Pressure cooker, Side dish
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Instant Pot Christmas Lima Beans

A white bowl of Christmas lima beans on a wood table with an Instant Pot and sprig of thyme in the background.
Instant Pot Christmas Lima Beans

Instant Pot Christmas Lima Beans. These pressure cooked heirloom beans make a great side dish.

Why “Christmas” Lima Beans?

Christmas lima beans are an heirloom bean, popular back in the late 1800s and brought back by modern farmers. They’re big beans, brown with white speckles, and a a nutty flavor reminiscent of chestnuts. They are also called chestnut beans…and that’s where the Christmas name comes from. The association between chestnuts and Christmas is so strong that the beans inherited the name.1

While we’re discussing etymology, why “Lima”? Lima beans were first grown in Lima, Peru. That said, the proper pronunciation is LIE-ma, like the city in Ohio, not LEE-ma, like the capital of Peru. (Which is good, because I’m from Ohio, so LIE-ma is what I’m used to saying.)

As usual, I wouldn’t know about Christmas limas without Rancho Gordo, my fancy bean source. If you come across Christmas limas, give them a try. They’re fantastic as a simple “pot of beans” side dish. They also make a great salad – cool them, then toss with a vinaigrette, parsley, and herbs.

Recipe: Instant Pot Christmas Lima Beans

Inspired by:

History of the Christmas Lima:

Martha Rose Shulman NYT- A pot of Christmas Lima beans

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A white bowl of Christmas lima beans on a wood table with an Instant Pot and sprig of thyme in the background.

Instant Pot Christmas Lima Beans

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cups of beans 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Instant Pot Christmas Lima Beans. These pressure cooked heirloom beans make a great side dish.



Soaking Beans

  • 1 pound Christmas lima beans (about 2½ cups), sorted and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 8 cups water

Cooking Beans

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)


  1. Sort and rinse the beans: Spread the beans out on a rimmed baking sheet and sort through them, discarding any stones, dirt, or broken beans. Rinse the beans, then do an overnight or a quick soak.
  2. Overnight soak: Cover the beans with the 8 cups of water and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt. Leave the beans to soak at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain the beans and discard the soaking liquid.
  3. OR: Pressure Quick Soak for 1 minute with a 30 minute rest: Put the beans, 8 cups of water, and 2 teaspoons of salt in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Pressure cook at high pressure for 1 minute (use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), then let the beans sit for 30 minutes. Release any remaining pressure, drain the beans and discard the soaking liquid. (Wipe the pot out if you’re using it again to cook the beans.)
  4. Pressure Cook for 15 minutes with a 15 minute Natural Release: Put the soaked beans in the Instant Pot, add 5 cups of water, sprinkle with the teaspoon of salt, then add the onion halves and thyme. Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 15 minutes in an Instant Pot or other electric PC (use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 12 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally for 15 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
  5. Serve: Discard the onion and thyme sprigs. To use as a side dish, serve the beans with their broth; to add to another recipe, drain the beans and cool. Enjoy!


  • Forgot to soak your Christmas limas? Cook them for 35 minutes under pressure with a 15 minute natural release.
  • Make ahead beans: Freeze leftover beans, covered in broth, in 2-cup containers for up to 6 months.


  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Christmas Lima Beans, Pressure Cooker Christmas Lima Beans

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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  1. Unfortunately, Nat King Cole didn’t sing “Chestnut Limas cooking in an Instant Pot…” Ahem. Sorry.

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Side dish


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Jessica says

    Excellent!! I picked up some of these beans and was wondering how to cook them when I saw your recipe. Can’t wait to see what they taste like, have never had them before!

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