Instant Pot Lima Beans

Lima beans in a white bowl with parsley
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Pressure Build/Release: 22 mins
Total: 57 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 2 quarts
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
107 Calories
1g Fat
18g Carbs
6g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 107
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 458mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 7mg 33%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 433mg 9%
*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.)

There are so many reasons to cook beans in a pressure cooker such as an Instant Pot. Even if you're not planning to use the whole pot of beans for one meal, cooking up a big batch is a smart meal-prep move that will save you time and effort later on.

These basic Instant Pot lima beans are delicious just as they are, without any embellishments, and perfect for adding your own special touch. If you aren't following a vegetarian diet, feel free to add a ham bone or smoked ham hocks to the pot, or add some extra flavor with some sliced smoked sausage or chorizo.

The lima beans may be frozen and used the way you would with canned lima beans: Add them to calico beans, Brunswick stew, cowboy beans, or barbecue beans. Or add corn and cream for a delicious Southern-style succotash. They're ideal for making a tasty bean and sausage soup too.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried baby lima beans

  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, chicken stock, or water

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 large bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Instant Pot lima beans
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Rinse the lima beans with cold water and pick them over. Remove any small stones and malformed or damaged lima beans.

    Lima beans rinsed in a colander
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. In the inner pot of the Instant Pot pressure cooker, combine the lima beans, broth, water (or all water if you're not using stock), chopped onion, garlic, bay leaves, and kosher salt.

    Note: If your broth is not low-sodium, use only half the kosher salt or wait until after the beans are cooked to taste and season with salt.

    Lima beans with broth, onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt in an Instant Pot
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Place the lid on the pot and check to make sure the knob or switch is in the sealing position. Select the pressure cook or manual button, high pressure, and set the timer for 25 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to come to pressure and begin cooking.

    Sealed Instant Pot lid
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. When the time is up, let the pressure come down naturally for 5 minutes and then move the knob or switch to the venting position to release the remaining pressure quickly. The quick-release will take approximately 2 more minutes.

    Instant Pot lid in the venting position
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. When the float valve drops, remove the Instant Pot lid.

    Note: If your beans are a little older or your water is hard, it may take longer. If the beans are still somewhat hard after the 25 minutes, replace the cover and cook for an additional 2 to 5 minutes on high pressure. Do a quick release and check again. 

    Cooked lima beans in an Instant Pot
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Remove the bay leaves. Enjoy the lima beans with a meal or refrigerate them for later use.

Tips

  • If you suspect your hard water is preventing your beans from cooking completely, add about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each pound of beans to be cooked. 
  • If the beans are very old, they may take much longer to become tender, so check for a "best by" date on the package before you begin.
  • You may also see lima beans labeled as butter beans, so named for their buttery texture and taste. They are interchangeable.

Recipe Variations

  • Ham: For Southern-style lima beans, add a ham hock or meaty ham bone to the Instant Pot along with the beans, water, and stock. When the beans are ready, remove the bone and dice the ham. Add the diced ham back to the beans and serve immediately.
  • Bacon: Fry 6 strips of bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Add the crumbled bacon to the lima beans along with the remaining ingredients.
  • Vegetables: Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the Instant Pot and select the sauté button. When hot, add the chopped onion and about 1/2 cup each of diced carrots and celery. Sauté for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook as directed.
  • Sausage: Feel free to add some sliced smoked sausage or chorizo once the beans have cooked.
  • Change up the seasonings with some fresh rosemary, dried Italian herbs, or a Creole spice blend.

How to Store and Freeze Lima Beans

If you aren't going to use the lima beans right away, within two hours of cooking them (and after they've cooled off), refrigerate them for up to three days. Leftovers will keep for the same amount of time. Freeze the lima beans in containers or zip-close freezer bags in any amount that makes sense for your use. (We like 2-cup increments).