Rich, creamy, and bursting with flavor, this easy curried butter beans recipe is the perfect dinner after a long, busy day. Made with everyday affordable ingredients, it’s also incredibly easy to make. If you’re not already a huge fan of butter beans, you soon will be!
Whether you’ve been vegan for years or you’re just starting out in the kitchen, this curry is a winner. The butter beans are melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the curry sauce is perfectly balanced with warm spices and coconut milk.
This butter bean curry recipe is just one of the many delicious and easy-to-make Indian-inspired recipes on the blog. For more inspiration, check out this Butternut Squash Lentil Stew (Vegan), Curried Chickpea and Pumpkin Soup, Chicken and Spinach Curry, and Chicken Tikka with Mint Sauce.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s packed with flavor. The combination of spices, coconut milk, and butter beans creates a mouthwateringly delicious and seriously satisfying dish.
- It’s easy to make. Even if you’re not a fan of cooking, this one is so easy and so full of flavor you won’t regret it! It’s one of my favorite weeknight dinners, on the table in 30 minutes or less!
- It’s affordable. The ingredients are all inexpensive and readily available.
- It’s healthy. As well as being a good source of protein and fiber, this vegan-friendly meal is also gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and has no added sugar.
- It’s perfect for meal prep. This butter beans curry is ideal for meal prep and batch cooking, as the flavor just keeps getting better.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy vegan butter bean curry recipe:
- Butter Beans (Lima Beans): Canned butter beans are a convenient and affordable protein option. And they absorb the curry flavors really well. We will also use the butter bean liquid from the can as it contributes to a thick, glossy sauce. Plus, less waste! So many wins.
- Curry Base – Onions, Garlic, and Ginger: This flavorful trio is the foundation of many Indian curries. The onions caramelize and sweeten the sauce, while the garlic and fresh ginger add warmth and depth.
- Mild Curry Powder: A beautiful blend of spices that gives this dish its curry flavor. The spice blend typically includes ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin (or crushed cumin seeds), fenugreek, and chili powder.
- Garam Masala: Boosts the curry flavor and adds more depth.
- Amchoor Mango Powder (Amchur): Adds a fruity and sour flavor that compliments the heat incredibly well. It also thickens the sauce naturally. You can find dried mango powder in larger supermarkets here in the UK. It’s also available on Amazon and most Asian food stores. If you can’t find it where you live, you can simply squeeze in some fresh lemon juice (from half a lemon) at the end of cooking.
- Diced Tomatoes (Chopped Tomatoes): Add acidity and freshness to the curry.
- Coconut Milk: For creaminess and richness. It also helps to balance out the spices. You need the stuff in the cans, not a carton you would use for coffee and smoothies.
- Baby Spinach: Adds a pop of color, freshness, and lots of additional nutrients.
- Cilantro (Fresh Coriander): For a fresh finishing touch!
- Sea Salt Flakes and Black Pepper: To lift the flavors and make them pop!
Making this delicious vegan butter bean curry is so simple! You won’t believe how easy it actually is. Check it out.
These visual step-by-step instructions provide a quick overview of the recipe. You can find the recipe card with the full list of ingredients and detailed instructions at the bottom of this post. ⇩
1: Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
2: Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for an additional 30 seconds until fragrant.
3: Stir in the curry powder, garam masala, and mango powder, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
4: Reserving the liquid for later, add the butter beans to the pan. Stir to coat with the spice mixture.
5: Now pour in the chopped tomatoes, butter bean liquid, and coconut milk.
6: Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7: Add the chopped spinach and cilantro (fresh coriander) to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8: Stir into the curry and continue to cook for 2 minutes until the spinach wilts.
9: Remove the pan from heat. Your curry is ready to serve!
Use canned butter bean liquid to thicken the sauce. This is a simple and effective way to create a silky and creamy sauce without using dairy or adding an additional ingredient like stock.
Toast your spices. This releases their fragrance and essential oils, resulting in a more flavorful curry.
Want to make some swaps? Here are some alternative ingredient ideas for you to try:
- Butter Beans (Lima Beans): You could use frozen butter beans or dry butter beans you’ve soaked and cooked beforehand. Alternatively, a can of cannellini beans will give you the same kind of creamy texture.
- Butter Bean Liquid: I use the starchy can liquid to create a silky sauce for this curry. However, if you’ve used frozen beans or dried beans you’ve cooked yourself, then you could use water, vegetable stock, or vegetable broth instead.
- Onions: I’m using a red onion – an antioxidant powerhouse. But you can sub with yellow onions, brown onions, or shallots. You could even use scallions (spring onions), but they will need significantly less cooking time.
- Garam Masala: Use extra curry powder.
- Mango Powder (Amchoor or Amchur): Fresh lemon juice is the best sub for mango powder. But, instead of adding it with the curry powder, it needs to be squeezed into the curry sauce right before serving.
