Skip to Content

Butter Peas vs Butter Beans: What’s the Difference?

In the epic showdown of the legume league, we have Butter Peas squaring off against Butter Beans. Bold statement: they’re not the same thing. This revelation might shake your pantry to its core.

We’ve all been there. Standing in the grocery aisle, puzzled.

Butter Peas, meet petite and tender. Butter Beans? They’re the chunkier cousins. Both pack a nutritional punch that could knock out any dinner dilemma.

Our grandmother swore by Butter Peas for her world-famous soup. And us? We’ve accidentally thrown Butter Beans into the mix and pretended it was all part of the plan.

This is not just about recipes. It’s about identity.

What are Butter Peas?

Butter peas are a legume from the broad bean family.

They’ve got a creamy texture and a buttery flavor that make them super popular in Southern cooking.

Here’s the lowdown on butter peas:

  • They are also known as Dixie Lee peas, pinkeye peas, or field peas.
  • Fresh butter peas are in season during late spring and summer. But, you can find them canned or frozen all year.
  • You can steam, fry, boil, or mash them into purees and soups.

It’s easy to mix up butter peas and butter beans, since they have similar names and looks.

But, the taste and texture is totally different.

Butter beans are firmer and have a nuttier flavor than butter peas.

In conclusion, if you want to try something new, go for butter peas.

Their unique taste and versatility make them great for all kinds of dishes.

So, why not give them a go tonight?

What are Butter Beans?

Butter beans are a type of legume that began in South America but is now found all over the world.

They are oval or kidney-shaped and come in many colors, such as green, white, and yellow.

Butter beans are extremely nutritious, packed with protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

One way to cook butter beans is to boil them until they’re tender then add some salt or herbs.

They can also be served with other dishes like rice, vegetables, or stew.

Plus, their creamy texture makes them perfect for baking into pies and muffins.

Butter beans have special health benefits, too.

For instance, they contain antioxidants that fight inflammation, which can cause diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

They also contain saponins, which help reduce cholesterol levels.

Differences Between Butter Peas and Butter Beans

Butter peas and butter beans are often confused.

But they’re not the same.

Butter peas are smaller and creamier, with a sweeter taste.

Butter beans have a firmer texture and a nuttier flavor.

Botanical Classification

Butter peas and butter beans are used interchangeably.

Yet, there is a slight difference.

Butter peas are Southern peas, also called cowpeas.

These belong to the Vigna unguiculata species.

Butter beans, however, are a type of lima bean.

They belong to the Phaseolus lunatus species.

Both are similar in taste and feel.

But, butter beans have larger seeds and need more time to cook.

Despite their differences in botanical classifications, both butter peas and butter beans make yummy additions to any meal.

Size and Appearance

Butter peas and butter beans have totally different looks and sizes.

Both have a creamy, buttery texture.

But, butter beans are larger and more oval-like.

Whereas, butter peas are small and round, almost like little marbles.

They both taste delicious in stews, soups, and salads.

So, make sure you know the difference next time a recipe calls for one or the other.

Culinary Uses

Butter peas & butter beans are both tasty & nutritious.

They are not the same though.

Butter peas are smaller and sweeter, with a delicate, buttery flavor.

Perfect with seafood dishes or fried chicken.

Butter beans are larger & firmer.

They hold up well in stews & casseroles, absorbing all the flavours.

Butter beans can be mashed into dips or spreads.

Butter peas are better in salads or grain bowls.

Both are great in recipes.

Creamy butter beans or sweet butter peas – you decide.

Regional Variations and Names

But there are regional variations.

In the South, ‘butter beans’ mean large lima beans.

Elsewhere, they could be small lima beans or even soybeans.

‘Butter peas’ could mean young green peas, or a pale yellow field pea.

This could lead to confusion.

It has been noted that these two have different histories and uses.

Butter beans are a Southern cuisine staple found in dishes like succotash and hoppin’ john.

They are also canned and sold across the country.

