FoodLink - Purdue Extension

lima bean

Phaseolus lunatus
Other Name(s): butterbean, butterpea
Available from August to October


There are two basic types of lima beans, described by the plants they grow on.

Bush Type: These lima beans grow on lower-growing bushes. The beans are typically smaller and mature faster.

Pole Type: These lima beans grow on a climbing plant. The beans are typically larger and take a longer time to mature.


Lima beans are almost always cooked. If you buy dried beans, you will need to soak them first.

Before soaking beans, spread them on a flat surface and remove all debris, small stones, or damaged beans. Then, rinse the beans in a strainer under cool running water. There is a quick-soak and overnight-soak methods.

To Quick-Soak: Place the sorted, washed beans in a pot and add 2-3 cups of water per cup of beans. Bring the water and beans to a boil and keep it there for two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for two hours. After soaking, drain the water and rinse with cool running water.

To Overnight-Soak: Place the sorted, washed beans in a pot and add 2-3 cups of water per cup of beans. Cover, and place in the refrigerator overnight (about 8 hours). After soaking, drain the water and rinse with cool running water.

To Cook Canned Lima Beans: Pour the beans in a saucepan and heat them on medium for about 10 minutes. When fully heated, do not drain the water, add seasoning to taste. 

To Cook Frozen Lima Beans: Place beans in a microwave safe dish, add 1/3 cup water for about 3 tablespoons of lima beans. Cover and cook on high for 8 minutes.


Short-Term Storage

Fresh lima beans are not generally available, but can sometimes be found at farmers markets or specialty grocery stores.

Fresh lima beans should be stored whole, in their pods, and in the refrigerator for two days. If frozen, they do not need to be thawed before cooking.

Long-Term Storage

Lima beans may be frozen, canned, or dried. Canned beans can be stored at room temperature as well. Use canned beans prior to their expiration date. Store dried lima beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place where they will keep for up to 6 months.

Learn more about freezing lima beans

Learn more about canning lima beans.

Learn more about drying vegetables.

Quick Fact

The lima bean was first cultivated more than 5,000 years ago and was popular in both the Aztec and Inca cultures.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1 cup (178g) large, mature







% Daily Value

Total Calories









Dietary Fiber



Total Sugars



Total Fat



Saturated Fat













 144 mg






13 mg 








Vitamin A

 0 mg


Vitamin C

 0 mg








Food Safety Tips

Always keep fresh produce away from raw meat and meat juices to prevent cross-contamination.

Follow the safe food guidelines for all fresh produce.

QR Code

Scan the QR code below to view this page on your mobile device.