Buttery, creamy inside, crispy, salty outside – you will never look at an unassuming lima bean the same way again. The layers of flavors and textures make fried giant lima beans absolutely addictive!
The secret to making these meaty morsels so tasty? Just add your spices to the pot while beans are cooking and they’ll suck up all the nutty, peppery, light licorice flavors like tiny bean sponges!
I like to corral all of my spices in a reusable cloth tea bag or tie them up in a piece of cheesecloth. Then simply add the bag of spices to the pot while your lima beans are cooking and remove when they’re done. I’ve listed coriander, black peppercorns and fennel seed for spices here as they’re the ones I use most often but feel free to add stems of thyme or bay leaves to your spice mix for a bit more woody, earthy flavor.
Once your beans are cooked, you can pause the recipe at this point and leave beans covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or until your ready to fry them. Just remember, if you’re taking them from the fridge, allow beans to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or so before frying.
The trick to getting them crispy is to use semolina flour instead of all purpose. And a quick and easy way to make the dredging process much less messy is to use a large, gal size zip top plastic bag. Add your flour, baking powder and salt to the bag, combine well and add your cooked beans to the bag in 1/2 cup batches. Gently toss beans in the flour mixture until completely covered.
This may seem like a small amount of beans for each batch, and a step that will add time to your prep work, but in the end the more manageable 1/2 cup batches will make your life easier, I promise!
Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop beans up in the bag and tap edge of spoon against side of the bag to leave behind excess flour leaving you with lightly dusted beans. Don’t worry that it doesn’t look like much, it’ll be just enough to give your beans a perfect crispy shell.
And make sure not to use too much oil or you’ll end up with a soggy bunch of beans covered in mushy flour paste.
When I’m making up 2 cups or so of cooked beans I like to use my regular old egg pan. It’s a small 8 inch stainless steel pan and a perfect amount of oil per batch here is 2- 2 1/2 tbsps to fry a half cup of beans.
When cooking larger batches in my 10 inch pan, I go up 1 tbsp of oil to 3 – 3 1/2 tbsps to fry 1 cup of beans at a time.
The way to tell if you’ve got the right amount of oil for your pan is that by the end of cooking (2 minutes on one side, another 1 minutes on 2nd side) all the oil should be gone from the pan and only a few crumbs of crispy browned flour left behind.
A quick swipe of the pan with a paper towel between batches will help keep your beans from picking up the acrid taste that can be left behind when your oil has burnt crispy pieces in it. This step takes only a couple of seconds and makes a big difference in your final product so don’t be tempted to leave it out!
You can enjoy these hot or at room temperature so no need to rush them to the table. Your fried lima beans will not go all greasy and soggy on you but keep their so good creamy inside and crispy outside for up to 24 hours after frying. They’re perfection on their own and just as good paired with something like boiled dandelion greens or lahanosalata (cabbage salad) – a favorite combination of mine!
- 1/2 pound of dried gigantes beans (or large dried lima beans) / 2-3 cups cooked beans
- 15-20 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 cup semolina flour
- 1 tsp tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- olive oil (approx 2-3 tbsp per batch)
Rinse and cover your dried beans with a least a couple of inches of water and allow to soak for at least 4 or up to 12 hours. Overnight on the kitchen counter works fine.
After soaking, drain beans, move them to a large pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Tie up spices in cheesecloth or reusable tea bag for quick, easy removal and give the seeds a good whack in the bag to crack them just a bit. This will help to release more flavor into your beans.
Bring beans to a boil, allow foam to come to surface and remove, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until tender.
Once cooked, drain beans in colander, remove spices, turn beans out onto a large dishtowel and gently pat dry.
At this point, you can pause the recipe and leave beans covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or until you’re ready to fry them. If you’re taking them from the fridge, allow beans to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or so before frying.
Combine semolina flour, salt and baking powder in bowl or large ziploc plastic bag. Add cooked beans to bag in 1/2 cup batches. Gently toss beans in the flour mixture until completely coated. Remove from flour with slotted spoon and carefully shake off excess flour until beans are left with a light dusting.
Heat oil on medium low. Test the oil by sprinkling in a tiny bit of flour. If the flour pops and crackles, your oil is ready. Add flour dusted beans to the hot oil and fry for just about 2 minutes on one side, or until just golden brown, gently turn beans and cook for another 1 minute. Remove from pan onto serving dish – there’s no need to drain them first.
You can eat fried lima beans hot from the pan or at room temperature. Both ways are equally delicious! I sprinkle mine with a bit of fresh lemon juice and salt. They’re also a fantastic side dish to a plate of boiled greens or lahanosalata (cabbage salad)
This recipe makes about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of fried beans and can easily be double or triples. If making a bigger amount, just remember to still fry them in batches of no more than 1 cup at a time. They need room to breathe in the pan, they don’t like to be crowded while cooking!