The Best Substitute for Butter Beans

substitute for butter beans, substitute for lima beans

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Butter beans, also called Lima beans, are a delicious and nutritious legume that can be used in various recipes. However, if you’re looking for a substitute for butter beans in the kitchen, don’t worry – there are plenty of them!

In this post, we will discuss 11 substitutes for butter beans that you can use in your favorite recipes.

So whether you’re looking for a different flavor profile or don’t have any butter beans on hand, these substitutes will definitely come in handy!

What are Butter Beans?

Butter beans, or lima beans, are an extremely versatile legume with a smooth texture and a mild, buttery flavor.

They can be cooked in many different ways, such as boiled, mashed, fried, or even pureed into a creamy dip.

Nutritionally dense and rich in vitamins and minerals like protein, magnesium, potassium, and iron, they provide various health benefits. 

Back in 15th century Peru, in South America, where native civilizations first domesticated the beans, butter beans have long been enjoyed for their great taste and nutritional value.

Whether eaten on their own or combined with pungent herbs and spices, butter beans often make an excellent side dish when served alongside meaty mains or veggie burgers.

Are Canned Butter Beans Cooked?

Yes, canned butter beans are cooked!

A canned food staple for many, butter beans are a great way to add nutrients to your meals quickly.

The canned beans are already cooked, making them incredibly easy to add to soups or other recipes.

While some prefer the taste of dried and boiled beans, there’s nothing wrong with taking the convenient route and opting for the canned version.

11 Substitutes for Butter Beans (Lima Beans)

Navy Beans

substitutes for butter beans
Raw Organic White Navy Beans in a Bowl

Navy beans, also known as Boston beans, are a great substitute for butter beans because they share many similar characteristics.

Not only do they have a similar color and very creamy texture, but they also offer a mild earthy flavor reminiscent of a thick stew.

Navy beans are smaller than butter beans, making them easier to prepare and incorporate into meals since they don’t require chopping or de-seeding.

They hold their shape well when cooked and can be mashed down for creamy bean spreads or left whole for hearty salads.

With the mild flavor and versatility of navy beans, it is no wonder they make a perfect stand-in for butter beans.

Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans)

substitute for butter beans

Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans and a staple of Italian cooking, are an excellent substitute for butter beans because of their similar flavor and texture.

While butter beans have a light, buttery flavor, cannellini beans have a slightly earthy taste that complements many recipes.

When cooked, cannellini beans become tender and creamy, making them an ideal replacement for the texture of butter beans.

In addition, both beans are high in fiber and protein, so you can enjoy the same health benefits regardless of which bean you use in your meal.

Overall, substituting cannellini beans for butter beans is a great choice for those looking to diversify their meals without sacrificing taste or texture.

Related: Best Substitute for Shiitake Mushroom

Pinto Beans

butter beans substitutes

Pinto beans are an excellent substitute for butter beans with similar overall taste and texture. 

Their flavor is subtle and nutty, while they provide a soft, creamy texture when cooked that pairs well with other dishes. 

One of the best benefits of pinto for substituting butter beans is their versatility; you can add them to soups, salads, chili, and more. 

Plus, they’re high in fiber and protein, making them an ideal nutritional choice. 

Although pinto beans don’t have the same starchy consistency as butter beans, it’s difficult to tell the difference between them once combined with other ingredients. 

Try pinto beans and see how close they come to replacing butter beans in your favorite dishes!

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are a great substitute for butter beans. 

They have a similar texture and are both high in fiber and protein. 

The flavor of garbanzo beans is nutty and earthy, like butter beans, although both have a mild taste. 

Garbanzo beans can be used like butter beans: in soups, stews, casseroles, salads, curries, dips, and ground up for falafel. 

When cooked until soft, garbanzo beans have a creamy texture similar to mashed potatoes or refried beans, perfect for thickening sauces and dips. 

Substitute butter beans with garbanzo beans in your favorite recipes to add an extra burst of protein and fiber with just the right amount of nutty flavor!

Red Kidney Beans

butter beans substitute

Red kidney beans are one of the best substitutes for butter beans.

They boast a similar texture and have a mild earthy flavor that complements any dish.

Their smaller shape and firmer texture are often preferred to butter beans, as red kidney beans don’t fall apart when cooking them. 

They manage to retain their plumpness while absorbing flavors of other ingredients the same way butter beans would. 

These features make them the perfect addition to various dishes, including soups, salads, and stews, as red kidney beans will not only hold their shape but absorb the extra flavor from spices or sauces they are cooked with, creating an even more delicious meal.

Related: Try our Vietnamese Dessert Recipe (Che Ba Mau), which uses kidney beans due to their slightly sweet taste.

Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Beans are another white bean that is a terrific butter bean substitute in recipes when you don’t have the traditional ingredient. 

These two distinct types of beans may appear different, but they can offer similar flavor and texture profiles upon cooking. 

Whether mashed together or warmed up, Great Northern Beans provide a flavor and texture similar to butter beans. 

Both types of legumes are mild in taste with a creamy consistency that makes a delightful accompaniment for any recipe or meal. 

With a few simple ingredient swaps, you can take advantage of the wonderful versatility of these two legumes to craft flavorful meals without having to shop for hard-to-find ingredients.

Related: 12 Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce

Fava Beans

Fava beans are a great substitute for butter beans as they have a similar taste and texture.

Not only do fava beans maintain the same creamy texture as butter beans, but their nutty flavor is also incredibly similar.

The most exciting thing about this substitution is how versatile fava beans can be in cooking as they lend themselves to many different recipes, such as pasta dishes, risotto, salads, and soups.

Borlotti Beans

Borlotti Beans, also known as cranberry beans or saluggia beans, make a great substitute for butter beans since they are similar in taste and texture.

Their nutty flavor is similar to that of their more starchy cousin, but their creamy texture has an added edge.

These beans contain some of the same health benefits as butter beans, too, including high levels of fiber, protein, vitamin B6, and manganese. 

They are also low in fat and calories, so they’re ideal for those watching their weight.

Even better, Borlotti beans can be cooked in various dishes such as soups and salads or mashed into dulce de leche to be a healthier alternative to regular cream.

Whatever your preference, Borlotti beans are an appetizing option for any meal.

Related: 6 Best Substitutes for Swiss Chard

Black-Eyed Peas

Black-eyed peas are a great butter bean substitute and make a delicious, nutritious addition to any meal

These legumes come from cowpeas and share similar fat, protein, and carbohydrate content.

They also have a comparable firm yet similar creamy texture after cooking.

Despite a slightly nutty flavor, black-eyed peas have a mild taste quite close to butter beans – but they can also take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with.

Whether used together or substituted as needed in baked dishes, black-eyed peas offer home cooks a delightful way to switch things up in any recipe.

Summary of Butter Bean Substitutes

If you are looking for the best butter bean substitutes and can’t find any of the above alternatives, then apart from looking for new grocery stores in your area, you can include any other beans on hand.

The best butter bean substitutes should have a firm texture, a mild nutty flavor, and a buttery texture.

substitute for butter beans, substitute for lima beans

11 Creamy Substitutes for Butter Beans

Markus Kampl
Replace the smooth and buttery texture of butter beans with one of these alternatives.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • Navy Beans
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Fava Beans
  • Borlotti Beans
  • Black Eyed Peas


  • Decide on the type of substitute for butter beans you need based on texture and flavor.
  • Pick the best fit from the above list of substitutes.
  • Add to the recipe the proportions required to match the flavor and texture of the butter beans.
Keyword Substitutes
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