- Diced Tomatoes (Chopped Tomatoes): You can use canned crushed tomatoes, plum tomatoes and crush them yourself, or tomato sauce (tomato passata). You can also use fresh tomatoes, but they would be better blanched and peeled before dicing for this recipe.
- Full Fat Coconut Milk: For a lighter option, you can use light coconut milk. However, it will make your sauce thinner. To combat this, don’t add a lid during the simmer stage, so some of the liquid evaporates.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Coconut oil is also a great option, and it compliments the curry flavors really well.
Butter beans are a great source of dietary fiber, protein, and numerous vitamins and minerals. As such, they may help to balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and increase healthy bacteria in the gut. [Source]
Curry spice contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that may help support the immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. [Source]
Ginger aids in digestion and may help alleviate nausea. [Source]
Coconut milk provides medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which studies have shown may boost calorie expenditure and increase satiety. [Source]
Chopped tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may protect against heart disease, insulin resistance, and the development of diabetes. [Source]
So, you’ve got this delicious curry ready to go. What’s next?
- Serve it over your favorite grain. White basmati rice is a classic option. But how about trying brown basmati, red rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or even farro?
- Add some extra veggies. Fill your plate with steamed or roasted vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or butternut squash.
- Get creative with your toppings. A dollop of yogurt, a handful of chopped cilantro, or a squeeze of lime juice can all add extra flavor and texture.
- Dunk a flatbread: Naan and curry go hand-in-hand. But did you know that you can buy whole wheat naan bread? Or, try a lighter option, like a whole wheat roti or chapati.
- Enjoy leftovers on toast. Now, it might be because I’m a Brit, and beans on toast are in my blood, but guys and girls, curried butter beans on toast are so good! And when you’ve meal-prepped a batch ahead, it could quite possibly be one of the quickest lunches ever.
- Enjoy leftovers on a jacket potato. Another perfect lunch – curry-loaded baked sweet potatoes!
- To refrigerate: Let the curry cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To freeze: Let the curry cool completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To reheat: If frozen, thaw the curry in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until piping hot. You can also reheat the curry in the microwave in short bursts, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking.
- If you’re meal prepping, portion the curry into individual containers before refrigerating or freezing. This will make it easy to grab and go for quick and easy lunches or dinners.
- To prevent the curry from drying out when reheating, add a splash of water or coconut milk to the pan.
Add chili powder (chilli powder) or cayenne pepper to make your curry spicier. Chopped jalapeños or habaneros are also a great choice. Add the chili gradually until you reach a heat level you’re happy with.
Yes, this creamy butter bean curry is a great option to make ahead of time as the flavors continue to meld and develop. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply thaw if frozen, then warm in the microwave or stovetop until piping hot.
Canned butter beans don’t require soaking before cooking. If you’d like to use dried butter beans, soak them in cold water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans, then place them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 50-60 minutes or until the beans are tender. Add a pinch of salt to the soaking water to help soften the beans and remove bitterness. Drain the beans and proceed with the recipe as written.
More Comfort Food
Looking for more delicious and nutritious comfort food ideas? Try these recipes next time…
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Easy Curried Butter Beans (Lima Beans) with Spinach
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- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons curry powder, I'm using mild. Go hot if you like it spicy.
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1½ teaspoons dry mango powder (Amchoor or Amchur)
- 2x 14 ounce (2x 400 gram) cans butter beans , reserving ½ cup (115 ml) of the bean liquid
- 1x 14 ounce (1x 400 gram) can chopped tomatoes
- 1x 7 ounce (1x 200 gram) can full fat coconut milk
- 3 cups (90 grams) baby spinach, roughly chopped
- ⅔ cup (10 grams) fresh cilantro (fresh coriander), finely chopped, stalks and all.
- ⅔ teaspoon sea salt flakes
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Prep: Gather and prepare your ingredients.
- Curry Base: Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until it turns translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the curry powder, garam masala, and mango powder and toast for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add Beans: Reserving the bean liquid from the cans for later, add the canned beans to the pan. Stir to coat them with the spice mixture.
- Add Liquids: Now pour in the chopped tomatoes, butter bean liquid, and coconut milk. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, check the consistency of the sauce. If it’s too thick, you can add some more bean liquid or coconut milk.
- Add Greens: Add the chopped spinach and cilantro leaves (fresh coriander leaves) to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Stir into the curry and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the spinach has wilted.
- To Serve: Remove the pan from heat and help yourself to a bowl. It's also delicious served over brown rice with an Indian flatbread, like homemade naan bread or whole wheat roti. Enjoy!
- To refrigerate – Let the curry cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container (preferably glass). It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To freeze – Let the curry cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. It will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To reheat – If frozen, thaw the curry in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until piping hot. You can also reheat the curry in the microwave in short bursts, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking.
Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Nutrition Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimated using an online nutrition calculator. For accuracy, we recommend you calculate using the exact ingredients and brands you used.