Difference between: lima beans and edamame

These two legumes look awfully similar – let’s figure out the difference between lima beans and edamame.

Lima beans:

  • Are the most common shell bean in the US.
  • Are a creamy, sometimes faded green color.
  • Cannot be eaten raw.
  • Are also called “butter beans.”
  • Hail from Peru.


  • Are also shell beans – they’re immature green soybeans.
  • Are a bright, deep green in color.
  • Can be sold fresh and still in the pods, or hulled.
  • Are harder than lima beans.
  • Hail from China.


  • Lima beans have fewer calories, are fat free, and have more vitamin A, C, and iron.
  • Edamame have twice the protein and nearly half the carbs.
  • Edamame have all nine essential amino acids.

And finally, according to The Food Substitutions Bible, yes, lima beans and edamame can be swapped out for one another in recipes.