all the flavors for the beans.  Cook some onion, celery, and carrots in some bacon grease until soft. Then add chopped smoked ham, 2 ham hocks, a large container of chicken broth, 4 cups of water, 2 bay leaves, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried thyme, and pepper. Simmer these ingredients for 1 hour then add the beans, 4 tablespoons of butter, and some Cajun seasoning. Cook 60 to 90 minutes, until the butter beans are soft and the liquid gets thick.

You won’t believe how unbelievably meaty these beans taste!


Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

Creamy Butter Beans with Ham

More Southern Sides

Creamy Butter Beans

Creamy Butter Beans have lots of smoked ham flavor. They’re so thick and creamy and make a fantastic side for any southern meal.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 2 hours 5 minutes
soak beans: 1 hour
TOTAL: 2 hours 15 minutes
SERVINGS: 8 servings


  • 1 pound dried large lima beans
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped smoked ham
  • 2 ham hocks
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning


  • Rinse and sort the beans, getting rid of any broken pieces. Place in a stockpot or Dutch oven and cover with 1-inch of water. Bring to a boil. Place lid on pot and remove from heat. Let sit 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot or Dutch oven, heat bacon fat over medium heat. 
  • Add onion, celery, and carrots and saute until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add ham, ham hocks, chicken broth, water, bay leaves, garlic powder, thyme, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.
  • Once beans have been sitting for an hour, drain them.
  • Add beans, butter, and Cajun or Creole seasoning to the chicken broth mixture after it has simmered for 1 hour. Continue to simmer for 60 to 90 minutes. If liquid level gets too low (ie not all the beans are submerged), add more water.
  • Remove ham hocks. Let cool slightly and then remove any meat from the bone, chop it up and return it to the pot.
  • Serve as is for a side dish or serve over rice with a side of cornbread for a main dish.


Calories: 345kcal
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: beans

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Creamy Butter Beans #southern #sidedish #beans

Recipe adapted from Deep South Dish

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Originally posted January 18, 2019.

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62 thoughts on “Creamy Butter Beans”

  1. Dennis Crawford

    Just like mom used to make. I have made this recipe many times. I have even taken it to scout camp. Several of my scouts said they did not like Lima beans. So I asked if they ever had Butter Beans. They ALL loved them

  2. Sandra Gilliland

    I love all dried beans but butter beans are my favorite. I always prefer to just cook them with a bit raw bacon from the start of cooking. It took some coaxing to add these additional ingredients. I did find this recipe very tasty and would make it for a covered dish to take somewhere. My husband is not big on change and said he preferred his plain.

  3. In the summer I love to have potato salad and beans as a side to what ever meat I am making. The beans are usually a homemade baked bean dish. So when I saw this recipe I wondered if I could get away with using this for the beans. Everyone loved it and were thrilled to have something new to go with our meal. Thank you. I made it exactly as you instructed except I used Great Northern Beans because I do not care for Lima Beans. This will be made often and will warm us in the cold season too.

  4. Great beans! Reminds me of growing up in Mississippi! My mom and Grandma would make Limas like this! Even a richer flavor with homemade chicken stock!

  5. PS-I also added two packages of cooked and drained frozen spinach.
    Probably could have used more beans instead, but since I didn’t have them, I added the spinach to give it more body.

  6. I was using up three cans of butter beans, so started the recipe after the bean soaking. The flavors are amazing! I used three ham hocks as that was what was in the package. They didn’t really make it salty, but I agree that holding off on salting until the end is a good idea. This is a great recipe and I will make it with dried beans next time.

  7. Pretty delish. However, I often just use pancetta/prosciutto/ham slices. Often have to double recipe and use a very large pot. Learned the best way is to soak it well after that fast boil method (I use the white limas, not finding many smaller beans around). As for methods, i’ve had it overdone (instant pot) and underdone (canned or not enough broth), so the overnight soak after a boil and multiple rinsing for the bean, before you add you add them to the broth is a huge difference. Also, no water. Just chicken stock and low salt chicken broth. We are making a meal out of this (over rice) and we add some homemade pulled pork. It’s heavenly. Do not fear adding a personal splash of vinegar to perk it up a little at the table. Just be patient, plan on a 2-day deal (soak one day, prep and cook the broth and beans the next) because it is so worth it.

  8. Kathryn Hall

    Pretty close to down home cooking! Of course, I tweaked it a bit…added more veggies than was called for, and more smoked ham, also used all chicken broth (no water!), and added a bit more seasonings, but that’s just my taste. Great job!

  9. Barbara Hilow

    You are so right about altitude. Took me a year to figure out why my pinto beans were never ready when I thought they would be. Only at 5,000′, but its still an issue. So grateful for the instant pot!

    1. Try soaking beans in water overnight in room temp water before you go to bed that’s a southern trick

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