Greek Butter Beans (Yigantes Plakis)


This recipe was inspired by my close friend of over 15 years who is Greek American. Chris and I did our residency training together at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. We made it through some of the hardest nights of lives by supporting each other and laughing our way through the tough times. Every Sunday, Chris and his husband Mark host a big Sunday dinner with a table full of delicious food. The guests typically include friends and also Christopher’s parents. There’s never a dull moment and I never leave hungry. Last weekend they decided to make Yigantes Plakis just for me! They had brought back a lot of dried butter beans from their last trip to Greece and realized that the recipe just happened to be vegan. They served them piping hot from the oven with salad and fresh bread. It was so delicious! I could not stop eating them… I was so excited to take home leftovers. I was even more excited when they packed up 2 lbs of dried butter beans for me to take home. These beans are buttery and tender. I don’t use a lot of oregano but it’s really fantastic in this dish. The tomato sauce is rich and comforting. Butter beans are actually white lima beans. You can find them in many grocery stores but they may be labeled as lima beans. It’s really important to make sure your beans are soaked overnight and are cooked all the way through before you bake them. The beans don’t require much attention while cooking but do require a good 3 hours of cooking time. This dish is high in protein, very filling, and can be served as a main course. Let me know how they turn out if you decide to make them by tagging @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram!

Chris, Me, and Mark
Chris and Mark’s delicious beans!

Greek Butter Beans (Yigantes Plakis)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 lbs (6 cups) Greek butter beans (dry)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1, 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)


Rinse beans well and soak overnight in enough water to cover beans completely. Place beans in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour. Reserve one cup of water from saucepan. Drain the rest of the water from the beans and set aside. Next, heat olive oil in a medium sized Dutch oven on medium heat. Cook onions in oil until translucent – about 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Add celery and cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, paprika, bay leaves, crushed red pepper, and salt and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of reserved water and beans to mixture and simmer for 1 hour. Sauce should thicken and beans should soften and be cooked through. Preheat oven to 325F. Remove bay leaves before baking. Bake beans in Dutch oven for about 2 hours. Check on beans halfway through cooking. If needed, add about 1/4 cup of water to beans to keep them from drying out while baking. Beans are done when sauce is thickened and starts to crust on top. Serve hot. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/2 cup: 145 cal



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