If you’re as big of a lima bean junkie as we are at Minnetonka Orchards, you’ve come to the right place. There are dozens of different bean varieties, and they often feature different flavors and traits.
Because of how many different types of lima beans there are, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best. We’ll tell you a little about each of the best beans and give you a brief history lesson and a few dishes to try, too!
A Brief Lima Bean History
While lima beans are a favorite in the United States, they aren’t native to our country. They were initially grown in Peru for thousands of years before they made their journey to the States.
The first record of limas being grown in North America was in the early 1300s. They circulated their way through the country and around the world thanks to heavy trading.
Today, lima beans are a premier crop in California, but they’re grown all over the country, both commercially and residentially. Lima beans are loved for their many health benefits and delicious buttery taste.
A Lima Bean Dish You Have to Try
One of the reasons that lima beans are a staple for many households is because of the many different ways you can use them. You can put them in soup, stew, casseroles, or as standalone dishes alongside your favorite meats.
However, the two most popular ways to use lima beans are in the iconic lima bean soup or Southern succotash. Both dishes are a great way to use these delicious beans and utilize their buttery flavor and nutritional qualities.
Succotash also serves as a delightful dish alongside ham, fried chicken, pork chops, or any other meat that you fancy. If succotash and soup aren’t your things, you can also try buttery, silky creamed lima beans, which are a fan favorite in steakhouses across the country.
Top 7 Lima Beans Around
Now that you have a better idea of how to use lima beans let’s look at some of the top varieties in the country.
Fordhook Lima Beans
The Fordhook lima bean is one of the all-time favorites for commercial lima bean growers in the country. It has been around for decades and first saw popularity in the mid-1940s.
This bean, also known as the Butter Bean, can grow on a bush or pole, depending on your preferences. You can use them in soups, succotash, or even eat them raw if you’re a fan of buttery goodness.
The nice thing about the Fordhook Lima Bean is that it’s fairly easy to grow and resilient to most diseases. It’s also one of the most popular beans to grow at home if you have a home garden.
Henderson Lima Beans
While the Fordhook lima bean has been around for decades, the Henderson lima bean has been around for more than a century. After hitting the market in the late 1800s, this bean skyrocketed in popularity because it was one of the first lima bean varieties that could grow without support poles.
Like most lima beans, the Henderson lima bean has a smooth, buttery taste, making it a great addition to any dish. They’re also one of the best beans to eat raw or can for later use.
King of the Garden
As the name indicates, the lima bean variety known as King of the Garden is one of the best. It gets its name partly because of its popularity but primarily because of the long vines on which the beans grow.
These vines can stretch in the air for up to 10 feet, so you’ll need a sturdy support system if you grow them at home. However, you’ll be rewarded for your troubles with some of the best and creamiest beans you’ve ever tasted.
King of the Garden beans go great in all traditional lima bean dishes and are also perfect for canning or eating raw. You’ll be better off for having these delicious beans in your garden and on your dinner table.
Christmas Lima Bean
When it comes to the iconic image that most people think of when they imagine lima beans, it’s usually the pale green ones. That’s what makes Christmas lima beans so unexpected and fun.
The striking red and white colors, along with the nutty flavor makes this a delicious and attractive lima for soups and stews. If you grow them make sure you have plenty of room for 10-foot-long vines and prepare yourself for large yields!
Big Mama Lima Bean
With a name like Big Mama Lima Bean, this bean simply had to be added to our list. Big Mama’s are similar to King of the Garden in that they grow on a vine and can be up to ten feet tall.
Where they differ from other lima bean varieties is in the size of their bean pods. Big Mama bean pods can be up to seven inches long, which is nearly double what most lima bean pods grow to.
You’ll also find that the beans inside the pod are plump, juicy, and delicious.
No, these lima beans aren’t named after Stevie Wonder’s brother named Jackson. They are, however, named for the man who first planted them, a Georgian farmer named Thomas Jackson.
Despite not being named for the musical hero’s family, the Jackson Wonder bean is a hero of sorts in the south. It’s one of the best beans for growing in hot, dry conditions and one of the best beans to consume raw.
The Jackson Wonder beans differ slightly from other lima bean varieties in that the beans are more of a dirty/purple color than white like most lima beans.
White Lima Beans
Speaking of white lima beans, many varieties of limas turn white or pale green in color when fully mature. So while limas may be labeled as “white lima beans,” it simply means that those are mature beans of the Phaseolus lunatus plant. There’s not an actual variety named the White lima bean.
True Leaf Market has an extensive selection of bean seeds including limas that turn white at full maturity.
Final Thoughts About Lima Beans
Lima beans are one of the most diverse and delicious beans known to man. They’re healthy, nutritious, and delicious to boot, and you would do well to add at least one of these delicious beans to your home garden.
To learn more about other members of the legume family, visit our Bean Plants page for lots of blog posts and helpful guides!