Broadly Speaking

What’s in a name? Broad beans are a confounding classification that encompasses a whole swath of the legume population. Some use the term interchangeably, referring to butter beans and lima beans as if they were the same thing. Defying all rational definition, in a sense, they are! Why is it that lima beans tend to get the short end of the stick, the bane of many picky childrens’ existence, while butter beans come with an air of whole luxury? Words do matter, more than one might want to admit.

Different varieties for each title exist, but the whole naming convention is further complicated by location and appearance. In the south, you’re more likely to see butter beans on the menu, but if they’re younger and thus greener, they’re the spitting image of what one might otherwise refer to as lima beans. It’s the same, but different.

If we could forget about names for a minute, I truly believe that the smaller, greener subspecies would have a fighting chance at mainstream acceptance. Tender, but with the same toothsome bite as edamame, they’re textually unparalleled in the bean kingdom. That’s especially true if you treat them properly; canned or over-boiled beans are likely the root of cause of such historical disregard, but fresh or frozen, you’re talking about a whole different hill of beans.

Pan-fried with a generous glug of fresh pressed olive oil, they finally live up to the promise of buttery taste, too. Blistered over scorching hot temperatures, a literal flash in the pan, their skins become crisp, adding a whole new dimension of texture to the plate. Simply prepared, with a touch of garlic, salt, and pepper, you could easily eat them straight, as an entree over mashed potatoes, sprinkled over salads, or served up with bar nuts as a hot new beer snack.

This same treatment works for just about any bean, including but not limited to chickpeas, fava beans, and even lentils. Now, don’t even get me started about the additional complication of the terms “pole beans” and “butter peas.”

Yield: Makes 1 Pound; 4 - 8 Servings

Blistered Butter Beans

Blistered Butter Beans

Lima beans? Broad beans? Butter beans? How about, all of the above! No matter what you call them, they're delicious seared to a crispy finish with plenty of garlic.

Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Pound Frozen Baby Lima Beans or Small Green Butter Beans
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper


  1. Place a medium skillet over high heat and add the oil. Once shimmering, toss in the beans (no need to thaw) and spread them out in an even layer as possible. Let cook, undisturbed, for 3 - 4 minutes, until browned underneath. Turn the beans with a wide spatula to redistribute so they brown evenly. Don’t toss the beans or shake the pan, since hot oil can easily splash or splatter.
  2. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the beans are darkly blistered all over; about 6 - 8 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving dish. Enjoy hot, warm, or at room temperature.


Feel free to use any other firm bean you prefer, such as edamame, chickpeas, fava beans, and more.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 158Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 143mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

5 thoughts on “Broadly Speaking

  1. Lovely. My girlfriend just grew me some favas cause I can’t find them fresh! I’m not sure what the difference is between them and a broad bean, but the favas were sure good! Love the glug of olive oil!

    1. Fresh fava beans are heavenly! They’re definitely part of the same family, but easily my favorite of all the options. It is definitely tough to get them around here, too.

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