Sufferin’ succotash! I promise, that’s my last Loony Tunes reference. This vegetarian succotash recipe is fresh, vibrant and bacon-free. It features pan-seared corn, plump lima beans and fresh peppers.
Make this recipe now with fresh early fall produce, or bookmark it for your Thanksgiving table. You can easily use thawed frozen corn if fresh sweet corn is hard to come by.
As you’ll read below, succotash has Native American roots and many variations. Here in Kansas City, succotash is the namesake dish at a local restaurant called Succotash.
This recipe is my own interpretation of this uniquely American dish. I seared the corn in a skillet to develop more complex flavor. I added a variety of peppers (poblano, bell pepper and optional jalapeño) for some spice to help balance the sweetness of the corn. I’ve written the recipe to give you as much control as possible over the spice level, since individual preferences and corn’s sweetness can vary so much.
I omitted tomatoes because they made this dish more stew-like, and it’s more of a warm salad without. Creamy butter (no cream) and fresh herbs make this produce-driven, vegetarian side dish completely irresistible.
Succotash originated from Narragansett Native Americans living in the area now known as Rhode Island. The name is derived from the Narragansett word sohquttahhash, meaning “broken corn kernels.”
Native Americans introduced succotash to struggling colonists in the 1600s. Succotash featured New World ingredients including corn and beans, which, when combined, offer a vegetarian source of all essential amino acids. Succotash was a New England staple before it became popular across the South, and it experienced a resurgence of popularity during the Great Depression because it’s pretty darn affordable.
Succotash recipes range considerably in ingredients and texture. The two essential ingredients are corn and lima beans. Many recipes include bacon or corned beef, okra, squash, tomatoes or heavy cream.
How to Serve Succotash
This succotash recipe is perfect from summer through fall. You’ll often see succotash at the Thanksgiving table, and this dish would certainly liven up the meal. Here are a few serving suggestions:
- Arugula and Wild Rice Salad with Zippy Lemon Dressing
- Favorite Veggie Burgers
- Honey Butter Cornbread or Roasted Garlic Bread
- Lucille’s Mashed Potatoes
- Perfect Roasted Green Beans
Fresh Sweet Corn Tips
Buy fresh corn and use it promptly. Freshly harvested corn has the sweetest, most delicious flavor, and it loses that flavor as time goes on.
How to cut corn off the cob: I find it easiest to just lay the corn down on the cutting board. Slice off a strip of kernels lengthwise with a sharp knife, rotate so the flat side is against the cutting board, and repeat as necessary.
If you can’t find fresh corn or want to save a few minutes: Use defrosted frozen corn, which tastes much nicer than canned corn. We’ll be adding the corn to warm oil in the skillet, so watch out for splatters.
More Fresh Corn Recipes to Enjoy
- The Best Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
- Fresh Corn Salsa
- Garden-Fresh Corn Salad
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 6 side servings 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Succotash is a side dish with Native American roots. This lively succotash recipe features corn and lima beans (fresh or frozen), peppers, basil and butter. It’s best enjoyed soon after cooking. Recipe yields 6 side servings.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ears fresh corn, shucked (or about 3 cups frozen corn, thawed)
- 1 teaspoon fine salt, divided
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 poblano pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- Optional: 1 medium jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 cups fresh or frozen lima beans*, thawed under cool running water
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for serving
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional: Pinch of cayenne (for even more spice)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
- Flaky sea salt or kosher salt, for serving
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it’s starting to shimmer. Add the corn and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the corn is turning golden on the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes (be careful, sometimes it hops out of the pan when it’s hot).
- Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the onion, poblano, bell pepper, jalapeño (if using) and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan as best you can. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and turning translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the pan, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lima beans and cook until they’re warmed through, about 2 minutes.
- Add the butter to the skillet and stir until it’s mostly melted. Remove the skillet from the heat. Let it cool for a few minutes. Taste, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Add a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper if you’d like it to have more of a spicy kick. Stir in about half of the basil, reserving the rest for garnish.
- Transfer the succotash to a serving plate, if desired. Top with the remaining basil and all of the green onion. Add a few more pats of butter and sprinkle it lightly with some flaky salt or kosher salt. Serve soon. This dish is best enjoyed within a couple of hours after making, but it will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Use dairy-free butter, such as Miyoko’s Creamery. Or, omit the butter and enjoy individual servings with dollops of vegan sour cream.
*Lima bean note: I’ve found lima beans in the freezer section at Whole Foods lately. I have not tried canned lima beans—you would want to rinse and drain them well before using. Though unconventional, you could use shelled edamame instead of lima beans (they are fairly similar in color and texture).