Slow-Cooker Baby Lima Beans and Ham

Baby Lima Beans in white bowl

Diana Rattray

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 7 hrs
Soak: 8 hrs
Total: 15 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
196 Calories
4g Fat
17g Carbs
23g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 196
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 1290mg 56%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 24mg 121%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 714mg 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.)

This is an easy, basic lima bean recipe with ham, onion, and seasonings. Even if you think you don't like lima beans, you're sure to enjoy this dish. Dried baby lima beans, also known as butter beans, become tender and creamy when cooked, and they're much better tasting than canned. Besides, a pound of dried beans makes as much as almost four (15-ounce) cans, making them easier on the budget. 

The lima beans must be soaked overnight (or about eight hours) so plan accordingly. Salt can sometimes inhibit dried beans from cooking properly in the slow cooker, so salty seasonings are added after the beans become tender in this recipe. A ham bone adds tons of savory flavor. Never throw away the leftover bone from a bone-in ham—it creates great depth of flavor in soups, stews, bean dishes, and more.

For a true Southern meal, serve the lima beans with freshly baked cornbread along with a tossed salad or cooked greens. Macaroni and cheese, potatoes, and corn also go well with these lima beans. This recipe feeds a small crowd, making it good for a family meal with leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried baby lima beans

  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

  • 1 ham bone

  • 3 to 4 cups water, or enough to cover

  • 2 1/2 cups diced Leftover ham

  • 1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning blend

  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 1 dash cayenne pepper

  • Kosher salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Soak the lima beans in about 2 quarts of water overnight.

  3. Drain the lima beans and add them to the slow-cooker insert. Stir in the chopped onions and add the ham bone. Add 3 to 4 cups of fresh water just to cover the beans.

  4. Cover and cook the beans on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the lima beans are becoming tender. 

  5. Add any extra diced ham, Cajun or Creole seasoning, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Taste and add salt as needed. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the beans are very tender.

  6. The beans can be kept warm in the slow cooker until serving.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of a ham bone, use ham hocks, smoked pork shanks, or add salt pork or bacon.
  • For a vegetarian version, leave out the ham altogether.
  • If you don't have Creole or Cajun spice blend handy, you can make your own.

Are Lima Beans the Same as Butter Beans?

Yes, lima beans and butter beans are the same thing. You will find them labeled and called by either name at the grocery store, whether they are dried, canned, or frozen.

Do Lima Beans Need to Be Soaked?

Beans don't strictly need to be soaked before cooking, and some prefer to cook their beans unsoaked. Soaked beans will cook much quicker, hold their shape better, and are believed to be easier to digest.