Butter peas are used in African American cuisine, like black eyed pea salad and Carolina-style boiled peanuts.

Both butter peas and butter beans are a great source of plant-based protein, plus fiber, essential vitamins and minerals.

When you see them on a menu or at the grocery store, make sure to clarify which type it is, before picking.

Similarities Between Butter Peas and Butter Beans

Butter peas and butter beans possess many similarities – from taste to growing conditions.

Both are part of the legume family and used in varied cuisines.

They both have a creamy texture and buttery notes, making them a great addition to salads, soups, stews, or even as side dishes.

Both can be boiled, fried, or roasted – plus, they need a lot of water and warm temperatures for cultivation.

They are also low in fat, high in fiber, protein, and iron content.

The main difference? Size.

Butter peas are smaller than butter beans.

Also, pea plants grow upright while bean plants’ vines spread along the ground.

Get creative with both.

Understanding the nuances between these two can help improve your cooking skills.

Have fun exploring their similarities and differences.

How to Cook Butter Peas and Butter Beans

Butter peas and butter beans are yummy and nutritious legumes.

Follow these 3 steps to make the most of them.

  • Prep:

o Rinse and check for dirt.

o Soak for 4 hours/overnight.

o Drain before cooking.

  • Cook:

o Add water to cover legumes.

o Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

o Cook for 30 minutes to an hour.

o Add salt or seasonings in last 10 mins.

  • Serve:

o Drain any liquid left.

o Serve hot as side dish.

o Add to soup/stew or salads.

Fun fact: Butter peas & butter beans are the same type of bean.

In some areas they are called lima beans.

Nutritional powerhouses, they have protein, fiber, iron & more.

Cook up a batch for a healthy meal today.

Where to Buy Butter Peas and Butter Beans?

Do you need to buy butter peas and butter beans? We’ve got you sorted.

Here are some options:

  • Check your local supermarket’s canned/dried goods section.
  • Farmers’ markets often have fresh/frozen butter peas/beans during harvest season.
  • Amazon, Walmart, and Thrive Market offer delivery of a variety of brands.
  • If you need large quantities, check out stores like Costco or Sam’s Club.

Be careful though.

Butter peas aren’t the same as regular green peas since they come from different plants.

Butter beans, however, can usually be used interchangeably with Lima beans.

Always follow your recipe instructions for best results.

Store dried/canned legumes in a cool, dry place.

Soaking them overnight before cooking reduces cooking time and increases digestibility.

Have fun experimenting with different recipes using these versatile legumes.


Butter peas and butter beans may look alike, but they are different.

Butter peas have a sweeter taste and are smaller.

Butter beans have a creamy texture and a nutty flavor.

Both can be used in stews, salads, and soups, but it’s up to you.

Where they come from is what sets them apart.

Butter peas are from the family of southern peas or cowpeas.

Butter beans are lima beans from South America.

Butter peas grow in the Southern US because they are drought resistant.

Nutrition-wise, both are good sources of fiber, protein, folate, and iron.

But, butter beans have more calories and carbs.

If you follow a low-carb diet or have allergies, butter peas are better.

In the end, understanding the differences between butter peas and beans can help you decide which one is best for you.

Butter Peas vs Butter Beans: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Navigating the legume aisle? Uncover the distinctions between butter peas and butter beans, from their sizes and textures to their culinary versatility and regional preferences.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Butter Peas
  • Butter Beans


  • Choose between butter peas and butter beans based on your preference and availability.
  • Follow the cooking directions for your chosen option, ensuring proper cooking time and method.
  • Prepare the butter peas or butter beans by rinsing and sorting them.
  • Cook the peas or beans according to your desired recipe, using appropriate seasonings and cooking techniques.
  • Once cooked, drain any excess liquid and serve the butter peas or butter beans as a delightful addition to your meal.
  • Enjoy the tender texture and rich flavors of your chosen legume, and experiment with different recipes to explore their versatility.
Keyword Butter Peas vs Butter Beans
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating